Tradition: Biblical Terms

Study notes 1997
Tags: Tradition
Excerpted from Tradition: Theory & Application

The word tradition never appears in the King James Version Old Testament. Speculation on the lack of such occurrences is a theological matter that exceeds the scope of this investigation. Two Greek terms underlie the New Testament concept of tradition.


This term is commonly used in the New Testament in reference to “the handing over of Jesus, e.g., by Judas in Mk. 14:10, by the Sanhedrin to Pilate in Mk. 15:1, by Pilate to the people’s will in Lk. 23:25 and to the soldiers for execution in Mk. 15:15” (Büchsel “Paradidomi” 167). It also conveys the meaning of giving over, giving up, and delivering (167-68).


Unger defines paradosis as “[a] giving over either by word of mouth or in writing; objectively, what is delivered, as Paul’s teaching . . .” (1299). Büchsel expands: “This word for ‘tradition’ means ‘what is transmitted’ rather than ‘transmission’ in the NT” (“Paradosis” 168). It is used in various applications, both positive and negative.