Friday's Orality/Rhetoric Lesson
Niederwimmer, Kurt. "Textprobleme der Didache." Wiener Studien 95 (1982), 114-130.
Niederwimmer sets forth the problem inherent in considering the text of the Didache. The fact that it exists in only one known manuscript, this dating from hundreds of years after the composition, is inherently problematic from a standpoint of textual analysis (Niederwimmer 1982, 114). It is impossible to definitively identify any editorial history based on one relatively late manuscript.
At issue is the provenance of the document. Where it came from, as well as what time, is a significant issue for scholarly analysis, as understanding this allows for placing the Didache's message in its correct cultural and historical context (Niederwimmer 1982, 116).
Another issue is whether there are clearly identifiable interpolations or other editorial changes (Niederwimmer 1982, 117). With the manuscript evidence we have, all such interpretive attempts are hypothetical. Niederwimmer does analyze several passages he considers to be interpolations.
Niederwimmer further suggests that a correct knowledge of the provenance of the text would allow analysis of influences on the text (Niederwimmer 1982, 120). Futher, it could be relevant to interpretation of texts influenced by the Didache. Niederwimmer illustrates the importance of this factor with several examples of other pieces of literature which may require interpretation in light of the Didache.
Another important issue is the potential that some portions of the text may have been removed (Niederwimmer 1982, 122). Niederwimmer illustrates this possibility by comoparing the text with other related texts, observing that the Didache omits some words and phrases found in parallel texts. This is especially noted in relatively formulaic statements (Niederwimmer 1982, 124). Niederwimmer particularly sees the Coptic fragment and its statements about anointing as a fruitful area of study.