« Tatianus Teaching of the Twelve Apostles Teilo, bishop of Llandaff »

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

"Teaching of the Twelve Apostles." Bryennius discovered at Constantinople a MS. thus entitled in a vol. containing an unmutilated MS. text of the two Epp. ascribed to Clement, and pub. it at the close of 1883, no other copy being known to exist in MS. or print.

The MS. bears the heading "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," followed by the fuller title "Teaching of the Lord by the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles." That both titles belong to the original form appears probable from the phrase "the Twelve Apostles." The phrase διδαχὴ τῶν ἀποστόλων occurs in Acts ii. 42; and the earliest writers who have been supposed to speak of the work (Eusebius and Athanasius) do so merely under the name "Teaching of the Apostles"; the addition of "Twelve" being superfluous when the word "Apostle" had become limited to the Twelve. In the work itself "Apostle" is used in a very wide sense; so that if this really represents church usage when it was written, the title 934"Teaching of the Apostles" would be quite vague without the addition "Twelve" (cf. Luke vi. 13; Rev. xxi. 14).

The title was only intended to describe the substance of the work, not to assert anything as to its direct authorship. Though called "Teaching (Didaché) of the Lord," our Lord is certainly not represented as the speaker; see such expressions as "concerning these things spake the Lord," "as the Lord ordered in His Gospel," "as ye have in the Gospel of our Lord." Neither is it written in the name of the twelve apostles; for the author uses the singular, addressing his disciple as "my child." Nor does the treatise contain any indication that the author of the whole claimed to be one of the apostles, or that the work is to be broken up into sections supposed to be spoken by successive apostles. In this respect it is favourably distinguished from a number of spurious works which claimed apostolic authorship in early times. But, as in the case of the Apostles' Creed, a title apparently originally only intended to assert conformity with apostolic teaching, came to be understood as an assertion of authorship, and later authorities undertook to specify the portions contributed by each apostle; and later works founded on the Didaché are divided into sections supposed to be contributed by individual apostles.

The work divides into two parts: the first, which we shall refer to as the " Two Ways," forming the first 6 chapters of Bryennius's ed., contains moral instruction; the second (cc. 7–15 Bryennius) deals with church ritual and discipline, a chapter (16) being added on our Lord's Second Coming. Several very early writers exhibit coincidences with pt. i., such as to prove that they borrowed from the Didaché, or the Didaché from them, or that both had a common source. With pt. ii. similar coincidences are much later and much more scanty. Part i. was intended for catechumens, or at least for use in their instruction, for part ii., which begins by treating of baptism, directs that candidates shall first have received the preceding teaching.

Contents.—The work begins by declaring that there are two ways: one of Life, the other of Death; phrases borrowed from Jer. xxi. 8, a passage itself derived from Deut. xxx. 19. It then describes first the Way of Life, which is summed up in two precepts: love God Who made thee; and love thy neighbour as thyself and do not to another what thou wouldest not have done to thyself.112112This negative form is found in substance in Tob. iv. 15. It maybe due to the influence of the Didaché that it is found appended in this form to the instructions to Gentiles in Acts xv. in D. and some cursive MSS., confirmed by Irenaeus or his translator (III. xii. 14) and Cyprian (Test. iii. 119) The precept is found in the same form in Theophilus (ad Autol. ii. 34); but the context does not furnish coincidences such as would prove the Didaché the source. Lampridius says (Alex. Sev. 51) that Alexander Severus was fond of quoting this precept, which he had learned either from some Jews or Christians. Then follow several precepts from the Sermon on the Mount.

