The additional chapters of the Arabic Didascalia

As part of my work on Testamentum Domini I have been trying to get my head around the various Arabic versions of this text. Here I have been greatly aided by the extraordinary scholarship of R-G Coquin, “Le Testamentum Domini: problemes de tradition textuelle” Parole de l’Orient 5 (1974), 165-188. Coquin notes three distinct Arabic versions, based on distinct Greek recensions of the text.This to add to the Ethiopic version and the Syriac recension published by Rahmani.

What is particularly interesting to note, in what amounts to a throwaway remark from Coquin on p. 184 of his article, is that the additional chapters of this Arabic Didascalia, whilst taken from Testamentum Domini, reflect yet another Arabic version of this material.

My own Arabic is somewhat limited. All this steels my determination, however, to improve its standard so that, even if as a retirement project, I can bring this material to publication. In the meantime I hope nonetheless that somebody else does it. So if there is any Arabist reading this blog who is looking for a research project…

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Didache Bibliography, again

It dawns on me that I never posted an update on the saga of the Oxford online Didache bibliography.

The sordid reality is that I gave up on it, going goggle-eyed at the (apparently bizarre) formatting required. Thankfully my friend Taras Khomych came to the rescue and finished the job, becoming co-author in the process. I suppose it is now available… I’m afraid I lost all interest. Even the offer of free Oxford books could not lure me back.

Brighter news, however, in that Jonathan Draper has posted an annotated bibliography of his writings on the Didache to academia.edu. This is very useful. And of course we look forward to his (long awaited) commentary for the Oxford Apostolic Fathers series.

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Church Order Conspectus – matter of definition

After having been added as co-author on the blog, I’d like to reply once more on the matter of defining the church order tradition, and in regards to Stewarts conspectus (see post of January 6th 2016), on which texts we could include in the list and which not.

In my dissertation, I analyze the emergence of the church orders in the context of Church history from its beginning to the early 4th century. I’ll therefore exclude here the Church Orders from the 4th to 5th centuries. I start with the premise that the texts we normally regard as Church Orders (Didache, Traditio Apostolica, Didascalia, Apostolic Church Order) share some features with regards to content. Building on Stewarts working definition, I’d propose five features:

First, the lack of a central authority in the emerging Church. Especially after the death of the Apostles, the communities were in need of a broadly accepted authority, even more so when problems went beyond singular communities or house churches. The authors present themselves as such authorities and their texts as binding for everybody.

Second, the apostolic claim and the pseudonymity. It is clearly a sign that the anonymous authors lacked authority or that they hoped to give their texts more persuasive force this way. It also originates from the fragmentation of the early church in different house communities or schools and the fact that ancient schools tended to construct some kind of lineage.

Third, questions of authority. It is apparent that Church Orders were written in contest with other Christian authorities or leaders, e.g. prophets, patrons, widows. The texts therefore deal with hierarchy and offices to regulate Church life.

Fourth, the process of canonization, which of course is complex, but most of the early Christian texts deal with the question, what is truly Christian? It leads to the formation of a canon and simultaneously, to the construction of heresy and orthodoxy. Most Christian texts deal with integration and demarcation of other doctrines or schools. So do the Church Orders, when they treat heretic literature, false teaching etc.

Fifth, problem-oriented. This is central to my argument. These texts were written to address concrete problems and questions in Christian communities, and therefore, we deal with texts written by Christians for Christians.

It is symptomatic that many modern scholars try to define the Church order tradition but fail to do so. I’m not happy neither! Steimer, Mueller, Metzger and others, in the end, always recur to the content: the attempt to “direct the conduct of Christians and of the church”. What I’d like to propose is that we should see the Church Orders in their early Christian context, and this links them to other Christian texts. There are many more texts that share all or most of the above-mentioned features. (Certainly, not all features are equally present in all texts.) And crucially, I think, some texts are not essentially different from the Church Orders, but are sometimes not called so.

