I’m going to depart from my traditional series of Thursday posts on the New Testament to spend a little while on an early Christian document called The Didache. This little document, which I think comes from the period 51-57, but which some will date as late as 120, is a very early guide to churchly practices. We’ll walk through it a bit at a time before returning to actual New Testament texts.
The Didache. (translated by Kirsopp Lake) Loeb Classical Library #24. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1912, reprint 1985, pp. 303-334.
Introduction, pp. 305-307.
The Didache was known from antiquity, with references in Apostolic Constitutions and some other sources. It was found extant in 1875 “in the Patriarchal library of Jerusalem at Constantinople, in the manuscript which also contains I and II Clement and is quoted for them as C” (Didache, 305). Bryennios, who discovered this text, also found two copies of Latin text which may be a part of the Didache or may be another related work. The first part of the text appears to be connected somehow with the end of the Epistle of Barnabas. Yet it is not clear if one depended on the other or both on a common source (Didache, 306). This first part, known as “Two Ways” (ch. 1-6), is suitable for pre-baptismal teaching. There follow instructions on topics about worship (ch. 7-15), then an eschatological encouragement (Didache, 307). The text translated is that of the Greek manuscript C.