Why would Jesus teach "scripture alone" to mostly illiterate people without books?

In the first century of Christianity, there was no New Testament, and the Old Testament was written on expensive scrolls owned by synagogues or the wealthy. Only a handful of people knew how to read. Would it make sense to expect people to depend on "scripture alone" for God's revelation?

30 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    By the end of the first century the Church was formed around the bishop who represented the Church in apostolic succession. The great commission was well underway and had extended to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In scriptures we see St. Paul in his epistles telling the Church to respect the Sacred Traditions handed to them coming from both written sources and oral ones. Even the written sources were delivered orally as transcripts were very rare and few people were literate. There was not widespread distribution of what we consider today to be inspired Scripture as decided at the African Synods by the Church in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Throughout the first sixteen centuries of the Church there was never any question that the authority of truth rested in the Church as the “regula fidei” where all teaching was and is measured by Sacred Tradition not by the Bible alone, especially when interpreted outside of its source the Church. To orthodox Christians this would be considered ridiculous as well as arrogant considering the church never wrote the Bible to be a sole source of faith, morals and practice and one author even reminded those who would approach its use in such a way as to consider it the only source that it is incomplete as far as teaching and that Christ taught much more than what it contained. In fact, it warns that it contains only a small part of Christ’s teaching, but the faithful need not fear because the Church was sent the Holy Spirit that leads the Church to all truths.

    Obviously, because there are those who have rejected orthodox Christianity some lack the fullness of truth that is contained in the Episcopal structure of Christ’s Church. They lack the fullness of worship by not having the corporeal Christ present in their worship. They lack the fullness of faith by not receiving His Body and Blood that the Bible and Sacred Tradition say is necessary for eternal life. The Church is led by men as the enduring Church and not by a book easily misinterpreted and its teaching turned into the traditions and doctrines of men by those through eisegesis use it to support their desires of the flesh very often exhibited by their hatred for the Church and hatred for the most sacred of gifts to humanity His Body and Blood of the Eucharist. These misinterpretations also cause them to have animosity for each other with the same source, the Bible being used to justify schisms which are usually not so much the result of theological disagreements so much as pridefulness and deceit which are no gifts of the Spirit but attributes of the flesh that inhibit our process of sanctification that leads to final salvation. Perhaps this is why Jesus said as a prophetic statement, that unless we eat of His Body and drink His blood we have no life in us. Perhaps this is why the Bible teaches that it is not enough to cry “Lord, Lord” as some of those who do will hear at their judgment that Christ never knew them and be thrown into the lake of fire.

    Christ did not teach that we are to gather around a book of Scriptures to find the truth but that the truth is found in the Church that gathers around the bishop. God was not the author of division as has occurred with those who have abandoned the Church for their private interpretations of Scripture into tens of thousands of exponentially increasing schisms without end. God is a God of unity where He prayed His prayer before His arrest and crucifixion that we all be one. He is not a God that can only be found in the pages of a Book but who is found in His Church and where His corporeal presence is given to His Church as He promised so that we may endure to eternal life and His Church may endure until He comes again. It is His Church where the truth resides and it is the place where we find the ”bulwark and ground of the truth”, there is no other.

    In Christ

    Fr. Joseph

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  • 1 decade ago

    Jesus did not teach scripture alone. And much of what hes said and did is part of our -- Catholic -- unwritten history. The new testament is not a transcript of every moment of Jesus's life or ministry. It is the story of the fondation and early formation of the catholic churhc. The Gosples are the speivifc trainng that Jesus first bishops recived at his hand -- He hadn picks them trains them appoints a leader, ordains him is crucified rises form the ded and ordains the remaining. Int he meantime instuting the scaraments. The gosples are more and outline highlighten the most iimportant spects of Jesus's mission which was to found His kingdom on earth, which includes teh instution of the sacraments.

    UNderstood in this contxt sripture makes perfect sense. Outside of this context it makes no sense and all kinds of errenous notions and missunderstandings are produced. This si why -- the context -- it is so easy for a catholic to debate a protestant particualrly the sola -scrupture or "fundies" becasue we know the trutht and the true context so we have the truth with us, and can easliy straineout false concepts brough about by each indiviudal inperpting the owrds for themselves.

    So no nothing could be further fro the truth Jesu gave scripture it's correct and indeed exalted palce but he did not express the notion of sola sripture or he would have wrote himslef, he would have spent his time writng and not fouodning he church.

    Sola scripture is a form of idolatry which negates the actul jesus, aND UINDEED A PERSONAL REALTIONSTHP WITH HIM THAT IS ONLY AVAILABLE through the sacrametns.. It elavtes the bible to the sataus of God. Indeed many call it the word of god when in fact weknow that jesus is the word of god and the bible contains the words of god.

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  • Joy
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The Jews (who were Jesus' audience) went to synagogue every Saturday, where the Scriptures were read out loud. So they were familiar with them, even though they could not read or own their own copy. Also young Jewish boys were required to memorize a good deal of what is now called the Old Testament. It may even be the entire thing!

    The early church was composed mostly of Jews to begin with. Gentiles (non-Jews) came into the church later. But letters from the apostles (what is now considered the New Testament) were passed around and read at various gatherings of believers.

