Tour of Christian History
van de Sandt, Huub, & David Flusser. "Chapter 5: The Two Ways as a Jewish Document." The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002, 140-190.
The Two Ways material in the Didache has long been considered to have a strongly rabbinic character. There remains some debate regarding the extent of Jewish influence (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 140). Some have suggested an influence from dualistic Iranian folklore. Others have taken the material to have numerous layers of progressive development which could obscure the source (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 141). One way or another, both dualistic and non-dualistic tarditions were adopted in early Christian literature. This phenomenon is illustrated by the presentation of the Way of Life with ethical expansions and the Way of Death having simply a list of vices (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 142).
Van de Sandt and Flusser use their reconstruction of a hypothetical Greek Two Ways for their analysis, as they consider their case to have been adequately demonstrated (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 143).
The Hebrew Bible contains many passages in which people are given a choice between good and evil or life and death. The Targums on the various passages reflect an understanding of the choice as well (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 143). For this reason it seems quite natural for the Two Ways to be similar in nature. Of particular interest to van de Sandt and Flusser is the either-or characteristic of dualism, as opposed to a one-sided point of view expressing some things as wrong, others as neutral. They find this dualism in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, particuulary in Siarch 33 (36): 7-15 (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 144), as well as other locations. Van de Sandt and Flusser provide several examples and elaborate on the dualistic nature.
The dualistic ideas of the Two Ways may also be seen in the Essene tradition, particularly in the Treatise of the Two Spirits from the Manual of Discipline (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 147). Van de Sandt and Flusser find numerous direct parallels between this Hebrew material and their Greek Two Ways document (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 148-149). However, they consider both documents to be dependent on an earlier document due to what they see as a doctrine of double predestination in the Qumran scrolls, rather than dualism (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 149-150). The community as a whole would not have embraced an idea of real human choice.
Van de Sandt and Flusser also identify traditional materials which remain in the Greek Two Ways. First, they observe that the way of life is particularly dualistic, though they consider Jewish thought on the whole tobe predestinarian (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 156). The command of love for God and neighbor in conjunction is also an old tradition, as illustrated by numerous passages. The presentation of the "Golden Rule" is also evidence of an old tradition (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 159).
The precepts from the Greek Two Ways 2:2-7 cover the ideas in the second table of the Ten Commandments (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 162). This is rather clearly an identification with early Jewish tradition. The concept, in the New Testament, is frequently tied explicitly to love for the neighbor (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 163-164).
The text makes a comparison between sins which are more serious and less serious. Van de Sandt and Flusser see this as a pattern which was borrowed into the Two Ways as its structure differs from other portions (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 165).
Van de Sandt and Flusser conclude that the Greek Two Ways is a composite of four strands of materials which they have identified. The overall ethic expressed is similar to that articulated "in the rabbinic Derekh Erets tractates" (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 172). This traditionr epresents teaching about the way godly people would live on the earth. Though these materials in their final form may date to the late 8th century, van de Sandt and Flusser consider many of the saying sto be considerably older (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 173-174). They also make comparisons between the ideasof the Tractates and the Two Ways.
Van de Sandt and Flusser consider whether they can reach an approximate date for a Greek Two Ways. As it influence both the Didache and Barnabas, it needs to be prior to 100 A.D. (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 179). The Essene community in which many of the ethical teachings appear to have developed is a likely candidate for a community to assemble such a document, and the group on the fringes of that society, which preserved the T.12 Patr. was known to espouse dualism (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 181). This is characteristic of the Greek Two Ways as well.
The social mileau of the Greek Two Ways may be characterized by the statements about charity (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 182-183). There is a great commitment to sharing with one another, not seen uniformly within Judaism, but present in the Essene communities. These ideas have strong parallels in the New Testament writings of Paul and Luke as well (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 187-189).