DeHalleux, Andre. “Ministers in the Didache” pp. 300-320 in Draper, Jonathan (editor). The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.
DeHalleux considers the presence of various ministers in the text of the Didache. By 1884, Harnack thought he had found a “link between 1 Corinthian and the Pastorals in the evaluation of the spiritual and ecumenical ministries of the Word towards the local monarchical episcopate” (DeHalleux 1996, 300). However, this analysis may have been invalidated by the conclusions made by redaction critics who consider Didache 11-13 to be from an earlier time period than Didache 15. After questioning the issues involved in text transmission and redaction, DeHalleux concludes that it “is better [then] to respect the only known text than imprudently to forge an amalgam which probably never existed in the tradition. In any case, no major textual correction has been proposed for the section in hand” (DeHalleux 1996, 301). DeHalleaux continues to speak to authorial integrity as he recognizes that the Didache was not being original. “The author was certainly not the creator of the traditions that he reports, but interpretation cannot confer on those heterogeneous elements a higher significance than the Didachist confessed on them when he collected them” (DeHalleux 1996, 302). In particular, he does not find it at all necessary to create a model which places chapter 15 at a different point in history than chapters 11-13.
As a matter of context, DeHalleaux notes that the prayers of chapters 9-10 seem to be led by one individual. Although it is not exactly clear what normal role this person would have, DeHalleaux suggests it may be a bishop or a deacon, as identified in chapters 14-15 (DeHalleux 1996, 303). The bishops or deacons seem to have a different role than the prophets in the community life, as they would conduct regular events and the prophets seemed to have a less distinct, more spontaneous role. The prophets of 10:7 are not designated as itinerant people engaged in ecstatic prayer. DeHalleaux points out that in the biblical account prayer is regularly expected to be intelligible (Luke 1:67-8;1 Cor. 14:16; Eph. 5:19) (DeHalleux 1996, 303).
Didache 11 speaks to a necessary evaluation of teachers. Some teach specifically according to the standards stated and known in the community, some go beyond those standards. The hearer is to evaluate whether the new teaching is consistent with what the community has learned in the past (DeHalleux 1996, 304). The text does not ascribe the teaching to a bishop, a deacon, or a prophet. The people may well be prophets, but we have no way of confirming this. However, in 11:1 we do know that they come from outside the community. DeHalleux considers this and the need to evaluate teaching as the central point of 11:1 (DeHalleux 1996, 305).
Didache 11:3-5 prescribes a specific way of treating apostles and prophets who come. DeHalleux notes the apostles were probably not the Twelve, but that the group possibly included their successors (DeHalleux 1996, 305). There was, by this time, a need to consider whether the visitors might be false prophets. Though these rules showed the people were apparently somewhat itinerant, DeHalleux says “one should not twist their sense by interpreting them as an ascetic life or as asocial vagabondage” (DeHalleux 1996, 306). Yet those who could be of harm to the community were to be rejected. This suggests that some people would seek recognition though they were not worthy of it.
Didache 11:7-12 further speaks to the fact that some, claiming prophetic authority, are only looking for money. The message of the prophet must agree with his life. That is a simple enough message. However, DeHalleux finds numerous statements in the passage which are more obscure (DeHalleux 1996, 307). The content of the teaching and the way of life would both require evaluation, but the criteria are not made clear (DeHalleux 1996, 308). The prophet who has been tested participates in the more formal, liturgical acts of the community (DeHalleux 1996, 309). The meaning of having a meal “by the spirit” is quite vague DeHalleux concludes that while we may not know what the meal referenced is hat we do know is that the work of the prophet is “prayer, teaching, and charity” (DeHalleux 1996, 310).
Didache 13 distinguishes between those normal people who wish to join the community and the prophets and teachers who come. DeHalleux notes that while most people must support themselves, the prophets and teachers are to be supported in their prophetic and teaching work (DeHalleux 1996, 310). DeHalleux suggests that verse two is explaining not a separate group, the teachers, but the teaching function of the prophet. Because the prophet served as a teacher, he should be supported (DeHalleux 1996, 311). Members of the community support these people with offerings of their firstfruits. DeHalleux recognizes that the prophets, called “high priests,” are not so in the sense of the Jewish priesthood or that of later instances of Christianity. Again, he does not think we need to try to read ideas from different historical contexts into the text or to take the language as symbolic of too much (DeHalleux 1996, 312).
Didache 15:1-2 speaks about selecting bishops and deacons. DeHalleux asks if it is necessary to assign this to a later, better developed, more sophisticated time period. His answer is that bishops and deacons were known to the earliest Christians, but did not have a relatively monarchical status described in the 4th century at the early time described in the Didache (DeHalleux 1996, 313). The emphasis of the passage is on selecting bishops and deacons of appropriate character. DeHalleux finds no reason to require a model of bishops and deacons replacing apostles and prophets. They apparently existed at the same time and may have had different gifts which sometimes left them in conflict with one another (DeHalleux 1996, 314).
DeHalleux, having reviewed Didache 10:7-15:2, notes that there are references to “apostle and prophet” and to “prophet and teacher” but never to a trilogy of “apostle, prophet, teacher” (DeHalleux 1996, 315). He thinks this to be an indicator of three roles, possibly held by one individual. However, much scholarship has suggested three separate offices, adducing also Acts 13:1; 14:4, 14; Matthew 10:40-41; 23:34, and possibly 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 and Romans 12:6-8. He counters, “The titles of apostle, prophet and teacher could then always have been applied to three modes of exercise of the same gospel ministry” (DeHalleux 1996, 315).
DeHalleux observes that some commentators take the prophets as dysfunctional revolutionary outsiders, though this view has no serious support in the Didache. There, the prophets are a valued part of the community. Other commentators take the Didache as an archaizing document from the late second century, promoting a Montanist view. Again, the text itself does not bear out the idea very well (DeHalleux 1996, 317).
In conclusion, DeHalleux endorses taking the Didache at face value, as “true to life, and not a nostalgic idealization of the ministerial structures that it intended to codify” (DeHalleux 1996, 318). It would be very unlikely that the Didache was written as an attempt of a prophet or apostle to revise history and grasp power. Such an effort would be unlikely to gain power and credence.