The Arabic Didascalia

Some recent posts have moved some to ask me further about the Arabic Didascalia.

There are two recensions.

The first corresponds to Constitutiones apostolorum 1-6, with some omissions and re-arrangements. In addition it has a preface and six additional chapters. This preface is that which also appears in the E recension of the Syrian Didascalia.

The opening of this recension was given by Thomas Pell Platt (The Ethiopic Didascalia; or, the Ethiopic version of the Apostolical constitutions, received in the church of Abyssinia. With an English translation (London: R. Bentley, 1834) from one of two MSS in London. Platt further gives an account of a controversy between Whiston and Grabe in the early eighteenth century, which led to Grabe’s examination of two Arabic MSS at Oxford. (Platt, Ethiopic Didascalia, ii-viii.) Grabe gave a description of the contents of these without any publication,seeing the versional aspects of these MSS as simply corruption of the Greek.

As far as I can see the next published treatment of this material is that of Funk, who lists eight MSS for the Arabic Didascalia, giving a description of the contents, and a German translation of the preface and the additional chapters. (F.X. Funk, Die apostolischen Konstitutionen: eine litterar–historische Untersuchung (Rottenburg: Wilhelm Bader, 1891), 215-242. Two of these, in London, are mentioned by Platt, Ethiopic Didascalia, xi. The former is in Karshuni script, the latter was the source of his printing of the opening.) A Latin version of this material, with extensive annotation, is to be found in Funk’s Didascalia et constitutiones apostolorum (Paderborn: Schoeningh, 1905), 120-136. The reason for stressing that this was published is that Wilhelm Riedel, Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (Leipzig: Deichert, 1900), 164-165, reports that Lagarde had studied the Parisian MSS and made a collation, but that this was never published! (According to Riedel this MS may be found as Lagarde 107 in the University Library at Göttingen.)

The other recension, discovered by Baumstark, is close to Constitutiones apostolorum in books 1-6, also contains most of book 7, does not include the additional chapters but does include the preface. The colophon states that this version was translated from Coptic in the thirteenth century. As such it is less a witness to the Arabic Didascalia as to a lost Coptic Didascalia. (See Anton Baumstark, “Die Urgestalt der ‘arabischen Didaskalia der Apostel’” Oriens Christianus 3 (1903), 201-208.)

Lagarde had opined that the Ethiopic version was a translation of the Arabic (my source for this being Riedel’s brief report.) Given that this is likewise unpublished, though edited and translated into English (by J.M. Harden, The Ethiopic Didascalia (London: SPCK, 1920)), it does seem extraordinary that no effort appears to have been made since that of Lagarde to study and to bring this material to light.

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A conspectus of the church orders

A version of the following has already been posted on Its purpose is to provide a conspectus of the church orders. I hope it will prove useful.

The genre of church order is a phantom which was conjured up in the nineteenth century to classify a number of texts which were coming to light. As Mueller (2007) has observed, the term Kirchenordnung is a product of the reformation, and is only applied to patristic material by analogy.
Although certainly not a genre, we may use the term as a convenient receptacle to place a number of documents, some of which have been extensively discussed while others are still barely investigated, and of which a number, whilst the focus of scholarship in the nineteenth century, are now all but forgotten.
The working definition which is employed here is “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.”
The main point to make by way of defending this working definition is to point out that these are literary productions, usually pseudonymous, as opposed to canons laid down by individual bishops or actual councils, which are regulations which those who promulgated them had a reasonable expectation of being observed, as opposed to the literary ideal of the church orders. It is observable that the form of “canon” was increasingly employed in the production of these literary church-orders, reflecting the growing importance of synods. The Canones Hippolyti, a reworking of an earlier church-order, the Traditio apostolica, is thus found divided into canons, even though the literary form is not that of canons. This may be the result of secondary redaction, but it is also notable that the eighth book of the Constitutiones apostolorum, also a re-working of Traditio apostolica, appends a series of canons. In time church-order material is included in canonical collections, such as the Syrian Synodicon. That Traditio apostolica should be reworked in this manner (and these are not the only reworkings), highlights a further phenomenon which is familiar to students of the orders, namely the extent to which many are in literary relationship with each other. This, alongside their common function and their frequent pseudonymy, provides further grounds for treating this somewhat disparate set of documents as a group.
The purpose of this document is not, however, to define church-orders as much as to provide a catalogue of the documents which may conveniently so be classified in order to define the field of research and to chart progress. Beyond their intrinsic interest the church-orders provide vital liturgical and social-historical evidence for the communities in which they were produced. A better understanding of the orders themselves may provide a better understanding of the evidence which they supply.
The division into tables is itself a convenience only. The first table shows the “major” church-orders, those which have been universally accepted as belonging to the “genre”. The second are “minor” church-orders, not always recognized as such but which fit the definition given above; notably most of the editions are over a century old. In time it may prove possible to add a third table, showing the larger collections in which the church-orders are now generally found.
Corrections and suggestions for expansion will be received with gratitude, as this is a step into relatively uncharted territory.
A.C. Stewart