As c. i. is based on the Sermon on the Mount, so is c. ii. on the second table of the Decalogue. C. iii. instructs the disciple to flee not only from every evil, but from everything like it. C. iv. contains miscellaneous precepts. C. v. gives an enumeration of the sins which constitute the way of death. C. vi. is a short exhortation to abide in the foregoing teaching; but giving permission if the disciple cannot bear the whole yoke, especially as regards food, to be content with bearing as much as he can; provided always he abstains from things offered to idols. Here terminates the section addressed to the catechumen. Then follow (c. vii.) directions for the baptism of candidates who have received the preceding instruction. It is to be in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; in running water if it can be had; if not, in any water, even warm water. If sufficient water for immersion is not at hand, it will suffice to pour water three times on the head. Baptizer and baptized must fast beforehand; the baptized for a day or two: others, if possible, to join in the fast. This rule of fasting may be illustrated by the account given in the Clementines (Hom. iii. 11; Recog. vii. 36) of the baptism of Clement's mother. Peter directs that she shall fast one day previous to baptism.

C. viii. relates to fasting and prayer. The disciples must not fast "as the hypocrites," on the 2nd and 5th days of the week; but on the 4th and on the preparation day. Neither must they pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord ordered in His Gospel. The Lord's Prayer is given in conformity with St. Matthew's text with but trifling variations, but adding the doxology "Thine is the power and the glory for ever." This prayer is to be used thrice daily. Chaps. ix. x. contain Eucharistic formulae. In the opening words "Concerning the thanksgiving, give thanks in this manner," we can scarcely avoid giving to the word εὐχαριστία the technical meaning it had as early as Ignatius (Philad. 4; Smyrn. 6, 8; Eph. 13; cf. Justin, Apol. 66). This interpretation is confirmed by a direction that of this "Eucharist" none but baptized persons should partake, since the Lord has said "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs." But the forms themselves are more like what we should expect in prayers before and after an ordinary meal than the Eucharist proper. There is no recital of the words of institution; no mention of the Body and Blood of our Lord, though both Ignatius and Justin Martyr so describe the consecrated food. The supposition that we have here private prayers to be said before and after reception is excluded by the direction that "prophets" should be permitted to offer thanks as they pleased, where it is plain that public thanksgiving is intended. The explanation seems to be that the celebration of the Eucharist still accompanied the Agape or Love Feast, and that we have here the thanksgivings before and after that meal. In the Clementines, which in several points manifest affinity with the Didaché, it is not merely the Eucharist from which the unbaptized are excluded. They can take no food of any kind at the same table with the initiated. An unbaptized person is the home of the demon, and until this demon has been driven out by baptism, no Christian can safely admit him to a common table (Recog. ii. 71; see also i. 19, vii. 36); and all 935through the Clementines the language in which the benediction of every meal is described is such as to make it uncertain whether a celebration of the Eucharist is meant. In the form in the Didaché we notice that: (1) the benediction of the cup precedes that of the bread (see Luke xxii. 17–19). (2) The broken bread has the technical name τὸ κλάσμα. (3) The thanksgiving for the cup runs: "We give thanks to Thee our Father, for the holy vine of Thy servant David which Thou hast made known to us through Thy servant Jesus." This expression the "vine of David" was known to Clement of Alexandria, who says of Christ (Quis Dives Salv. 29), "Who poured forth the wine, the blood of the vine of David, for our wounded souls." Elsewhere (Paed. i. 5), treating of Gen. xlix. "binding the colt to the vine," he interprets "the vine" of the Logos Who gives His blood, as the vine yields wine. (4) The benedictory prayer contains a petition that as the broken bread had been scattered on the mountains and had been brought together and made one, so might the church be collected together from the ends of the earth. (5) The thanksgiving prayer after reception is directed to be said "after being filled" (μετὰ τὸ ἐμπλησθῆναι), words answering better to the conclusion of an Agape than of a Eucharistic celebration (cf. Recog. i. 19).

