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The Didache (pronounced /ˈdɪdəkiː/; Koine Greek: Διδαχή, Didachē "Teaching";[1] Modern Greek [ðiðaˈxi]) is the common name of a brief early Christian treatise (dated by most scholars to the late first/early second century[2]). It is an anonymous work not belonging to any single individual, and a pastoral manual "that reveals more about how Jewish-Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their Judaism for gentiles than any other book in the Christian Scriptures."[3] The text, parts of which may have constituted the first written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian lessons, rituals such as baptism and eucharist, and Church organization. It was considered by some of the Church Fathers as part of the New Testament[4] but rejected as spurious or non-canonical by others,[5] eventually not accepted into the New Testament canon with the exception of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church "broader canon" which includes the Didascalia which is based on the Didache. The Catholic Church has accepted it as part of the collection of Apostolic Fathers.

Discovery

Considered lost, the Didache was rediscovered by Philotheos Bryennios, a Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Nicomedia in 1873 in the Greek Codex Hierosolymitanus written in 1056. Bryennios published it ten years later. He had earlier published the full text of the Epistles of Clement from the same manuscript in 1875.

Shortly after Bryennios' initial publication, the scholar Otto von Gebhardt identified a Latin manuscript in the Abbey of Melk in Austria as containing a translation of the first part of the Didache; later scholars now believe that to be an independent witness to the tradition of the Two Ways section (see below). Dr. J. Schlecht found in 1900 another Latin translation of chapters 1 through 5, with the longer title, omitting "twelve", and with the rubric De doctrina Apostolorum. Coptic and Ethiopian translations have also been discovered since Bryennios' original publication.

Date of composition

In 1886, soon after the Didache was first published, and some sixty years before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi Codices, Scottish Professor M. D. Riddle commented: "Bryennios and Harnack assign, as the date, between 120 and 160; Hilgenfeld, 160 and 190; English and American scholars vary between 80 and 120."[6] In the 1940s to 1970s, some commentators argued for a date of effective origin, even if not in its present form, as early as around 70 or soon thereafter,[7] and others as late as the later 2nd century[8] or even the 3rd century.[9] There is no question it was known by the third century.

Jonathan Draper writes: "Few scholars now date the text later than the end of the first century or the first few decades of the second."[2] Similarly Michael W. Holmes concurs: "A date considerably closer to the end of the first century seems more probable."[10] The 2005 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church comments: "Although in the past many English and American scholars tended to assign it to the late second century, most scholars now place at some point during the mid to late first century."[11]

Early references

The Didache is mentioned by Eusebius (c. 324) as the Teachings of the Apostles following the books recognized as canonical[12]:

"Let there be placed among the spurious works the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called the Teachings of the Apostles, and also the Apocalypse of John, if this be thought proper; for as I wrote before, some reject it, and others place it in the canon."

Athanasius (367) and Rufinus (c. 380) list the Didache among Deuterocanonical books. (Rufinus gives the curious alternative title Judicium Petri, "Judgment of Peter".) It is rejected by Nicephorus (c. 810), Pseudo-Anastasius, and Pseudo-Athanasius in Synopsis and the 60 Books canon. It is accepted by the Apostolic Constitutions Canon 85, John of Damascus and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Adversus Aleatores by an imitator of Cyprian quotes it by name. Unacknowledged citations are very common, if less certain. The section Two Ways shares the same language with the Epistle of Barnabas, chapters 18-20, sometimes word for word, sometimes added to, dislocated, or abridged, and Barnabas iv, 9 either derives from Didache, 16, 2-3, or vice versa. The Shepherd of Hermas seems to reflect it, and Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria,[13] and Origen of Alexandria also seem to use the work, and so in the West do Optatus and the Gesta apud Zenophilum. The Didascalia Apostolorum are founded upon the Didache. The Apostolic Church-Ordinances has used a part, the Apostolic Constitutions have embodied the Didascalia. There are echoes in Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Cyprian, and Lactantius.

Contents

The contents may be divided into four parts, which most scholars agree were combined from separate sources by a later redactor: the first is the Two Ways, the Way of Life and the Way of Death (chapters 1-6); the second part is a ritual dealing with baptism, fasting, and Communion (chapters 7-10); the third speaks of the ministry and how to deal with traveling prophets (chapters 11-15); and the final section (chapter 16) is a brief apocalypse.

