Mazza, Enrico. “Didache 9-10: Elements of a Eucharistic Interpretation” pp. 276-299 in Draper, Jonathan (editor). The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.
Mazza, after a brief survey of scholarship pertaining to the use of the term “eucharist” in Didache 9-10, notes that the heart of current debate is which of the Jewish ritual meals would give rise to this protion of the Didache (Mazza 1996, 277). The issue becomes more complex because the meal described in the Didache is not a Jewish ritual meal but apparently a Christian adaptation of some sort. It is also closely related to New Testament theology and practice, though the exact relationship is not clear (Mazza 1996, 278).
As to the special nature of this relationship among Jewish custom, the New Testament, and the Didache, Mazza provides a particularly interesting comment. “We must suppose that the Christian community had immediately begun to live according to the message of Christ in continuity with what the apostles had experienced in living with him. Under the influence of the Spirit his teaching matured in them and the memory of Jesus became the source from which they drew all that the community required by way of reputation for the growth of the faith” (Mazza 1996, 278, footnote 10). In effect, Mazza is alleging a direct connection of theology and practice between the Didache and the budding New Testament, though the literary articulations may have diverged. We would therefore look to the New Testament for further articulation of the ideas, rather than make an attempt to find dependence in the written forms.
Mazza therefore reviews the dating methodologies in more detail. The dating of the eucharistic prayers is an important element, chiefly because it can place the ritual meal in an historical context (Mazza 1996, 279). Audet takes the “Hosanna” statement of 10:6 to necessarily predate the fall of the temple and apparent end of the house of David. Mazza further considers that the statement about the “vine of David” is related to the Jerusalem council, though his argument at this point is not entirely explicit (Mazza 1996, 279). Jesus is described as the culmination of the House of David. Mazza notes that Jesus could be seen as working in direct and significant continuity with Judaism. An incipient Christianity with this level of philosophical continuity to Judaism could well say “the kingdom of David is an object of blessing as a historical reality, which has retained its saving power even in the new economy” (Mazza 1996, 280).
Mazza then observes that the council in Acts 15 was intended as a Christian response to those who expected a very high level of continuity, requiring that Gentile converts to Christianity be circumcised (Mazza 1996, 280-281). The apostolic response was that converts did not need to become Jewish but would keep some observances “to avoid unnecessary motives for conflict” (Mazza 1996, 281). There is no rejection of Peter’s affirmation of salvation by grace apart from works, but there is caution against actions which would, by their very nature, bring offense.
The importance of this conciliar decision is made clear, as Mazza notes, by Luke’s repetition of the decree three times. Not only is salvation by grace through faith, but the council clearly identifies Jesus as “Lord” rather than referring to Mosaic law or a history of a Davidic kingdom as the arbiter. Mazza concludes, “We do not believe that the conception of Did 9:2 is compatible with the theology represented by the Council of Jerusalem, and, therefore, we propose the Council of Jerusalem as the latest date for the two eucharistic texts of the Didache” (Mazza 1996, 281). Mazza places this council in 48 or 49, based on G. Bornkamm’s Paul (trns. D.M.G. Stalker, London: Holder & Stoughton 1971, p. 31) and L. Cerfaux’ introduction to Acts in the Jerusalem Bible (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1958, p. 26).
Mazza further finds the vine of David theology depicting a very “close relationship between Judaism and Christianity” (Mazza 1996, 282). The strong sense of continuity suggests to Mazza a time closer to that described in Acts 2 than in Acts 15. The distance between Judaism and Christianity increased after the persecution which resulted in the death of Stephen (Mazza 1996, 283). For this reason, Mazza concludes that Didache 9-10 is best dated “in the first three or four years after the death and resurrection of Christ” (Mazza 1996, 283).
