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The Didache: Faith, Hope, and Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E. Hardcover – December 1, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A groundbreaking study of the use of the Didache in the earliest of Jewish-Christian communities, and for today's Church. -- Dennis D. McManus, Georgetown University, Managing Editor, Ancient Christian Writers

This work has revolutionized the understanding of the Didache. The best introduction to a new way of studying. -- John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, DePaul University, Chicago

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809105373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809105373
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #471,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aaron Milavec, Professor Emeritus, has served as a seminary and university professor for over twenty-five years. He brought his fresh approach to the Didache to the attention of biblical scholars by originating a new program unit of the national Society of Biblical Literature, "The Didache in Context," which he chaired 2002-2005. Meanwhile, his website, www.Didache.info, promotes pioneering research and scholarly exchange on issues of the early church. His thousand-page commentary, The Didache: Faith, Hope, and Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E., received a 2004 Catholic Press Club award recognizing the best books in theology. To date, Aaron has published ten books in theology and ministry.

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Format: Hardcover
"The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E." by Aaron Milavec is a lengthy academic tome of over 1,000 pages to explain the 1,000 to 1,100 words of the Didache. If you are only looking for an English translation with perhaps some interpretive or religious explanations, this book is not the book for you. An uncommented translation, with an introduction, is available at [...] Translations with shorter, more directly related comments can be purchased here on Amazon.

The Milavec tract is principally an academic, historical analysis of the Didache to support his hypotheses regarding its construction and use. Essentially, he believes that the Didache was a training process to be delivered orally to Gentile converts, and that it was written early in he First Century A.D. ("50-70 C.E."), rather than later in the century. He also believes some of it is as much economic training as religious. This does differ from several other analyses, but he provides a lot of research to back it up. This is not a religious work per se, but for those interested in an historical analysis of the times during which the Didache was originally written, this book will be interesting.

I feel, however, it is marred in several ways. Milavec goes through excruciating detail to explain the meaning and reason for his choice of words for translation, but he personally likes to write in a gender neutral manner. He states that the Didache was 99% gender neutral; so, he uses gender neutral translations, such as "s/he" and "him/her". In the text, however, the Greek declensions are clearly masculine, and he is inserting his own social convictions into it.
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If this book had been properly edited, I would have given it five plus stars. It provides brilliant insights into an early Christian community. However, as a reviewer has previously noted, it is entirely too long. The author goes off on long tangents which add little to the subject matter.

This book gives us a window into an early form of Christianity which existed before the gospels were written, when the traditions and teachings of Jesus were passed down by oral transmission. The author demonstrates that the Didache itself probably started as an oral teaching which was meant to be memorized. The Didache teachings were formulated by Jewish Christians but were addressed to gentile converts. The Didache is an instruction manual to initiate gentile converts into "The Way of Life" given by God through his servant Jesus. "The Way of Life" is not just any teaching, but it is the "Way" that leads to salvation and entry into God's Kingdom. It exhibits a primitive Christology. There is no mention of sacrificial atonement and the Lord refers to God the Father and it is God who will bring his reign to earth.

The author makes a good argument that the Didache was not dependent on any written gospel yet it was privy to many of the same oral traditions which were used in composing the synoptic gospels. However, the Didache used these traditions in a different context in order to meet the specific needs of its community.

The Didache community was outside of the Apostle Paul's sphere of influence but shows no hostility toward Paul and was not directly opposed to everything he wrote. Like Paul, the Didache showed no interest in fully Judaizing gentile converts by circumcision or kosher food laws.
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2 Comments 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Katie on December 18, 2014
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Aaron Milavec's volume, THE DIDACHE, was awarded a 2004 Catholic Press Association Award in the category of theology. The winners of the 2004 Catholic Press Awards were announced on Friday, May 28, 2004 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC, at the Catholic Press Association Annual Convention.
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