Every two years in Wales, hundreds of people gather for an international story festival called Beyond the Border. The festival is an effort to celebrate the world’s rich heritage of oral tradition.
“Oral tradition” is the passing on of stories—specifically historical, cultural accounts—by word of mouth. Once upon a time, it was the primary way that history was preserved and passed on from one generation to another.
Oral tradition has played an essential role in accurately telling the “good news” of Jesus. Near the end of Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle reminded his readers of the good news he first preached to them a few years earlier (Acts 18:1-18; 1 Corinthians 15:1). Using verbiage that reflected the regular practice of oral tradition (“what was most important”), Paul described the contents of the words that he had spoken (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Most historians are confident that the oral summary of the gospel accounts that Paul is quoting in verses 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 is an early Christian creed of some sort that was being proclaimed orally in the church at that time. This is important, as modern skeptics of the New Testament claim that the story of Jesus was a tale invented by His desperate followers—something that snowballed into a legend over a long period of time. But Paul’s reference to the account passed on to him is another piece of strong evidence that the details of Jesus’ death and resurrection are true. What took place was documented and widely circulated among the early believers in Christ.
Whether oral or written, Jesus’ life story is credible. It’s another reason we can be confident storytellers of the good news today!
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”