Category Archives: Didache
The origin of the baptismal formula
I am happy to announce the publication of my article “The Baptismal Formula: a Search For Origins” in Ecclesia Orans 39 (2022), 391-414.
The origins of the baptismal formula found in fourth century eastern baptismal rites are explored. It is suggested that the formula originates as early as the first century in a syntactic dialogue between the candidate and the baptizer. The prayer of the candidate is subsequently transferred to the baptizer and, because it originated as a calling out by the candidate, is known as an epiklesis. The recognition that “epiklesis” in the third and fourth centuries may refer to the formula clarifies a number of aspects of the development of the baptismal rite.
Vengono esplorate le origini della formula battesimale presente nei riti battesimali orientali del IV secolo. Si suggerisce che la formula abbia origine già nel I secolo in un dialogo sintattico tra il candidato e il battezzatore. La preghiera del candidato viene successivamente trasferita al battezzatore e, poiché ha origine da un’invocazione da parte del candidato, è nota come epiklesis. Il riconoscimento che “epiklesis” nel III e IV secolo possa riferirsi alla formula chiarisce una serie di aspetti dello sviluppo del rito battesimale.
Canones Hippolyti, naturally enough, provide some evidence for the argument, as indeed does Traditio apostolica. There is some mention of Constitutiones apostolorum and a citation of the Didascalia, so we can say that this really is relevant to the blog! Towards the end I also suggest a solution to the issue of whether Didache 7.1 represents a baptismal formula.
Offprints may be supplied through the usual channels.
Disclaimer: I have no comment on goings-on in Detroit and Phoenix, or on the response from the Congregation.
Just fancy that!
Recently appeared is John S. Kloppenborg, “The Didache and the Apostolic Constitutions in the context of association rules” in Joseph Verheyden et al, Texts in contexts: essays on dating and contextualising Christian writings from the second and early third centuries (Leuven: Peeters, 2021).
In essence Kloppenborg argues: “The comparison of the Didache with the bylaws of Greek, Roman, and Judaean associations indicates many commonalities, but some distinctive features as well. It is unexceptional that the Didache’s regulations treated entrance and initiation, the vetting of those who wished to join or interact with the group, meal practices, the general behaviour that should be expected of members, and a keen interest in not falling prey to financial fraud. The selection of leaders – that is, the ἐπίσκοποι – is also unexceptional.”
Cf. “We may thus suggest that if an ancient hearer were to hear a document setting out the conditions for admission to a religious association, describing the means of entry, regulating the manner in which meals are to be conducted, and appointing officers, such an ancient reader would readily recognize an associational lex.” Alistair C. Stewart, “The Didache as an associational lex: re-opening the question of the genre(s) of the church orders” JbAC 62 (2019), 29-49.
Filed under Church orders in genera(l), Didache
Saint Paul and the two ways
I am pleased to announce the publication of my article “St Paul and the two ways: Romans 12-13 and pre-baptismal catechesis” Bulletin of the St Philaret Institute 39 (2021), 12-31, alongside some other interesting-looking articles. The journal is open access. Note that the Russian translation (!) appears first. The home page is in Russian… and Google translate turns me into an abbot!
This article suggests that the paraenetic material in Romans 12-13 in being introduced with a reference to baptism and concluding with an eschatological exhortation, again referring to baptism, is deliberately intended to reflect a pre-baptismal catechesis, rather than, as frequently supposed, a synoptic source or Jesus-tradition. Significant parallels with the Didache, and other parts of the two-ways tradition, are observed. This leads to the further observation that the context of this catechesis is shaped in a specifically Jewish context, being reflected in Pliny’s report of Christian activities and in the Elchesite baptismal ritual. Paul is employing a recognizably Jewish form of catechesis here in order to commend his teaching to a primarily Jewish audience. Gentile baptism, however, required a distinct renunciation, and in time a doctrinal element was added to the catechetical programme.
This was actually started as long ago as 2008, in a presentation given at that famous seat of learning, Cuddesdon. They did not appreciate it. I had pulled if off the back burner several times, but only when I pulled it off again late last year, on receiving a request for an article on catechesis from SFI, did I realize that the reason I had made no progress was that I was using the material to try to answer the question of the extent of Paul’s knowledge of Jesus-logia; although the argument tends to indicate that he had none, it is not a slam-dunk, and the question is in any case not the most interesting one. What is interesting is Paul’s knowledge of the catechetical tradition represented by, inter alia, the Didache.
This announcement is filed under e-rrata, as there are two errors of omission.
One comes about because of the passage of time. Namely, although I read Seeberg Der Katechismus der Urchristenheit ages ago, when I was preparing for my trip to Cuddesdon, I really should have re-read it. Had I done so I would have remembered Romans 6:17, χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς, which strikes me as really clinching the argument. The τύπος διδαχῆς is surely the two ways.
The other omission is reference to Benjamin A. Edsall, The reception of Paul and early Christian initiation: history and hermeneutics (Cambridge: CUP, 2019). Edsall does not have a lot of time for Carrington and Selwyn who were, alongside Seeberg, the fontes et origines for my thinking here. My excuse here is that I only came across this work after the article was translated and typeset.
In his introductory chapter Edsall suggests that the formal catechumenate was not known in the first or early second centuries. Insofar as it may refer to a formal period of liminal existence with fixed rituals this amounts to a statement of the obvious. Insofar as it may refer to instruction prior to baptism, then the Didache rather tends to contradict Edsall here. To get away from this, Edsall suggests that the two ways material in Didache 1-6 is rather loosely connected to the baptismal rite: “’these things’ need not be restricted to literary reference points and may refer rather to pre-baptismal declarations by the priest and believer (note the plural προειπόντες) rather than to Didache 1– 6.” (p27). There is more, however, to connect the two ways material and the baptismal rite than simply the phrase at Did. 7.1; thus we may note the echoes of the two ways in the report of catechumenate and baptism given to Pliny (Ep. 10.96.7) and the similar echoes in the baptismal rite of the Elchesites (Hippolytus Ref. 9.15.6.) προειπόντες (the plural is noted, though we should also note βαπτίσατε) certainly does refer to pre-baptismal declarations by the baptizer (not a priest, surely!) and possibly the candidate… but these declarations are constituted by the two ways (ταῦτα πάντα). Actually that insight could become another article… remember you read it here first!
