Didache, thank you

There is an anonymous edition of the Didache available on the cheap at Amazon.com, and I had the pleasure of perusing it after it came up in church Wednesday night.

The name is short for “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the Nations”, if I’m translating it on the fly from Koine.   The Didache didn’t get included in the New Testament when it was later compiled, but that does not take away from its importance to any Christian or historian who wants an idea of what the early church believed in practiced.

There are four translations from the late 19th through early 20th century attached, one of which will fit any reading level.  I enjoyed getting the Greek text first, so that I could compare my own interpretation of the original language with the translators who followed.

Traditional church members will recognize the structure of a Catechism right away, stating the basics of the Christian faith and then expanding on them.  Reform and Baptist scholars who want to focus on the early church, who want to “get back” to what the church originally taught have an equal duty to investigate what the actual teachings were in the early church, which this definitely is.

The Didache is not just a translation or summation of scripture.  There is an element of human tradition already present.  How long could a guest preacher stay in your house?  What should you do before being baptized?  these sorts of questions arise quickly.  Abortion is directly mentioned, as well as a verb I’d translate “corrupting prepubescent children” to be woodenly accurate.

Some of this is quaint.  Some of it is shocking in its square challenge to modern American Christianity.  (You could not take communion if you hadn’t reconciled with another member of the church!)  I do not believe the Didache is equal to scripture, or even authoritative over modern church behavior, but it is interesting, informative, and accessible for a modern church facing ancient problems.

Highly recommended.

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