Friday's Orality/Rhetoric Lesson
Draper, Jonathan A. "The Apostolic Fathers: The Didache." Expository Times 117:5 (2006), 177-181.
Draper introduces the Didache as "perhaps the earliest te[x]t in the collection of writings known as the Apostolic Fathers" (Draper 2006, 177). Since its publication in 1883 it has largely been received enthusiastically by scholars, though by the 1920s some, especially in England, considered it a work which painted an inaccurate picture of early Christianity (Draper 2006, 178).
While some scholars would consider the Didache to be dependent on Matthew's Gospel and the Epistle of Barnabas, Draper considers the influence to go in the opposite direction, with the Didache certainly coming from the first century, and possibly from the middle of the century (Draper 2006, 178). The current scholarly consisensus does place it in the first century, probably composed in Syria.
Draper considers one of the most interesting fatures to be the comments about the "yoke of the Lord" in 6:3. The passage discusses observance of the Torah and its relation to table fellowship (Draper 2006, 178). At issue is a comparison between the Didache's view of eating food sacrificed to idols and Paul's view, particularly in 1 Corinthians 10:25-30.
One large section of the Didache is dedicated to a discussion of "Two Ways," the way of life and the way of death (Draper 2006, 179). Draper details numerous other documents which have similar contrasts. Draper considers a significant block (1:3-6) to come from Q material, which he sees as a common source for the Didache, Matthew, and Luke.
Baptism and eucharist are the topics fo chapters 7-10. Draper sees "a markedly Jewish emphasis" in the text. He also considers the text not to prescribe an innovation, but to reflect an existing practice. Baptism is a matter of ritual purity, rather than being a participation in the death of Christ (Draper 2006, 179). The eucharist has no mention of Christ's words of institution or sacrificial death. The symbolism is based on the "vine of David" (Draper 2006, 180). The ceremony suggests an emphasis on ritual purity, another indicator of a very early view of the eucharist.
The Didache also envisions apostles and prophets who are active alongside local bishops and deacons (Draper 2006, 180). The apostles and prophets are itinerant, though it is not clear why.
The end of the Didache provides an eschatological lesson which emphasizes the necessity of walking in the Way of Life (Draper 2006, 180). Again, Draper finds the signs of the last days to be related to material in Matthew, but with no apparent knowledge of the material found in Mark which is used by Matthew. This suggests that the Didache had an influence on Matthew, rather than Matthew influencing the Didache (Draper 2006, 181).