The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary Paperback – 1 Oct 2003
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Aaron Milavec holds an S.T.B. from the University of Fribourg and a Th.D. from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley). For twenty-five years he has been occupied with the training of future priests and lay ministers. Over the years, Milavec has presented numerous workshops, classes, and lectures on issues of concern to Jews and Christians. He recently authored The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis and Commentary (Liturgical Press)--a window into the mid-first century faith, hope, and practice of a Christianity within the boundaries of Judaism.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"The Didache" is a manual of initiation, not theology, but Milovec attempts to read between the lines to discern glimpses of the underlying theology. Although Milovec's speculations sometime stray a bit too far from the available evidence, I think he is basically correct in seeing "The Didache" as reflecting a Jewish-Christian community who viewed Jesus primarily in prophetic and messianic terms, and not as the literal God incarnate of later Christian theology. Of particular interest in this context are the eucharistic prayers found in "The Didache," prayers which do not reflect the "this is my body . . . this is my blood" phraseology of the New Testament sources. Also, "The Didache" provides perhaps the earliest specific Christian condemnation of abortion, and reiterates the Pauline critique of homosexuality (or, at least, one form of it, characterized as "the corruption of boys"). Thus "The Didache" perhaps has relevance to today's "What would Jesus say?" debates.
What gives "The Didache" credibility to me is its absence of Gnostic influence and its general similarity in language to the gospels, "The Acts of the Apostles," and the "Letter of James". In fact, it's emphasis on morality and its absence of high Christology (Jesus as God, Jesus as atoning for the sins of the world), seems to place it in the Jamesian tradition stemming from the Jewish Christian community centered in Jerusalem.
In my opinion (and that of most scholars), the Gnostic gospels are relatively late 2nd century creations that tell us little about Jesus or his earliest group of followers. "The Didache" provides a better window into that world, and I recommend it highly. Milovec loses one star for a little bit of over-speculation and for a writing style that is not particularly captivating. Still, he gets four stars for a basically solid book (supported with the original Greek text and ample-but-not-exhausting discussion of translation issues) that casts needed light on an early Christian text that has been too often neglected.
For only five bucks more, the Ancient Christian Writers series volume 6 (edited by James Kleis) or "Apostolic Fathers" by Michael Holmes gives both a translation and an introduction not only to the Didache but also many other early Church documents, though their commentary is not nearly as extensive as Milavec.
Somewhat pricier but worth it for a more thorough and balanced understanding, I would strongly recommend either of Van de Sandt's works ("The Didache: Its Jewish Sources" is a detailed scholarly commentary, while "Matthew and the Didache" is a collection of essays), or the paperback edition of Marcello del Verme's "Didache and Judaism."
Didache, Church Manual:
The Didache (Greek; the teaching, a word related to Didactic). An ancient Church manual, that drew upon early Church traditions, repeatedly revised, it existed in varying forms at various communities. The Didache was a sort of church catechetical instruction book for novice Christians, probably in rural areas, remote from metropolis, mostly dependent on traveling preaching ministers. The subjects, style and source material of the Didache make of it one of the most disputed Early Church texts, hard to determine either a date of composition or a point of origin.
The 'Teaching of the Two Ways' were included in the first six chapters, followed by four sections of liturgical practices. Five chapters followed on disciplinary matters for the congregation, and presbyters (prophets, bishops, and deacons.) A concluding encouragement to stay faithful until the second coming, posts a warning against the antichrist.
Fragments of the Didache (Papyrus No. 1782) were found at Oxyrhyncus, upper Egypt from the 4th century, and in a Coptic translation from 3rd or 4th century. Quotations showing traces of this instruction text are widespread in the writings of the second and third centuries, in Syria and Egypt. This testifies to the wide use and the high regard it enjoyed. It was used by the compiler of the Didaskalia (Ca 2/3rd) and referred to by the Liber Graduun (Ca 3/4th), as well as being absorbed by the Apostolic Constitutions (Ca 3/4th) and by various Egyptian and Ethiopian Church Orders, partly.
Athanasius describes it as 'appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness' [Festal Letter 39:7]. Hence a date for the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely.
The Greek 'Apostolic Constitutions' with many references to the Didache, was revised and edited with supporting Scriptures, and endorsed with church traditions, to form the 'Ecclesiastical Canons of the Apostles'. Arabic versions, after becoming the state language in Syria and Egypt, both add and subtract from the Didache. Hence after, it ceased to circulate as authoritative.
As a complementary overview to his lengthy academic tome: 'The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life (of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E.), of over a thousand pages, Aaron Milavec provides a concise analytical commentary which uncovers the unity of its topics and governs their progression. The early Church communities in Alexandria and Antioch, where these instructions are suspected to have built up, constituted of a majority of Diaspora Jews who converted to Christianity while preserving the Therapeutae liturgical practices, including the use of the Septuagint. These were slowly joined by their Gentile neighbors.
Milavec utilizes literary tools and insights of social tradition to reconstruct the challenges and anxieties of the early church community of faith and hope, figuring out how the converts trained in liturgical rituals towards a participant group discipline.
If you are looking for the best Didache translation, this is the one we used at Yale Divinity School so I am sure it is one of the best.