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The Teaching of the Twelve: The Power and Relevance of the Ancient Didache Community
Paraclete Press / 2009 / Paperback
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Discovered only 130 years ago, the Didache is apparently a catechism intended to present basic instruction on Christian ethics and worship to newcomers about to undergo baptism. The national coordinator of Emergent Village richly explains the meaning of the text section by section, then makes applications for the contemporary church. 136 pages, softcover.
What can we know about the practices of the early church?
"The Didache is the most important book you've never read," begins Tony Jones, in this engaging study.
The Didache is an early handbook of an anonymous Christian community, likely written before some of the New Testament books were written. It spells out a way of life for Jesus-followers that includes instruction on how to treat one another, how to practice the Eucharist, and how to take in wandering prophets. In The Teaching of the Twelve, Jones unpacks the ancient document, and he traces the life of a small house church in Missouri that is trying to live according to its precepts.
Readers will find The Teaching of the Twelve inspirational and challenging, and they will discover a unique window into the life of the very earliest followers of Jesus the Christ. A new, contemporary English translation of the Didache is included.
Tony Jones is the author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, and the theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minnesota. He is the author of many books, including The Sacred Way, and is a sought-after speaker in the areas of emerging church, postmodernism, and Christian spirituality. Tony lives in Minnesota.
Calling the Didache the most important book youve never heard of, Emergent leader Jones (The New Christians) briefly unpacks the theological and practical lessons to be gleaned from one of early Christianitys most overlooked texts. Less than half the length of the shortest New Testament gospel, the Didache (teaching) informed new Christians about spiritual practices like baptism, prayer, hospitality, fasting, Eucharist, generosity, and basic morality. Dated between 50 and 130 C.E., it is one of the oldest extant Christian texts not found in the New Testament. Jones writes engagingly, explaining the Didaches meaning and importance while also introducing a surprising interlocutor called Trucker Frank, a Missouri truck driver whose house church has based its life together on the Didache. The great and unique value of this book is its vision of how Christians today might put the Didache in practice, rather than as a contribution to early Christian studies; in fact, biblical scholars and historians may raise eyebrows at a few of the books assumptions, particularly its oversimplifications about Gnosticism. Jones, however, has done a great service by recovering and interpreting this neglected classic for the ancient-future church. (Feb.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
In a world lacking moral conviction, and a Christianity deficient in the art of discipleship, we turn to the sources of earliest Christianity for guidance. And because Tony does a great job in bringing these ancient texts to life, the reader is drawn into the nascent energies that flowed in the early church.
- Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways
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