Mazza considers that Didache 14 unquestionably refers to a “Sunday eucharistic celebration” but that the evidence for chapters 9-10 is more tenuous (Mazza 1996, 283). He notes that the arguments for and against chapters 9-10 being viewed sacramentally differ in their nature and preclude any compromise agreement. The eucharistic texts do not clearly lead to a sacramental understanding. The flow of the arguments in chapters 1-8 does lead to a recognition of a sacrament (Mazza 1996, 284). However, between about 1960 and 1990 the trend was increasingly to view chapters 9-10 as eucharist rather than an “agape” meal. The issue is complicated by the fact that the narrative dates from an early period in which terminology may not have been used in a consistent manner.
Because of the difficulty in definition of the eucharist and its terminology, Mazza suggests that scholars have often assumed the meal of chapters 9-10 to be an agape, describing it in terms used by Tertullian and Hippolytus (Mazza 1996, 285). Mazza gathers that this “love-meal” existed within paganism but was not the same as any of the Jewish ritual meals. It was gradually adopted by Christian communities. The agape focuses on the people around the table, while the eucharist focuses on the Christ (Mazza 1996, 286). Because of the different focus, as well as the possibly later development, Mazza rejects the idea of this meal as an agape.
Mazza further considers whether the material in Didache 9-10 refers to a Jewish ritual meal. These ritual meals were centered around words - man blessing God, God blessing man. The meal may be seen as sacred, at least in part, because of an anamnesis - a remembering of God’s miraculous provision (Mazza 1996, 288). Mazza reviews the elements of a ritual meal with its various blessings and times of eating and drinking. The emphasis is not on any sort of effectual consecration but on the recognition of the Lord who provides all we have.
An important element in Mazza’s consideration is the fact that there is no narrative of the Words of Institution (Mazza 1996, 289). However, he cites the anaphora of Addai andMari as an example of a eucharistic liturgy from very early Christianity which lacks the Institution (Mazza 1996, 290). Mazza further notes that “the church of Malabar celebrated its own eucharist with an anaphora which does not contain the account of hte institution” (Mazza 1996, 291), but was not considered to be non-Christian. Mazza emphasizes that the important issue is celebrating the eucharist “in memory” of Jesus, the belief as opposed to the specific words (Mazza 1996, 292).
Mazza observes that the Didache does not include an institution narrative. “Usually, in order to accredit a fully eucharistic reading of chapters 9 and 10 of the Didache, people refer to the eucharistic use made of these texts in later documents” (Mazza 1996, 293). It is quite possible that a reference to a well-known piece of liturgy would havebeen considered sufficient to refer to the whole meaning. Mazza further states that in some cases the actual institution seems assumed in early liturgies and is stated in later ones. He explains. “One can allow that the Church of earliest times was aware of the ‘conformity’ of its own eucharist to the Lord’s Supper, without feeling the need to explain or formulate this conformity by making direct reference to the institution (Mazza 1996, 294, emphasis his). The celebration was in coformity to the Lord’s institution though it did not quote His institution.
In closing Mazza speaks of Didache 10:3 and the allusion to eternal life. There is a commemoration of food which all humans have, followed by a recognition of food which Christians receive (Mazza 1996, 295). From 1 Corinthians 10, Jesus says “do this in memory of me.” Mazza asks what “this” might be. First, Mazza notes that the supper points to Jesus’ death, as a bold proclamation. It does not line up exactly with the Passover, particularly as it has been repeated much more than once yearly (Mazza 1996, 296). The disciples would have understood what they were to do. We trust they did not violate that principle. With this in mind, Mazza walks through the different segments of Didache 9-10, finding a solidly Christological reinterpretation of the Jewish ritual meals. The thanksgiving of Didache 10:3 is reminiscent of the thanksgivings of Deuteronomy 8:10. Mazza finds this ritual meal to start as a parallel of the Old Testament precedent, but with the addition of the certain Christian hope of eternal life (Mazza 1996, 297). Additionally, Mazza notes that Didache 9-10 has no reference to a blessing of “the land,” a typical feature of Jewish thought. Rather than a land, the Christian looks to a less earthly promise of eternal life (Mazza 1996, 298). Jesus left his disciples with a new interpretation of an old meal custom. It bore new meaning along with some new content (Mazza 1996, 299).