The “major” church orders

Name: Didache
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek, Coptic fragment. Rordorf & Tuilier (1988).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Basis for CA7. Relationship with other TWT.
Notes: 1C?

Name: Traditio apostolica
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Complex transmission in versions. See Stewart (2015b).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Basis for CH, CA8, TD.
Notes: 3C Roman?

Name: Didascalia apostolorum
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (Vööbus (1979)), Latin substantial fragment (Tidner (1963)), small Coptic fragment (Camplani (1996)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Basis for CA 1-6.
Notes: 2 recensions. E rec. has distinct preface, numerous abbreviations, additional material as appendix, including K, Can. Add, Epitome of AC8. See also Stewart-Sykes (2009).

Name: Apostolic Church Order,
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek, Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, Latin fragment. See Stewart-Sykes (2006).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Possible common source with DA, probable common source with D.
Notes: Variously and also known as apostolische Kirchenordnung, Canons ecclésiastiques des apôtres.

Name: Testamentum Domini
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (Rahmani (1899)), Ethiopic (Beylot (1984)), Arabic (unedited), Greek fragment (Corcoran and Salway (2011)), Georgian fragments (Chronz and Brakmann (2009)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Reworking of TA. Opening apocalyptic section transmitted independently in Latin and Ethiopic versions.
Notes: Cooper and Maclean (1902) provide English version.

Name: Constitutiones apostolorum
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Metzger (1985-)), Arabic (see Funk (1891), 215-242), Ethiopic (see Harden (1920 (ETr).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Books 1-6 reworking of DA, Book 7 reworking of D, Book 8 reworking of TA. Set of canons appended (apostolic canons). Ar./Eth. have distinct preface, also found in E recension of DA. Ar. also has material deriving from TD!
Notes: 4C Antiochene. Book 8 itself subject of epitome forming canons transmitted in a number of versions.

Name: Canones Hippolyti
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic (through Coptic) (Coquin (1966)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Reworking of TA.
Notes: 4C Egyptian.

The “minor” church orders

Name: Didascalia Domini (title in one MS)
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Nau (1907))
Relationship with other orders or documents: Echoes in apocalyptic section of other “tours of hell”, in particular Apocalypsis Anastasiae, Apoc. Virginis Mariae.
Notes: Post-resurrection interrogation of Christ by named disciples. Issues re Lent, Wednesday and Friday fasting, clerical discipline, apocalyptic section. Other MS calls it “apostolic constitutions”, but is it even a church-order? Closest relative is Epistula apostolorum!

Name: Regula canonica sanctorum apostolorum (ὅρος κανονικὸς τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων)
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Bickell (1843), 133-137; Lagarde (1856), 36-37).
Relationship with other orders or documents: In same Vienna MS as K.
Notes: 18 disciplinary canons, various subjects, liturgical and ethical. Read like conciliar canons. Discussion in Bickell (1843), 98ff. Only pseudepigraphical apparatus is in title.

Name: Canones apostolorum Antiochenses
Original language: Greek.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (ed. Bickell (1843), 138-142; Pitra (1864), 88-91; Harnack (1904), 86-101)
Relationship with other orders or documents: Derived from NT.
Notes: Canons in “apostolic” council at Antioch.

Name: Poena sanctorum apostolorum (τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων ἐπιτιμία τῶν παραπιπτόντων)
Original language: Greek.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Pitra (1864), 105-107).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Some similar content to Canons of Basil.
Notes: Brief “canons” declaring periods of excommunication for various offences.

