Milavec, Aaron. The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E. New York: The Newman Press, 2003.
The Didache prohibits five types of speech. Swearing falsely, bringing false witness, speaking badly, holding grudges, and being double-minded are all condemned (Milavec 2003, 145). These are summed up by a positive command, to have actions in agreement with words (Milavec 2003, 146).
Didache 2:6 also speaks against covetousness, greed, hypocrisy, bad manners, and arrogance. Milavec suggests a chiastic structure here with a pair of related attributes at the beginning and end, with one in the middle which links the two pairs (Milavec 2003, 146).
The training of the Didache strongly suggests an idea of spiritual parenthood. Once the text enters the body of training the novice is referred to as “my child” (Milavec 2003, 147). Milavec considers the wording to be appropriate for both males and females. He does not see a biological relationship of parent/child but one of discipleship. The training pattern is closely related to the spiritual fatherhood seen in rabbinic traditions (Milavec 2003, 148).
Milavec finds in Didache 3:1-6 a group of five ways to guard against “infractions” (Milavec 2003, 149). Each of the different infractions can lead down a path to grave sin. Anger is fairly self-explanatory. Looking up” into the face of a woman could lead to lust and adultery (Milavec 2003, 150). Divination can lead to false worship. This path into idolatry draws considerable comment. Though astrology and fortune telling could seem relatively innocent, it seeks to tie history and life to the forces or harmony of the stars and planets (Milavec 2003, 152). Some rabbis accepted astrology, but rarely for telling Israel’s destiny (Milavec 2003, 153). A fourth guard is that against falsehood. Falsehood can lead to theft (Milavec 2003, 154). Fifth is grumbling, which can lead to blasphemy. Counter to the ways which can lead to infractions, the Didache encourages an appreciation of God’s providence (Milavec 2003, 155). Milavec asserts that the purpose of the commands is to create a fence which protects from violation of divine commands by keeping our disobedience farther from boundaries established by God (Milavec 2003, 156). Milavec wonders that the New Testament does not endorse or provide a fence around God’s Word. Rather, the New Testament assesses what Milavec would call “infractions” as sins which condemn (Milavec 2003, 157).
Didache 4:1-4 rephrases themes from 3:8-10. Milavec finds here the importance of being gentle. There are six dispositions listed. Milavec does not find a strong significance in the terms so much as in the theme of gentleness (Milavec 2003, 1570. He does think that the novices likely ate with their masters, based on 4;2. Counter to common wisdom, novices were to seek out the humble and lowly, rather than those in positions of authority (Milavec 2003, 158). Milavec finds in this reason to believe the Christians were cast out of their families and society, based on 1:3. They would then find rest and comfort with their new Christian community (Milavec 2003, 159). The idea of rest is one of the few references to an internal attitude found in Didache. The rest described is a time of receiving strength from the teaching of the leaders, rather than a cessation of work, which Milavec does not find (Milavec 2003, 159). Milavec ties this idea of “rest” to a cessation of social or cultural demands for change. To do so, he describes a same-sex couple who found welcome of their lifestyle in a local church (Milavec 2003, 160). He then uses statements from Ben Sira, Jesus, and Philo of Alexandria about the superiority of finding rest in true wisdom which comes from God. Milavec does not seem concerned that the “wisdom” in his first example was based on an internal impression which is contradicted by any biblical ethic.
In contrast to the rest found in the community, 4:3 acknowledges an atmosphere of dissension. Milavec delays discussion of this topic, anticipating a detailed commentary in a later chapter. Rather, he goes on to discuss 4:4 and statements about being double-minded (Milavec 2003, 162). Based on statements in other early documents, Milavec concludes that the double-mindedness probably refers to a future event such as the Lord’s second coming (Milavec 2003, 162).