Draper, Jonathan A. “The Didache in Modern Research: An Overview” pp. 1-42 in Draper, Jonathan (editor). The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.
Draper’s article provides a survey of the research surrounding the Didache.The text, available in just one manuscript dating to 1056 C.E., was rediscovered by the Metropolitan Philotheos Bryennios “in the library of the patriarch of Jerusalem at Constantinople” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 1). It is in a collection of works. The Didache was published in 1883. In 1904, G. Horner found the text of 11:3-13:7 as well as 8:1-2 in an Ethiopic Church Order. The text of 1:3b-4a and 1:7b-3:2a was in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, published in1922. A Coptic fragment, 10:3b-12:2, has been published and corrected starting in 1924. Much of the text is also present in Apostolic Constitutions VII.1-32 (Draper (ed.), 1996, 2). There has also been debate whether the Epistle of Barnabas and the Latin Doctrina Apostolorum are related, either as sources or works influenced by the Didache. There has also been an Epitome, published in 1903. In 1959, E. Peterson seriously questioned the reliability of the Jerusalem text, calling for changes to conform to the Coptic version and Apostolic Constitution, which he thinks are more reliable. J.P. Audet has come out in agreement with Peterson. The critical editions of Audet and of K. Wengst attempt to trace development of the text over time. Wengst is “essentially affirmed” by B. Dehandschutter (Draper (ed.), 1996, 3). However, most critics essentially accept the Jerusalem manuscript. Draper notes that a critical text by Tuilier in Sources Chretiennes is a “clear, cautious and usable text with full notes on the variants” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 3).Draper observes that the Coptic fragment appears to be either a part of a roll used for liturgical purposes or a double leaf on which a scribe was exercising. The text is largely in agreement with that of the Jerusalem manuscript.
The Didache has two titles, either Didache or “The Teaching(s) of the (twelve) apostles.” Scholars have differed on which title may have been older and whether the “teaching” is singular or plural. Draper does not speculate, as his goal is to provide a summary of the scholarship (Draper (ed.), 1996, 4).
In early research of theDidache, Draper observes that Bryennios takes a relatively late date, with the Didache dependent on Barnabas and Shepherd (Draper (ed.), 1996, 5). In contrast, Harnack eventually argued it was much earlier, then, based on that conclusion, he attempted to settle disputes over church order, saying the Didache specifically defended Article 5 of the Augsburg Confession. Harnack saw apostles, prophets and teachers as the original design, and the development of bishops and deacons as a later and inferior structure (Draper (ed.), 1996, 6).Draper summarizes Harnack’s work in considerable detail. Harnack sees the Didache as describing a very primitive form of Christianity. Because he places the writing in the second century, he assumes an audience in a rural part of Egypt. He sees the Church (institution) as not completely formed, but Christianity as a living faith which formed communities (Draper (ed.), 1996, 7). Other critics have assigned an earlier date and have debated whether the community is Gentile or a Jewish Christian community (Draper (ed.), 1996, 8). Taylor and Harris reversed ideas of dependence, suggesting that the Didache was the source upon which second century authors depended (Draper (ed.), 1996, 9). By 1920, Rudolf Knopf articulated a scholarly consensus of composition between 90 and 150, probably in Syria or Palestine, in a rural area, with a source in Jewish catechesis (Draper (ed.), 1996, 10).
Draper next considers the fact that 1920 gave us J.A. Robinson’s view that the Didache was a pious fiction drawing on ideas of Jesus’ teaching to be transmitted according to Matthew 28:20 (Draper (ed.), 1996, 11). This view sees the Didache asa rather clumsy collage of different sources. The door was thus opened for text-critical methods to be applied, as they were by 1028 in the work of James Muilenburg. In contrast, B.H. Streeter in 1929 made persuasive arguments for an early date, essential originality, and an early perception that the text was authoritative (Draper (ed.), 1996, 12).
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 had a strong influence on Didache scholarship. Specifically, research has been focused on the Two Ways passage. Scholars, especially Audet, have decided the Didache is an early and independent composition (Draper (ed.), 1996, 13). These decisions are based on the nuances of two ways passages in different literature. The Didache does not have the same level of determinative dualism found in some other literary traditions (Draper (ed.), 1996, 14). Draper suggests the Didache is more similar to a Jewish rabbinic document than to a philosophical treatise. This stands in contrast to Barnabas (Draper (ed.), 1996, 16).
