Why don’t Catholics just rely on the Bible and not their traditions?

Christians who lived during the crucifixion and over 30 years later had to do without the New Testament. And there were at least 80 years with no Book of Revelation, and still, Christians survived. You would agree that today, the Book of Revelation is one of the most critical of the Books in the Bible, yet why did those people go so many years without it? Many had died within those times without ever reading the words of the Apostles, and are they denied heaven in consequence? Does God say, “unless you read the words of the Bible, you will have no life in you”?

What about St Stephen, who died before any Pauline epistles were written? Is he therefore condemned? Or Ananias of Damascus, who baptized St Paul, is he condemned too because he had not lived to see St Paul’s or other Apostles’ writings?

This is the meaning of “traditional” in the most fundamental sense of the term. From the Latin “tradere,” which means to hand over (not down), which means to pass along from one to another. This was the preferred method of transmission Jesus relied on even while on earth. He would speak and then send others to speak what they had heard. 

So Tradition and the Scriptures come from the same source, just like St John wrote at the end of his Gospel:

 “many other things did Jesus do and say, so many, I think, that if they were all written down the world itself would not be large enough to hold the books that would have to be written to hold them.” 

John 21:25

This clearly shows it is impossible to refute the fact that the Bible is a complete record of the Life and teachings of Jesus. Tradition is simply the unwritten, verbally transmitted portion of God’s word. These do not contradict Scripture but complete it.