Tout en commun?
Last week saw another excellent Zoom seminar from Tilburg presented by Jonathan Cornillon (Sorbonne) based on his book Tout en commun? La vie économique de Jésus et des premières générations chrétiennes (Cerf Patrimoines, 2020) with responses from Bart Koet and Paul van Geest. The Didache gets a look-in, which is justification enough to post the details here.
This can be watched here, where there is more interesting stuff.
The Didache as an associational lex
2021 sees the publication of Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 62 (2019).
This contains my article “The Didache as an associational lex: re-opening the question of the genre(s) of the church orders” on pp29-49. I am very pleased to announce this publication, as I am hoping that it answers many of the questions posed on this blog, and has been “forthcoming” for about as long as I can remember! I have come to realize that items in publication are like buses… you wait for ages and then three come along at once.
Abstract: Although the term “church orders” is widely used there is no agreement as to its definition.
The genre of the Didache is examined in the light of recent discussion, and the conclusion is reached that it should be termed a Christian associational lex. This conclusion is based principally on the grounds of common content and purpose with other ancient non-Christian associational leges, but also to an extent on form. It is then noted that Traditio apostolica manifests the same phenomenon and may similarly be classified as a Christian associational lex. On this basis it is argued that whereas the later church orders form a literary tradition, rather than conforming to a single genre, they originate as associational leges.
E-offprints are available through the usual channels.
Filed under Apostolic Tradition, Church orders in genera(l), Didache
A fair witness to the church? Didache 11.11
My attention having been drawn to the fact that Harnack dated the Ignatian epistles to the 130s (as have I), I thought I might read what he had to say (Adolf von Harnack, “Lightfoot on the Ignatian Epistles. II. Genuineness and Date of the Epistles” The Expositor third series 3.3 (March 1886), 175-192. This is the third part of an extended review of Lightfoot.)
Interesting though this was, my attention was more taken by Frederic Henry Chase, “Note on The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles Chapter xi,” The Expositor third series 3.4 (April 1886), 319-320. Here Chase suggests emending εἰς μυστήριον κοσμικὸν ἐκκλησίας to εἰς μαρτύριον κόσμιον ἐκκλησίας.
I will admit that I have never seen reference to Chase’s conjecture, and also that I find it very attractive. I need say no more, but commend those interested to read Chase’s argument in support.
Wilhite’s commentary on the Didache
I have just completed a review for JTS on Shawn J. Wilhite, The Didache: A Commentary (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2019).
It can be read there in due course, but anyone who is anxious (is there anyone who might be anxious?) can request an advance copy in the usual way.
Filed under Didache
Brief notice: Chun Ling Yu, Bonds and boundaries among the early churches
Chun Ling Yu, Bonds and boundaries among the early churches: community maintenance in the letter of James and the Didache (STT29; Turnhout: Brepols, 2018) is an examination of James and the Didache in the particular light of theories concerning conflict and group maintenance derived from the social sciences.
In this brief note we concentrate on what he has to say regarding the Didache.
In the chapter on community tensions he takes the Schöllgenian line that the Didache is pointed at particular issues, rather than seeing it as a more generalized document giving ritual instructions; although I would agree that there are particular issues, I would suggest that the Didache is more generalized, though inevitably the issues that are important or controversial within the community will figure larger than others.
Yu notes a number of possible internal sources of tension, such as the inclusion of gentiles within a Jewish community, tensions with potential false prophets, transients, and false teachers, though I am not sure that he is right in suggesting that there is insufficient respect for community leaders. He points out that these provide the conditions anticipated by conflict theories, and that the document, serving as an authoritative partner in the dialectic, serves the means of conflict reduction suggested by the Allport-Pettigrew hypothesis, namely the equalization of status of members, the encouragement to co-operation to common goals, and the support of established authorities, thus both harmonizing and regulating (using the language of Kazan).
He further notes that the strong in-group is further strengthened in cohesion through the implicit and explicit identification of out-groups, both the wider gentile world and the wider Jewish world, the hypocrites. In part this is through ritual, in part through a common code (for instance the setting of particular fast days against those of the hypocrites), but chiefly, it emerges, through norms of behaviour which are distinct from either out-group and which are instilled through the two ways. Thus returning to Allport he suggests that the rituals of the community serve to maintain the community and to resolve sources of potential conflict through the common ritual life.
In summary, there are inevitable points of disagreement; however, Yu presents a far more sophisticated study of the Didache on the basis of social science models than I have previously read.
Brief notice: Wilhite, One of life and one of death
In comparing the Didache to other two-ways documents, particularly the near-contemporary Barnabas and 1QS, and the (uncertain of dating but traditionsgeschichtlich proximate) Doctrina apostolorum, it is notable that certain elements are absent, notably any eschatological warning consequent on failure to observe the teaching, and the presence of angels having watch over the two ways.
This is hardly a new observation, but Shawn Wilhite, in the recently published “One of life and one of death”: apocalypticism and the Didache’s two ways (Piscataway: Gorgias, 2019) documents this in detail. The term “apocalypticism” is given a broad definition, as is the literature of two ways, extending far more widely than other treatments, including my own. There is benefit in this, however, in that the observation of the absence of any features in the Didache which even broadly might be termed apocalyptic is all the more striking, and the uniqueness of the Didache in the literature, given the wider range of literature than that usually considered, is all the more remarkable.
