The Didache

THE DIDACHE

CAN WE TRUST IT?

STEVEN RITCHIE

DIDACHE simply means “teaching” or “instruction.” The Didache is erroneously called “The Teaching(s) of the Twelve Apostles” although the apostles never wrote it. The only manuscript we have of the Didache was discovered in 1873 in Constantinople (modern day Turkey). The manuscript is signed, “Leon, notary and sinner,” and bears the date, A.D. 1056.

John S. Kloppenborg Verbin comments on the Didache (Excavating Q, pp. 134-135):“The Didache, an early second-century Christian composition, is also clearly composite, consisting of a "Two Ways" section (chaps. 1-6), a liturgical manual (7-10),instructions on the reception of traveling prophets (11-15), and a brief apocalypse (16).Marked

divergences in style and content as well as the presence of doubtlessand obvious interpolations,make plain the fact that the Didachewas not cut from whole cloth. 2The dominant view today is that the document was composed on the basis of several independent, preredactional units which were assembled by either one or two redactors(Neiderwimmer 1989:64-70, ET 1998:42-52).

Comparison of the "Two Ways" section with several other "Two Ways" documents suggests that Didache1-6 is itself the result of multistage editing. The document began with rather haphazard organization (cf. Barnabas18-20),but was reorganized in a source common to the Didache, the Doctrina apostolorum,and the Apostolic Church Order...”

Church historians such as Johannes Quasten wrote that the Didache was not written during the lifetime of the original apostles and that “the document was tampered with by later insertions.” Patrology Vol. 1, Page 36

Johannes Quasten wrote, “... the document does not go back to the apostolic times ... Furthermore, such a collection of ecclesiastical ordinances presupposes a period of stabilization of some duration.Scattered details indicate that the apostolic age is no longer contemporary, but has passed into history.”Patrology Vol. 1, Page 36, Johannes Quasten

In the early fourth century, Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that “...the so-called Teachings of the Apostles...” was “spurious”(Eusebius History 3:25) because it was not written by the apostles.There is so much controversy over the authenticity of the Didache that I had to expendan enormous amount of time researching the historical data to uncover the truth. After thorough research, I have concluded that the Didache contains the beliefs and practices of some early Christians during the early to mid-second century.

It was known as a “spurious” document by the time of Eusebius because it was not recognized as being the actual “teaching” of the original twelve apostles. The Didache appears to be a collection of earlyto mid-second century Christian writings combined together by an unknown scribe sometime in the second century.

Unfortunately, scholars have identified so many later interpolations and editions to the Didache that we can no longer trust the veracity of its contents. Photo: Thomas Weisser, author of the book, “Was The Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?”

The following data and quotes are from the book “Was The Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?” –By Thomas WeisserThe particular part that we are concerned with is Didache 7.“But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou artnot able in cold then in warm.”

This part of Didache 7 is not problematic. I can see a preference for baptizing in running water (rivers) because the water is usually cleaner, but I don’t see why there would be a preference for cold water above warm water among the early Christians.

Although the passage appears a bit nonsensical, there is no clear violation of inspired scripture. The Didache merely repeats the words of Mathew 28:19 which is a command to baptize in THE NAME (the Name in the singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which the apostles proved to be Jesus (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5). In chapter 9, the Didache goes on to say, “ But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Thus there is no scriptural contradiction in the Didache at this point because Didache chapter 9 clarifies that water baptism into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is properly carried out “into the name of the Lord Jesus.”

However, the next sentence in Didache 7 presents a problem with dating as it contradicts both scripture and early Christian history. “ But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice(three times),in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church was Trinitarian rather than Oneness.Thomas Weisser wrote,“Let us first consider that we are dealing with either a forgery” or a document that was corrupted by later interpolations. “Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it. Secondly, the internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an interpolation, or later addition.

In Didache 9, which deals with communion, the writer says, ‘ But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus (the Greek text says “Iesous” which is Greek forJesus) ...’"

It is unlikely that Didache chapter 9 was a later interpolation adding baptism into the name of the Lord Jesus because we know that the first century apostles baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16; Acts 19:5). It is also very interesting that Didache 9 says, “But let no one eat or drink of this Eucharistic thanksgiving (the Lord’s Supper)” but only those who “have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.” It is probable that this sentence was never tampered with.

Therefore, I believe that Apostolic Assemblies should never give the Lord’s Supper to unbelievers who have not repented and have not been baptized in Jesus Name. For the Lord’s Supper is only for true believers who have been baptized.

Didache chapter 9 states the absolute necessity of being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (i.e., “Iesous” -the same Greek word as in Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to the argument that

at least part of Didache 7 is an interpolation.

Thomas Weisser wrote, “Thirdly, the writer's approval of baptism by pouring presents a problem with dating it in the first century. Church Historian Charles Bigg pointed out that Didache 7 “must have been written after A.D. 250.” He argued that “pouring was generally unacceptable in baptism as late as Cyprian (c.250).

Therefore, Didache 7 could be no earlier than the late third century.”From the book, "Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?" By Thomas Weisser–The Symposium on Oneness Pentecostalism, 1986. St. Louis, Mo. / Bigg, Charles, The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), p. 58.

There are some interesting contents within the Didache that were likely written in the early second century. Yet there are so many later interpolations and editions to the Didache that we cannot be certain about the veracity any of its contents. Therefore I’m going to read the Didache and give my commentary onthe portions of the Didache I think were written in the second century, while exposing some of the obvious interpolations

The Didache

The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.Chapter 1. The Two Ways and the First Commandment (likely composed from genuine early secondcentury Christian literature).

There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this:

First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.

And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you shall be perfect.

If someone impresses you for one mi