The Didache - What do you know about it?

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by rlvaughn, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    I have noticed several posts referencing an early document called The Didache. I thought it would be a worthy topic of discussion and hope to find some "experts" out there! I must admit that I have had a copy on my shelf for several years, but have done little more than thumb through it, not giving it a lot of credence. Here are some translations available on the internet:

    Translated by J. B. Lightfoot
    Translated by Charles H. Hoole
    Unknown Translation with comments by Ben H. Swett

    What is your take on the antiquity and reliablity of this document? What of its history? etc. etc. The copy I own was translated by J. Louis Guthrie in 1938. He says "the manuscript that came into my hands is a copy of that found in Constantinople by Philotheus Bryennios of the Greek Catholic Church , AD 1875. This copy of the manuscript is that of 'Leon the sinner,' a notary who transcribed the manuscript found by Bryennios. Leon declares that he finished copying the manuscript in June, 1056 AD." Guthrie believes in the authenicity of the original document, but believes the Greek gives evidence that certain passages are later additions. For example, he says that the instructions on pouring and fasting before one is immersed (chapter 7) are poorly written and does not match the rest of the document.
     
  2. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    I have read it, but it has been a while. What I do remember stands up with the quote you provided. It does give a relatively early description of many practices. What do you think about the section on traveling prophets--if they stay for so many days that means they are false?
    Also, the liturgical section gives a significant description of baptism.

    rlvaughn, you are going to cause me to read it again. I do think it is worth reading (of course, I love [​IMG] historical theology). [​IMG]

    Grace and Peace, Danny
     
  3. rsr

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    I've seen dates as late as 150 and as early as the 50s.

    Much of it is very similar to the gospels, and I don't find any obvious contradictions to the canon.

    The prescription of modes of baptism is interesting, but I find the section on the Lord's Supper even more of a puzzle: the familiar language of the supper found in three of the Gospels and in I Corinthians ("body and blood of Christ") are absent.

    The description of church government also is interesting and totally lacking in hierarchy:

    "15:1 Elect, therefore, for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek and not covetous, and true and approved, for they perform for you the service of prophets and teachers." (Roswell D. Hitchcock translation.)

    If, as is often remarked, the work is a compilation over time, it would not be noteworthy that some sections have a different style than others.

    Too, as I understand it, there is one full version and some fragments, compared to thousands of NT texts, making the same type of textual criticism problematic. (Although it appears sections are incorporated in other works, or the Didache has incorporated that materials from the other works.)

    So much for my ramblings.
     
  4. rlvaughn

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    rsr, I think Guthrie's opinion was that the original work was of a very early date, possibly even AD 50. Concerning his comments on baptism - the Didache on pouring and fasting would be out of line with N. T. records and would in that way also lend itself towards that being an addition. I noticed also that Guthrie bracketed that the word he translated Lord's supper was "eucharista."
     
  5. rsr

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    You're right, Robert; I particularly missed the section on fasting. It seems unlikely that such rules would date from A.D. 50, given Paul's teaching on preferring one day over another, unless it was at such an early date that it reflects a Jewish, not Gentile, outlook. Which also might explain the treatment of the Lord's Supper (which only three of the writers of the Gospels and Paul mention. There's the question of why John didn't mention the formula in his Gospel, but that's a subject for another discussion.)

    I perhaps overlooked the section on baptism because affusion was obviously the least preferred choice, clearly behind any form of immersion (and obviously it wasn't sprinkling). In my befuddlement, I was conceiving of instructions to Christians who lived in the desert where bodies of water might be impossible to find. Trying to explain away too much, I guess.

    It seems a hodgepodge, but I can't conceive of a theological/political position it would have been fabricated at a later date to uphold.

    [ January 30, 2003, 01:30 AM: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  6. Jeff Weaver

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    Bro. Robert

    I can't find my copy of the Didache, so I am going from memory which may be faulty.

    IIRC, I would agree that the document was of great antiquity, however, the known fragments were not in complete harmony, and may have been "tampered" with. Which I would take to be about the same idea as you were trying to convey above.

    As for the issue of immersion/pouring/sprinkling, I don't specifically remember what I read in which document. I have read things of great antiquity (don't remember which came from where) that more or less advocated doing what ever seemed expedent. I think we have to accept the fact, no matter how much error we take it to be, that practice of non-immersion is nearly as old as immersion.

    Jeff
     
  7. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    With reference to baptism in the Didache, do you think the differences between dunking and pouring are similar to running water, cool water,... Should we also be baptizing in ice covered streams rather than in warm baptistries? :eek:

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]

    [ January 30, 2003, 12:43 PM: Message edited by: Daniel Dunivan ]
     
  8. tyndale1946

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    You brethren will have to excuse me and call me ignorant but what actually is this document in question?... I have never heard of it and I'm not posting this for argument but for understanding. Is there importance in reading this document and does it align itself with scripture? If it is not inspired what creedence should be given it?... These are just a few of my questions among many help a brother understand what is the Didache?... Everyone seems to know about except me... How do you pronounce the word and what does it mean?... Should I run out a buy a copy if I can find one?... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    Here is the definition and pronunciation from CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY:
    Glen, as far as the document itself, any one of the first three links will take you to it. I think the antiquity of the document makes it interesting and worth reading. You asked, "does it align itself with scripture?" IMO, at times it does and at times it does not, and seems somewhat of a curious hodgepodge. Of course, the fact that it was or may have been added to through the years would certainly account for that. But, ultimately, since it is not inspired scripture, it does not carry any authority, no matter when it was written or by whom. I would recommend that you access it on the internet at first, read it, and then decide it you want a copy. I have an address where a paperback copy can be obtained.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Would assume that most of our time and study is in the Word of God, not the historical writings of [perhaps] Church Fathers.

    I am a history buff, and read the ante-nicene and nicene fathers (decades ago) but never got into the Didache. Now I find very little value in all that study and absolutely no time for it.

    Time in the Word, original languages and writings of the Reformers as well as modern scholars, takes too much of my time. Sorry I can't be of any help on this question!
     
  11. Daniel Dunivan

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    To simply read scripture seriously limits our perspectives on what that scripture meant and thus means. If we don't listen to both the culture of the bible and the ways that the church has interpreted it, then we will likely get very short sided and shallow glosses on scripture. The tradition of the church is our tradition, and through it we come to better understand our time, situation, and most importantly, our God.

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]
     
  12. Mike Stidham

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    The Didache's take on baptism was that immersion was what the Apostles (not to mention Jesus) prescribed as the proper method.
    Pouring was treated with a "well, if you absolutely HAVE to..." attitude.
    Here's the quote...
    "But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things (NB: evidentially some sort of doctrinal confession), baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (IOW, running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
     
  13. Gold Dragon

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    Here is a page of links and quotes from scholars about Didache. I have quoted one of them below.

     
  14. Plain Old Bill

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    Thanks for the site.
     

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