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The Jubilee of the Words of Jesus


the handbook of instructions
of some early pneumatic Jewish Christians

©  Wim van den Dungen

 : chapter 9 : 1-5
eucharistic gifts : the cup & the broken bread

MARANA THA ! Our LORD, come !
Maran atha. Our Lord has come.
He is here.


01 : the way of life
: forbidden activities
: bad & good attitudes
: various precepts
: the way of death
: the false teachers
: Christian baptism
: fasting & the Lord's prayer
: the cup and the broken bread
: communion, thanksgiving
11 : teachers, apostles, prophets
: new Christians, rule of work
: the prophets as high priests
: the communal sacrament
: hierarchy & reproof
: watchfulness & the coming

Final Remarks


what ?

"Didache" (pronounced as "dih-dah-KAY") is the Greek word for "teaching" or "doctrine". An eleventh century MS 1 bearing the same name (the Didache) carries two titles : "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" (
"Didache ton dodeka apostolon") followed by "The Lord's teaching to the heathen by the Twelve Apostles" ("Didache kyriou dia ton dodeka apostolon ethesin")

This MS was discovered in 1873 in the library of the patriarch of Jerusalem at Constantinople by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Philotheos Bryennios, metropolitan of Nicomedia. This so-called "Jerusalem MS" is a clear and accurate copy made by a man called Leo, "scribe & sinner", dated to the year 1056 A.D. In 1883, Byrennios translated the MS, with introduction & comments. He correctly identified the Didache as the product of a Jewish Christian community.2 A year later, Adolf von Harnack published his influential study. For Harnack (who viewed the text derive from Gentile Christians), it contained the key which settled the major disputes between Catholic and Protestant ideas ... 3  

A couple of years later, an Ethiopian version of the Didache was found (it contained 11:3-13:7 & 8:1-2) and published by Horner in 1904. Greek (1922) & Coptic (1924) fragments were discovered among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (POxy 1782 & PLond Or 9271). The text was also largely preserved in the fourth century Apostolic Constitutions (VII 1-32), published by Schlecht in 1901. In 1959 Peterson argues that the Jerusalem MS is corrupt and that the text of the Coptic version and the Latin version is more reliable.
4  In recent years, moderate scholars like Vööbus, Tuilier, Schöllgen & Draper, accept the integrity of the Jerusalem MS but try to test it in parts.5 One of the most interesting conclusion being that the text is a composite work, evidencing layers of text of different age, corrections and additions (under pressure of the "Frühkatholisierungsprozess").6

The Didache has proved to be "one of the most enigmatic and contested of early Christian writings".7  What is sure is that during the last eighty years of modern research, a lot of conflicting statements have been made regarding the date of the text, its author(s) and place of redaction. Two recent studies summarize the work done :

Jefford, C.N. : The Didache in Context : Essays on its Text, History and Transmission, Brill - Leiden, 1995.
Draper, J.A. : The Didache in Modern Research, Brill - Leiden, 1996.

If the original of the composite text (of which the Jerusalem MS is a reliable copy) was written at the close of the first century and its hermeneutical form is indeed canonical 8 (implying that it is the culmination of the evolutionary process of the form of the thoughts in question) then the texts or ideas backing this text must have emerged earlier.

"The Didache is a composite work, which has evolved over a considerable period, from its beginning as a Jewish catechetical work, which was taken up and developed by the Church into a manual of Church life and order. The text was repeatedly modified in line with changes in the practice of the communities which used it. Thus the core of 1 - 6 is Jewish and pre-Christian (ca. 100 B.C.E. to 50 C.E.) and the work as a whole had probably received its present form by the end of the first century C.E."
Draper, J.A. : "Jesus Tradition in the Didache", in : Draper, J.A. : Op.cit., pp.74-75.