Part of the series on
Jewish Christians
Bloch-SermonOnTheMount

Figures
Jesus
John the Baptist
Simon Peter
Twelve Apostles
James the Just
Simeon of Jerusalem
Jude
Paul of Tarsus
Patriarchs of Jerusalem

Ancient sects
Cerinthians
Ebionites
Elcesaites
Essenes
Notzrim
Nazarenes
Nazoraeans

Modern sects
Ebionite Jewish Community
Messianic Jews
Syrian Malabar Nasrani

Adversity
List of events in early Christianity
Antinomianism
Paul of Tarsus and Judaism
Marcionism
Christian anti-semitism
Bar Kokhba Revolt
Aelia Capitolina
Emperor Constantine

Writings
Clementine literature
Didache
Gospel of Matthew
Epistle of James
Gospel of the Ebionites
Gospel of the Hebrews
Gospel of the Nazoraeans
Liturgy of St James

Issues
Aramaic of Jesus
Aramaic name of Jesus
Background of Jesus
Council of Jerusalem
Early Christianity
Expounding of the Law
Sabbath
Quartodecimanism
Sermon on the Mount
Seven Laws of Noah

Pejoratives
Judaizers
Legalists

Title

The manuscript is commonly referred to as the Didache. This is short for the header found on the document and the title used by the Church Fathers, "The Lord's Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" (Διδαχὴ Κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, Didachē Kiriou dia tōn dōdeka apostolōn) which Jerome said was the same as the Gospel according to the Hebrews. A fuller title or subtitle is also found next in the manuscript, "The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles[14] by the Twelve Apostles" (Διδαχὴ κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, Didachē kyriou dia tōn dōdeka apostolōn tois ethnesin).

Description

Willy Rordorf considered the first five chapters as "essentially Jewish, but the Christian community was able to use it" by adding the "evangelical section".[15] "Lord" in the Didache is reserved usually for "Lord God", while Jesus is called "the servant" of the Father (9:2f.; 10:2f.).[15] Baptism was practised "in the name of the Father." Scholars "generally agree that 9:5 represents an earlier tradition that was gradually replaced by the trinity of names."[15] A similarity with Acts 3 is noted by Aaron Milavec: both see Jesus as "the servant (pais)[16] of God".[17] The community is presented as "awaiting the kingdom from the Father as entirely a future event".[17]

The Two Ways

The first section (Chapters 1-6) begins: "There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways."[18] It is thought by many scholars to be taken from an existing Jewish tract of the same name, but with significant alterations, as the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906, notes:

The most acceptable theory among the many proposed on the character and composition of the Didache is that proposed by Charles Taylor in 1886, and accepted in 1895 by A. Harnack (who in 1884 had most vigorously maintained its Christian origin) — that the first part of the Didache, the teaching concerning the Two Ways (Didache, ch. i.-vi.), was originally a manual of instruction used for the initiation of proselytes in the Synagogue, and was converted later into a Christian manual and ascribed to Jesus and the Apostles.[19]

The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913, notes this view as well, and presents the perspective of other scholars:

It is held by very many critics that the Two Ways is older than the rest of the Didache, and is in origin a Jewish work, intended for the instruction of proselytes. The use of the Sibylline Oracles and other Jewish sources may be probable, and the agreement of ch. ii with the Talmud may be certain; but on the other hand Funk has shown that (apart from the admittedly Christian ch. i, 3-6, and the occasional citations of the N.T.) the O.T. is often not quoted directly, but from the Gospels. Bartlet suggests an oral Jewish catechesis as the source. But the use of such material would surprise us in one whose name for the Jews is "the hypocrites", and in the vehemently anti-Jewish Barnabas still more. The whole base of this theory is destroyed by the fact that the rest of the work, vii-xvi, though wholly Christian in its subject-matter, has an equally remarkable agreement with the Talmud in cc. ix and x. Beyond doubt we must look upon the writer as living at a very early period when Jewish influence was still important in the Church. He warns Christians not to fast with the Jews or pray with them; yet the two fasts and the three times of prayer are modelled on Jewish custom. Similarly the prophets stand in the place of the High Priest.[20]

