TRADITION, the body of oral informa tion, opinion, inexact records, statements and evidence of things long past communicated from older generations to the present. That evidence of ancient things which is not com mitted to writing and vouched for by com petent authority. As applied to profane history it signifies knowledge of the past handed down by word of mouth from generation to genera tion. In this sense the line between tradition and myth is often hard to distinguish, one merging into the other. Historical tradition, however, has usually, if not invariably. a sub stantial foundation and both tradition and myth are of the highest value in tracing human experience and progress both in the historic and prehistoric periodsó for it should be unneces sary to state that the so-called historic period is not a uniform era, but varies with different races of mankind, according to the age at which they come within the range of historic observation.
Tradition in the religious sense holds a place not less important than in its profane meaning. It is a chief ground of doctrinal di
vision in Christianity and also in Mohammedan ism, between Roman Catholics and Protestants in the former faith and between Sunnites and Shiites in the latter. A similar division existed among the Jews of the later Scriptural period. In the Roman Catholic view the term tradition is applied to the doctrines believed to have been communicated by Christ to his Apostles and handed down by them orally to their succes sors. The writings of the Fathers are regarded as witnessing these traditions. The Council of Trent teaches that the truth of 'Christ is con tained partly in the sacred writings and partly in unwritten tradition received by the Apostles from Christ, or from the Holy Ghost, and en trusted by them to the Church, and that Scrip ture and apostolic tradition are alike to be reverenced. See CATHOLIC CHURCH ; JEWISH SECTS; MOH A M M EDANISM ; PROTESTANTISM ; SHIITES ; SUNNITES.