The Didache (or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) is one of the earliest Christian writings, compiled and used from 50-70 CE before the four gospels became prevalent. Rather than preaching the good news about Jesus, it provides practical instructions on how a Christian community should function and offers a unique glimpse into how the earliest believers lived and worshipped.
Document expert O'Loughlin shares the story of this first-century manual for training converts from its discovery in an obscure library in Istanbul in the late nineteenth century to the present and then offers an analysis of the text's importance. His new translation, along with a commentary, highlights areas of key interest to Christians today: the faith and hope, discipline and rituals, and anxieties and challenges facing Gentiles being trained for full participation in the earliest Jewish-Christian communities.
The book concludes with a discussion of how the Didache relates to other early church texts, particularly the Gospels, and gives answers to the most frequently asked questions about this fascinating and important treatise. The Didache features a detailed description of the day-to-day faith and step-by-step routines that shaped the Jesus movement some twenty years after the death of Christ. The focus of the faction at that time was not on proclaiming the titles and deeds of Jesus.
Those aspects come to the fore later in the letters of Paul and in the gospel narratives. Instead, the focus of the Didache was on the life and knowledge of Jesus himself. O'Loughlin links the findings of historians, Scripture scholars, and liturgists to provide a clearly written, accessible work that will be helpful to students of the New Testament and Early Church as well as pastors and thoughtful laity seeking to understand how the earliest believers lived and worshipped.
The Didache (or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) is one of the earliest Christian writings, compiled between 50 and 70 CE. Thus, it probably predates the four Gospels. It offers a unique glimpse into how some of the earliest Christian communities lived and worshiped.
This accessible volume offers an introductory guide to this important text, including a new translation and a commentary highlighting areas of interest to Christians today. It is an essential resource for readers interested in history, Scripture, and liturgy in Christianity's earliest period.
Thomas O'Loughlin (PhD, National University of Ireland; DD, Bangor University) is professor of historical theology at the University of Nottingham in England. His books include Discovering Saint Patrick; Celtic Theology: Humanity, World, and God in Early lrish Writings; and Saint Patrick: The Man and His Works.
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