The more recent Apostolic Fathers, 2nd ed., Lightfoot-Harmer-Holmes, 1992, notes:

The Two Ways material appears to have been intended, in light of 7.1, as a summary of basic instruction about the Christian life to be taught to those who were preparing for baptism and church membership. In its present form it represents the Christianization of a common Jewish form of moral instruction. Similar material is found in a number of other Christian writings from the first through about the fifth centuries, including the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didascalia, the Apostolic Church Ordinances, the Summary of Doctrine, the Apostolic Constitutions, the Life of Schnudi, and On the Teaching of the Apostles (or Doctrina), some of which are dependent on the Didache. The interrelationships between these various documents, however, are quite complex and much remains to be worked out.

The closest parallels in the use of the Two Ways doctrine is found among the Essene Jews at the Dead Sea Scrolls community. The Qumran community included a Two Ways teaching in its founding Charter, The Community Rule.

Throughout the Two Ways, there are many Old Testament quotes shared with the Gospels and many theological similarities, but Jesus is never mentioned by name. The first chapter opens with the Shema ("you shall love God"), the Great Commandment ("your neighbor as yourself"), and the Golden Rule in the negative form (also found in the "Western" version of Acts of the Apostles at 15:19 and 29 as part of the Apostolic Decree). Then comes short extracts in common with the Sermon on the Mount, together with a curious passage on giving and receiving, which is also cited with variations in Shepherd of Hermas (Mand., ii, 4-6). The Latin omits 1:3-6 and 2:1, and these sections have no parallel in Epistle of Barnabas; therefore, they may be a later addition, suggesting Hermas and the present text of the Didache may have used a common source, or one may have relied on the other. Chapter 2 contains the commandments against murder, adultery, corrupting boys, sexual promiscuity, theft, magic, sorcery, abortion, infanticide, coveting, perjury, false testimony, speaking evil, holding grudges, being double-minded, not acting as you speak, greed, avarice, hypocrisy, maliciousness, arrogance, plotting evil against neighbors, hate, narcissism and expansions on these generally, with references to the words of Jesus. Chapter 3 attempts to explain how one vice leads to another: anger to murder, concupiscence to adultery, and so forth. The whole chapter is excluded in Barnabas. A number of precepts are added in chapter 4, which ends: "This is the Way of Life." Verse 13 states you must not forsake the Lord's commandments, neither adding nor subtracting (see also Deut 4:2,12:32). The Way of Death (chapter 5) is a list of vices to be avoided. Chapter 6 exhorts to the keeping in the Way of this Teaching:

See that no one causes you to err from this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able. And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods. (Roberts)

Many take this to be a general recommendation to abstain from flesh, not merely from the meats from sacrificial offerings, as some explain Romans 14:2. Others explain "let him eat herbs" of Paul of Tarsus as a hyperbolical expression like 1 Cor 8:13: "I will never eat flesh, lest I should scandalize my brother", thus giving no support to the notion of vegetarianism in the Early Church, even though, according to Epiphanius of Salamis, the Ebionites were vegetarians. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the Didache is referring to Jewish meats[21]. The Latin version substitutes for chapter 6 a similar close, omitting all reference to meats and to idolothyta, and concluding with per Domini nostri Jesu Christi ... in saecula saeculorum, amen, "by our lord Jesus Christ ... for ever and ever, amen". This is the end of the translation. This suggests the translator lived at a day when idolatry had disappeared, and when the remainder of the Didache was out of date. He had no such reason for omitting chapter 1, 3-6, so that this was presumably not in his copy[21].

Rituals

The second part (chapters 7 - 10) begins with an instruction on baptism, which is to be conferred "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" in “living water” (that is, natural flowing water), if it can be had — if not, in cold or even warm water. The baptized and the baptizer, and, if possible, anyone else attending the ritual should fast for one or two days beforehand. If the water is insufficient for immersion, it may be poured three times on the head. This is said by Dr. C. Bigg[22] to show a late date.