Chaps. xi. xii. xiii. treat of the honour to be paid to Christian teachers, who are described as "apostles and prophets." This combination of terms reflects N.T. usage (I. Cor. xii. 28, 29; Eph. ii. 20, iii. 8, iv. 11). The word "apostle" in our document is not limited to the Twelve, but is used as our word "missionary." Every true apostle was a prophet, but only those prophets received the name apostle who were not fixed in one place, but accredited by churches on a mission to distant localities. This terminology is a proof of the antiquity of our document (see Lightfoot on the word Apostle, Gal. p. 92). The word was used by Jews to denote an envoy sent by the authorities at Jerusalem to Jews in foreign places, especially the envoy charged with the collection of the Temple tribute. Our document is solicitous to provide for the due entertainment of Christian missionaries, and yet to guard against the church's hospitality being traded on by impostors or lazy persons. Every apostle was to be received as the Lord; but if he wanted to prolong his stay beyond two days at most, he betrayed himself as a false prophet. Clearly the apostle is an envoy on his way to another place; for it could never have been intended to forbid a missionary to settle down in one spot for a longer period of preaching. The false apostle is said to betray himself if he asks for money or for a larger supply of travelling provisions than will provide for his next stage. There are commands in a similar spirit for the hospitable treatment of ordinary Christian strangers. If such a one wishes to settle among them, he must work at a handicraft or employ himself in some other way; but if he wants to eat the bread of idleness, he is one who makes merchandise of Christ (χριστέμπορός ἐστιν). The use of this word by Pseudo-Ignatius (ad Trall. 6, ad Magn. 9) agrees with the conclusion, drawn from other considerations, that the interpolator was acquainted with the Didaché.

There is a command in which commentators have found a difficulty, that a prophet speaking in the spirit must not be proved nor tested. "Every sin shall be forgiven, but not that." Yet there follow marks for discerning the false prophet from the true. The subsequent history of Montanism casts a clear light on the subject. The bishops attempted to test the Montanist prophetesses by applying to them the formulae of exorcism, to find whether it were possible to cast out an evil spirit who possessed them. This the Montanists naturally resisted as a frightful indignity. Such testing by exorcism is here manifestly forbidden, as involving, if applied to one really inspired by the Spirit of God, the risk of incurring the penalties denounced by our Lord, in words plainly here referred to, upon blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. That this precept of the Didaché was apparently not quoted in the Montanist disputes is one of many indications that our document had only a very limited circulation. Hilgenfeld's notion, that the Didaché is as late as Montanism, is condemned both by the whole character of the document and by its silence on the vital question in the Montanist controversy, whether true prophets lost their self-command when prophesying. To label every early document which speaks of prophesying Montanistic is to ignore the fact that prophetical gifts were recognized in the early church, and that Montanism was an unsuccessful local attempt to revive pretensions to them after they had generally ceased to be regarded as an ordinary feature of church life.113113In the Ep. of Ignatius, "the Prophets" means O.T. prophets, and there is no indication of an order of prophets then in the Christian church. The Didaché gives a different way of discerning the false prophet from the true, viz. by his life and conversation. If he taught the truth but did not practise it, he was a false prophet. He might, when speaking in the spirit, command gifts to be bestowed on others; but if he asked anything for himself, or gave commands in the benefit of which he was to share, he was a false prophet. But a true prophet, settling in one place, deserves his maintenance. So also does a teacher, by which apparently is meant a preacher who does not speak in prophetic ecstasy. To the prophets are to be given the first-fruits of all produce; "for they are your high priests." If there are no prophets, the first-fruits are to go to the poor.

C. xiv. directs Christians to come together each Lord's Day to break bread and give thanks, having confessed their sins in order that their sacrifice may be pure. Those at variance must not pollute the sacrifice by coming without having been first reconciled. Our document then quotes Mal. i. 10, in which so many Fathers from Justin downwards (Trypho, 41, 116) have seen a prediction of the Eucharistic oblation. C. xv. begins: "Elect therefore to yourselves bishops and deacons." These are to receive the same honour as the prophets and teachers, as fulfilling a like ministration. In the preceding chapters where church officers are spoken of, mention 936is made, as in I. Cor., only of apostles, prophets and teachers; and of these, apostles are only stranger visitors of the church, and prophets are men endowed with supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost, who may or may not be found in any particular church. Bearing in mind the account given by Justin (Apol. i. 66) of the share taken by "the president" and the deacons in the Eucharistic celebration, we seem warranted in inferring from the "therefore" at the beginning of c. xv. that it was with a view to the conduct of the weekly stated service that bishops and deacons are described as appointed; and that, though gifted men were allowed to preach and teach in the church assemblies, the offering of the Eucharist was confined to these permanent officers. It is possible that the section on "bishops and deacons" may have been added later when the Didaché assumed its present form, the editor feeling it necessary that mention should be made of the recognized names of the officers of the church in his time.