Name: Canones Addaei
Original language: Greek?
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (Lagarde (1856), 113, with Greek retroversion p89; Cureton (1864), 24-35.) Bickell (1843), 179-80 refers to Arabic, Funk (1891), 246 refers to Ethiopic.
Relationship with other orders or documents: Also found in E recension of Didascalia. Lagarde’s version is from same codex as abbreviated TD.
Notes: Liturgical directions. Set in context of apostolic fiction in Cureton’s version.

Name: Canones Athanasii
Original language: Greek?
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic, Coptic (see Riedel and Crum (1904)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Some echoes in Canones Basilii, Sententiae Nicaeae.
Notes: Egyptian provenance.

Name: Canones Basilii
Original language: Greek?
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic, Coptic. German version of Arabic in Riedel (1900), 231-283. Awaiting edition of Coptic version (newly discovered).

Name: Sententiae Nicaeae
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Coptic (Stewart (2015a)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Distant relationship to D. Transmitted with (Coptic) Fides patrum.
Notes: Egyptian, 4C gnomologion, some focus on ascetics.

Name: Syntagma doctrinae
Original language: Greek.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (ed. Batiffol (1890))
Relationship with other orders or documents: V close to Fides patrum; indebted to TWT.
Notes: Ascetic rule. Egyptian, 4C.

Name: Fides patrum
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (ed. Batiffol (1887)), Coptic (ed. Revillout (1881), 15-62), Ethiopic (ed. Bausi (2004)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: V close to Syntagma doctrinae. Coptic conclusion (Greek may be lacunose) has material found in DA.
Notes:Ascetic rule, prefaced by creed and anathemas. Egyptian, 4C.

Name: Canones Petri
Original language: Unknown.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic. German translation in Riedel (1900), 165-175.

Name: Statuta ecclesiae antiqua
Original language: Latin
Extant languages with principal published editions: Latin (Munier, 1960)
Relationship with other orders or documents: Echoes of TA, CA
Notes: Gallican 5C? Presented as canons of a non-existent 4th Council of Carthage.


Batiffol, Pierre (1887):Didascalia CCCXVIII patrum (Paris)
–, (1890): Syntagma doctrinae (Studia patristica 2; Paris)
Bausi, A. (2004): “La versione etiopica dealla didascalia dei 318 niceni sulla retta fede e la vita monastica” in Ugo Zanetti and Enzo Lucchesi (edd.) Aegyptus Christiana (Geneva), 225-248
Beylot R. (1984): Testamentum Domini éthiopien: Édition et traduction (Leuven)
Bickell, J.W. (1843): Geschichte des Kirchenrechts (Giessen)
Camplani, A. (1996): “A Coptic fragment from the Didascalia Apostolorum (M579 f. 1)” Augustinianum 36, 47-51
Chronz, T. and Brakmann, H. (2009): “Fragmente des Testamentum Domini in georgischer Übersetzung” ZAC 13, 395-402
Cooper, J. and Maclean, A.J. (1902): The Testament of Our Lord (Edinburgh)
Coquin, René-Georges (1966): Les canons d’Hippolyte (PO 31.2; Paris)
Cocroran, S. and Salway, B. (2011): “A newly identified Greek fragment of the Testamentum Domini” JTS (ns) 62, 118-135
Cureton, W.. (1864): Ancient Syriac documents relative to the earliest establishment of Christianity in Edessa and the neighbouring countries (London)
Funk, F.X. (1891): Die apostolischen Konstitutionen: eine litterar–historische Untersuchung (Rottenburg)
–, (1903): “Ein Fragment zu den apostolischen Konstitutionen” Theologische Quartalschrift 85, 195-202
Harden, J.M. (1920): The Ethiopic Didascalia (London)
Harnack, A. (1904): The expansion of Christianity in the first three centuries (Etr of 1st ed.; London)
Lagarde, Paul de (1856): Reliquiae iuris ecclesiastici antiquissimae (Leipzig)
Metzger, Marcel (1985-): Les constitutions apostoliques (Paris) (3 vols)
Mueller, Joseph G. (2007): “The ancient church order literature: genre or tradition” JECS 15, 337-380
Munier, Charles (1960): Les Statuta ecclesiae antiqua (Paris)
Nau, F. (1907): “Une didascalie de notre-seigneur Jésus-Christ” Revue de l’orient chretien 12, 225-254
Pitra, J.B. (1864): Iuris ecclesiastici Graecorum historia et monumenta I (Rome)
Rahmani, Ignatius Ephraim (1899): Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (Mainz)
Revillout, Eugène (1881): Le concile de Nicée d’après les textes coptes et les diverses collections canoniques (Paris)
Riedel, Wilhelm (1900): Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (Leipzig)
– and Crum, W.E. (1904): The canons of Athanasius (London)
Rordorf, Willy and André Tuilier (1988): La doctrine des douze apôtres (Didachè). Paris
Stewart(-Sykes), A. (2006): The apostolic church order: the Greek text with introduction, translation and annotation (Strathfield NSW)
–, (2009): The Didascalia apostolorum: an English version (Turnhout)
–, (2015a): The Gnomai of the Council of Nicaea (CC0021) (Piscataway NJ)
–, (2015b) Hippolytus: on the apostolic tradition (2nd ed.; Crestwood NY)
Tidner, E.(1963): Didascaliae apostolorum, canonum ecclesiasticorum, traditionis apostolicae versiones Latinae (TU 75; Berlin)
Vööbus, Arthur (1979): The Didascalia apostolorum in Syriac (Textus) (CSCO 401/407; Leuven)