Because the Didache did not appear to be based on Barnabas, scholars around 1950 began considering its relationship to the Synoptic Gospels. “The earliest commentators on the text usually assumed the use of at least Matthew’s gospel, especially since the Didache itself four times refers to ‘the gospel’ in 8:2; 11:3; 16:3, 4” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 16). By 1957, though, Helmut Koster suggested that the Didache was not dependent on the Gospels but stood beside them independently (Draper (ed.), 1996, 17. Footnote refers to Synoptische Uberlieferung beiden apostolischen Vatern, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1957). Audet made similar conclusions in his 1958 commentary. Despite numerous scholarly reviews, the interrelationship of Didache and the Gospels or traditions leading to them remains elusive (Draper (ed.), 1996, 18).
Following Audet’s ork, more form-critical analysis has emerged. Since the Didache appears to be a church or community manual, there has been an assumption of “a complex and rather haphazard history of accumulation” (Draper (ed.), 1996, 19). However, Draper observes, the earliest documents we would recognize as church manuals did not arise until about the third century. The Didache is not in this tradition, though it may foreshadow it. There is also an assumption by scholars of church manuals that they are not as intentionally doctrinal in nature as is the Didache (Draper (ed.), 1996, 20-21).
A redaction critical approach to the Didache has sought to understand how the “Didachist” might have revised traditions to suit his own purpose (Draper (ed.), 1996, 22). These studies are chiefly dated in 1978 and after. A problem inherent in the approach is that we rarely have clear evidence for sources, so it is unclear whether materials have been adopted or adapted.
Studies of the Didache have always shown interest in the liturgical traditions (Draper (ed.), 1996, 24). The possible timing of a n anointing with oil at the time of baptism has drawn attention, ashas the use of running water (Draper (ed.), 1996, 25). The question of whether baptism in Judaism and Christianity are different, and which is described in the Didache also arises. Draper observes that the concentration on baptism has not been as extensive as that on the eucharist (Draper (ed.), 1996, 25).
Studies on the Didache and eucharist have been fairly common (Draper (ed.), 1996, 26). Not only have scholars considered the prayers in comparison to Jewish rites and to the New Testament descriptions of the eucharist, but they have also given serious consideration to the references present both in chapters 9-10 and in chapter 14. Draper notesthat H. Lietzmann, in his Messe und Herrenmahl (Bonn: Marcus & Weber, 1926), translated by D.H.G. Reeve as Mass and Lord’s Supper (Leiden: Brill, 1953-1964) is very significant in its work to distinguish between a Pauline eucharist and an Egyptian eucharist, exemplified by the Didache (Draper (ed.), 1996, 27).The view is contradicted by those who identify an agape feast as opposed to a eucharist in this context (Draper (ed.), 1996, 28). Dix is an example of this view. Seeral moderating views have been expressed based on usage of the words present for giving of thanks and on the various Jewish rites (Draper (ed.), 1996, 29-30).
The radicalism of some spoken of in the Didache has received a good deal of study. The ascetics, apparently itinerant, have been looked at as models of truly dedicated Chrstians (Draper (ed.), 1996, 31). The ascetic tendency in Christianity may well have passed from Palestine to Syria as an outgrowth of the Essenes. It may further be reflected strongly in the Coptic fragment of the Didache (Draper (ed.), 1996, 32). The itinerant prophets, apostles, and teachers are normally assumed to be ascetics (Draper (ed.), 1996, 33). In contrast, the Pauline communities seem to have less itinerant activity. The “Way of life” in the two way teaching may direct the community in their discipleship, moving them to a productive keeping of the law of God (Draper (ed.), 1996, 34). Scholars such as Kretschmar and Theissen have suggested such models. However, Draper notes they have not always used the redactional theories adequately so may have overlooked important factors in their analysis (Draper (ed.), 1996, 36). Niederwimmer finds that the leadership of worship gradually shifted from the hands of itinerant prophets into the control of a more established local community (Draper (ed.), 1996, 37). Various different nuances have been suggested which take different stances regarding the prophets and the local leaders, evaluating conflicts between the groups (Draper (ed.), 1996, 38). Many of the scholars propose a shift from itinerant radical teachers to community based bishops and deacons.
The apocalyptic passage of Didache 16 has received relatively little scholarly attention. It is not unusual for period moral teaching to draw eschatological conclusions. However, the passages are significantly separated in our record of the Didache (Draper (ed.), 1996, 39). Scholars have also made comparisons between the apocalyptic passage in the Didache and those in the Synoptic Gospels. Again, demonstrating dependence has proven elusive. The idea of resurrection and a millennium are not exactly the same as the New Testament view (Draper (ed.), 1996, 40). Rather than a universal resurrection, only the Christians are raised from the dead. This area of inquiry has possibly become more prominent in recent years (Draper (ed.), 1996, 41).
Draper closes his article by observing that sociological, anthropological, and studies based on the nature of oral tradition, as well as Jewish cultural roots have become more popular in recent scholarship, suggesting that the academic work will move that direction (Draper (ed.), 1996, 42).