We already named the Pastorals, which are in my opinion a fictional trilogy clearly with Church Order character. I’d propose the letters by the Apostolic fathers in general, although there is more differentiation necessary (we dealt with 1 Clement, but see Alexandre Faivre for reflections on other letters). But what with deutero-Pauline letters like Ephesians, Colossians, the Johannine letters?

Stewart argues that these letters were written only to one community and not to the whole Church. But then, letters were expected to be read out aloud, to circulate in a town, or sometimes to be sent on to other cities and communities (like other letters were written to be publicized, e.g. Pliny, Seneca). What is important in my opinion is that letters were clearly problem-oriented and dealt with actual questions.

The recourse to the apostolic authority is a good point too in my opinion. But where do we find it more explicit than in the deutero-Pauline letters?

Enough for now, I await vigorous opposition.

daniel vaucher

 

 

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Did anyone take notice of the church orders?

Daniel Vaucher has submitted an extensive comment on my conspectus of church orders. This conspectus needs to be updated in several respects, though this may not happen until the fall, as I do not work much in the summer. When I do come to update it, I shall examine his suggestions for additions (apart from Epistula apostolorum and I Clement) (see the comment below.)

Within his comment Vaucher asks:

Would you suggest, then, in opposition to the synodal canons, that Church Orders had no reasonable expectation of being observed? It reminds me of Paul Bradshaws question in his recent book, if anybody took any notice of the Church Orders. Were they really just literary ideal ?
The next one is the classification of the Apostolic canons at the end of CA VIII. It is apparent that they included material from the synods of the 4th century, but nevertheless they were probably written / compiled by the same author as the Apostolic Constitutions. The latter are in my opinion clearly a Church Order. The Apostolic Canons are somewhat in-between, if they consist of canons by individual bishops or actual synods and of material by an anonymous author of the CA. Things get even more complicated in terms of the working definition when we look at the aftermath of the Apostolic Canons. They were included in all the Canonical collections and became actual Canonic Law.

 

I agree entirely that the apostolic canons are church order material, though I treat them as part of the Apostolic constitutions, as I believe that they were compiled by the same author/redactor (as DV agrees.) And he is right, not only do they incorporate material from “real” synods, but they come to be incorporated in canonical collections.

I do treat of this a little in a forthcoming article in RHE on the pseudonymous Antiochene canons included in my conspectus. I take the liberty of quoting myself:

The standard statement in the history of apostolic pseudepigrapha is that such productions cease with the prominence of church councils, which become sources of authority as canon law develops.1 Whatever the truth of that statement, we may note that these “church orders” are preserved in canonical collections alongside other, more historically grounded, councils, such as the west Syrian Synodicon2 and the collection found in Paris Syr. 62, which contains the Didascalia apostolorum and an abbreviated version of Testamentum Domini alongside conciliar canons and documents such as Constantine’s summons to Nicaea. Thus even if the growth of councils and the development of a corpus of canon law led to the end of the production of pseudo-apostolic legislative and liturgical material it also led to the preservation of what had been produced. So these Antiochene canons are found in the Munich MS between African conciliar acts from the time of Cyprian and the eighth book of the Apostolic constitutions, and in the Vallicellan alongside the canons of the local fourth-century councils such as Ancyra and Gangra as well as those of the ecumenical councils. Moreover, even if the growth of conciliar legislation led to the end of the church orders, before it did so it directly affected their form as in the fourth century such pseudepigrapha adopt the form of conciliar canons. Thus we have the Apostolic canons, already mentioned above, and the rewriting of the Hippolytean Traditio apostolica into canon form in the Canones Hippolyti.

1Thus Susan Wessel, “The formation of ecclesiastical law in the early church” in Wilfried Hartmann, Kenneth Pennington (ed.), The history of Byzantine and eastern canon law to 1500 (Washington DC: Catholic University of America, 2012), 1-23 at 23; Heinz Ohme, “Sources of the Greek canon law to the Quinisext Council (691/2): councils and church fathers” in Hartmann and Pennington History, 24-114 at 31; Paul F. Bradshaw, Ancient church orders (JLS 80; Norwich: Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2015), 57-8.

