Apostolic Tradition 21.39-40, the white stone, and a matter of balancing the Coptic against the Aksumite Ethiopic

Over on hyptoposeis.org I find, over a year later, a discussion of Apostolic tradition 21.39-40; find it by searching for “Andrew Criddle”, as the discussion is over three posts.

The Sahidic of Apostolic Tradition reads: “We have handed over to you in brief these things about holy baptism and the holy offering, since you have already been instructed about the resurrection of the flesh and the other things according to the Scriptures. Now (δέ) if anything else should be said, the bishop shall say it privately…” There is a significantly different reading in the Aksumite Ethiopic, an understanding which may well stand behind the version offered by the Testament of the Lord. This text reads: “It is therefore convenient to be given this in brief on the washing and on the offering because they have already been instructed. But about the resurrection of the body and everything else in accordance [with the Scriptures] the bishop will reveal and explain as is convenient when they are initiated.” Testament of the Lord is slightly confusing, but the confusion may come about through attempting to make sense of a reading like that of the Aksumite: “They should also be taught about the resurrection of bodies; before being baptized nobody should know the word concerning the resurrection.” Andrew Criddle, for whom I have the utmost respect, believes that the Aksumite reflects a more accurate rendition of the original, given the potential support of Testamentum Domini, and locates the precise matter regarding the resurrection, which is to be held secret, in the teaching regarding the harrowing of hell which is found in Testamentum Domini presented as mystagogy.

I’m afraid that on this occasion I cannot agree. It is as likely that this particular mystagogy is a peculiarity of the Testamentum. The Aksumite Ethiopic may be derived from a Greek text very similar to the Coptic. To demonstrate the point I attempt a retroversion of the relevant phrase(s) without punctuation (and with apologies for the horrible appearance of the Greek): … περὶ τοῦ λουτροῦ καὶ τῆς προσφορᾶς ἐπειδὴ ἤδη κατήχησθε (or ηνται following Ethiopic) περὶ τῆς τῆς σαρκὸς ἀναστασέως καὶ τὰ λοιπά κατὰ τᾶς γραφάς… Now if a full stop or colon is placed after the verb κατήχησθε the meaning is as the Ethiopic (though admittedly the style would be improved with a δέ after the περί), whereas should the full stop or colon be placed after τᾶς γραφάς then the meaning is as the Coptic. It is quite possible that the redactor of the Testamentum Domini (mis)read the text in the same way as the Ethiopic scribe.

I treat the point in the second edition of my Apostolic tradition (now languishing forgotten at the Press) but since the discussion had already entered the blogosphere I thought it worth labouring here at rather greater length than I do in the book.

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Didache Bibliography

As intimated earlier, I have received an invitation to produce an annotated bibliography on the Didache.

This is for the Oxford Bibliographies in Biblical Studies series. I was not aware that the Didache was in the Bible, but then again I am no expert.

And I made a start today! Pretty tedious for the most part, but hopefully I will find a few obscurities to blog about on the way, and may enjoy re-reading some stuff. I am thinking that I should at least re-read the classic works of Harnack and Audet. This will give me an excuse.

In the meantime I find that http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html has a bit of a bibliography, with some links to online material.

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Fragments of the Testamentum Domini in Georgian

On academia.edu.

https://www.academia.edu/1610629/Fragmente_des_Testamentum_Domini_in_georgischer_Ubersetzung

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More on Isaac of Nineveh

Further to my last post I found my copy of Marius Besson, ”Un recueil de sentences attribué à Isaac le Syrien”, Oriens Christianus 1 (1901): 46-60, 288-298. It has also been reprinted by Gorgias and may be obtained (at a price) from http://www.gorgiaspress.com/bookshop/p-57035-besson-marius-un-recueil-de-sentences-attribu-isaac-le-syrien.aspx.

I recollect now that the reason I did not include Isaac’s work in my book on the two ways is less that he was remote from the tradition, though he is, but more because the relevant material appears only in a few sentences towards the beginning, whereas there is a great deal of other material. Nonetheless, I realize now that this is another ascetic gnomologion. Given my interest in these, sparked by working on the Gnomai of Nicaea, I do now regret failing to give this work any further attention. It provides yet another instance of the asceticization of the Church Order tradition and the growth of the classical tradition of gnomologia as means of instruction and self-instruction in monastic circles.