Chapter 8 suggests that fasts are not to be on Monday and Thursday "with the hypocrites" — presumably non-Christian Jews — but on Wednesday and Friday. Nor must Christians pray with their Judaic brethren, instead they shall say the Lord's Prayer three times a day. The text of the prayer is not identical to the version in the Gospel of Matthew, and it is given with the doxology "for Thine is the power and the glory for ever," whereas all but a few manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew have this interpolation with "the kingdom and the power" etc.

Chapter 9 concerns the Eucharist:

" Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:
We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which Thou madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..

And concerning the broken bread:

We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..
But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs." (Roberts)

The order of cup and bread differs both from present-day Christian practice and from that in the New Testament accounts of the Last Supper,[23] of which, again unlike almost all present-day Eucharistic celebrations, the Didache makes no mention.

Chapter 10 gives a thanksgiving after a meal. The contents of the meal are not indicated: chapter 9 does not exclude other elements as well that the cup and bread, which are the only ones it mentions, and chapter 10, whether it was originally a separate document or continues immediately the account in chapter 9, mentions no particular elements, not even wine and bread. Instead it speaks of the "spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant" that it distinguishes from the "food and drink (given) to men for enjoyment that they might give thanks to (God)". After a doxology, as before, come the apocalyptic exclamations: "Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen". The prayer is reminiscent of Revelation 22:17-20 and 1Corinthians 16:22.

These prayers make no reference to the redemptive death of Christ, or remembrance, as formulated by Paul the Apostle in 1Corinthians 11:23-34, see also Substitutionary atonement. Didache 10 doesn't even use the word "Christ," which appears only one other time in the whole tract.

Some have posited that, in spite of the order in the manuscript text, chapter 10 should precede chapter 9: "Some scholars rearranged the text of chapters 9 & 10 (in comparison with chapter 14) to accommodate their view that the later Roman Mass is closer to what they understand to be truly Christian" (Wim van den Dungen). John Dominic Crossan endorses John W. Riggs' 1984 The Second Century article for the proposition that 'there are two quite separate eucharistic celebrations given in Didache 9-10, with the earlier one now put in second place."[24] The section beginning at 10.1 is a reworking of the Jewish birkat ha-mazon, a three-strophe prayer at the conclusion of a meal, which includes a blessing of God for sustaining the universe, a blessing of God who gives the gifts of food, earth, and covenant, and a prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem; the content is "Christianized", but the form remains Jewish.[25] It is similar to the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari, belonging to "a primordial era when the euchology of the Church had not yet inserted the Institution Narrative in the text of the Eucharistic Prayer."[26]

Ministry

The Didache is unique amongst early Christian texts by its emphasis on itinerant ministers, which it describes as apostles and prophets; while it provides for a local ministry of bishops and deacons, these are described in far more detail in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome. This section warns the reader about the morals of these travelling ministers: they are to be received if they teach the above doctrine; and if they add the justice and knowledge of the Lord they are to be received as the Lord. However, while every apostle is to be received as the Lord, and he may stay one day or two, if he stay three, he is a charlatan or false prophet. On leaving he shall take nothing with him but bread; if he ask for money, he is a false prophet. Likewise with those prophets: to judge them when they speak in the spirit is the unpardonable sin; but they must be known by their morals. If they seek gain, they are to be rejected. All travellers who come in the name of the Lord are to be received, but only for two or three days; and they must exercise their trade, if they have one, or at least must not be idle. Anyone who will not work is a Christemporos (translated by C. Bigg as "Christmonger") -- one who makes a gain out of the name of Christ. Teachers and prophets are worthy of their food. First fruits are to be given to the prophets, "for they are your High Priests; but if you have not a prophet, give the firstfruits to the poor". The breaking of bread and Thanksgiving [Eucharist] is on Sunday, "after you have confessed your transgressions, that your Sacrifice may be pure", and those who are at discord must agree, for this is the clean oblation prophesied by Malachi, 1:11, 14. "Ordain therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons, worthy of the Lord . . . for they also minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers". The final chapter (16) exhorts to watching and tells the signs of the end of the world, for example an increase in lawlessness.

The Didache contains some material that is also in Matthew and Luke, rather a lot that is only in Matthew, and much that is not in any of the canonized gospels, but -- and this is remarkable -- it contains virtually nothing that is found in Mark. How could that have happened? If the Didache was based on Matthew, as most New Testament scholars assume, how did the writer manage to exclude virtually everything that Matthew copied from Mark? And even if he had both of those gospels open in front of him, why would he want to do that?