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A Christmas look at the Apostolic constitutions

The following fragment is found in some manuscripts following the Questions and responses of Anastasius. In view of its contents I offer it as a Christmas greeting to my reader(s!)

Concerning the appearance of Our Lord, from the apostolic diatagmata (one MS, diataxeis):
Now Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of the holy Virgin Mary in Bethlehem in the month, following the Egyptians, of Choiak, 29th, at the seventh hour of the day (One MS reads “tenth hour of the night”), which is the eighth before the kalends of January. He was baptized in his thirtieth year by John, on the eleventh of Tubi, at the tenth hour of the night (One MS reads “seventh hour of the day”) in the Jordan river. He therefore remained among us in the world, proclaiming the Kingdom of the Heavens, and healing every disease and every ailment among the people, until he was thirty-three years and three months. In his thirty-third year he was crucified on the 23rd Phaneroth, on the sixth day, at the sixth hour, on the fourteenth day of the moon. He rose on the third day, on the 1st Pharmouthi, on the first day, at the sixth hour of the night, and was seen by all us, his disciples. And he manifested his glory for forty days, teaching us to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in his name. He was taken up on Pachon 10th, at the ninth hour of the day.

It appears in PG 1 517-8 (in a citation of Cotelier) and elsewhere amidst the learned collections of the nineteenth century.

F.X. Funk “”Ein Fragment zu den apostolischen Konstitutionen” Theologische Quartalschrift 85 (1903), 195-202 suggests that it is an addendum to an Egyptian recension of Apostolic Constitutions 8.33.

This is an interesting fragment by virtue of the liturgical information it contains regarding the Egyptian reception of Christmas, and puzzling given its apparent reference to nocturnal baptism. It is also interesting in illustrating the manner in which, as living literature, even complete church orders might undergo local editing and expansion. Perhaps this explains the puzzling fragment cited by ibn Katib Qaysar to which Tom Schmidt has drawn our attention, namely that it is a further example of local expansion of an existing church order.


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Confessors and presbyters in Traditio apostolica (and its re-writes)

Dani Vaucher, in our ongoing correspondence, perceptively asks whether the directions in Traditio apostolica restricting the promotion of confessors to the honor of presbyterate disguise a conflict between patron-presbyters and confessors, like that which developed in Africa in the third century between confessors and Cyprian.

It’s a fair and worthwhile question, though I do not think that this is the case. The fundamental conflict in this community is between the patron-presbyters and the episkopos, that is, in Weberian terms, between a bureaucratic and a traditional mode of governance. Certainly the patron-presbyters are attempting to restrict access to their privileges, but I think it is too strong to label this a conflict. I don’t think the comparison with Cyprian’s Africa works simply because the confessors there were not attempting to be recognized as presbyters, but were challenging the (bureaucratically legitimated) episcopate.

However, he goes on: Do you think, that the revision of TA §9 in CA points in the same direction?

