December 15, 2022

The Didache is Unreliable

What is the Didache

Didache means “Teaching” and is also known as The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations. The date of its original work, its authorship, and provenance are unknown, although most modern scholars date it to the first century (90-120 AD) 

Why is it unreliable?

The chief textual witness to the text of the Didache is an eleventh-century Greek parchment manuscript known as Codex Hierosolymitanus or Codex H, (1056 AD). It is highly probable that the Didache was modified during the approximately 950 years from when it originated as compared to Codex H. 

Even in the early part of the fourth century, Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that "the so-called Teachings of the Apostles… was spurious" (Eusebius History 3:25)

In Didache 9, which deals with communion, the writer says, “But let no one eat or drink of this Eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus”

The Didache 7 states, “But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice (three times) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an interpolation, or later addition. Shortly after saying baptism should be performed in the titles Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Didache states the absolute necessity of being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (the same Greek word as in Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to the argument that Didache 7 is an interpolation.

The Didache is also silent on repentance and the symbolic death into Christ, which is a key to understanding baptism.

Although there are some interesting contents within the Didache that were likely written in the early second century, it is evident that later interpolations and editions to the Didache cause uncertainty about the veracity of any of its contents.

Quotes from Scholarship:

“the document was tampered with by later insertions… the document does not go back to the apostolic times … Furthermore, such a collection of ecclesiastical ordinances presupposes a period of stabilization of some duration. Scattered details indicate that the apostolic age is no longer contemporary, but has passed into history.” (Johannes Quasten, Patrology Vol. 1, Page 36)

“The Didache, an early second-century Christian composition, is also clearly composite, consisting of a “Two Ways” section (chaps. 1-6), a liturgical manual (7-10), instructions on the reception of traveling prophets (11-15), and a brief apocalypse (16). Marked divergences in style and content as well as the presence of doubtless and obvious interpolations, make plain the fact that the Didache was not cut from whole cloth. The dominant view today is that the document was composed on the basis of several independent, preredactional units which were assembled by either one or two redactors (Neiderwimmer 1989:64-70, ET 1998:42-52). Comparison of the “Two Ways” section with several other “Two Ways” documents suggests that Didache 1-6 is itself the result of multistage editing. The document began with rather haphazard organization (cf. Barnabas 18-20), but was reorganized in a source common to the Didache, the Doctrina apostolorum, and the Apostolic Church Order …” (John S. Kloppenborg Verbin, Excavating Q, pp. 134-135)
For more on baptism being originally in the name of Jesus, see

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