Vol 5, No 1, 2005

What is Tradition? From Pre-Modern to Postmodern

Brian Johnstone CSsR


Of particular importance to clarifying the meaning of Tradition is the notion of Tradition as a collection of truths requiring external approval by Church authority. A notable advance was made due to the influence of Möhler, Blondel and Newman, whose influence can be seen in Vatican II where a communicative-critical model emerges. The human element of Tradition may be understood as "argument" following MacIntyre and some recent work in postmodern anthropological theory. Drawing on suggestions by Nicholas Boyle and Paul Ricoeur, it is suggested that some Traditions have a special status, namely those that begin with an experience of real evil and its overcoming. The Christian Tradition is of this kind. It begins with the testimony of the disciples to the experience of the confrontation with real evil in the death of Jesus and its overcoming in the resurrection. It is here that its truth and authority are manifest.