- Paperback: 125 pages
- Publisher: Paraclete Press (December 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1557255903
- ISBN-13: 978-1557255907
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community Paperback – December 1, 2009
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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.)
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- Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways
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Top Customer Reviews
Didache simply means teachings. By our best guess, this is the earliest Christian literature not in the Bible. It probably predates one or more Gospels, and may be made up of about four separate writings. The opening portion appears taken directly from the Q source. So early are the teachings of this Didache community that they show no indication of familiarity with any Pauline writings.
The Didache is not a book about believing, but about living. It's not about evangelizing, but about being a neighbor. It's a guidebook about how to share the Eucharist, how to give alms, how to baptize, how to appoint elders and treat prophets, and more. You won't read anything about miracles, the twelve disciples, the crucifixion, or the resurrection. It's just about how to be a Christian.
Jones relates the words of the Didache, provides a short, inspirational analysis, and relates how a group of Christians he knows has taken its teachings and humbly formed a community determined to return to the simple, compassionate teachings of the early church.
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.
"The Teaching of the Twelve" starts with a history lesson of the manuscript, provides the actual text, and gives background to both the early Christians who followed these guidelines as well as the believers in Missouri that emulating them. This is followed by a chapter of commentary on each of the four sections. I found the writing to be encouraging and thought provoking and certainly worth discussing in communities of faith today.