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The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary Paperback – 1 Oct 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Glazier; 1st Edition edition (1 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814658318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814658314
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 0.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This little book is a gem―learned, accessible, illuminating and challenging to both scholarly conventions and conventional Christianity. Students of early Christianity are in Milavec's debt, not least for his innovative website, www.Didache.info.

. . . a useful means of introducing the Didache to beginners.

Any future bibliography on the Didache will have to include this ambitious, impressive work.
Theological Studies

This is a book of rare quality and importance that has already been recognized by the most prominent scholars in the field as the fundamental reference work of the study of the Didache.
Robert J. Daly, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

This is a book of rare quality and importance that has already been recognized by the most prominent scholars in the field as the fundamental reference work for the study of the Didache . . . Extensive indexes make the book an extrodinarily valuable research work.
Fourth R

Will undoubtedly challenge many who seek to understand the background and perspectives of the Didache.
The Catholic Biblical Review

Milavec’s work merits wide study and discussion especially because it presents alternative views and profound challenges to what has been the scholarly consensus on the development and interpretation of the text.

This volume, however, is significant by itself and provides for a wider audience a very accessible introduction to Milavec’s work on this important document.

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.

Customer Reviews

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A shortened overview version of Milovec's Didache in which nevertheless gives a clear understanding of how first century christians were Trained for entry into those early Judo- Christian communities before the availability of the gospels. It is an excellent introduction to the subject, at a price that one can afford to both buy and give to students and priests who have somehow never met the Didache before, or considered its implications.
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a good read. having been to two church schools i found this great to read as an adult. nice short text, easy to understand and great for the inquisitive Christian
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This is a marvelous edition of a fascinating book that I never even knew existed. The editor was a detective who drew all sorts of information about very early Christianity from this book. Everyone interested in the very beginnings of Christian life in the mid first century should read it.
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Excellent book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 40 reviews
78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good intro to an overlooked early Jewish-Christian text. 31 Aug. 2005
By Stephen Triesch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In recent years there has been an enormous explosion of interest in Gnostic Christian texts such as "The Gospel of Thomas" and "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene". Almost overlooked in this fascination with early, non-canonical (i.e., omitted from the Bible) Christian texts has been The Didache ("The Teaching"), a "training manual" for Gentile converts to an early Jewish-Christian community. (Most scholars date "The Didache" to about 90-120 A.D., but Milovec opts for an earlier date between 50-80 A.D.)

"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.
82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It has some significant limitations! 29 Sept. 2005
By lifelong learner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While Milavec does do well in lifting up the implications of the text for the lives of women, and it is the most inexpensive commentary on the Didache available, I found his work to be full of a number of unexamined (or undefended, anyway) sociological and theological assumptions about the life of the community that produced the Didache. To give just one example, he presumes that the "prophets" referred to in the text were economic refugees with a primarily (entirely?) class-justice agenda, all with little explicit grounds in the Didache itself. But given obvious affinities with the language of the Gospel of Matthew and its even clearer Jewish-Christian milieau, isn't it just as likely that these "prophets" were the respected Christian leaders the text indicates they are (meaning they preached social justice as one part of the overall good news of Jesus and God's kingdom), and that they were understood to (or actually did!) hear the voice of God for the benefit of the community?

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."
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Didache for ordinary people! 23 Dec. 2004
By Keith Drury - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Here is high quality scholarly work on a shelf reachable by an average Sunday School teacher! The book has greek text one the left (average SS teachers may skip this ;-) and his own english translation on the right, for the 16 chapters of the Didache. His delightful commentary follows and gives the reader a quick grasp of the basic use of the Didache as a first century oral means of "membership training" under a "membership mentor." After reading this short book most hungry minds will want even more. Thanks to DaVinci Code the laity are interested in works that did not make the Canon-cut... the Didache (and Clement I) are considerably more helpful reading than books by Dobson, Hybels, Rick Warren (or me). Aaron Milavec has helped the ordinary person understand the early church through study of the Didache --Keith Drury, Associate Professor of Religion, Indiana Wesleyan University
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Didache: A Most Disputed Early Church Manual 25 Mar. 2006
By Didaskalex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"... Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles has continued to be one of the most disputed of early Christian texts. It has been depicted by scholars as anything between the original of the Apostolic Decree and a late archaising fiction of the early third century." J. Draper, Gospel Perspectives

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.

Didache's Development:

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.

Milavec's Commentary:

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.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spiritual gem! 5 Jan. 2006
By Nancy Butler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in understanding Jesus better, and you've already studied the gospels in depth, I highly recommend reading the Didache. It re-words the teachings of Jesus in the language of another group of early Christinas. This gives those of us who have read the gospels a million times a fresh appreciation of Jesus' teachings and the variety of early Christian interpretations. As a result I felt a spiritual bond with these early followers who were trying to pass the teachings of Jesus on, just like I am.

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.
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