This reads: And I James, the son of Alphæus, make a constitution in regard to confessors: A confessor is not ordained; for he is so by choice and patience, and is worthy of great honour, as having confessed the name of God, and of His Christ, before nations and kings. But if there be occasion, he is to be ordained either a bishop, priest, or deacon. But if any one of the confessors who is not ordained snatches to himself any such dignity upon account of his confession, let the same person be deprived and rejected; for he is not in such an office, since he has denied the constitution of Christ, and is worse than an infidel. (ANF translation I think, just grabbed for convenience off the web.)

Here certainly one can see how one can read this as a conflict between office and charism, though, again, not with patron-presbyters (not the least because they no longer existed in the fourth century.) One wonders, however, whether the constitutor simply thought that the original provision meant that a confessor should be recognized as a presbyter (in the fourth century understanding, namely a priest) and rushed to correct that. Not that any confessor (were there any, in fourth century Antioch?) had actually claimed to be a priest, not having been ordained.

What is interesting, once again, is how the church orders rewrite material that they do not understand. Thus, for the sake of completeness, this is what Testamentum Domini does with the provision:

If anyone bears witness and makes it known that he was in chains, imprisoned, or tortured on account of the name of God, a hand is not to be laid on him for the diaconate for this reason, in the same way not for the presbyterate, for the honour of the clergy (klēros) is his, since he was protected in his confession by the hand of God. However, if he is appointed as a bishop he is worthy of the imposition of a hand.
If he is a confessor who has not been judged by the powers, and not ill-treated in chains, but has simply confessed, he is worthy of the imposition of a hand; he receives the prayer of the clergy (klēros). However he does not pray over him repeating all the words, but when the shepherd goes forward in promotion the effect is received. (TD 1.39)

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Another e-rratum

Another e-rratum from the Didascalia:

On 265, footnote 8 the Syriac has been reversed, reading left to right! The note should read: Reading here ܐܪܙܐ with Testamentum Domini, as against the MSS of DA which read ܪܐܙܐ

I came across this as I re-read this portion of my own work. The reason for doing so illustrates well the horrible complexity of the interrelated church orders to which Dani Vaucher alluded in one of his recent comments.

I am now translating Testamentum Domini for St Vladimir’s. In doing so I noticed a footnote in Maclean’s translation referring to Funk, Apostolischen Konstitutionen, which in turn is discussing a then unpublished (perhaps still unpublished) Arabic Didascalia. Parts are given in a German translation and are clearly related, probably indebted, to Testamentum Domini. The first chapter is not, however, in Testamentum Domini, but nonetheless sounded horribly familiar. I tracked it down to this section of  the Didascalia… and reading saw the error. The confusion is exacerbated because this is found only in a secondary recension of the Didascalia, containing a strange collection of assorted church order material.

A final, odd, note: both Rahmani and Maclean render ܐܪܙܐ at this point as though it were ܪܐܙܐ!

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Reading the Didascalia in Syria: insights from Judith H. Newman

Have just read Judith H. Newman, “Three contexts of Manasseh’s prayer in the Didascalia” Journal of the Canadian Society for Semitic Studies 7 (2007), 3-17 (which may be found on Actually I am gutted never to have come across this previously, especially as Newman is a former colleague and sometime collaborator, and can only exhort the reader to desist reading this and read her article instead.

There is a great deal packed into a small compass. I am hugely intrigued, for instance, by her suggestion that the “secondary legislation” reflects “Mishnah”, as opposed to “miqra”, and her tracing of the Didascalist’s doctrine of deuterōsis through the exegesis of Ezekiel, with more than a nod to Irenaeus.

However, what is really electrifying is her suggestion in answer to the ongoing and continuously vexing question of how the Didascalia, and other church orders, were read, used and transmitted. Starting from the observation of a bēma in the north Syrian churches, and the practice of reading from Torah, prophets, Gospels and “Acts of the apostles” from the bēma, she suggests that the Didascalia, and other pseudo-apostolic literature, was used liturgically as “Acts of the apostles.”

Which is not to say that I am instantly convinced that one could get away with reading a fresh composition as apostolic from the bēma, but I am certainly instantly intrigued, and also instantly given a context for understanding the continued production, and reading, of apostolic pseudepigrapha, namely the liturgically re-inforced memory of the apostles.