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Dixit Dix de Didache

Having unaccountably lost my copy of Batiffol’s edition of the Greek Syntagma doctrinae I looked online to see if a digital copy were obtainable (apparently, none is.)

However, I did turn up a curio from the history of scholarship, namely Dix on the question of whether Didache 1.4 which reads: ἐάν τίς σοι δῷ ῥάπισμα εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα should include the word δεξιὰν. He suggests that this might not be the case on the basis of the citation of the text in Isaac of Nineveh’s Sententiae which omits the word. This is, he notes, the reading of the Diatessaron. The article is within the public domain and may be viewed at http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/jts/034_242.pdf.

Whereas Isaac may be a long way removed from the Didache (I recollect that, when preparing my book on the Two Ways, I decided that this text was too remote from the tradition to warrant inclusion) this was sufficient to suggest to Dix that the Didachist was indebted to the Diatessaron; this was in support of the theory (originating with Armitage Robinson and then in wide circulation) that the Didache was a product of the late second century. As part of this he has to argue that the sectio evangelica was part of the original Didache, and in this context grabs evidence from the Syntagma doctrinae which appears to cite the sectio evangelica of the Didache. On this basis, he concludes that the sectio was part of the original, and that the Diatessaronic reading is preserved by Isaac on the basis that he may have had an old text.

The basic argument of dependence on the Diatessaron and the primacy of the Two Ways Tradition as preserved in the Didache (as opposed to its representation in the Doctrina and in Apostolic Church Order) is not worth refuting. As to whether δεξιάν should be omitted from the text of the Didache at this point, quite apart from the Diatessaron, the witness of Isaac is interesting but hardly conclusive. Nonetheless, since I have just received a commission for an annotated bibliography of the Didache (to be blogged on a later occasion, I am just returning from an extended rest) it is interesting to find this curio to add to the collection, and to start the process.

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The Didascalia Apostolorum or “Teaching of the (Twelve) Apostles”

Alistair C. Stewart:

Not the work of a professional scholar but a fair summary nonetheless. And of course one is glad to see the Didascalia gaining attention.

Originally posted on David Christian Clausen:

In my last post regarding the origins of Christianity in Syria, I mentioned a number of early Christian texts believed to have been authored somewhere within the Roman imperial province. One of those is the Didascalia Apostolorum, Latin for “Teaching of the Apostles.” Most scholars believe the DA was authored in Greek in the third century of the Common Era but by the next century it came to be translated into both Latin and Syriac, the language spoken in much of Syria. Among those cities in which the DA may have originated are Aleppo (modern Halab, southeast of Antioch), Bosra (modern Busra al-Sham in southeast Syria), and Edessa (modern Sanli Urfa in western Syria). The DA shows the influence of both the Hebrew Bible and certain rabbinical texts, indicating an origination point in a location with a significant Jewish-Christian population.

Because of its relatively late date of authorship vis-à-vis…

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The pseudonymy game

A few weeks ago I went to a day studying pseudonymous dialogues, in particular to hear the excellent Alin Suciu, who gave a paper on pseudo-apostolic dialogues in Coptic. It keeps me out of trouble!

 What was interesting, as far as students of the ancient church orders is concerned, is the apparatus of pseudonymy in many of these dialogues, as many claim to have been found in Jerusalem, hidden in libraries. Most striking, in that context, was the introduction to ps-John Chrysostom On the four bodiless creatures in which the author states that he was in Jerusalem studying the commands (nesēntagma) in Jerusalem. Surely these syntagmata are an allusion to the setting in Jerusalem of the pseudo-apostolic church orders (e.g. the Didascalia.) A pseudonymous author thus refers to the apparatus of pseudonymy! Any further development of understanding of the church orders must come to terms with their pseudonymous nature. Bart Ehrman has made a significant contribution here, but somehow I do not think his is the last word; I tend to think of pseudonymy more as a literary game than an outright intention to deceive (forgery, in Bart’s words). What Alin’s paper particularly brings to our attention is the continuation of the literary game which we call pseudonymy.

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