Harnack, Adolf. “Prolegomena, § 1. Die Geschichte der Διδαχή in der Kirche und ihre überlieferung in der constantinopolitanischen Handschrift” Lehre der Zwölf Apostel. Leipzig, J.C. Hinrichs, 1884, pp. 5-24.
Harnack identifies the Didache as one of the texts which Eusebius referred to among the antilegomena, an identification which certainly attests to the antiquity and influence of the writing (Harnack 1884, 5). Harnack goes on to observe that Eusebius’ treatment also implies that he considered the work consistent with apostolic thought and not an heretical production. Eusebius classifies it with disputed writings rather than false doctrines (Harnack 1884, 6). In Alexandrian tradition, also, Harnack is able to find record of a writing called Didache, classified among “writings” rather than holding a clear place in the canon (Harnack 1884, 7). Harnack also asks why Eusebius would group the Didache with Barnabas in a publication. This has suggested to some that the time of composition is similar, particularly since the documents have remained together over the years (Harnack 1884, 8). A generation after Eusebius, Athanasius published a similar list of antilegomena. Harnack observes several changes, specifically by some writings falling off the list, but that the Didache remained present (Harnack 1884, 9). Athanasius further identified the Didache as a patristic work, classifying it with other texts we now consider part of the patristic corpus. Harnack cites another list of antilegomena by Nicephorus of Constantinope near the beginning of the 9th century. Again, it was classed as apocryphal and not among the heretical writings. By the time of Justinian, the Didache was firmly classed as an apocryphal writing (Harnack 1884, 10). After this time Harnack does not find reference to the Didache. Harnack observes that in the last 200 years there havebeen theories of the Didache including the prominent one which says it was absorbed, in content, into Apostolic Constitution (Harnack 1884, 10).
The text of the Didache appears to have faded into obscurity, though the title remained known. However, in 1875 (note Harnack’s work was published in 1884), Bryennios the Metropolitan transcribed a table of contents of a codex in Constantinople. His interest was in the text of 1 and 2 Clement in the book. However, the Didache immediately followed 2 Clement in the text (Harnack 1884, 11). Because Bryennios and the other scholars working with the codex were interested in other writings, Harnack says, they failed to investigate the Didache until 1883, when Bryennios released a typeset edition of the Didache. Again, we observe that Harnack’s book is dated 1884, after the text had arrived in Germany in January of 1884. The early consensus of scholars was that the text as presented reflects a setting around the end of the 2nd century. However, Harnack observes that Clement seems to make allusions to the Didache (Harnack 1884, 15).
Harnack notes particularly the rather unconventional language of “the cluster of David” found in both texts, probably not characteristic of Clement’s usage (Harnack 1884, 16). Due to the linguistic irregularities, Harnack hypothesizes that the text originated in Egypt and was used as a catechetical document for a long time, sanctioned by church leaders such as Athanasius (Harnack 1884, 17). Harnack then suggests the text was brought to Syria and became incorporated in the Apostolic Constitutions (Harnack 1884, 18). The text itself appears to have become more difficult to find after this time, thoguh Harnack refers to a possible Latin translation he thinks likely to have existed. This he quotes, in a fragmentary manner, from Cyprian (Harnack 1884, 20). Harnack finds many sources and comparisons of the general ideas expressed, but does not find wholesale copies. This pattern of similar ideas raises many interpretive questions but answers relatively few of them (Harnack 1884, 22). Likewise, the title, ascribing the work to the twelve apostles, is unclear. It may, as an apocryphal work, be claiming their authority. It may simply be asserting orthodoxy (Harnack 1884, 23). In the end, Harnack leaves several questions open, still to be answered by the Didache and scholars who investigate the text.