Draper, Jonathan A. “Christian Self-Definition against the ‘Hypocrites’” pp. 223-243 in Draper, Jonathan (editor). The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.
Draper observes that scholarly discussion of Didache VIII has almost exclusively focused on issues of dependence between Matthew’s Gospel and the Didache, rather than on the actual function of the chapter (Draper (ed.), 1996, 223). Draper intends to emphasize rather the flow of the text and the function of this portion.
As Draper considers the literary setting he first concludes, in agreement with David Flusser, that the text of chapters 1-6 are addressed from a Jewish Christian audience speaking to Gentile converts (Draper (ed.), 1996, 225). The description in chapter seven of appropriate water for baptism appears consistent with Jewish washing rituals except for the trinitarian elements, which point to early Christianity (Draper (ed.), 1996, 226). The fast described lends Draper to a conclusion that chapter eight either is to be read as a further elaboration of initiation into the community or, less likely, that it is related to preparation for the eucharist (Draper (ed.), 1996, 227). Draper does consider the transition to be rather clumsy. He also notes that the material is in a different location in the Ethiopic version.
Considering the function of the material, Draper observes that the first six chapters largely dealt with separation from pre-existing practices, while in chapter eight the focus is more on aggregation, or assimilation with the group. “What is significant in both of these phases, is that no specifically Christian motivation is given, which would not equally serve a convert to Judaism (Draper (ed.), 1996, 229). The differentiation was not from Judaism but from paganism. For this reason, Draper finds the sudden negative comments about “hypocrites” in chapter eight to be surprising (Draper (ed.), 1996, 230). He suggests that the distinction became important after baptism, when one was identifying particularly as a Christian.
Identification of the “hypocrites” in 8:1 has often been compared with Matthew 6:16. However, Draper and others find little similarity of content, other than the one word (Draper (ed.), 1996, 231). Draper goes on to speak of the usage of the parallel term in Hebrew, which regularly refers specifically to faithless or anti-religious behavior. The connotation is regularly negative, while the Greek term is more innocuous (Draper (ed.), 1996, 232). Draper does find in the Jewish tradition that the Pharisees, but not the Essenes or other pious groups, made a habit of specific days for fasting. He sees this, therefore, as a statement against the Pharisees, as well as a conscious attempt to separate Christianity and Judaism (Draper (ed.), 1996, 233). The Christian fasts, on different days, are also recorded in Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and the Apostolic Constitutions. This practice of fasting would have effectively distinguished Christians from the Pharisees (Draper (ed.), 1996, 234). The prescription further is to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day, as opposed to the Shema twice in the Jewish tradition. Draper sees this as yet another self-conscious act of differentiation (Draper (ed.), 1996, 235). He futher observes that the use of the Lord’s prayer makes literary dependence a non-issue. A prayer repeated three times daily by Christians could certainly be written down by any person who knew the text and could write (Draper (ed.), 1996, 237). The doxology at the end of the Didache’s version suggests a liturgical use of the material. Draper does not take the liturgical use as anything new, but he does consider that the instruction given for prayer makes it clear that the passage is used as a distinctively Christian liturgy (Draper (ed.), 1996, 238).
Draper’s conclusion is that Didache chapter 8 sets up a distinctive community which is separate from Judaism (Draper (ed.), 1996, 239). Only the baptized participate in the specifically Christian prayers and the eucharistic meal (Draper (ed.), 1996, 240). The Christian community is clearly set apart from the pagan or Jewish groups by the public prayers and fasting, not by the relatively private actions such as giving alms (Draper (ed.), 1996, 242).