C. xvi. is an exhortation to watch for our Lord's Second Coming, in order to be able to pass safely through the heavy trial that was immediately to precede it. This time of trial was to be signalized by the appearance of one who is called the "deceiver of the world" (κοσμοπλάνος), who should appear as God's Son and do signs and wonders, and into whose hands the earth should be delivered, so that under the trial many should be scandalized and be lost (cf. II. Thess. ii. 3, 4; Rev. xii. 9; Matt. xxiv. 21, 24, x. 22). But then shall appear the signs of the truth: first the sign of outspreading (ἐκπετάσεως) in heaven (a difficult phrase which need not here be discussed); then the trumpet's voice (Matt. xxiv. 31; I. Cor. xv. 52; I. Thess. iv. 16); thirdly the resurrection of the dead—not of all, but, as was said, the Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven.

External Attestation.—The sketch just given shews that our document bears marks of very high antiquity. We next ask what ancient writers expressly speak of the Didaché, or manifest acquaintance with it, earlier than the appearance in its present shape of the Apostolic Constitutions, the first half of bk. vii. of which contains an expansion of the Didaché. The forger of this book was plainly acquainted with the whole Didaché; for he goes through it from beginning to end, making changes and additions, the study of which throws interesting light on the development of church ritual during the interval between the two works. Harnack has given good reasons for thinking that the same forger manipulated the Didaché and the Ignatian letters, and that his work may have been as early as a.d. 350. Hence the Didaché was by then an ancient document, but one in such small circulation that it could be tampered with without much fear of detection.

It is necessary here to notice the tract professing to contain apostolic constitutions, published by Bickell in 1843 and described D. C. A. i. 123. This is quite independent of and earlier than the work commonly known as the Apostolic Constitutions. The two forms employ some common earlier documents, but there is no reason to think that the framer of either was acquainted with the other. Bickel calls this tract Apostolische Kirchenordnung, and to avoid confusion with the Apostolic Constitutions, we refer to it as the Church Ordinances. It had been translated into various languages, and is the foundation of Egyptian Canon Law. It has so much in common with Bryennius's Didaché that either the Church Ordinances certainly used the Didaché or both drew from a common source. In form they differ; for in the Ordinances the precepts are distributed among different apostles by name, the list being peculiar, Cephas appearing as distinct from Peter; he and Nathanael taking the place of James the Less and Matthias. In substance the two works closely coincide, but only in the section on the "Two Ways."

