Today, Amy Moffit and Ted Gossard tackle chapter three of my new book, The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. (The blog tour skipped chapter two of the book, because that is the complete text of the Didache, which you can also find here.)
Amy writes that at first, the Didache seemed to her like a cut-and-paste job from Matthew’s Gospel, in which the authors simply took the parts of Matthew they liked and slapped them together. It’s true that I think the Didache authors had access to Quelle, which was also the primary source of Matthew. So she’s right to find parallels.
On a more existential level, Amy writes,
I’ve studied early Christian history, and I know that things have changed a lot, but reading about the Christians who would have been familiar with the Didache brings it home to me that their faith may well have been NOTHING like mine, not just in practice, but in substance as well.
She’s right about this, too, of course. The Didache is quite shocking, especially for those of us who were fed lots of Paul and lots of John’s Gospel growing up. And I know that for me, those were the staples of my youth group diet. As I wrote yesterday, the Didache is much more Matthean and Jamesian than it is Pauline or Johanine.
I found both the Didache and Tony’s take on it for both the past and the present fascinating. When one reads the Didache (which might be roughly as long as the book of Ecclesiastes) one encounters a number of Jesus’ sayings, and directions for the way of life as opposed to the way of death, as well as directions for Christian and church practice. It is not a dull read at all; in fact one will appreciate insights and want to ponder what is said.
And they both mention that it’s in chapter three that I introduce the readers to The Cymbrogi, a Christian community in rural Missouri that uses the Didache as a rule for their communal life. Readers of my last book will recognize Trucker Frank as one of the Cymbrogi. Their present-day embrace and application of the Didache really brings the ancient document to life for me.
- Buy the book at Amazon for $10.11
- Buy 3 or more from Paraclete for 40% off (till December 11)
- Read our full translation of the Didache
- Listen to me read the Didache (17 minutes, mp3 file)