Ketoret and Oral Tradition

The Ketoret offering was a particular kind of incense which the Old Testament Liturgy required the Jewish people to offer to God. One can find it referred to in scripture in Exodus 25:1-6, Exodus 35:4-29, and Exodus 30:34-38, 37:39.

The Torah recounts the list of ingredients for the ketoret offering of incense, and although it provides a partial recipe for it, it never gives a full recipe (which is later recorded in the Talmud). The fact that the written Torah itself never provides the recipe for it, even though the punishment for not putting the ingredients together properly was the death penalty, is an indication that the Torah itself was revealed in such a way that it was consigned to writing, but some of the revelation had to have been preserved in unwritten tradition (not just ‘oral’, but liturgical, etc.). Where was the recipe revealed? It was revealed in the oral and liturgical tradition – and this itself goes to show that the oral tradition of the Old Testament involved revelation which could never have been found in scripture. Thus, even before Christ, the Jewish people could never in principle have had the Bible alone without tradition, since the Scripture and Tradition needed to be taken hand in hand for one to have the full deposit of revelation. The same goes with Christianity – Christianity with scripture and without tradition is essentially handicapped, since God had never intended to provide us with scripture alone – in fact, he gave us a living ‘Church’ into which he delivered the fullness of revelation in written and oral/practical traditions.

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About tylerjourneaux

I am an aspiring Catholic theologian and philosopher, and I have a keen interest in apologetics. I am creating this blog both in order to practice and improve my writing and memory retention as I publish my thoughts, and in order to give evidence of my ability to understand and communicate thoughts on topics pertinent to Theology, Philosophy, philosophical theology, Catholic (Christian) Apologetics, philosophy of religion and textual criticism.
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