A more likely hypothesis is:

Sayings of Jesus were probably in wide circulation in both oral and written form. The Didache refers to a collection of the sayings of Jesus known as "The Gospel of the Lord" but none of the four canonized gospels. Mark wrote his Gospel based on the preaching of Peter, as most New Testament scholars maintain. Matthew had the Didache and copied from it as he did from Mark: that would explain the origin of the passages that are only in the Didache and Matthew. Luke compiled his Gospel from several sources, including Mark, but he did not have the Didache.

Much of the material in the Didache is also in Acts and/or the Epistles of Paul. The style of these parts is typical of Paul.

The common source for parts of the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas is not very difficult to ascertain. If we were to compare two sermons by Billy Graham, one given in the 1950s and the other in the 1990s, many phrases and even whole sentences would be virtually identical, but not in the same sequence -- which is precisely what we find in the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas. Therefore, the most probable source is Barnabas himself, early and late in his career.

The Didache shows several abrupt changes in vocabulary, phrasing, and ways of addressing an audience that capture the "voices" of three different speakers. In sum, it reads like a set of lecture notes taken by someone listening to three people.

Historical Context

Many strong parallels point to Paul and Barnabas as the apostles involved in this teaching. If so, what we know about them from other sources brackets the time and place in which the Didache was written. The followers of Jesus first preached the gospel only to Jews. After several years, some of them started preaching to Gentiles in Antioch of Syria, many of whom were converted. When the leaders of the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. He found a sizable congregation and many more people eager to hear about Jesus. So Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought Paul to Antioch. They taught there together for a year. (Acts 11:19-26)

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world, and this took place in the days of Claudius. And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea; and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Paul. (Acts 11:27-30) Historical sources say there was a great famine in Judea in AD 47. Therefore, Acts 12:1-23 may be misplaced in Luke's otherwise chronological report. "About that time" King Herod killed James the brother of John and arrested Peter; but Peter escaped from prison, and King Herod died at Caesarea. There are historical records that King Herod (Agrippa I) died during a festival at Caesarea in AD 44. Luke adds a time-space: "But the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24). In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul wrote:

Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up by revelation; and I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain. (Galatians 2:1-2) Fourteen years after Paul's first visit to Jerusalem probably equates to AD 47. The Didache may be what Paul laid before the leaders in Jerusalem -- a summary document prepared in advance for just that purpose -- or more likely from the way it sounds, a set of lecture notes taken while Barnabas and Paul and Titus were speaking. In either case it is worth noting that in the Didache and in Acts 15:12 Barnabas speaks first. He was the leader at Antioch. Paul was his assistant. when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Peter and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (Galatians 2:9) This was when Barnabas and Paul received their charter as "The Apostles to the Gentiles." They returned from Jerusalem to Antioch, bringing Mark with them. (Acts 12:25) Shortly thereafter, all three of them set out on Paul's first missionary journey, which scholars date in AD 47. (Acts 13:1-4) They went from Antioch to and through the island of Cyprus, and then north to what is now the southern coast of Turkey. There Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas went on establishing new churches in the Roman province of Galatia. They returned to the coast by the way they came, sailed back to Antioch of Syria, and "remained no little time with the disciples." (Acts 13 - 14)

But some men came down from Jerusalem [to Antioch] and were teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1) Paul's letter to the Galatians was probably written at this time. No doubt, men from Jerusalem also told his converts in Galatia that they had to be circumcised. Paul was angry because the leaders in Jerusalem had broken their agreement by sending men to the Gentiles. Thus, his letter to the Galatians was written in late AD 48 or early AD 49. Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go [from Antioch] up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. (Acts 15:2b) Scholars date the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem in AD 49. The controversy was not between Paul and Peter. After all, Peter was the one who first preached the gospel to Gentiles (Acts 11:1-3). It was between Paul and "the circumcision party" led by James of Jerusalem, the brother of Jesus (Galatians 2:12). Peter spoke first, in favor of preaching the gospel to Gentiles. Then Barnabas and Paul presented their case. Finally, James of Jerusalem yielded. The decision was that Gentiles did not have to become Jews in order to be Christians, but they must: "Abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity." (Acts 15:6-21, 29) The first part of this decision is in the Didache (6:3); the other three provisions apparently were added to it by the "apostles and elders" in Jerusalem.