Wilhite is not the first to consider this phenomenon, but it is documented here in far more detail than previously. Van de Sandt and Flusser, largely on the basis of comparison with the Doctrina, had previously suggested that this might be the result of ethicization; Wilhite demonstrates that this is highly probable.
We are led to wonder whether this in some sense is the result of the adaptation by D of TWT to pre-baptismal catechesis. Given his argument that D16 is not a separated part of D1-6.3 (as indeed, I had myself suggested, in my libellus on the two ways) we are again forced to deny Draper’s assertions that full Torah obedience is expected of all members of the Didache community. Wilhite himself, however, is not as clear on this aspect as he might be.
Cyprian of Antioch and Magic in the Church Orders
Magic and divination were an integral part of ancient society. Even after the rise of Christianity, the luring power of diviners, sorcerers, astrologers and the like were felt in cities around the Mediterranean. Magic (to use a not unproblematic umbrella term) was strongly linked to idolatry, in Christian perspective anyway. No surprise bishops and other Christian teachers were fighting against its influence. The Church Orders forbid the practice of magic from its beginning. The author of the Didache writes (2.2): “you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft”, and the author of the Traditio Apostolica requires that practitioners of magic stop it in order to be taught. (16: “A magus shall not even be brought forward for consideration. An enchanter, or astrologer, or diviner, or interpreter of dreams, or a charlatan, or one who makes amulets, either they shall cease or they shall be rejected.”) The latter text was incorporated in the Apostolic Constitutions, written towards the end of the 4th century, probably in Antioch.
When I looked through the Christian literature of that time, I came across an interesting legend which seems to preach exactly that same claim. The “conversion of Cyprian” (probably early 4th century) tells the story of Justina, a Christian virgin who is hassled by a man who fell in love with her. The lover is rejected again and again, until he takes the services of a magician, Cyprian of Antioch. The magician summons several demons in order to seduce the virgin, unsuccessfully. The prayers and the sign of the cross drive them off. When Cyprian recognizes the power of Christ and the church, he burns his magic books publicly and converts to Christianity.
Now is that story not the true propaganda for what bishops and Church Orders commonly demanded? Cyprian ceases his business, advertised by the destruction of his idols and the burning of the books (cf. Acts 19.19), in order to be granted accession, and baptism. Cyprian later becomes bishop, martyr, and saint, until the Catholic Church renounces his holy status in the 20th century…
The legend is tripartite. The “conversion” is most probably the earliest version of the legend (based inter alia on the story of Thecla and the magician in Lucians Philopseudes). Then comes the “confession”, a first-person narrative of Cyprians youth and infamous deeds as magician and his pact with the devil. The third part is the “martyrium”, it is of later date, but linked more to the conversion than to the confession.
Among the many differences between the conversion and the confession, the picture of the devil in the confession is the most striking to me (5.6): “His form was like a golden flower adorned with precious stones, and he crowned his head with stones that were twined together – the energies of which illuminated that plain, and his garment was no different – and when he enwreathed himself, he shook the land. Great indeed was the display around his throne of different ranks which laid down their forms and energies in subordination to him.” (trans. Bailey). And when Cyprian revolts against Satan, after having learned the true Christian power, the devil attacks him (corporeally) and almost kills him in an epic struggle. Only with the sign of the cross, Cyprian manages to free himself.
What I wonder is whether this description of the devil, his absolute corporeal form and the brawl with Cyprian is as original as the “confessions” imagination of the pact with the devil. I have not found any other instances of such “fights with the devil” in early Christian literature. Or is the scene interpolated and of a later date?
Theodor Zahn, Cyprian von Antiochien und die deutsche Faustsage. Erlangen 1882.
Ludwig Radermacher, Griechische Quellen zur Faustsage: der Zauberer Cyprianus, die Erzählung des Helladius, Theophilus. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien 4, 1927.
Ryan Bailey, The confession of Cyprian of Antioch: introduction, text, and translation. Montreal 2009.
The church orders at the 2019 Oxford patristic conference
The Oxford patristics conference takes place this August.
A quick read of the programme reveals the following papers on the church orders.
Clayton Jefford. Why Are There No Manuscripts of the Ancient Didache?
Abstract: While scholars speak of the Didache’s origins and evolution with seeming confidence based on the eleventh-century text of H54, no complete parallel to the tradition appears prior to the late fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions Book 7. Several researchers have attempted with various degrees of success to illustrate knowledge of the Didache among early patristic sources, notably E. von der Goltz (1905) for Athanasius, J.A. Robinson (1920) and F.R.M. Hitchcock (1923) for Clement of Alexandria, M.A. Smith (1966) for Justin Martyr, C.N. Jefford (1995) for Ignatius of Antioch, etc., yet evidence for the entirety of the text remains elusive. This essay surveys several such attempts and concludes with the suggestion that the reason no manuscripts of the entire text are available is because there were never any to be found. While portions of the tradition certainly were known and circulated among ancient Christian (and likely Jewish) authors, no complete version of what is now associated with the witness of H54 was available.
Tom O’Loughlin. The Didache and Diversity of Eucharistic Practice in the Churches: the Value of Luke 22:17-20 as Evidence
Abstract: The sequence of blessings found in the Didache (cup followed by loaf) has long been seen as a significant deviation from what has been seen (based on later accepted practice) as the normative sequence of loaf followed by cup (as found in Paul [1 Cor 11:24-5], Mark, and Matthew). However, if we see ‘the longer form’ of Luke 22:17-20 (cup, loaf, cup) as a conflation of two text relating to two different practices – where the text of Luke was a ‘living text’ which varied with the practice of the church in which it was being used – then we have evidence (in the shorter variants of Luke) for a range of churches which at one time used the sequence found in the Didache of cup followed by loaf. From the original diversity as seen in the Didache and Paul (see 1 Cor 10:16-7 and 21-2) there came in time a uniformity. The Didache preserves a fossil of this earlier period, Paul’s acquaintance with this diversity dropped out of sight in that I Cor 10 was read in terms of 1 Cor 11, while the Lukan text that became the standard form preserved both readings (reflecting both practices) by conflation ‘lest anything be lost.’ That this conflated text was seen as a problematic can be seen in the reaction of Eusebius of Caesarea, while we should concentrate attention afresh on the ‘shorter texts’ as these point to forgotten practices.
Pauliina Pylvänäinen. Agents in Liturgy, Charity and Communication. The Function of Deaconesses in the Apostolic Constitutions
Abstract: The reinterpretation of deacons and diakonia challenges us to consider the function of deaconesses in the Apostolic Constitutions. The Apostolic Constitutions is a church order that originated in Antioch and was completed in AD 380. The tasks of deaconesses in the document can be divided into three categories: Firstly, duties that are linked to the liturgy in the congregation are assigned to the deaconesses by the compiler. They guard the doors of the church building, find places for women who need them and are present when the women approach the altar during the Eucharist. When a woman is being baptized, a deaconess assists the bishop during the rite. The document also consists two analogies which describe the liturgical function of the deaconesses: They function in the places of the Levites as well as the Holy Spirit. Secondly, the deaconesses have tasks that traditionally have been defined as charitable service. Since the concept of deacon has been reinterpreted, tasks have to be evaluated as to whether they include charitable connotations or not. My analysis shows that the deaconesses are sent to visit the homes of women. The visits include, for instance, almsgiving, and hence belong to the field of charity by nature. In some cases the tasks of healing and travelling also seem to have charitable connotations. However, alongside these tasks, the deaconesses also have a task that is neither mainly liturgical nor charitable. As messengers, they play a role in the communications of the congregation.
Finally, although the text discussed here is not actually a church order (see posts below), particular note may be taken of:
Svenja Ella Luise Sasse. The Preliminary Edition of the Greek Didaskalia of Jesus Christ
Abstract: The Greek Didaskalia of Jesus Christ, a rather unknown apocryphal text probably written in the sixth century, is composed as a conversation between the risen Christ and the Twelve Apostles: Because they are concerned about the transgressions of man and wonder how forgiveness can be obtained, the Apostles ask Christ who gives them further instructions for a God pleasing life. Among other subjects the dialogue also refers to the Christian Sunday observation as an essential topic. Besides instructions for an appropriate behavior on Sundays, this day even appears as a personification together with angels and heavenly powers in the Hereafter. The personification of the Sunday bears testimony for the soul which had fastened on Wednesday and Friday and had observed Sunday correctly. Thus, the Sunday undergoes a salvation-historical emphasis. Together with the Letter from Heaven the Didaskalia can therefore be regarded as a fruitful and important apocryphal source concerning the development of Sunday veneration. A critical edition of its text has already been published by François Nau in 1907. As his edition is only based on two manuscripts while ten manuscripts are meanwhile available, a preparation of a new critical edition has become necessary which is part of the broader project The Apocryphal Sunday at Vienna University directed by Prof. Dr. Uta Heil. The talk will give an impression of the present working results concerning the preliminary edition of the Didaskalia.
Note, in passing, that the speaker also refers to our Letter from Heaven, discussed by Daniel Vaucher. Unfortunately this paper is being given at the same time that Jefford is speaking on the Didache.
Die Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der alten Kirche
Newly published is L.H. Westra, L. Zwollo, Die Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der Alten Kirche: Publikation der Tagung der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft in Soesterberg und Amsterdam (Patristic Studies 15; Leuven: Peeters, 2019).
The publisher tells us: Was bedeutet die Gemeinschaft von Brot und Wein, die wir in der Kirche Sakramentsgemeinschaft nennen? Dieser Begriff ist für vielen zu einem Problem geworden. Obwohl Kirche und Glaube in unserer Gesellschaft zu einem Randphänomen geworden sind, erhalten sie dennoch eine gewisse Anerkennung. Glaube und Spiritualität werden weithin anerkannt als wertvolle Hilfsmittel für die psychische Gesundheit. Die Kirche spielt immer noch eine wichtige Rolle, wenn die Humanität der Gesellschaft in Frage kommt – das Kirchenasyl ist wiederum sehr aktuell. Aber das Sakrament? Es gehört zum kirchlichen Traditionsgut, aber sonst? In der Antike ging man ganz umgekehrt vor. Gerade weil man das Sakrament teilte, wird man zur Kirche. Der gemeinschaftliche Genuss von Brot und Wein bildete den Grund für die kirchliche Existenz. Die Gemeinschaft mit Christo bestimmte die Spiritualität. In dem vorliegenden Band wird diese altkirchliche Sakramentsgemeinschaft weiterhin untersucht. Wie funktionierte sie in der Praxis, lokal und weltweit? Wie sahen die Feiern aus? Wer nahm teil, wer nicht? Welche Entwicklungen gab es? So erscheint eine der ältesten Riten unserer Gesellschaft in einem neuen und hoffentlich auch inspirierendem Licht.
What this does not tell you is that there are contributions from both of your blog editors.
Daniel Vaucher’s essay “Ubi servi? Überlegungen zur frühchristlichen Eucharistiefeier” explores the presence (and absence) of slaves in eucharistic fellowships, concluding that to the greater extent they were excluded, and that the development away from the eucharistic Sättigungsmahl served to reduce their role yet further (as they may have been present in a serving capacity in these eucharistic meals of an earlier period.) In terms of church orders, we may note his reference to the Didascalia. Alistair C. Stewart, “Ἐκ Βιῶν εἰς ζωήν: Groups, Therapy, and the Construction of Text and Community in the Church Order Tradition” focusses on the Didache and the Didascalia (with a nod to the Doctrina apostolorum) in exploring the manner in which the study of group behaviours within psychology might illustrate the manner in which Christian groups practised psychagogy and brought about Gemeinschaft, so in turn that they might act eucharistically.
Beyond this there are contributions from Paul van Geest (“Patristik in den Niederlanden: Die Forschungslage und der neue Schwerpunkt der Mystagogie”), Liuwe H. Westra (“Wie die Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der Alten Kirche funktionierte”), Gerard A.M. Rouwhorst (“Vom christlichen Symposium zur Eucharistiefeier des vierten Jahrhunderts), Hans van Loon (Eucharist and Fellowship in Cyril of Alexandria) and Laela Zwollo, (Augustine’s Conception of Sacrament. The Death and Resurrection of Christ as Sacrament in De trinitate: Mystic Union between Christ and his Church).
No critical comment on the contents is offered (for obvious enough reasons). Peeters have priced it at €46. No comment on that either, though you can probably guess what mine would be.
The Didache material appended to Traditio apostolica in the Axumite Ethiopic version
In a previous post I have made reference to the fragment of Didache material attached to the Axumite Ethiopic version of Traditio apostolica published by A. Bausi.“La nuova versione etiopica della Traditio apostolica: edizione e traduzione preliminare“ in Paola Buzi and Alberto Camplani (edd.), Christianity in Egypt: literary production and intellectual trends. Studies in honor of Tito Orlandi (Rome: Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, 2011), 19-69.
I was reminded of this in recent correspondence, and so present this version of the material for comparative purposes, based on the English prepared for my work on the Two Ways Tradition. It falls well short of any scientific standard, and is not for citation, but is offered as an encouragement to anyone considering the textual history of the Didache to take this material into account, given that it diverges significantly from the received Greek version.
Now regarding apostles and prophets act thus, in accordance with the direction of the Gospel. Any apostle who comes to you should remain only a day or two. If he desires to remain a third or delays his departure he is a <false> prophet. Do not test any prophet speaking in the Spirit; do not make discernment because not every sin may be forgiven. Everyone speaking in the spirit is a prophet as long as they are manifesting the conduct of the Lord. The false prophet and the prophet shall be known from conduct. Every prophet ordering in the spirit that a table be set does not eat of it; otherwise he is a false prophet. Every prophet teaching the truth yet not practising what is taught is a false prophet. Every prophet who is tested and true, who works in human company and acts outside the law shall not be judged of you, for he will have judgement with the Lord. For so the ancient prophets acted. Do not listen should anyone say in the spirit “Give me money, or other things.” Yet if he says you should give to others, give it to him without question.
Everyone coming in the name of the Lord should be received; when you have tested him you shall know, for you shall have knowledge of right and left. You should help, as much as you are able, anyone who comes to you as a traveller, who shall not remain with you except for two or three days. If he desires and wishes to stay with you and has a useful trade, if he has no use he should not be kept. If he has no trade act according to your understanding, for an idle person should not live among you. If he does not wish to act in this way he is a Christ-tinker; beware of people like that!
Every prophet wishing to stay with you is worthy of his food. Thus you shall take every firstfruit of the winepress, of wheat, of the threshing floor, of cattle and of sheep, giving the firstfruit to the prophets for they are your <high>-priests. If you have no prophet give them to the destitute. If you make dough, take the first fruit, giving in accordance with the commandment. Likewise take the firstfruit if you open a flask of oil or wine or honey, giving to the prophets. And of money and clothing and every possession, take the firstfruit as seems right to you, giving in accordance with the commandment.
Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites for they fast on the second and the fifth day of the week, yet you fast on the Wednesday and the Friday. Nor pray like the hypocrites, <but> as the Lord commanded in the Gospel.
Jonathan Draper on the Didache’s use of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Recently appearing from Jonathan Draper is his “The Old Testament in the Didache and in subsequent Church Orders” in Siegfried Kreuzer et al. (edd.), Die Septuaginta – Orte und Intentionen (WUNT 361; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 743-763.
The title is slightly misleading, in that beyond the Didache the only church-order discussed is Constitutiones apostolorum. Nonetheless this is a useful preliminary study.
On one minor, but significant, point, I find myself persuaded. Namely that Didache 9.3 does not make reference to Matthaean tradition, as I had always supposed, but is rather derived from Leviticus 22:10, which concerns those who may eat of Temple offerings. For Draper, this is the result of seeing the Didachistic community as a sanctified community. Is it Anglo-Catholicism which leads me to suggest that some sanctity also attaches to the food?
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.
Docetism and the Didachistic Eucharist
A correspondence is occurring through academia.edu which may be of wider interest. Obviously my correspondent does not have the learning that I am sure is possessed of my usual readers, but there may be something here which is useful to somebody. It has certainly exposed a hole in my own knowledge.
It started with the question:
Why is there no mention of the death of Christ in the eucharistic passages of the Didache? Is there any gnostic influence here?
A lot of people have asked that question over the years. The problem, as I see it, is that we have allowed Paul’s witness to determine what the Eucharist means, namely a concentration on Jesus’ death. This is one strand in the nest of meanings which the Eucharist had in the different early Christian communities, and one which, when the eucharist becomes fixed in meaning and form in the third and fourth centuries, comes to be prominent. But it was not how the Didache people understood the Eucharist. Rather they understood the presence of Jesus in the meal as being a foreshadowing of his presence on earth when he comes again as messiah and judge.
I do not think we can say that it is “Gnostic” influence, though that to an extent depends on when you think the Didache emerged. Most scholars, however, believe that it had been completed by the beginning of the second century (some would put it much earlier, some slightly later) whereas gnosticism does not really emerge until a bit later than that. “Gnostic”, like “Christian” and “Jewish” in the first and second century, is a bit of a vague category, and there were varying gnostic practices with regard to the eucharist, and varying beliefs and evaluations of it. Some, like the community of the Gospel of Judas, rather looked down on it, some, like that of the Gospel of Philip, had a very exalted understanding. But I don’t think any of them saw the eucharist as a “sneak preview” of Christ’s second coming as the Didache people apparently did.
One might have thought that the end of it but the reply came back:
Does not John refer to gnostic denial of Jesus in the flesh. Also gnosticism was strong in Syria where the Didache came from, and also there may be a quote from the Sentences of Sextus, a pythagorean work.
To which I slightly intemperately responded:
1: The passages in the Johannine epistles are capable of a number of interpretations (see Streett, They went out from us). Even if this refers to Cerinthus, there is a whole question of whether Cerinthus was actually gnostic. And what, in any case, is the relevance to the Didache?
2: So what if D and gnosis share geographical space?
3: Not sure that D quotes Sextus, and Sextus is not Pythagorean, though it has some intellectual overlap. And it is certainly not gnostic.
I am not an expert on gnostic systems, but I know enough to know that it is a difficult category to use.
My correspondent was undeterred by this display of petulance and came back twice.
Is it accurate to say that the idea Jesus did not come in the flesh or did not really physically die on the cross, would show up as an omission, especially in the docetic eucharistic liturgy that spotlights the death of Christ. Is that accurate to say?
Is this a reference to docetism?
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” – 2 John 1:7
Does the Didache affirm the physicality of Christ or his sacrifice?
This time I responded at greater length and with greater patience:
The phrase you cite from John:
oἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί:
Can be interpreted as not confessing
a) Jesus to be the (same as) the Christ who actually came (Cerinthian separationism).
b) Jesus to be the Messiah, who actually came. (Judaism)
c) Jesus Christ coming in the flesh (i.e. he came some other way) (docetism).
d) That Jesus Christ did not come at all (grammatically possible but historically unlikely!)
The problem with docetism is that it is very hard to define, and in particular the kind of “docetism” that we know from the textbooks does not seem to appear until the third century, if then. Last year I wrote an essay for a collection on docetism in which I struggled to define Ignatius’ “docetists”. It made me realize the complexity of the question, which I had not myself appreciated before I started that project. I think John is anti Cerinthian separationism, and that that is effectively docetic, but not in the “textbook” sense.
So when you ask “Does the Didache affirm the physicality of Christ or his sacrifice?” I have to answer that it makes no reference to this issue, but that does not mean that it denied either tenet, simply that it is not working in the milieux in which such issues are being considered. The fact that is derived from a law-observant setting in, possibly, Syria, and that gnostic schools derive from the same setting is not really pertinent. Thus when you first suggested that the didachistic eucharist, not making reference to the death of Christ, might thereby hide some docetic tendencies, I suggested that we should not make the Pauline eucharist normative for first century eucharistic celebrations, and that the Didache contributes another strand to our understanding of the tangled skein of roots which go to making the later eucharist.
So you ask:
Is it accurate to say that the idea Jesus did not come in the flesh or did not really physically die on the cross, would show up as an omission, especially in the docetic eucharistic liturgy that spotlights the death of Christ. Is that accurate to say?
I am guessing that what you mean is that the eucharistic liturgy spotlights the death of Christ, and so if such a reference is absent that is an indication of docetism. However, at the risk of banging on on the same old drum, the problem is with the premiss. Why should the eucharistic liturgy spotlight the death of Christ? The Didachistic liturgy spotlights the messianic presence of Christ. What it made of the death we cannot tell, but we cannot say that the death was denied, simply that the Didachistic eucharist, unlike the Pauline, did not encode Christ’s death. We may suggest, beyond this, that since the Didache seems to envisage salvation as happening in the world (firstly through realizing eschatology and finally, with Christ’s return in judgement) then this is not salvation from the world, which, giving due acknowledgement to the distinction in gnostic systems, seems to be fundamental to them all.
I don’t know enough about gnostic eucharistic rites to comment on them. I need to read, Einar Thomassen, The spiritual seed and Herbert Schmid, Die Eucharistie ist Jesus at least. Maybe I need salvation from a thousand other responsibilities to do so.
Filed under Didache
Vaucher on Draper on children and slaves in the Didache
Daniel Vaucher submits the following reaction to J.A.Draper, “Children and Slaves in the Community of the Didache and the Two Ways Tradition” in J. A. Draper and C. N. Jefford (eds.), The Didache: A Missing Piece of the Puzzle in Early Christianity (Atlanta: SBL, 2015), 85-121.
Jonathan Draper contextualizes the Haustafel in Did 4.9-11 with its exhortation to slaves to obey their masters, with the inherent contradiction, that the TWT actually asks for community of goods (Did. 4.5-8). I agree with his warning, (p. 91), “that the generalized reciprocity and egalitarian economic system developed within this early Christian community should not be romanticized”, because community of goods and slavery is an “internal contradiction”. He goes on to state (p. 96 f.) that the rules would have severe consequences if applied rigorously in a Christian Jewish community. “The first and foremost consequence of renouncing ownership of one’s property would be the disinheritance of one’s children and the manumission of any slaves one owned.”
Shortly analyzing the admonition to slaveowners that they mustn’t command their slaves in bitterness, he concludes (p. 102 f.) that “this is an uneasy compromise to be sure, but it is directed in my opinion towards keeping the ideal of general reciprocity in place.”
But I’m sceptic whether the author of the Didache really envisaged a community of goods (or egalitarian community). In my opinion, what is said about the “hohe Widerspruchstoleranz” of the CA might also account for the Didache, because it is a collection of different traditions: the admonition to slaves has a long history (pagan, Jewish and Christian) and it’s certainly not something the author came up with himself. I don’t think we can ever compare the two notions of “sharing all you have with your brothers” and “slaves, obey!” Draper is right in my opinion in pointing at the difficulty that the two chapters pose, but I don’t agree with his solution.
In my opinion, neither Didache nor any other Christian source I know really asks for community of goods, but they use the well-known topos to ask for more consequent almsgiving and charity. Compare 1 Tim, Clement quis dives and Cyprian de opere eleem.
Luke’s depiction of the community in Jerusalem as sharing everything they have is certainly idealized the same way. Community of goods (and having no slaves!) was projected onto the Golden Age, a long lost time with equality and justice. Luke’s story of the Jerusalem community actually relates to this Golden Age of Christianity, but at a time, when it’s already gone. Property and slave-owning has become normal even for the Christian communities.
Maybe there was a community of goods in an Essene circle. Interestingly, Philo’s description of the Essenes, and to some extent Josephus’ also, again relates the community (and having no slaves) to equality and justice, and therefore, idealizes it in the context of the Golden Age.
I can’t tell whether the TWT originates from the Essenes, as I’m no expert. But in my opinion it’s for sure that the Qumran documents have more severe rules to give in all property upon the entry into the community, whereas the Didache does not. Why not? If the author wanted to realize a community of goods, or at least “general reciprocity”, he could have asked for it much more forcefully. But the following admonition to slaves points more in the direction, that he accepts the patriarchal structures of his community. He – as many other Christian writers – simply uses the ideal of a community of goods to encourage charity.
The fragment on the mountain
Out any day now is “The Fragment on the Mountain: A Note on Didache 9.4a”. Neotestamentica 49.1 (2015) 175–188.
Here is the abstract:
This article suggests that Didache 9.4, which makes reference to a fragment that had been scattered on a mountain, and employs this image to refer to the eschatological ingathering of the church, should be understood as an allusion to a tradition held in common with the first and fourth Gospels of a mountainside feeding miracle performed by Jesus. Recognition of such an allusion both illuminates the obscurities of the text and provides a basis for understanding the Didachistic Eucharist as a proleptic participation in the messianic banquet.
If anyone has difficulty getting hold of this I can oblige.
Filed under Didache
Forthcoming book of essays on the Didache
Whilst we look forward to the publication of a volume of essays on the Didache from SBL, edited by Jonathan Draper and Clayton Jefford, I can at least share the ToC.
The title is The Didache: a missing piece of the puzzle in early Christianity. Since we have the Didache, perhaps we are entitled to ask how it can be a missing piece. The very complexity of early Christianity is such, however, that it is possible to say that every piece of the puzzle that we find alerts us to how many more we are missing.
Introduction: Dynamics, Methodologies, and Progress in Didache studies (Clayton N. Jefford)
Part 1: approaches to the Text as a Whole
Identity in the Didache community (Stephen Finlan)
Authority and Perspective in the Didache (Clayton N. Jefford)
The Distress signals of Didache Research: Quest for a Viable future (Aaron Milavec)
Children and slaves in the community of the Didache and the Two Ways Tradition (Jonathan Draper)
Reflections on the Didache and its community: a Response (Andrew Gregory)
Part 2: Leadership and Liturgy
Baptism and holiness: Two Requirements authorizing Participation in the Didache’s eucharist (Huub van de Sandt)
The Lord’s Prayer (Didache 8) at the faultline of Judaism and Christianity (Peter J. Tomson)
Pray “in This Way”: formalized speech in Didache 9–10 (Jonathan Schwiebert)
The Ritual Meal in Didache 9–10: Progress in understanding (John J. Clabeaux)
Response to essays on Leadership and Liturgy in the Didache (Joseph G. Mueller)
Part 3: The Didache and Matthew
Before and after Matthew (Bruce Brooks)
The sectio evangelica (Didache 1.3b–2.1) and Performance (Perttu Nikander)
The Didache and Oral Theory (Nancy Pardee)
From the sermon on the Mount to the Didache (John W. Welch)
The Lord Jesus and his coming in the Didache (Murray J. Smith)
Matthew and the Didache: some comments on the comments (Joseph Verheyden)
Part 4: The Didache and Other early Christian Texts
Without Decree: Pagan sacrificial Meat and the early history of the Didache (Matti Myllykoski)
Another Gospel: exploring early Christian Diversity with Paul and the Didache (Taras Khomych)
The first century Two Ways catechesis and hebrews 6:1–6 (Matthew Larsen and Michael Svigel
The Didache and Revelation (Alan J. P. Garrow)
The Didache as a source for the Reconstruction of early Christianity: a Response (Jeffrey Bingham)
Conclusion: Missing Pieces in the Puzzle or Wild Goose chase? A Retrospect and Prospect (Jonathan Draper)
The Two Ways Tradition in Barnabas (and the Didache)
Relatively recently published is Julien C.H. Smith, “The Epistle of Barnabas and the two ways of teaching authority” VigChr 68 (2014), 465-497.
In arguing that the two ways elements suffuse the entire epistle, Smith presents the case that the concluding chapters, summarizing the two ways, are more than simply an awkward appendix. More to the point the author argues that the two ways tradition is part of the community’s identity-formation. In particular he suggests that this bolsters the author’s identity as a figure of authority within the community
I am not persuaded on the author’s final point, not really following his argument here. Certainly there are elements within the Two Ways Tradition which lead to the formation of an authority figure out of the teacher, but I have to ask whether this is really central to the Tradition or to its purpose in Barnabas.
However, the case that the Two Ways Tradition suffuses the entire document is persuasive, and the suggestion that the Tradition contributes to the community’s identity is attractive. Possibly, having dissuaded the community from the observance of the law, and in particular those elements of law-observance which serve as identity markers (such as the Sabbath and circumcision) the author has to employ the Two Ways as an identity marker setting out the positive directions which are to be followed in lieu of those which formerly took prominence and which mark out the Christian community as distinct.
Which inevitably raises the question of whether the same is true of the employment of the Tradition within the Didache. In particular, might this provide some form of answer to the question of whether law observance was ultimately demanded of gentiles? It seems to me that if the Tradition is employed in one Christian community as a means of providing an alternative focus of identity, although this does not mean that every Christian community adopted the Tradition with the same intent, nonetheless another might do so. Certainly this is coherent with the use of the Tradition as pre-baptismal catechesis.
