Friday's Focus - Didache Articles
Gibbins, H.J. "The Problem of the Liturgical Section of the Didache." Journal of Theological Studies 36:144, October 1935, 373-386.
This article reflects on the work of Dr. Armitage Robinson, published in JTS 35:113, 225 (Gibbins 1935, 373). The matter under consideration is the liturgical portion of the Didache. Gibbons provides Didache chapters 9, 10, and 14 in Greek (Gibbins 1935, 373-374).
Gibbins notes that there are a number of statements in the passage which indicate directions along with the prayers. This suggests to him that some liturgical source is in use. Based on that concept, Gibbins takes it to be perfectly possible that the prayers used were significantly older than the remainder of the Didache (Gibbins 1935, 374).
The statement of 9:2 pertaining to "the holy vine of David your son" (personal translation, Gibbons takes it to be "your servant") (Gibbins 1935, 375) is of special interest to Gibbins. He takes the vine to be "clearly distinct from Jesus" (Gibbins 1935, 375), as it is revealed "through" Jesus. The passage suggests David as the Messianic King. Gibbins provides a number of references to this idea from Scripture and other period documents.
Gibbins considers the language of the Holy Vine was of great significance. "In the mind of a Jewish Chrsitian 'the Holy Vine of David' stood for the Christian Church, the fulfillment of the ideal Israel" (Gibbins 1935, 376). The eucharist required a liturgical form. The langauge of the vine is parallelled in the language of the loaf being broken. Gibbins sees it "symbolic not of the physical body of Christ but of the Church" (Gibbins 1935, 376). The usage of the vine has no early record, but Gibbins does find an allusion in Clementa of Alexandria and in Origen (Gibbins 1935, 377).
Gibbins further considers the word κλάσμα, "a piece" in the prayer, referring to a broken piece of bread, as achallenge. It was more common to refer to "bread" than to "a piece of bread" (Gibbins 1935, 378). Gibbins sees also that the language of the bread is more evocative of Jesus' miraculous multiplication of food than of his body given to make atonement (Gibbins 1935, 379).
Gibbins notes the importance of the reference to "hills" or "mountains" (Gibbins 1935, 380). To a reader in Judea it would be relatively natural to picture grain growing on hills. However, in areas characterized by plains it would be less intuitive, since the hlls would not be a natural place to farm (Gibbins 1935, 381).
Gibbins also considers the names used for God in the prayes to be of importance. They suggest to him that the prayers are quoted from somewhere else (Gibbins 1935, 381). If they were the composition of the Didachist, as Robinson suggested in 1912, the material would not follow the pattern of other early Christian works, which freely admit being patterned on earlier material (Gibbins 1935, 382). The overarching idea of theeucharist serving to re-unify a church seems particularly appropriate to an early setting, such as that of Acts 8, where the Christians are forced into isolation (Gibbins 1935, 384).
Gibbins notes a number of words and phrases which seem to make allusion to the New TEstament. This list may be of use in tracking allusions (Gibbins 1935, 384).
In conclusion, Gibbins suggests that at least the prayers in the Didache are probably from Jerusalem, probably in the early part of the period 30-70. The prayers seem to use an early expression of doctrine and may well express opinions of the apostles (Gibbins 1935, 386).