With their charter thus reaffirmed, Paul and Barnabas were ready to carry the decision of the Apostolic Council back to the churches they established. Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them again, but Paul objected because Mark left them during their previous journey. Paul and Barnabas quarreled. Finally, Barnabas took Mark with him and went back to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-39). This is the last we hear of Barnabas in the New Testament, except for an indication that he was still preaching the gospel several years later (I Corinthians 9:6).

The long title of the Didache in the manuscript dated 1056 reads: "The Teaching of the Lord by the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles" but I believe the original title was "The Teaching of the Apostles to the Gentiles" and the rest was inserted later.

Certainly Barnabas and Paul were "The Apostles to the Gentiles." If the Didache is a sample of their teaching, as it certainly seems to be, then it must be dated no later than AD 49 because that was when they went their separate ways. The most probable date is either AD 44 or AD 47. In either case, those dates are earlier than anything in the New Testament. Therefore, I believe the Didache is the earliest Christian document we have. Although rightly regarded as a church handbook and not a Gospel or absolutely based on the teachings of Jesus, it provides valuable insights concerning the moral doctrines, theology, rituals, esoteric operations and congregational testing of apostles and prophets, and the basic organization of First Century Christianity.

Local ministry

The local ministers are bishops and deacons, as in Paul's epistle Philippians (1:1) and Clement. Presbyters are not mentioned, and the bishops are clearly presbyter-bishops, as in Acts, 20, and in the Pauline Epistles. But when Ignatius wrote in 107, or at the latest 117, the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons were already considered necessary to the very name of a Church, in Syria, Asia Minor, and Rome. It is probable that in Clement's time there was as yet no monarchical episcopate at Corinth, though such a state did not endure much past Clement's time in any of the major Christian centers. On this ground, the Didache is most likely set either in the first century or a rural church. The itinerant ministry is obviously yet more archaic. In the second century prophecy was a charisma only and not a ministry, except among the Montanists.

Itinerant ministry

The itinerant ministers are not mentioned by Clement or Ignatius. The three orders are apostles, prophets, and teachers, as in 1 Corinthians 12:28,29: "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?" The Didache places teachers below apostles and prophets, the two orders which Paul makes the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). The term apostle is applied by Paul not only to the Twelve, but also to himself, to Barnabas, to his kinsmen Andronicus, who had been converted before him, and to a class of preachers of the first rank. There is no instance in the New Testament or in early Christian literature of the existence of an order called apostles later than the Apostolic age. There is no evidence for a second-century order of apostles, which suggests the Didache is earlier, perhaps no later than about 80. Adolf Harnack, on the other hand, gives 131-160, holding that Barnabas and the Didache independently employ a Christianized form of the Jewish Two Ways, while chapter 16 is citing Barnabas -- a somewhat roundabout hypothesis. He places Barnabas in 131, and the Didache later than this. Those who date Barnabas under the reign of the Roman emperor Vespasian mostly make the Didache the borrower in chapters 1 - 5 and in 16. Many, with Funk, place Barnabas under the reign of Nerva. The more common view is that which puts the Didache before 100. Bartlet agrees with Ehrhard that 80-90 is the most probable decade. Sabatier, Minasi, Jacquier, and others have preferred a date even before 70. Owen Chadwick wryly dates the Didache to "the period between about 70 and 110. It may be odd there, but it is much odder anywhere else."