Four textual layers are suggested :

(1) the original text (ca. 80-100 A.D.) : the first century original (written down after Q3, i.e. after 80 A.D.), common to all later redactions ;
(2) the composite versions of the text in view of the needs of a particular Jewish Christian community ;
(3) the oldest extant independent & complete MS of such a composite version : the Jerusalem MS is a 1056 copy and bears two titles. The text has (like its Greek) a clumsy composition but a definite ending (proving the unity of the composition). Nevertheless, it is clearly the product of a joint activity, probably a mid second century redaction ;
(4) the critical text : 21th century translation and interpretation with consideration given to all known documents, i.e. the Jerusalem MS, the Latin & Ethiopian versions and the Greek & Coptic fragments.

when and where ?

Harnack argues that the Didache originated in a backward community in rural Egypt around 140-165 A.D., whereas Sabatier claims a mid first century redaction (or earlier), in Syria.9 Recently, Mack situated the text in Galilea, ca. 100 A.D.10 Hence, the precise date and place of origin of the original text remains a matter of debate, although a first century original is very likely. The emphasis on charismatic leadership (prophecy), early baptisimal & eucharistic liturgies, the eschatological immediacy of the Parousia (or return) of Jesus Christ (founding spirito-communal life) & the strong Jewish influence all evidence that it was part of the earliest stage of the development of the myth of Christ, which apparently set in very rapidly after Jesus died (or left). The Jewish emphasis does suggest Galilea. 

 formation of Q11

 narrative gospels12


the Jesus-people
the start of the tale
Q1 : ca. 50 - Galilea
Q2 : ca. 70 - N.Palestine
Q3 : ca. 80 - N.Palestine

Q1 & Q2, miracle-stories
 Mark : ca. 75-80 - S.Syria
Matthew : ca. 80-85 - N.Palestine
John : ca. 95 - N.Syria
Luke : ca. 110 - Greece, Asia Minor

Jewish ascetic & prayer
original text : ca. 80-100
composite text : ca. 150
extant MS : ca. 1056

I accept the "communis opinio" that the original text was written before 100 A.D. but certainly after the destruction of the second Temple and probably not before Q3 was added to Q (ca. 80 A.D.). This situates the original Didache ca. 80-100 A.D. As it can not be excluded that already at an early stage copies and translations were made, it is very probable that the Jerusalem MS (in view of the textual alterations) is later than the original redaction, like mid-second century. This text was a composite work, containing textual material pertaining to Jewish ascetism and its "two way" morality (cf. the Qumrân-people),13  the earliest forms of "Christian" baptism & thanksgiving, but also the trinitarian formula ("in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"). Absent are paschal themes, especially "anamnesis" ...

place in the early Christian communities

The Didache was read during the cult of the so-called "primitive" church (together with the epistles). It was often cited by the so-called  "Fathers of the Church". Some of them placed it next to the New Testament. Eusebius of Caesarea mentions the Teachings of the Apostles in his History of the Church (312 - 324 A.D.). He writes :

"Let there be placed among the spuria the writing of the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle known as that of Barnabas, and what are called the Teachings of the Apostles, and also (...) the Apocalypse of John, if this be thought fit."
Eusebius : Ecclesiastical History, III, xxv, 4, my italics

Athanasius and Rufinus add the Didache to the sapiential and other deutero-canonical books. The former writes that it is "appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us" (Festal Letters 39:7) Rufinus gives it the alternative title "Judicium Petri". Hermas, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen seem to have used the work, and so in the West do Optatus and the Gesta apud Zenophilum. The Didascalia Apostolorum (ca. 2/3rd century) and the Liber Graduum (ca. 3/4th century) are founded upon the Didache. It is found in the Apostolic Constitution (ca. 3/4th century).14 There are echoes of it in Justin, Tatian, Theophilus, Cyprian, Lactantius and others ...

