Over at Subversive Influence, Brother Maynard has written a thorough and wonderful reflection on The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community, the sixth chapter of which is, “Living Together in Community.”
The Didache has a lot to say about how a Christian community should get along. In fact, it can be argued that the entire document is really a manual for church harmony. Bro Maynard does a great job of walking us through the chapter, finding notes of agreement and even some of slight disagreement.
But what I found most interesting is his conclusion, in which he revisits his conversation with Frank Viola over the controversial book, Pagan Christianity,
Tony Jones calls the Didache “the most important book you’ve never heard of.” While I’m familiar with it myself, I concur with his assessment that most Christians today are not, and that it is an important work with which we should be grappling. In fact, the omission of any mention of the Didache was one of my major criticisms with Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity, and my discussion of it actually centers on the very passages discussed in this chapter of Tony’s book. I gave Frank the opportunity to respond in an interview, and he did. You may note there the implied ascription of a second-century date for the Didache, but an early date makes it that much more important for Frank to have dealt with in his work, and this is in my mind what makes Pagan Christianity more of a popular than a scholarly work. (Note that Ben Witherington also goes to the Didache in his critique of Pagan Christianity.)
Bro Maynard then concludes with an endorsement that I could not be happier about:
One of the things I quite appreciated about Tony Jones’ treatment of the Didache was that despite a lack of footnotes or endnotes, the work itself remains scholarly-informed, but still manages to bring everything down to a practical level of daily practice. Indeed, the last word consistently goes to a guy named “Trucker Frank” — how much more down-to-earth can you get? Whether or not you’ve read or are a fan of Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity, I can recommend Tony Jones’ treatment of the Didache in The Teaching of Twelve, and commend the subject matter as deeply valuable in our present social and ecclesiological milieu. (My $2.00 words for the day.) I would hope for myself to get my hands on a final printed copy of the book to replace my pdf galley copy, as it’s something I could see myself returning to.Online Resources:
- 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)
Some have asked in the comments whether the book is shipping. It has shipped from the publisher to various distribution warehouses. Amazon, for instance, is giving its release price, even though it has not yet arrived and been cataloged in its distributor’s warehouse. But it will any day. So, in other words, if you order one today (or have in the past week), it’ll be shipped to you within the next few days. Thanks for your patience.