Matthew and the Didache

In modern scholarship a new consensus is emerging which dates the Didache at about the turn of the 1st century. At the same time, significant similarities between the Didache and the gospel of Matthew have been found as these writings share words, phrases, and motifs. There is also an increasing reluctance of modern scholars to support the thesis that the Didache used Matthew. This close relationship between these two writings might suggest that both documents were created in the same historical and geographical setting. One argument that suggests a common environment is that the community of both the Didache and the gospel of Matthew was probably composed of Judaeo-Christians from the beginning, though each writing shows indications of a congregation which appears to have alienated itself from its Jewish background (see also List of events marking the split between early Christianity and Judaism). Also, the Two Ways teaching (Did. 1-6) may have served as a pre-baptismal instruction within the community of the Didache and Matthew. Furthermore, the correspondence of the Trinitarian baptismal formula in the Didache and Matthew (Did. 7 and Matt 28:19) as well as the similar shape of the Lord's Prayer (Did. 8 and Matt 6:5-13) apparently reflect the use of resembling oral forms of church traditions. Finally, both the community of the Didache (Did. 11-13) and Matthew (Matt 7:15-23; 10:5-15, 40-42; 24:11,24) were visited by itinerant apostles and prophets, some of whom were illegitimate.[27]

See also

Footnotes

  1. Strong's G1322: instruction (the act or the matter): - doctrine, hath been taught.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Draper, JA (2006), The Apostolic Fathers: the Didache, Expository Times, Vol.117, No.5, p.178
  3. Aaron Milavec, p. vii
  4. Apostolic Constitutions "Canon 85" (approved at the Orthodox Synod of Trullo in 692); Rufinus, Commentary on Apostles Creed 37 (as Deuterocanonical) c. 380; John of Damascus Exact Exposition of Orthodox Faith 4.17; and the 81-book canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
  5. Athanasius, Festal Letter 39 (excludes them from the canon, but recommends them for reading) in 367; Rejected by 60 Books Canon and by Nicephorus in Stichometria
  6. THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS The Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D. & James Donaldson, LL.D., EDITORS, VOLUME VII FATHERS OF THE THIRD AND FOURTH CENTURIES: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1886, Introductory Notice by Professor M. B. Riddle, D.D., Time and Place of Composition.
  7. (Kleist 1948; Rordorf and Tuilier 1978)
  8. (Vokes 1970)
  9. (Peterson 1959)
  10. Holmes, MW (2007) The Apostolic Fathers in English, Baker Academic, p.159
  11. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3): Didache
  12. Historia Ecclesiastica III, 25.
  13. Clement quotes the Didache as scripture. Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1972
  14. Some translations "Nations", see Strong's 1484
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Aaron Milavec p. 110
  16. Acts 3:13 describes Jesus as παῖς: "a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy) a girl, and (generally) a child; specifically a slave or servant (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God): - child, maid (-en), (man) servant, son, young man" Strong's G3817
  17. 17.0 17.1 Aaron Milavec p. 368
  18. Holmes, Apostolic Fathers
  19. Didache. JewishEncyclopedia.com entry. Accessed May 1, 2006.
  20. Didache. Catholic Encyclopedia 1913. Accessed May 3, 2006.
  21. 21.0 21.1 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia: The Didache
  22. See Notes on the Didaché in Journ. of Theol. Stud., July 1904 5:579-589 and 1905 6:411-415.
  23. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, Mark 14:22-25, Matthew 26:26-29, Luke 22:14-20
  24. Crossan, The Historical Jesus, p 361 (1991)
  25. The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity by Hubertus Waltherus Maria van de Sandt, David Flusser pp 311-2; Metaphors of Sacrifice in the Liturgies of the Early Church by Stephanie Perdew; Jüdische Wurzel by Franz D. Hubmann
  26. Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, The Anaphora of Addai and Mari: A Study of Structure and Historical Background
  27. H. van de Sandt (ed), Matthew and the Didache, ( Assen: Royal van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress Press , 2005).

References

  • Audet, Jean-Paul, La Didache, Instructions des Apôtres, J. Gabalda & Co., 1958.
  • Draper, Jonathan, ed. 1996. The Didache in Modern Research (Leiden, New York and Cologne)
  • Draper, JA (2006), The Apostolic Fathers: the Didache, Expository Times, Vol.117, No.5, p.177-181
  • Holmes, Michael W., ed., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Baker Academic, 2007. ISBN 978-0801034688
  • Jones, Tony, The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community, Paraclete Press, 2009. ISBN 9781557255907
  • Milavec, Aaron, The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E. Paulist Press, 2003 ISBN 9780809105373
  • Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, et al., Apostolic Fathers, London: Macmillan and Co. 1889.
  • This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

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