Rosenfeld, Ben Zion & Aryeh Levene. “Review of Didache and Judaism-Jewish Roots of an Ancient Christian-Jewish Work. by Marcello Den Verme. New York: T&T Clark International, 2004, xv + 291 pp.” Review in Biblical Interpretation 20 (2012), 156-200. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.
Rosenfeld and Levene comment that the Didache is assumed to be of Syrian origin, probably between 90 and 100 C.E. They see it as “an ancient Christian manuscript that was most likely used as a behavioral and legislative codex among ancient Christian communities” (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 172). Del Verme’s work treats different ideas, each in its own chapter, inductively giving “his thoughts on the ancient Christian community in Syria” (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 172). Rosenfeld and Levene find it significant that Del Verme purposely distinguishes between the time of Jesus and the later period with established Christian communities.
Chapter 1 builds a case for a study of Christianity to see its foundations in early 1st century Judaism. The second chapter analyzes chapter four of the Didache, focusing on verse 8, speaking about the growth of a communal society (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 172). Chapter 3 seeks to identify the “hypocrites and others” of Didache 8, finding a power struggle in progress. Chapter 4 considers Didache 13 and the rules for care for clerics and the poor, comparing it to late Second Temple Judaism. Chapter 5 identifies the eschatological contents of the final chapter of the Didache (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 173).
Rosenfeld and Levene consider Del Verme’s assertions open to challenge, especially the fact that he sees Christianity and Judaism largely as one until the end of the first century, rather than around 70 or even earlier, as they think likely (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 173). They also consider the Qumran communities and the Didache community to be significantly less seimilar than does Del Verme (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 174). Finally, Del Verme considers Jewish practices of giving to have been transferred to the Didache community, while Rosenfeld and Levene find those giving practices absent in Judaism at the time of the Didache, so consider the practice may have been adopted in Judaims from Christian examples (Rosenfeld & Levene 2012, 175).
Based on this review, Del Verme’s book is not one which will likely be of great value to the focus of my research. It pursues significantly different ideas than those which I wish to pursue.