Writers earlier than the Apostolic Constitutions know of a work which professed to contain the teaching of the apostles, but concerning them we cannot say with certainty whether the work to which they witness is the same as ours. The list of direct witnesses is indeed much shorter than it must have been if the work had obtained any wide acceptance as containing really apostolic instruction. Earliest is Eusebius, who to his list of canonical Scriptures (H. E. iii. 25) adds a list of spurious books of the better sort, recognized by church writers, and to be distinguished from writings which heretics had forged in the names of apostles. Among these he enumerates next after the Ep. of Barnabas, "what are called the Teachings of the Apostles" (τῶν ἀποστόλων αἱ λεγόμεναι διδαχαί). Some years later Athanasius (Ep. Fest. 39) adds to his list of canonical Scriptures a list of non-canonical books useful in the catechetical instruction of converts, viz. the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, the so-called Teaching of the Apostles (διδαχὴ καλουμένη τῶν ἀποστόλον), and the Shepherd. The only obstacle to our supposing our Didaché to be here referred to is the Eucharistic formulae it contains, which Athanasius would scarcely place in the hands of the uninitiated, unless indeed he thought them so unlike the truth as to make no revelation of Christian mysteries. It will be observed that Eusebius uses the plural (διδαχαί), Athanasius the singular. Unmistakable coincidences with the Didaché have been pointed out in writings ascribed to Athanasius, but rejected as spurious in the Benedictine ed., though the genuineness of at least the second of these is still urged: viz. de Virginitate (Migne, p. 266), Syntagma Doctrinae ad Monaches (p. 835), and Fides Nicena (p. 1639). Among the spurious writings printed with those of Athanasius is a Synopsis Sacrae Scripturae, which, because of its coincidences with the Stichometry of Nicephorus, Credner has dated as late as 10th cent. The Stichometry doubtless preserves an ancient list, and there among the apocryphal books appended to the N.T. Canon we find the διδαχὴ ἀποστόλων. Those that precede it are heretical apocrypha; but those that follow, viz. the Epp. of Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, and the Shepherd, are all orthodox. The number of στίχοι attributed to the Didaché is 200; whereas 1,400 are 937assigned to the Revelation of St. John. Calculations founded on stichometry are uncertain; so we cannot lay much stress on the fact that this appears to indicate a somewhat shorter work than Bryennius's διδαχή, which according to Harnack would make about 300 στίχοι. and on a rough estimate seems about a quarter the length of the Apocalypse. A list of 60 books of Scripture appended to a writing of Anastasius, patriarch of Antioch in the reign of Justinian, is in Westcott's N.T. Canon, p. 550. This gives as an appendix a list of apocryphal books; one being the Travels (περίοδοι) and Teachings (διδαχαί) of the Apostles. The absence of the Didaché from the list of the Codex Claromontanus agrees with other indications that this work possessed no authority in Africa. In one of the fragments, published by Pfaff, as from Irenaeus, we read: "Those who have followed the Second Ordinances of the Apostles (οἱ ταῖς δευτέραις τῶν ἀποστόλων διατάξεσι παρηκολουθηκότες) know that our Lord instituted a new offering in the New Covenant according to the saying of Malachi the prophet, 'From the rising of the sun to the going down, my name has been glorified in the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name and a pure offering.'" This passage is quoted in the Didaché with reference to the Eucharist; not, however, textually, as in the fragment, but very loosely. We can only say then that it is possible the Didaché may be the Second Ordinances of the Apostles referred to here. The fragment is probably ancient, but contains a citation of Hebrews as St. Paul's, which proves, as Zahn and others have remarked, that Irenaeus could not have been the author.

Western testimony to the Didaché is scanty, and rather indicates that any book which circulated in the West as the Teaching of the Apostles was not the same as Bryennius's Didaché. Rufinus (Comm. in Symb. Apost. 38) gives a list of canonical books which bears marks of derivation from that of Athanasius; but where the Didaché should come he has "qui appellatur Duae Viae vel Judicium Petri." This suggests that either the entire Didaché or at least the first half, the "Two Ways," had been translated into Latin and circulated under the name of the Judgment of Peter, to whom, and not to the apostles generally, the authorship would seem to have been ascribed. The existence of a Latin "Two Ways" is independently proved by the discovery of a fragment by von Gebhardt, reprinted in his Texte und Untersuchungen, ii. 277. It is so short as to leave it undetermined whether the Latin version contained anything corresponding to what follows the "Two Ways" in Bryennius. Lactantius (Div. Instit. vi. 3, etc., and Epit. c. 59) gives an unmistakable expansion of the teaching of the "Two Ways," who must have used our Latin version, thus proving it older than a.d. 310.

