McDonald, James I.H. "Chapter Four: Paradosis." Kerygma and Didache: The Articulation and Structure of the earliest Christian message. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980, 101-125.
Tradition was an important element of Greek culture as well as of Hebrew culture. McDonald notes that the difference had to do with the Hebrew concept of a particular divine revelation which was to be passed on. In contrast, Greeks who learned to read would memorize poetry which could inculcate social and cultural values (McDonald 1980, 101). While Greek learning of texts was often done and passed on through memorization and oral tradition, the Hebrew paradosis emphasized the fact that Torah was a written source (McDonald 1980, 102). In Hebrew thought, McDonald finds an interest in preserving the specific wording of Torah. At the same time there is an expectation that the student should grow in an ability to describe and explain the significance of passages learned (McDonald 1980, 104).
Jesus stood at the intersection of two worlds. McDonald notes that he was involved in the life of Hebrew paradosis but that he was also the source of a new type, or at least a new genre of content, the tradition passed on in Christianity (McDonald 1980, 104). McDonald describes a number of passages in which Jesus taught his disciples so they could themselves pass on meaningful traditions. Jesus appears to us as a rabbi instructing his disciples. This instruction would naturally have been intended to be transmitted to future generations (McDonald 1980, 106).
Within early Christian practice McDonald notes that Jesus taught his followers a reinterpretation of their former understanding of Scripture, now seen through the resurrection (McDonald 1980, 107). Particular matters of discussion within early Christianity can be identified as significant in first century paradosis. McDonald notes the central importance of Jerusalem and the Twelve apostles in relation to Jerusalem (McDonald 1980, 108-109). At the same time, the way theological tradition was played out in different places showed variety. McDonald notes, for example, the distinctions among Judaean and Hellenistic Christians, along with the additional ethnic grups as Christianity spread (McDonald 1980, 110 ff). This does not indicate to McDonald a difference in the underlying themes of Christianity. It remained at its core the message of the specificgospel work of Jesus (McDonald 1980, 112).
Paul's use of paradosis is a bit different, as McDonald identifies a strongly rabbinic custom, used in a positive way to guide people to Christ (McDonald 1980, 112). McDonald reviews various passages to show how Paul takes tradition and uses it with Christ as the central character to be passed from one generation to another. McDonald also notes that Paul occasionally claims that a piece of teaching derives directly from the Lord. McDonald considers that some of these statements are known quotations while others are of less clear derivation (McDonald 1980, 116).McDonald considers many of these statements and how they may well be a Pauline statement of a principle illustrated by but never spoken clearly by Jesus (McDonald 1980, 118).