Glory to God for All Things

Silence and Tradition

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If again we wished to oppose (Tradition) to all that belongs to the reality of the word, it would be necessary to say the the Tradition is Silence. “He who possesses in truth the word of Jesus can hear even its silence,” says St. Ignatius of Antioch [to the Ephesians, XV,2]. As far as I know this text has never been used in the numerous studies which quote patristic passages on the Tradition in abundance, always the same passages, known by everyone, but with never a warning that texts in which the word “tradition” is not expressly mentioned can be more eloquent than many others.

The faculty of hearing the silence of Jesus, atributed by St. Ignatius to those who in truth possess His word, echoes the reiterated appeal of Christ to His hearers: “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The words of Revelation have then a margin of silence which cannot be picked up by the ears of those who are outside. St. Basil moves in the same direction when he says, in his passage on the traditions: “There is also a form of silence namely the obscurity used by the Scriputre, in order to make it difficult to gain understanding of the teachings, for the profit of readers.” This silence of the Scriptures could not be detached from them: it is transmitted by the Church with the words of the Revelation, as the very condition of their reception. If it could be opposed to the words (always on the horizontal plane, where they express the revealed Truth), this silence which accompanies the words implies no kind of insufficiency or lack of fulness of the Revelation, nor the necessity to add to it anything whatever. It signifies that the revealed mystery, to be truly received as fulness, demands a conversion towards the vertical plane, in order that one may be able to “comprehend with all the saints” not only what is the “breadth and length” of the Revelation, but also its “depth” and its height.” (Eph. 3,18)

Vladimir Lossky, Tradition and Traditions

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