The treatise de Aleatoribus, falsely ascribed to Cyprian, contains a quotation from Doctrina Apostolorum (Hartel, ii. 96) not found in the Didaché, though there is one passage (xiv. 2) which might have suggested the idea to the framer of the Latin. If we may ever rely on the argument from silence, we should gather from Tertullian's discussion on the "Stations" (de Orat. 19, de Jejun. 2, 10, 14) that he was unacquainted with our document. Thus, scanty though the Western notices are, they seem to prove that the Didaché, in Bryennius's form, never circulated in the West; that the Latin Doctrina Apostolorum, even as regards the section on the "Two Ways," was not a translation of Bryennius's Didaché, but contained a different manipulation of a probably common original; and that beyond the "Two Ways" there is no evidence that the Latin form had anything in common with the Didaché.

We now come to coincidences with the Didaché in works which do not mention it by name. Far the most important of these are found in the Ep. of Barnabas, in which, after the conclusion of the doctrinal teaching, the writer proposes to pass to another doctrine and discipline (γνώσιν καὶ διδαχήν), and adds an appendix of moral instructions. This appendix agrees so completely in substance with the section on the Two Ways that a literary connexion between the two documents is indisputable. But there is great diversity of detail. The precepts in Barnabas are without any orderly arrangement, while the Didaché contains a systematic comment on the second table of the Decalogue. Bryennius differs from later critics and some earlier ones who consider it probable that Barnabas was the borrower. The whole character of the Didaché makes it unlikely that its author collected the precepts scattered in Barnabas's appendix, digested them into systematic order, and made a number of harmonious additions; while if in what Barnabas says about the "Two Ways" he is but reproducing an older document, his unsystematic way of quoting its precepts, just as they came to mind, is quite like his mode of dealing with O.T. We have still to inquire whether Barnabas borrowed from the Didaché or from a common source. Now a study of the Didaché, as compared with Jewish literature, shews very clearly its origin among men with Jewish training, and the work from which both borrowed may have been not only Jewish but pre-Christian. For Barnabas's letter is of so early a date that, if we suppose him to have copied an earlier Christian document, we bring that document into the apostolic age, which would give it all the authority that has been claimed for it. We must, then, in comparing Barnabas with the Didaché, distinguish carefully the specially Christian element from those parts which might have been written by a Jew unacquainted with Christianity. If Barnabas copied the Didaché, he would have naturally included the Christian element. If Barnabas and the Didaché independently copied an originally Jewish document, the Christian elements they might add would not be likely to be the same. In the section in Barnabas we are struck by the extreme meagreness of the Christian element. There is no mention of our Lord, scarcely any coincidence with N.T. language, very little that might not have been written by a Jew before our Lord's coming. In the Didaché coincidences with N.T. are extremely numerous, end it begins with a whole section embodying 938precepts from the Sermon on the Mount. This section is entirely absent from Barnabas. It is impossible to resist the conclusion that Barnabas did not know the Didaché in Bryennius's form. He has elsewhere coincidences with N.T., and had no motive for avoiding them. If a book before him contained a number of N.T. precepts he would never have studiously avoided these in using the work, nor have forgotten them even if he wrote from memory. The coincidences between the two works, therefore, must be explained by the use of a common document.

This conclusion is confirmed on taking into the comparison also the Latin "Two Ways," and the Egyptian Church Ordinances, both of which, like Barnabas, do not recognize the Didaché section founded on the Sermon on the Mount. Neither is this section recognized in Pseudo-Athanasius. The Church Ordinances exhibit signs of acquaintance with Barnabas; the Latin form does not. In the order of the precepts the Ordinances and the Latin both agree with the Didaché against Barnabas. The Ordinances differ from the Latin by excess, but scarcely at all otherwise. The same reasons that forbid us to think that Barnabas, if he had known the Didaché, would have left out its Christian element, prove the Ordinances and the Latin likewise independent of the Didaché. The phenomena are explained if we assume an original document in substantial agreement with the Latin, enlarged in the Didaché by additions from N.T., and afterwards independently enlarged by the framer of the Church Ordinances, who broke it up into sections supposed to be spoken by different apostles; while Barnabas worked up in his own way the materials he drew from the document. We cannot say positively whether this original proceeded beyond the "Two Ways." The Latin fragment breaks off too soon to give any information as to the length of the original: the Church Ordinances cease to present coincidences with the Didaché after the section on the "Two Ways"; but this may be because the directions for ritual and discipline had become out of date when the Ordinances were put together, the editor therefore designedly substituting what better agreed with the practice of his own age. The quotation by Pseudo-Cyprian leads us to think that the Latin Doctrina Apostolorum did go beyond the "Two Ways." No great weight can be attached to the length ascribed to the Didaché in the Stichometry, but this rather favours the idea that the document intended was longer than the "Two Ways," but shorter than the Didaché of Bryennius.

