Patterson, Stephen J. "Didache 11-13: The Legacy of Radical Itinerancy in Early Christianity." in Jefford, Clayton (editor). The Didache in Context: essays on its text, history, and transmission. Leiden: Brill, 1995, 313-329.
Patterson builds on Gerd Theissen's work (1973) which theorized a radical movement of itinerant Christian preachers in the earliest spread of Christianity (Patterson 1995, 313). Didache 11-13 describes a sort of itinerant movement, which Patterson explores. Of particular interest to him are the passages which may suggest a conflict between local leaders and the itinerant preachers, and signs of the growth of a local leadership structure which would replace itinerancy (Patterson 1995, 314).
In Didache 11, Patterson notes that apostles and prophets come and go, terminology suggesting their regular movement. Further, there are provisions for prophets who would like to stay, which suggests they may normally be expected to move on (Patterson 1995, 316). Patterson considers this same pattern and role to apply to teachers.
Patterson takes Didache 11-13 to have not been a unified text. The material in chapter 12 inserts ideas about "the traveler" without any preparation, but chapter 13 returns to the chapter 11 theme of prophets (Patterson 1995, 317). Patterson observes that the matter is further complicated by the fact that in chapter 11 the prophets may not ask for money but in chapter 13 they are given support. Finally, while apostles were present in chapter 11, they are absent from chapter 13.
Although we have only one complete text of the Didache, Patterson considers that the Coptic fragment may assist us in identifying some aspects of the history (Patterson 1995, 319). The fact that the Coptic manuscript ends at 12.2a suggests there may have been an actual version which ended there. Patterson reviews the layout and possible purposes of the Coptic fragment in some detail, before suggesting that 12.1-2a makes a summary closing statement which could have been the end of a version of the Didache (Patterson 1995, 323). Patterson therefore suggests that the text, with traditional material, may have originally ended at 12.2a, but that a later addition was made due to itinerant preachers who wanted to stay in the community (Patterson 1995, 324).
Patterson goes on to note that the passages about itinerant preachers always regard them as outsiders, and that the text is telling insiders what to do about them (Patterson 1995, 324). The teachings of the itinerant preachers were to be evaluated and governed in some way. The same would hold true for the teachings of apostles (Patterson 1995, 326).
In Didache 12.2B, Patterson finds the new challenge of dealing with refugees, rather than simply weighing teaching and sending the itinerant people to the next community (Patterson 1995, 326). He considers this to be a challenge which had arisen after the time of composition of chapter 11. Patterson further consides that the trajectory of development leads naturally to chapter 15, where there are local bishops and deacons who hold authority rather than the prophets and apostles (Patterson 1995, 327).
Patterson concludes that the roles of itinerant teachers were flourishing in the time of the Didache, and that, as far as we can tell, continued for some time. He leaves the door open for further substantive reserach in the field (Patterson 1995, 329).