    As a side note, Jesus did not primarily go around preaching Scripture. What amazed the Jews about Jesus' teaching was that He claimed authority on His own. He did quote a lot of Scripture, but much of what He said was NEW revelation, as in it was not info that they had had before. Never before had they been told that there was one way to the Father, and that was through the Messiah. Never before had they actually understood the Messiah was to suffer for their sins. Never before had they understood that the law was not just something that was to be done in the body but also something that was required within the heart.

    Source(s): AA in Biblical studies
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  • 1 decade ago

    Considering most scriptures were first passed down orally I would say you are correct in your assumption that it wasn't on Scripture alone but following the Living Word.

    Why would Christ teach the Parables if actions did not matter? All of Christ parables had to do with some action or another.

    Pray the Rosary and receive the Sacraments

    Source(s): O.T.R.Catholic
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  • 1 decade ago

    For the first 1600 years of Christianity, most people couldn't read or write. Every stained glass window and statue in medieval Churches told a story. Illiterate people could look at the stained glass pictures on the windows of the Churches and understand the story. So not only were the statues and paintings beautiful and reverent, but they were also very functional. They told the Bible story and the Priest could point to them during his homilies. Statues and stained glass were, for them, teaching tools and reminders. If we walk around any classic sanctuary and we'll see the statues, each saint holding his symbol. A well trained Christian could learn the stories of all those saints, and pass them along to his children, even if he couldn't read. This also explains the classic format of the windows: a large central picture surrounded by a host of smaller vignettes. With proper explanation, one could learn the whole story of, say, John the Baptist, along with all important tie-ins to the life of Christ. These were not false images to be worshiped, but reminders of the story of Salvation.

    They also relied on Sacred Tradition. Which is how Jesus taught the Apostles , orally. The Apostles also taught this way and not everything that Jesus taught was recorded in Scripture

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  • 1 decade ago

    Our Lord and God Jesus Christ never mentioned the subject. He referred to the Old Testament scriptures already written, now being replaced by "the new testament," the institution of His Church. "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church." This has been excised from Protestant bibles out of fear of exposure for their own error. Christ spoke at the Last Supper of His coming Sacrifice on the Cross, "This is My Body, ...." and "This is the Chalice of MY Blood of the NEW AND ETERNAL TESTAMENT: THE MYSTERY OF FAITH: WHICH SHALL BE SHED FOR YOU AND FOR MANY UNTO THE REMISSION OF SINS." And, Our Lord is not "shouting" as so many poor readers tend to take emphasis for. Caps are mainly for attention and important value, for all the readers here and everywhere else.

    Our Lord never wrote one word of scripture, save for the word He wrote in the sand for the pharisee's sins.

    He never told His Apostles to write anything. His is a verbal teaching Church, as He taught. Of the Epistles, in a letter to the flocks in Corinth, St. Paul remarks on the admonishments of sin "these things are written for our correction," I Cor. x 6-13.

    It is a divinely instituted teaching Church with a hierarchy of teaching successors, with grace from the Sacraments instituted by Christ. But the written scriptures were a help to the Israelites, and the compilation of the Words of Christ written down by the Apostles and Early Fathers are also an assist to the faithful. But they are not necessary. The Church was established by Christ before one word was written.

    Source(s): Douay Rheims 1915 Old and New Testaments. St. Andrew's Missal, 1937, pp. 984-985.
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  • 1 decade ago

    This is exactly why Jesus was so detailed about the Holy Spirit. So we wouldn't get bogged down in legalism like the religious leaders had done and still do today. Including Christians. Scripture is awesome for keeping us in check.

    The whole deal is to have a relationship with GOD. We can read a love letter that someone writes us over and over again but it doesn't do us much good if we don't get to know the person writing it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Jesus Is the Word of God who became one of us to show us the way.

    He fulfilled the law & the prophecies.

    And Jesus knew scripture. He was wise. And also after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit & led into the wilderness, the devil tempted him with scripture. But Jesus answered back, "It is written...".

    But faith comes by hearing & hearing a word preached about Christ / God. This is the anointed Preacher, preaching what the Holy Spirit directs the Preacher what to preach. And the Holy Spirit stirs Gods truth from our ears to our heart & Gods Truth gets into our heart.

    Jesus fulfilled the Prophecies of the coming Messiah & Savior of the world. And Jesus makes the New Testament all about His Redeeming Blood. And that is when we confess with our mouth & believe in our heart, then there is a heart circumcision. We are spiritually born of God.

    This is where we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise unto the day of redemption. Who is the Spirit of Truth & who leads us into all Gods Truth. Brings to mind what the Lord has said.

    As a spiritual soul, I follow after the Spirit, more so than the written letter. But I read the Word of God (scripture) and the Holy Spirit brings it to mind later or washes me in Gods Word.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    How dare you insinuate that Jesus didn't hand the apostles bibles in the first century!

    He said to Peter "You are rock, and on this rock I build my bible"

    Bruce, you are too intelligent for this chat room.

    Guys, can we kick him out?

    Don't you see what he's doing, hes making us look ignorant. Well, Bruce- if Jesus didn't hand out bibles then what WAS he doing?

    Making disciples? And he didnt need a bible because he told them it was according to "faith alone"

    You dont think he was actually busy creating a line of authority BEFORE the bible was written, do you?

    What are you trying to insinuate?

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  • A L
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I think that you misunderstand the 1st Cent. Males were required to attend synagogue school and learn to read and study the scripture. But quoting scripture to illiterate people allows them to memorize the words that He speaks.

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