Rordorf, Wily & Andre Tuilier. La Doctrine Des Douze Apotres: Introduction, Texte, Traduction, Notes, Appendice et Index. Paris: Les Editions DuCerf, 1978.
Chapter 3, “Analyse Critique De L’Ouvrage” pp. 22-101.
Rordorf considers the text of the Didache in order. The “two ways” text bears strong similarities to the period text Manual of Discipline from Qumran. The similarity has been explored in detail by Audet (Rordorf 1978, 23). Rordorf sees this as a strong suggestion of a Jewish origin of the Didache. However, the Didache is directed to a broad ethnic audience, while the Qumran works are very specifically Jewish (Rordorf 1978, 24). There are also similarities to the Epistle of Barnabas, Apostolic Doctrine, and Shepherd of Hermas (Rordorf 1978, 25). The differences among the works are also significant. Rordorf concludes that it is not possible to tell if one text is dependent on another (Rordorf 1978, 28). The texts all bear considerable similarities in the identification of good and evil. The audiences are of young and old alike, and works all start with a preparation for baptism followed by the baptismal life (Rordorf 1978, 31).
“Chapters 7-10 of the Didache present a certain unity” (Rordorf 1978, 34, personal translation). Rordorf observes the frequently repeated περὶ δέ as an introduction to ideas (Rordorf 1978, 35). Chapter seven looks back to the necessity of instruction prior to baptism, then the typical trinitarian baptismal formula (Rordorf 1978, 35). Rordorf observes a change in number from plural in 7:2-3 to singular in 7:4, which may suggest some sort of redaction. In chapter 8 there are instructions about fasting, a process that logically follows baptism and precedes the eucharist (Rordorf 1978, 36). Rordorf sees a connection between this passage and Matthew 6, in which the hypocrites fast and pray (Rordorf 1978, 36. The habit of fasting twice a week and praying three times a day was well known in Judaism and primitive Christian practice (Rordorf 1978, 37).
Chapters 9-10 receive a great deal of attention from commentators (Rordorf 1978, 38). The matter at hand is the possible distinction between an ἀγάπη meal and a εὐχαριστία. Commentators seem to consider the described eucharist as having features of both the agape meal and the eucharistic ceremony. There is not a fully formed eucharistic prayer. Yet the agape and the eucharist do not appear to be identical (Rordorf 1978, 38). The activity is clearly referred to as “eucharist.” Yet the order of events is reversed, with the cup first, followed by the bread (Rordorf 1978, 39). Further, the lack of a eucharistic prayer, which was a very early development, is perplexing (Rordorf 1978, 40). Rordorf considers two different theories. That of Audet suggests this passage as a regular eucharistic instruction, while R.A. Kraft suggests it belongs to an annual celebratory time of baptizing and admitting new people to the eucharist (Rordorf 1978, 42). Again, Rordorf does not make a definitive decision. He moves on to treat the prayers we are given in chapters 9 and 10, identifying them as from a “very old” formula (Rordorf 1978, 43). Jesus is described as the stem of David, a clearly Messianic title, which would be an unlikely usage in later times when addressing Gentiles. The use of “to make known” is also unusual (Rordorf 1978, 43). All the terminology of the prayer strikes Rordorf as being very early and Hebraic in nature (Rordorf 1978, 44-45). The eschatological statements are also very vivid, suggesting an author who is expecting the end very soon (Rordorf 1978, 46). Because of these signs of early composition, Rordorf does not consider it possible that the Didache was influenced by Apostolic Constitutions (Rordorf 1978, 48).
Rordorf next discusses chapters 11-15, which he refers to as the “partie disciplinaire.” The structure of this portion is very diverse and may indicate several authors (Rordorf 1978, 49). He does think that chapters 11-13 may be one unit, with chapters 14-15 as an appended portion. Chapters 11-13 are well tied to chapters 7-10 (Rordorf 1978,49). Chapters 11-13 speak directly to the treatment of prophets, apostles, and teachers (Rordorf 1978, 51). The itinerant apostle seems to be still a factor at the time of composition, though prophets are more common (Rordorf 1978, 51). Ministers consist of apostles and prophets, and the prophets must be identified as true or false (Rordorf 1978, 52). They are known by their actions. The idea of a table ordered in the Spirit (11.9) is a problematic one. It may refer to prophetically requiring an agape meal (Rordorf 1978, 53). Teachers, also addressed in the Apostolic Constitutions, have fewer restrictions in time than prophets, as the work of teaching normally is ongoing but the prophetic task is accomplished in very few days (Rordorf 1978, 55). The care for apostles, prophets, and teachers is consistent with the example found in Acts 13 as well as 1 Corinthians 12 (Rordorf 1978, 57).