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Paul Bradshaw on the church orders published

Through the kindness of the author, I have received a copy of Paul F. Bradshaw, Ancient church orders (Alcuin/GROW JLS 80; Norwich: Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2015).

A brief introduction describes the modern rediscovery of the ancient church orders, and engages with the question of whether these even compose a genre, and in what sense they may be held to be homogeneous.He rightly (imo) rejects Joe Mueller’s suggestion that they are all basically works of scriptural exegesis and concurs with me that they may reasonably be discussed as a group (though probably not a genre) on the basis of their intricate literary relationship both internally and through being gathered into common collections.

The first chapter is a rewriting of Bradshaw’s chapter in his second edition of The search for the origins of Christian worship (London: SPCK, 2002) and provides a brief introduction to each of the major church orders, as well as to the canonical collections in which they have been largely preserved. Although there are echoes of the original, it has been updated considerably in the light of recent research, and thus replaces that chapter as the best and most accessible introduction to the field.

The second chapter describes the manner in which the church orders, being made up largely of pre-existing material adapted (or not) to the settings of the redactors, may be described as living literature, with detailed discussion of the Apostolic church order, Didascalia apostolorum and Apostolic tradition. Beyond the main argument, there is a valuable description of the direction of research into these documents, where I find my own work discussed (still a strange experience). Obviously we continue to disagree about Apostolic tradition but Bradshaw is scrupulously fair and balanced in his statement of the arguments, here as throughout. Again, as an introduction to the issues and to current research I cannot see that it could be bettered.

One interesting new point is raised in this chapter: “…while the Didache had been composed by appending church-order material to a two-ways tractate, the Apostolic church order had been composed by combining a similar two-ways tractate with an existing brief church-order and the Didascalia had used a catechetical manual containing two-ways material together with a derivative of the same church order to form its basis. It seems highly improbable, however, that all three independently decided to adopt the same composite structure for their works as there is no inherent connection between the two types of literature that are used, but they serve quite different purposes. It cannot simply be co-incidental then, and the compilers of the latter two works must have had some awareness of the Didache itself, even if they did not use it directly as a source…” (Bradshaw, Ancient church orders, 33.) This is a valuable observation.

It is in the third chapter that Bradshaw begins to break new ground, and to open up the issues which church-order scholarship needs to address. Entitled “layers of tradition” the chapter starts by charting the current discussion about whether the orders are statements of current practice or are polemical in purpose (or “propagandist”, as I prefer to term their Tendenz.) He then makes the valuable point that as “living literature” they cannot simply have a single purpose. In particular he observes that some redactors were simply updating the pre-existing material to suit their own current practice, for instance when Apostolic tradition alters Didache 10.7 from “let the prophets give thanks as they wish” to “let your presbyters give thanks.” He points out that alongside this tendency there is also a tendency to try and preserve what is ancient in the orders, such updating as is undertaken in turn leading often to confused and hybridized rites, such as when Canones Hippolyti has the candidate baptized three times in the name of the Trinity. He follows these observations with the further valuable observation that this is taking place in the fourth century, rather than in the second or third, and suggests that as bishops and councils are now more pro-active in making decisions, the church orders have become repositories of tradition. As a result he suggests that alongside propagandist material, the orders also contain traditional material encoding practices which are no longer current, material commonly accepted in the community of production, and also, possibly, the individual views of the compilers. He concludes by asking whether anybody really took any notice of the church orders, suggesting that in Chalcedonian areas the importance of patriarchal sees was such that there was no need to continue to encode tradition in this way, thus explaining the retention of the orders, and largely their survival, in Egypt and Ethiopia, even as their use was abandoned elsewhere.

On all of Bradshaw’s substantive points in this chapter I reserve judgement, as on his point regarding the possible readership of the Didache by the compilers of the Didascalia and Apostolic church order. All I will say for the present is that the work is remarkable in being both an accessible introduction to the field and in being a provocation to thinking by those to whom the church-order tradition is very familiar already. If I ever have the time I would still like to produce some sort of monograph on the church orders and their tradition; I am motivated to hope anew that I might do so by reading this work, and in doing so I will be treading in Bradshaw’s footmarks, engaging both with the questions he raises and the answers which he gives.

I would end with an exhortation to get your copy now, but the publisher has not yet made it available!


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