BELIEFS AND TEACHINGS OF ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH
4. TRADITION (TEWFIT- ቶፊት)
Tradition (Tewfit- ቶፊት) means that which has been told and which continues to be passed by the Church from ancient times either in writing or word of mouth from generation to generation. Before the mastery of the written word, all generations throughout human history from Adam to Moses have been passing on their customs, culture and history, as a tradition, through word of mouth. This is the basis of this tradition.
Tewfit (Tradition) records the doctrine, education and history that are not recorded in Scriptures but have been handed down from the early fathers by word of mouth. “Tewfit” demonstrates these in deed. “Tewfit” does not contradict the meaning of the Scriptures nor their interpretation. “Tewfit” embraces not only religion, church rites, culture and history; but also the rites of worship that have been handed down from ancient times without any distortions or changes. In earlier times, the teachings and faith of the Church were given through the spoken word. It is written “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos.” (Romans. 10:17).
Even though there were ones who taught by writing down the teachings of the prophets, there were also those who taught through the spoken word. The apostles taught by word of mouth when they were sent out by our Lord to preach the Gospel. (Mt. 28:20). The Holy Apostles have clearly said that what they wrote down was a small part of what the Lord taught. (John. 20:30, 21:25). Even the Apostles themselves have not written down all the miracles they performed or all that they taught. (2 John. 12; 3 John. 13-14).
The Scriptures give their testimony about tradition (Tewfit) in several places. (1 Cor. 11:2, 1 Cor. 11: 23, (1 Cor. 15:1-3; 1 Thes. 2:13-15). Hence “Tewfit” and the Holy Bible reinforce each other. “Tewfit interprets and supplements the Bible. To assert that, St. Paul in (2 Tim. 3:8) says “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses...” However, neither in the Old nor in the New Testament are Jannes and Jamberes cited. In the same light, the words which our Lord said “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” in Acts. 20:35 are found nowhere in the four Gospels. St. Paul wrote these from the traditional way of acquiring knowledge. Besides, this is the way we have come to learn that the four Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. St. Basil the Great also says, as written down in the Acts of Basil, that “the wearing of the cross, to cross oneself facing east and standing erect when praying, blessing the baptismal waters, marking the one being baptized, bowing in all four corners, anointing the one baptized with Myron, and making him say “I reject you” to Satan and his ilk are all acquired through tradition. (The Works of Basil 27:26).
According to the teachings and rites of our Church:
Kissing the Cross:
To bow before icons and the cross;
Wearing a thread around the neck;
The burning of incense in churches;
The utilization of different types of ecclesiastical objects in the conduct of services;
The mode of construction of churches and their internal division;
Religious vestments etc.
...are all done according to norms derived from tradition (Tewfit)
Our church, being an ancient, historical and Apostolic Church has not only maintained but kept alive the tradition that has been handed down from our forefathers.