Draper, Jonathan. “The Jesus Tradition in the Didache” pp. 72-91 in Draper, Jonathan (editor). The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.
Draper, considering the general tone of the Didache, observes that “the picture of the Church which it presents could only be described as primitive, reaching back to the very earliest stages of the Church’s order and practice in a way which largely agrees with the picture presented by the New Testament” (Draper 1996, 72). It was apparently widely used and was recommended reading for new converts until the 4th century. Draper notes that chapters 1-6 and the Epistle of Barnabas have considerable parallels. However, scholars are not in agreement about any direction of literary dependence (Draper 1996, 73).
The Manual of Discipline from the Dead Sea Scrolls (1QS 3:13-4:26), in comparison to Doctrina Apostolorum, Barnabas, and the Didache suggests strongly that the Two Ways teaching was a pre-existing conceptual block of Jewish material (Draper 1996, 74). Draper, citing Audet but asserting that Audet’s conclusions are not entirely correct, identifies multiple layers of redaction in the text. He concludes that “[T[he Didache is a composite work, which has evolved over a considerable period, from its beginning as a Jewish catechetical work, which was taken up and developed by the Church into a manual of Church life and order” (Draper 1996, 74-75). Draper recognizes that some redaction may have continued up to the time of the 11th century manuscript which we have. Since there are no complete earlier manuscripts, our ability to compare an earlier time period is severely limited (Draper 1996, 75).
Draper continues to evaluate the “evidence concerning the Jesus tradition” (Draper 1996, 76). For this he looks primarily at 1:3b-2:1; 8, and 15:3-4. The use of the term “gospel” is not necessarily to be taken as a reference to a written cospel, which complicates matters. Draper finds that the Jesus tradition has largely not influenced the Two Ways, except at Didache 1:2b. Here, he finds the first . . . second . . . to be related to the Christian tradition from Matthew 22:37-39 (Draper 1996, 77). Again, dependence is not clearly demonstrable.
Didache 7 and 9-14, with their liturgical instruction, do not strongly reflect a Jesus tradition, though the Trinitarian formula in 7:1 is a clear reference to Jesus. Draper considers this a later redaction (Draper 1996, 78). He finds the eucharistic prayers in 9:10 similar to John 6:14, but more similar to the Jewish Berakoth (Draper 1996, 78). Draper further suggests that Didache 11:1-2 may ot have been dependent on Matthew 5:17-20, but that the dependence may have gone the other way. He thinks marks of dependence on a written gospel are “very faint” (Draper 1996, 79).
Didache 1:3-2:1, though somewhat similar to Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6, does not actually identify the ideas as teaching of Jesus (Draper 1996, 79). Draper considers this passage more similar to Justin Martyr’s Apology 1:16. Again, he is left uncertain as to the source, if any, of the material. Draper proceeds to lay out parallel passages from Didache 1, Matthew 5, Luke 6, and Justin, 1:15-16 (Draper 1996, 79-81). Draper considers the text of theDidache to be the most clumsy, therefore less likely to have been strongly influenced by other texts (Draper 1996, 82). The variations in wording of numerous passages suggest to Draper that the Didache was composed independently of the actual written Gospel accounts. Draper thinks it more likely that the Didache received influenes from “Q material, either in a written or an oral form” (Draper 1996, 85).
In Didache 8 Draper finds a strong influence, or at least a relationship to Matthew 6:1-6 and 9-13 (Draper 1996, 85). He also views it as a later insertion which interferes with a more natural flow of events. Draper briefly considers the difference in the wording of theLord’s Prayer as presented in the Didache and in Matthew (Draper 1996, 86).
The apocalyptic material in Didache 16 is similar in content to Matthew 24, but Draper considers it independent in composition (Draper 1996, 86). He finds the conceptual material in Exodus 12, but the actual compositions to be unrelated (Draper 1996, 87). This he demonstrates with parallel presentations of the texts, which are indeed not very similar.
Draper concludes, tentatively, that the Didache is relatively independent of the Synoptics. Dependence on a Jesus tradition is probably limited to materials found in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount and Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, as well as Matthew 24. There is usually more similarity between the Didache and Matthew than with Luke (Draper 1996, 90). The Didache source seems more to be a Q document or some other oral or written collection of Jesus sayings. It is possible that this collection was known as τὸ εὐαγγέλιον (Draper 1996, 91).