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