This is from a column I wrote for our KofC Newsletter this month:
In the Reformation some groups insisted that truth could only be found in Scripture - *Sola Scriptura*. Catholic teaching proclaims that: "*Sacred Scripture* is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit."42*"And [Holy] *Tradition *transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching." As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence." ….It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.*" [Catechism of the Catholic Church 81-82, 95] Judaism has a similar teaching [What is the Oral Torah?]("http://www.aish.com/h/sh/tat/48969576.html"), by Aish HaTorah’s Discovery Seminar]. [Note that the Torah is written scripture; the Talmud contains those portions of the Oral Torah that were written down after the destruction of the Temple; other portions of tradition remain unwritten.] The Oral Torah preceded the giving of the written Bible. When the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago, God communicated the 613 commandments, along with a detailed, practical explanation of how to fulfill them. At that point in time, the teachings were entirely oral. Just prior to his death, forty years later, Moses wrote the scroll of the written Torah ( the Five Books of Moses). Similarly, the New Testament was entirely oral at first. Then portions were set down in the Gospels and Epistles, but there is much more.
He illustrates the need for oral tradition with the story of one who applied for a job at a prestigious investment banking firm. On his resume he claimed to have graduated from Harvard Business School, but it admits that he never attended classes there. He just read the lecture notes taken by his roommate who did. Needless to say, the interviewer was not impressed and he didn’t get the job.
He further comments: *If the entire Torah would have been given in writing, everyone would be able to interpret it as he desired. This would lead to division and discord among people who followed the Torah in different ways. The Oral Torah, on the other hand, would require a central authority to preserve it, thus assuring the unity of Israel… *That has a familiar ring.