St. Paul and the Gospel Tradition

“But it is noteworthy that, except for the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper themselves, Paul does not in any of his epistles quote the exact words of any of the sayings of Jesus as we now have them in the Gospels. Nor does he mention a single event in the life of Jesus – again except for the institution of the Lord’s Supper – between his birth and death on the cross. From the writings of Paul we would not be able to know that Jesus ever taught in parable and proverbs or that he performed miracles or that he was born of a virgin. For that information we are dependent on the oral tradition of the early Christian communities as this was eventually deposited in the Gospels, all of which, in their present form at any rate, probably appeared later than most or all of the epistles of Paul. Everyone must acknowledge, therefore, Christian tradition had precedence, chronologically and even logically, over Christian Scripture; for there was a tradition of the church before there was ever a New Testament, or any individual book of the New Testament.” (Jesus and Mary Through the Centuries, Jaroslav Pelikan, pg. 10)