It remains to be mentioned that there is a coincidence between Barnabas and the Didaché outside the "Two Ways." The opening of the Ep. of Barnabas and the last or eschatological chapter of the Didaché both contain the warning that the disciples' faith would not profit them unless they remained stedfast in the last times. There is a good deal of difference in the wording of the warning, but not more than is usual in quotations by Barnabas. The supposition that Barnabas was acquainted with Bryennius's form of the Didaché has already been excluded; therefore either (1) the earlier form which Barnabas did use included an eschatological chapter containing this warning, or (2) the editor who changed the earlier form into that of Bryennius was acquainted with the Ep. of Barnabas. We prefer (2), on account of the reasons we shall presently give for thinking the document used by Barnabas to have been pre-Christian. If the editor of Bryennius's form knew Hermas, he might also have known Barnabas, with whom he has a second coincidence in a passage about almsgiving, which, as implying a knowledge of Acts and Romans, Barnabas was not likely to have found in his original. Possibly there is a third coincidence; for a plausible explanation of the difficult word ἐκπέτασις in c. xvi. is that it means the sign of the cross, being derived from Barnabas's interpretation of ἐξεπέτασα in Is. lxv. 2.

Hermas also presents coincidences with the Didaché, but it is not easy to say that there is literary obligation on either side, except in one case, viz. a coincidence between the second "commandment" of Hermas and the "Sermon on the Mount" section, which we have already seen reason to think belongs to a later form of the Didaché. In this case the original seems clearly that of Hermas. His instructions as to almsgiving are perfectly clear. The corresponding passage in the Didaché has many coincidences of language, but expresses the thought so awkwardly as to be scarce intelligible without the commentary of Hermas. It begins, "Blessed is he that giveth according to the commandment, for he is blameless: woe to him that receiveth." The words "for he is blameless," as they stand, are puzzling; for we should expect the "for" to introduce something stronger than merely an acquittal of blame. By comparison with Hermas we see that the case contemplated is that of giving to an undeserving person. Then the receiver deserves the woe; the giver obtains an acquittal. We conclude, then, without disputing the greater antiquity of the original Didaché, that the interpolator who brought the work to the form published by Bryennius was later than Hermas, and drew from him.

Clement of Alexandria was certainly acquainted with the Didaché in some form. He expressly quotes one sentence as Scripture (Strom. i. 20, p. 377), "My son, be not a liar, for lying leads to theft." This saying is not quoted by Barnabas; but the Church Ordinances attest that it belongs to the earlier form of the Didaché. Even the later form of the Didaché may well be considerably older than Clement; and he might easily have met with a copy during his travels in the East. He uses (Quis Dives Salv. 20) the phrase "vine of David," found in one of the benedictory prayers of the Didaché. He shews a knowledge (Strom. vii. 7, p. 854) of the Wednesday and Friday fasts (c. 12, p. 877), but does not seem to attribute to these institutions the authority which belongs to the name Scripture bestowed by him on the Didaché.

Origen was later than Clement and must have been well acquainted with the literature current in Egypt and Palestine; so that we might naturally expect him to be familiar with the Didaché. Yet no satisfactory proof of his knowledge of it has been produced.


