Milavec, Aaron (2012) Review of O’Loughlin, Thomas. The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic; London: SPCK, 2010) xviii + 185” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 74, 2012, pp. 619-620
Milavec’s primary understanding of the state of Didache scholarship is well summed up in his opening sentences. “Until recently, NT scholars could politely dismiss the Didache as a patristic document compiled in stages from pre-existing traditional material spliced together with minimal editing. Recent years have witnessed greater attention given to the internal unity of the Didache as revealing a form of Christianity that thrived at the same time as Paul’s mission and the canonical Gospels (in their oral form) were taking shape” (Milavec 2012, 619). O’Loughlin, whose work is primarily in the realm of New Testament scholarship, comments on the issues in the Didache “against the backdrop of the NT texts” (Milavec 2012, 619). His assumptions of dating and function are consistent with Audet and Milavec in placing it around the year 50 and focused on training Gentile converts to Christianity. The book poins up the view that the Didache is focused on practice rather than doctrinal explanation. O’Laughlin sees the Didache as an illustration of practices in one time and place within Christianity, not as a normative document. The underlying issues of unity in the Christian life are normative but the practices which reflect that untiy can and do change in time. As an example he uses the offering of first-fruits, which is practiced differently in many cultures and times but which is an outworking of the issue of giving and caring for others (Milavec 2012, 620). Milavec gives this book high praise.