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The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community Kindle Edition

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Length: 146 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Calling the Didache the most important book you've never heard of, Emergent leader Jones (The New Christians) briefly unpacks the theological and practical lessons to be gleaned from one of early Christianity's 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 Didache's 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 book's 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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

Product Details

  • File Size: 326 KB
  • Print Length: 146 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press (March 16, 2010)
  • Publication Date: March 16, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003CT32NI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,932 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Tony Jones (M.Div., Ph.D.) is a theologian, professor, and writer. His most recent book is, DID GOD KILL JESUS? SEARCHING FOR LOVE IN HISTORY'S MOST FAMOUS EXECUTION. Currently, he serves as theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, and teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Tony has written a dozen books on Christian ministry, spirituality, prayer, and new church movements. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, kids, and dogs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Chad Estes on October 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Before the New Testament was written, much less compiled, the early Christians had to figure out what their community of faith would look like. The Didache (DID-ah-kay) is a document that gives us a glimpse into those early years before creeds (Council of Nicaea- AD 325) were written and church hierarchies and orders were put into place (Constantine- 313) and most likely before any of the Apostle Paul's letters were written.

This small document, which takes about 20 minutes to read, is broken into four parts. It is very possible that these four sections started as separate writings that were later put into one document to make it easier to share with a new follower of Jesus.
* Training in the Way of Life - a teaching on morals (very Jewish)
* The Rhythms of Community Life - including baptism, the Eucharist, fasting and praying
* Visitors Welcome - hospitality to those within and without the community
* The End is Nigh - signs towards the end of days

The document was not considered to be sacred and was not added to the cannon of the New Testament, but that does not make the contents unimportant. The writing has very little to do with theology- what to think about God; instead the focus is on how believers should live with each other.

In recent years the Didache has primarily been studied in academic circles. Author Tony Jones and Paraclete Press have partnered together to make it available again, and they have done with an interesting approach. Jones found a community of believers in Missouri that have been studying the Didache to understand the early Christians' approach to community and implementing it into their lives today.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Adam McLane on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've got bad news for Tony Jones haters. There's nothing to hate about his latest book, The Teaching of the Twelve. In fact, you may love it.

Last week, I finished reading his little book about the little book, the Didache. The didache is a book that dates back to the ancient church but didn't quite make it into the cannon of Scripture. Unlike some of its contemporaries, it didn't make it in because it was steeped in gnosticism... instead the didache likely didn't make it in because it didn't provide deep theological teachings, warnings, or narrative about Jesus. It's not really a letter or narrative at all. Authorship is also unclear. Instead, it's a group of teachings- probably from various authors- that baptismal candidates likely studied before being accepted as Christians in a small town in the first century.

In other words, the Didache (greek word meaning teaching) is a practical guide for living in community with other believers. That's an area I am growing. I've spent the last 10 years teaching on and focusing on individualistic growth in relationship to God. All the while, I've been fascinated by books about first century Christians, Essenes, the Qumran community, and early church history. There was a contradiction there between the individualistic faith of American believers and the community faith I read about in the first century. I have long been trying to figure out how to rectify the two as there is a gulf of difference between what we do today and what was practiced then. Deep down, the Holy Spirit has stirred in me a desire to figure out how we can do life together. I don't have it figured out... but I'm on a journey of discovery towards figuring it out.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Englewood Review of Books on January 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
[This review originally appeared in
Vol. 3, #2 - 22 January 2010 ]

The Didache was one of the first texts that sparked my interest in the life of the earliest church communities. In the wake of 9/11 and the many signs of the church's domestication to American culture, the Didache as a powerful reminder that another way was possible, a way that is not rooted in returning evil for evil, a way that leads to life. Over the last decade, I have read a number of books on the Didache, but none has been so vibrant and accessible as Tony Jones' new book The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. Jones not only seeks to introduce the Didache to a broad audience - an excellent task by itself - but also to make a case for the significance of its message in these postmodern times that in many ways resemble the era in which the Didache was written. He says in the book's introduction:

The Didache offers something of an alternative to what many know of Christianity. The real power of the Didache is its ability to remind us of what is truly important in Christianity: showing the love of Jesus to the world. (11)

In addition to the full text of the Didache (in English translation) , which is roughly similar in length to one of Paul's Epistles, Jones offers his own reflections on the text illustrated with stories from a church community in Missouri that calls themselves the Cymbrogi (pronounced koom-BRO-gee), a Celtic word meaning "Companions of the Heart." Jones engages this community primarily through conversations with one of their more scholarly members.
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