Draper, Jonathan A. “Torah and Troublesome Apostles in the Didache Community” pp. 340-363 in Draper, Jonathan (editor). The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.
Draper sets out to consider the theme of apostles as described in the Didache, noting that the descriptions themselves may be illustrative of the real situation of traveling apostles as they interacted with the local congregations. Draper considers how these interactions, though possibly somewhat obscured in the process of redaction, may be well understood, especially with the help of comparisons to the materians present in Matthew’s gospel (Draper (ed.), 1996, 341).
Didache chapter 11 may have seen considerable redactional change, as Draper acknowledges, specifically commenting on the 1989 commentaries of Niederwimmer and Jefford. Both hypothesize redactions made by insertaion of explanatory paragraphs within chapter 11 (Draper (ed.), 1996, 342). The comments are frequently predicated on an idea of a “decline” or a “divergence” from the canonical text of Matthew. However, Draper trenchantly observes the idea “begs the questions in assuming that a work inside the canon of Scripture must be prior to a work outside it. It is more likely that teachings emerge out of the concrete life-situations of a community in a rudimentary and unattractive form, and are later developed and refined theologically into a consistent whole (Draper (ed.), 1996, 342). Draper considers the materials pertaining to apostles to be of a more primitive nature than those which speak of prophets. For this reason, he argues that the depiction of apostles is more likely to be tied to the actual movements of the first apostles (Draper (ed.), 1996, 344). Further, the idea of receiving apostles ὡς κύριος was increasingly avoided as time passed, presumably because of the authoritative role of Scripture in the subapostolic period (Draper (ed.), 1996, 345).
As he proceeds to explore the treatment of apostles, Draper seeks out information about the local issues which may have led to the Didache’s comments about apostles. He says, “The Didache is a ‘Q’ community, and draws on the same tradition as does Matthew, although it cannot be shown to be dependent on Matthew as we have it” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 346). It seems that much of the Didache reflects teaching generally known to the Christian community, but that the teaching at some point, particularly by the time of 15:4, which he sees as a later insertion, is superseded by a written “gospel” account (Draper (ed.), 1996, 347). On the whole, Draper’s view is that the Didache and Matthew may have arisen through dialectic between the Didache in the genre of a “community rule” and Matthew in the genre of a “gospel.” He then compares the statements of Didache 11:1-2 and Matthew 5:17-20, in which both texts require orthodoxy of teaching, consistent with the message held in the past (Draper (ed.), 1996, 348). In both passages we are cautioned about a teacher who makes claims which are inconsistent with Torahd or other received doctrine. This teacher is not to be received, though neither text denies that person’s claim to be a Christian. Both passages use an uncommon word, καταῦσαι, to describe the violation of orthodox teaching (Draper (ed.), 1996, 349). Similarly, in both passages, δικαιοσύνη is used to describe teaching or ethical behavior which illustrates the goodness of God in the Torah (Draper (ed.), 1996, 350). Draper concludes that “in the Didache we can observe the development still in process, which comes to full theological expression in Matthew” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 351). The Didache, then, likely represents a layer of teaching in which some Christians, even possibly some apostles, are failing to work out the details of Christianity in a manner consistent with the Torah. This appears to have been largely resolved in the community represented by Matthew’s Gospel (Draper (ed.), 1996, 352).
Draper further looks at Didache 6:1-3 in relation to apostles, as it speaks of the need to guard the specific content of the teaching. The passage, not found in this form in other “Two Ways” passages, seems to divide Christians into those who strive for and achieve an earthly perfection and those who simply do what they can but don’t escape carnal pleasure (Draper (ed.), 1996, 353). There is a clear element in the passage of the need to avoid worship of idols. Draper makes an interesting observation in that Torah is seen as a “yoke” but that here it is “the yoke of the Lord,” strongly suggesting an interpretation of Torah by or through Christ (Draper (ed.), 1996, 354). The requirements Draper finds in the New Testament, specifically in Acts 15:10 and Galatians 2:11-13, make it clear to him that the discpute was more over dietary laws than circumcision, as the dietary signs were the indicator that the Gentile and Jewish Christians could worship together (Draper (ed.), 1996, 355).
Draper further considers the idea of “perfection,” referring to the Greek term τέλειος as used in Didache 6:2. At issue here, and in Matthew 5:48, is whether the Christian is to keep all of Torah so as to be recognized as righteous (Draper (ed.), 1996, 37). The Didache seems to require that Christians keep Torah or they will be considered “second class Christians” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 358). A failure to teach this point of view, however, is a matter of contradicting God. Draper finds it essential in the Didache that Christians keep all the Jewish Torah, as interpreted by Jesus (Draper (ed.), 1996, 359).
The eschatology of Didache 16 also brings insight into the situation. In 16:2, the proselyte is required to perfect himself (Draper (ed.), 1996, 359). Draper finds the same pressure for those who are converting to Judaism, as they are also told to keep all of Torah including the laws of food. In Didache 16, the same faithfulness to Torah is required as to the Two Ways in 6:1 (Draper (ed.), 1996, 360). Those who teach otherwise are called in 16:2 “false prophets” but in 11:1-6 the term is apparently used for false apostles. These are seen as wolves who arise within the community.
Draper’s overall conclusion is that these concepts point to the Didache coming from a community in which Torah is pre-eminent, though some are advocating abolishing Torah. These are the false teachers who need to be removed from the community. Draper sees this as the essential dispute, and Matthew’s Gospel as the beginning of reconciliation of the parties to the dispute (Draper (ed.), 1996, 363).