Place of Composition.—The Church Ordinances, at the basis of which lies the Didaché in some form, are with good reason regarded as of Egyptian origin; Clement, one of the earliest to quote the Didaché, wrote in Egypt, and so very possibly did Barnabas. Hence, it was natural to think that the Didaché also is of Egyptian origin. But attention was called to the petition in the prayer of benediction of the bread, that as it had been scattered on the mountains, and collected together had become one, so the church might be collected together from the ends of the earth into the Lord's kingdom; and it was pointed out the words "on the mountains" could not have been written in Egypt; and, moreover, the proper inference from the use made of the Didaché in the Church Ordinances is that when the latter work was put together, the former was almost unknown in Egypt. There is nothing to contradict the inference suggested by the intensely Jewish character of the book, that it emanated from Christian Jews who, after the destruction of Jerusalem, had their chief settlements E. of Jordan.

Time of Composition.—The theory set forth is that the original, alike of Barnabas and of all the forms of the Didaché, was a Jewish manual for the instruction of proselytes. If Palestinian Christians had habitually used such a manual while still Jews, it would be natural for them to employ it, improved by the addition of some Christian elements, in the moral instruction of converts before admission into the church. The document, being a formula in constant practical use, would be added to and modified; and we seem to be able to trace three stages in its growth.

(1) Barnabas represents for us the original Jewish manual; probably quoting, not from any written document, but from his recollection of the instruction he had himself received or had been given to others. Barnabas's quotations do not proceed beyond the section on the "Two Ways," corresponding to cc. i.–iv. of the Didaché.

(2) In the Church Ordinances and in the Latin Doctrina we have the manual as it was modified for use in a Christian community. The Latin book may have been the first publication of this catechetical manual of Palestinian Christians, brought to the West by one himself instructed in it. It was probably called the Teaching of the Apostles, because the authorized formulary of a church founded by apostles and claiming to derive its institutions from them. We are without evidence whether this manual contained more than the "Two Ways," though it probably did. The only clue to the date of this publication is that the Church Ordinances contain that precept about almsgiving which we have already noted as the solitary instance of use of the N.T. in this section of Barnabas. Reasons have been already given for thinking that Barnabas was not here employing a Christian document, and we find it hard to believe that the phrases in which coincidences occur are older than N.T., so we seem forced to conclude that the first editors of the Teaching of the Apostles knew Barnabas. This would not be inconsistent with a date before the end of 1st cent.

(3) In the Didaché published by Bryennius we have the manual enlarged by further Christian additions; the precepts in the original manual being expanded, others added from N.T., and also some wholly new sections. Yet the whole character of the Didaché, and in particular the lively expectation of our Lord's Second Coming in c. xvi., disposes us to give it in its present form as early a date as we can; and since we place Hermas at the beginning of 2nd cent., we have no difficulty in dating the Didaché as early as a.d. 120.

Literature.—The publication of the Didaché by Bryennius produced an enormous crop of literature. The lists in Schaff's and in Harnack's editions may be supplemented by an article of Harnack's Theol. Literaturz. 1886, p. 271. Here we only mention, of editions, those by De Romestan (1884), Spence (1885), Schaff (1885 and 1886), Sabatier (1885), Hilgenfeld in a 2nd ed. of pt. iv. of his Nov. Test. ext. Can. (1884), and by Gebhardt and Harnack, Texte und Untersuchungen, vol. ii. (1884). Bp. Lightfoot's paper at the Church Congress of 1884, pub. in the Expositor, Jan. 1885; Zahn's discussions in his Forschungen, pt. iii. p. 278 (1884), and Taylor's Lectures at the Royal Institution, 1885, in which the Didaché is illustrated from Jewish literature. A new ed. with a fascimile (autotype) text and a commentary from the MS. of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, ed. by J. R. Harris, is pub. by Camb. Univ. Press, as is also an Eng. trans. from the Syriac by Dr. Margaret Gibson; while S.P.C.K. pub. an Eng. trans. with intro. and notes by Dr. C. Bigg. See also Bigg's Notes on the Didaché in Journ. of Theol. Stud., July 1904.


« Tatianus Teaching of the Twelve Apostles Teilo, bishop of Llandaff »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |