Koch, Dietrich-Alex. “Eucharistic Meal and Eucharistic Prayer in Didache 9 and 10.” Studia Theologica 64 (2010), pp. 200-218. Routledge.
Koch recognizes the meal described in Didache 9-10 as a ritual meal surrounded by prayers. However, he also sees the need to question whether the meal is to be understood “as a charity meal (a so-called Agape) or as a ritual (“sacramental”) meal in the proper sense” (Koch 2010, 200). The primary difficulties he identifies relate to the lack of Words of Institution similar to 1 Cor. 11:23-25, as ewll as the invitation found in Didache 10:6c, calling people to repent and come.
The overall content of Didache 7-10 is that of teaching on baptism and the Eucharist, which Koch takes as “two main ritual (“sacramental”) acts of the communities of the Didache” (Koch 2010, 201). He moves on to an analysis of the structure of Didache 9:1-5 and 10:1-7, presenting the text in Greek and English, in outline form, with the major points underlined (Koch 2010, 201-203). The eating and drinking each have prayers of thanksgiving associated with them. The meal appears quite real, as it speaks of being filled before a special giving of thanks (Koch 2010, 204). There are instructions interspersed in 10:5 and 10:7. Koch observes that the instructions are rather scant, but that the original audience would have found them as already known. Some prayers are specified while the prophets can add to the prayers. This may serve to protect the local climate while inviting the prophets to participation. “The author of the Didache clearly tends to strengthen the position of the leaders of the local communities in comparison with the prophets” (Koch 2010, 205). Koch also finds a number of interjected exclamations which could be spoken by the leader or the participants. Finally, there is an invitation to “holy ones” along with a request that others would repent (Koch 2010, 206).
Koch, summarizing the scholarship since 1883, finds two overall methods of interpreting the event. First, it may be that there was an Agape meal, with prayers included in the Didache, followed by a Eucharist for which the Didache does not include a liturgy (Koch 2010, 206). The weakness of this interpretation is the odd omission of Words of Institution, especially since the Didache provides other set statements such as the Lord’s Prayer (Koch 2010, 207). Other scholars argue that the entire ritual meal is present, and that the prayers are given as they were being used. The weakness of this interpretation is that it cannot adequately explain the presence of 10:6c, the invitation and call for repentance.
In an attempt to resolve this twin difficult, Koch compares the meal of Didache 9-10 and the Eucharist described in 1 Cor. 10-11. The meal in the Didache seems to be a liturgical event. 9:5 excludes those who are not baptized. 10:2-5 treats it as “spiritual food and drink.” Yet, since it speaks of being filled, there is clearly an actual meal. The central element in both the Didache and in 1 Corinthians is prayer, giving thanks to God. Koch therefore concludes “a basic correspondence” of the two descriptions (Koch 2010, 208). However, there are significant differences. The Didache prayers are those of thanksgiving while the prayers in 1 Cor. 10 are “prayers of praise.” The prayers in 1 Cor. specifically reference the partaking in Christ’s death, while the Didache really doesn’t speak of that. Koch sees this as less of a problematic distinction “if we realize that there is no positive argument for the traditional assumption that the Words of Institution were used in the liturgy of the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον in Pauline communities” (Koch 2010, 209). Koch argues that the words, though well known, were not necessarily considered a required part of the liturgy even until possibly the early 4th century (Koch 2010, 210). That the Words of Institution are missing from the Didache could be a normal feature of some 1st century practice.
The question remaining for Koch is from Didache 10:6c, where the reader/hearer is called to come if he is holy but otherwise to repent (Koch 2010, 211). Is there a fianl stage of the ritual? Who are the “holy ones?” Koch suggests that the context is more easily seen as a time after the ritual meal itself is ended and people are responding with thanksgiving and prayers. It makes sense that people would be invited but that those in need of repentance should do so before participating. The “holy ones” may well be the baptized (9:5), but much evidence suggests that people who were not baptized would already be absent. However, Didache 14:1-3 suggests that those baptized but in unresolved conflict would not partake of communion. They may well have been present but not participating (Koch 2010, 212).
Koch concludes that both the Didache and the 1 Cor. meal are the Eucharist, that the doctirnal explanation in the liturgy was not identical or standardized, and that the invitation was to further prayer and thansgiving (Koch 2010, 213-214).