Rordorf again speaks of the apparent antiquity of this portion of the Didache, observing that the care for prophets is completely consistent with Acts 13, 1 Corinthians 12, and Luke’s Gospel (Rordorf 1978, 58). The apostles are in transit and are helped on their way by the Christian community (Rordorf 1978, 59). The eschatology also is a close match with Matthew and Luke. The Christian world is very mobile yet is just reaching out beyond Israel (Rordorf 1978, 60). This picture of early Christianity is akin to that identified in early Syrian letters as well (Rordorf 1978, 61).
Rordorf observes that chapters 14-15 appear different from the earlier chapters, possibly somewhat later (Rordorf 1978, 63). The community receives and recognizes true prophets and makes them bishops (Rordorf 1978, 64). There appears to be some more or les permanent liturgy in place. Chapter 14 moves back again to the synaxis on the Day of the Lord. This may be a reference to the actions from chapter 9 r it may signify a different, weekly, celebration (Rordorf 1978, 6). The synaxis itself is remarkably similar to that presented in chapters 9 and 10 (Rordorf 1978, 66). Again, it is uncertain whether one passage speaks primarily about an agape meal and one about a eucharistic ceremony (Rordorf 1978, 67). Certainly the emphasis on forgiveness is the same in all the contexts. Rordorf compares the Lord’s Prayer as found in Didache IV, the liturgy shown in chapter XIV, and 1 Corinthians 11, showing the same concern about reconciliation (Rordorf 1978, 70).
In chapter 15 the specification of “bishops” and “deacons” would seem to show that by this time the apostolic office was less prominent and that the bishops and deacons had fairly clearly delineated offices (Rordorf 1978, 73). The bishop was seen as a man of authority and the deacon as one of service. Yet in chapter 15 of the Didache both are closely related to the performance of the liturgy (Rordorf 1978, 74).
Rordorf observes that there are only “bishops and deacons” while in Apostolic Constitutions a threefold office, “bishops, elders, and deacons” seems to be admitted (Rordorf 1978, 75). This suggests that these chapters still belong to a very early period. Rordorf makes a survey of the historical use of the words “bishop,” “elder,” and “deacon,” observing that the terms become more clearly delineated over time (Rordorf 1978, 76-80).
There is some debate whether chapter 16 of the Didache is consistent with chapters 1-6. The structure and phraseology are similar and the content seems consistent. Rordorf considers it likely, though not certain, that the texts do belong together (Rordorf 1978, 82-83).
The overall question of dating and comparison to the New TEstament now arises. Rordorf cites three current studies, those of Koster, Audet, and Glover. 1.3-2.1 are very consistent with the New Testament. It is impossible to is dependent on the other (Rordorf 1978, 84). The liturgical passages, especially the Lord’s Prayer, are very similar to the synoptic tradition (Rordorf 1978, 86). The practical portion in chapters 11-15 may represent a very early oral tradition, though the references in 15.3 and 15.4 suggest knowledge of some written Gospel text (Rordorf 1978,88). Chapter 16 has some similarity to Luke 12:35-40, as well as Matthew 24:10-13. Dependence is unclear (Rordorf 1978, 90).
As regards the date of authorship, Rordorf suggests there may have been a composition and redaction process (Rordorf 1978, 92). Chapters 1-6 appear to be very early, likely independent of any canonical tradition. Chapters 7-10 appear aware of the earlier chapters. They seem independent of canonical texts (Rordorf 1978, 93). Chapters 11-13 appear a bit later, looking back to some history of practice. Chapters 14-15 may well have been inserted at a slightly later time, reviewing the earlier material. Chapter 16 may well be from the same time as chapters 14-15, but self-consciously referencing an early period (Rordorf 1978, 94). The overall composition belongs to the first century, not later (Rordorf 1978, 96).
In analyzing the importance of the Didache in the Christian tradition, Rordorf observes it is a one of a kind work. It is similar in nature to Matthew’s Gospel but is not a Gospel account (Rordorf 1978, 99). It makes no comprehensive theological statements but illustrates what the Christian life looked like in the earliest times (Rordorf 1978, 100). It has a very immediate view of the eschaton and a very rich view of the eucharist (Rordorf 1978, 101). It also speaks to the early and clear development of the ministerial office in the apostolic period (Rordorf 1978, 101).