2Ed. Arthur Vööbus, The Synodicon in the west Syrian tradition (Leuven: Peeters, 1975-6).

I think what I am suggesting beyond what is here is that prior to the development of conciliar law the church orders employed apostolic authority as an attempt to persuade. The fact that they were translated, copied and edited implies that they were read and noticed, but that their force was persuasive only. The adaptation of canon form to apostolic pseudonymy is the next step in lending persuasive force to the contents of the orders. The widespread distribution of the apostolic canons indicates that this was successful. Interestingly, moreover, we find the pseudonymous Antiochene canons quoted  by Gregory of Pisinuntum at the second Council of Nicaea, which again indicates that the canon form brought persuasive success. But the provisions of synodal canons could be enforced in the way that those of the church orders could not.

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The Bishop of Rome and the study of the church orders

It’s not often that the Didascalia (although not named) makes the news!

http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-create-commission-study-female-deacons-catholic-church

 

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Is I Clement a church order? In response to Daniel Vaucher

In response to my posting a conspectus of church orders, in an attempt to define the field, Daniel Vaucher has responded in a comment, to which I am responding in a series of posts.

As part of that post I attempted to define the field, offering a definition of a church order as “a literary document which seeks to direct the conduct of Christians and of the church on the basis of an appeal to tradition derived from or mediated through the apostles.”

Vaucher suggests that there is a danger of too broad a definition, and that I am in danger of having to include the post-Pauline letters. He also suggests various other documents which might be included under my definition.

The only grey area for me is I Clement. I do not think that Epistula apostolorum is directive in the way that the orders are and was central to the definition, and to include that in the focus is unhelpful. I do think that we might well include I Timothy and Titus in the conspectus; we may recall Bartsch’s important study here (Die Anfänge urchristlicher Rechtsbildungen. Studien zu den Pastoralbriefen, (Hamburg-Bergstedt : Reich, 1965) and reflect that Johannes Mühlsteiger, Kirchenordnungen: Anfänge kirchlicher Rechtsbildung (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2006) includes the Pastoral Epistles. I Clement is a grey area in that it certainly seeks to direct the conduct of a church, though not the church in general, and appeals to apostolic authority, even if that authority is not central to its persuasive force. On balance I think I would exclude it on the grounds that it is addressed to one church rather than to churches in the abstract, and on the grounds that apostolic authority, whilst present, is not central. Nonetheless I can see the case for its inclusion.

This is all for today! I must add, for any reader unfamiliar with academic discourse, that my critical comments are the result of gratitude to Vaucher for his attention and contribution. He, of course, knows that.

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Peter of Alexandria, Didascalia: in response to a comment from Daniel Vaucher

Daniel Vaucher has produced a major comment on the post below on the conspectus of the church orders. I will respond by way of blog-posts on each individual aspect of his comment, as and when time allows.

Here is just one small one.

Vaucher states: Peter of Alexandria could be the author of a didascalia Petrou. Aren’t didascalia / diataxis the common names of church orders? Harnack (Chronologie der altchr. Litteratur, Vol 2, 1904, 73) mentions an unedited Didascalia Petrou in Cod. Vat. Gr. 2081, fol. 94v and asks whether it is Peter from Alexandria. He mentions a study by Crum, “Texts Attributed to Peter of Alexandria” JTS 4 (1903), 387-397, but I can’t find a note of the didascalia.

I reply: It is not often that one gets one over on Harnack so I shall enjoy this moment! Vaucher reports Harnack accurately, but the Didascalia of Peter of Alexandria had indeed been published from the Vatican MS, by J. M. Heer, “Ein neues Fragment der Didaskalie des Martyrbischofs Peter von Alexandrien,” Oriens Christianus 2 (1902), 344-51. Although Vaucher is right, Didascalia is indeed a common name for church order material, this is not a church order but a homiletic fragment.

This comment will keep me going for months!

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