Post scriptum: I subsequently find that the same case that Barnabas is suffused by two-ways material is made by James N. Rhodes, “The Two Ways Tradition in the “Epistle of Barnabas: Revisiting an Old Question.” CBQ 73 (2011), 797-816. Rhodes suggests that the Barnabas community is still nomistic in outlook, even whilst rejecting ritual elements of Torah.
Filed under Didache
New technology baffles pissed old hack: the Oxford online Didache bibliography
The Didache bibliography for Oxford has “passed” peer review. This is nothing short of miraculous. “How so?” you diatribally enquire.
The Oxford bibliography site has an arcane method for submitting MSS online. Having received the peer reviewers’ comments and the editorial queries, it appears to me that after struggling with passwords, usernames, logins etc. I managed to send the wrong file! Not completely the wrong file (i.e. not a shopping list, or a begging letter to my bank manager) but what looks to me like a working draft, complete with annotations to self, uncorrected spelling, loose ends, bits in the wrong place etc. Somehow the draft got accepted with a few terse notes from the peer reviewers about the somewhat unconventional orthography! The editor at the Press will have to earn his salt and sort this out since such spare time as I have between now and August will be spent trying to cobble together something that will pass for a paper in Oxford, apart from seeing Hippolytus and the Gnomai through to publication. And all this during the English cricket season.
Filed under Didache
Elements of the Didascalia and the Didache in the Ethiopic versions of Traditio apostolica
One of the many peculiarities of the Ethiopic transmission of Traditio apostolica in the senodos is the inclusion within it of the apostolic decree from Acts (possibly derived from the Didache), certain provisions from the Didache (chiefly those regarding prophets and travellers, so Didache 11.3-13.7, together with Didache 8.1-2) and a short section of the Didascalia, basically most of the twelfth chapter of the Syriac version (2.57-2.58.6). Because of the disorder in this text this material appears in the middle. What is interesting is that in the new Aksumite Ethiopic text published by Bausi, the same material is found; here it is found towards the end of Traditio apostolica, following on from the directions regarding the cemeteries, and followed only by the brief concluding chapter.
I have been curious about this for some time. Now Jonathan Draper in his “Performing the cosmic mystery of the church in the communities of the Didache“, newly published in Jonathan Knight and Kevin Sullivan (ed.), The open mind: essays in honour of Christopher Rowland (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 37-57 at 45-6, suggests that the appearance of this section in the Ethiopic transmission (I think he is referring to the senodos, though he is a bit vague), and also in the Coptic version (though we should note that the Coptic version is a fragment, rather than an anthology, and begins at 10.6), is “highly significant, indicating that prophets and rules for their control were still relevant or even burning issues.” He suggests that this catena of texts was brought to Ethiopia by Asian monks in the third century, and that they had brought this catena of texts as it “reflected the nature of the mission of the monks to Ethiopia.” He suggests that these monks, moreover, were sympathetic to the new prophecy.
The Coptic version, being a fragment, may be left entirely out of consideration here. This leaves the substantive question of whether the text as currently preserved was brought as is, from Asia or elsewhere, or was excerpted within Ethiopia, or Egypt.
If Draper is correct, one would have to account not only for the material regarding prophecy being excerpted, but also for the eighth chapter, and also for inclusion of the fragment of the Didascalia, not to mention the apostolic decree. This does not seem to be explainable by recourse to the interests of pro-Montanist monastic missionaries (alluring alliteration). Then again, there is no obvious reason why the selection currently found should have been produced within Ethiopian Christianity; even if there was a need within Ethiopia for the regulation of prophets, this hardly explains the selection of the rest of the material, nor its inclusion within Traditio apostolica.
If the Aksumite text is indeed derived directly from Greek, as is most probable, then this in turn implies that the other material was also rendered directly from Greek (thus making the Ethiopic texts more important witnesses for the text of the Didascalia than previously realized). It also implies that the selection might have been made not in Ethiopia but in Alexandria, at an earlier stage in transmission. The question of the purpose of its anthologizing and inclusion among the other church order texts thus remains unanswered, though I am glad that Draper has drawn attention to the issue.
Filed under Apostolic Tradition, Didache, Didascalia Apostolorum
The stinoufi prayer of the Coptic Didache
Posted ages ago on sarum.academia.edu/AlistairStewart; my article on the stinoufi prayer published originally as “The Word and the sweet scent: a re-reading of the stinoufi prayer in the Coptic Didache” Anaphora 1 (2007), 53-64. How did I forget to blog?
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.
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.
Distinguishing agape and eucharist in the Didache
In response to my recent article on Didache 14 in Questions liturgiques 93 (2012) 3-16 (I have tried to upload my copy but the publisher has put some kind of security control on it to prevent me doing precisely that!) Jonathan Draper, among others, has asked whether it is really possible to distinguish eucharist and agape in this earliest period.
That is the critical question, but I would argue strongly that a distinction is entirely possible.
Some riders however… In part it depends on the definition of the terms. I am not attempting to define eucharist with reference to the presence of any “words of institution” or any reference to the Last Supper tradition. Nor am I distinguishing it from an agape on the basis that the agape only was a Sättigungsmahl. Indeed the whole thrust of the argument in my article that takes it as axiomatic that chapters 9-10 are eucharistic indicate that I am not working with any such misleading or dated definition. Clearly chapters 9-10 legislate for eucharistic practice in the context of a meal and without reference to the Last Supper.
Rather I would suggest in the first instance that the term is generic… hence I speak consistently of eucharistic meals. The term agape should likewise be employed generically. We may define eucharistic meals as meals in which some communion with a divine or spiritual being is sought. Thus, quite apart from gatherings on Sabbath/Sunday we may class as eucharistic the annual gathering of the Quartodecimans and meals taken at martyr’s shrines. There may be others. Agapic meals are less easy to define, and less well attested, but may count as pretty well any meal at which early Christians gathered to enjoy communion with each other at table. We may count the cena pura kept by Marcionite communities as such, though again the genus may well include a number of species.