Comparative writing of the so-called "apostolic fathers" are  :15

1st Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (ca. 96) : a formal letter sent by the church of Rome to the church of Corinth as a result of trouble there that had led to the desposition of presbyters. Clement urges the Christians of Corinth (rebelling against church authority) to be submissive and obedient. Tradition attributes it to Clement, the first bishop of Rome who claimed catholic authority.
2nd Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (ca. 150) : a sermon, not of Clement I himself. 
The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. 130) : this letter repudiates the claims of Jewish Christians who advocated adhering to the observance of the Mosiac Law.
The Shepherd of Hermas (ca. 150) : written by Hermas, who is believed to be brother of Pius, the bishop of Rome. This is an apocalyptic, revealed document. Practical matters of church purity and discipline in the second century come to the fore.
The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (ca. 130) : Polycarp was a church leader (bishop) in Smyrna, Asia Minor. Exhorted the Philippians to holy living, good works & firm faith. Interested in ministry and practical aspects of daily life of Christians.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp : The earliest preserved Christian martyrology, probably from the last part of the second century (not too long after the event). Records the tradition of the trial and execution of Polycarp (who was burned at the stake).
The writings of Ignatius : bishop of Antioch in Syria martyred in Rome by beasts (in the beginning of the second century). On his way to Rome, he visits and then writes to various churches, warning and exhorting them. He also writes ahead to Rome, and to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. Warned the church against heresies that threatened peace and unity, opposed Gnosticism and Docetism : Letter to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians,
Smyrnaeans & a Letter to Polycarp.

what are the critical issues ?

For Mack 16  the Didache was written by early Jewish Christians involved in building a network of Christian communities. To give this texts an air of authority it was ascribed to the apostles themselves. Is this text the earliest extant trace of the myth of Christ and of apostolic succession ? The Didache is not so much a letter as a handbook of instructions.

"At first Christianity must certainly have appeared only as one more sect or group within a Judaism that was already accustomed to considerable diversity in religious expression. Judaism was not monolithic."
Chadwick, H. : The Early Church, Peguin - New York, 1993, p.13.

Its rediscovery has had a considerable influence, for the Didache is the first non-canonical text of early Christianity, probably contemporary of the narrative gospels. What is more, it seems to have been written, just as Q1, in Galilea. It predates the major works of the apostolic fathers and sheds light on the "christic" theology of Jewish Christians who at the close of the first century based their faith on the Parousia of Christ, the fact of prophecy, the Kingdom and on God.

" ... de l'enseignement primitif du Christ chacun comprit ce qu'il était capable de comprendre, spécialement ce que correspondait à sa tournure d'esprit et à ses aspirations. C'est ainsi que, dès la fin du premier siècle, apparut toute une floraison d'églises diverses qui, toutes, se croyaient en possession de la véritable doctrine."
Besson, E. : Les Logia Agrapha, Amities Spirituelles - Paris, 1926, p.31.

The work of contemporary historians & philologists has raised many critical questions. Each student of the human sciences develops his or her own critical approaches. A hermeneutical investigation of the major spiritual texts of humanity 17 focuses on the logic of the "Divine register" in the text, i.e. the syntax, semantics & pragmatics 18 of the "word" or "words" which may denote the absolute.19  

Following issues spring to the fore :

(1) How independent is the Didache ?

If the Greek of the text is compared with that of the synoptics, the didactic points to a Jewish Christianity which is less refined & organized, in many ways traditional and articulating the major elements of the emergent Christian faith without any of the strong theological paschal architecture we find in the synoptics or in Paul. No trace of the Markian plot. Importance is given to the way of life, to prophecy, to spirito-communal gatherings, to the Parousia of Christ and to the apocalypse (which is near).

(2) An eschatological Pais-Christology ?

"Jesus Christ" is only mentioned once, during the rite of broken bread (9:3-4). The sharing of eucharistic bread is not the reason for the unification of the many participants in the one (mystical) body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians, 10:17) but a foretaste & anticipation of the paradisal Parousia of Christ, when all are united, and the "end time" equals the "first time". The unity of the bread and the eschatological unity of the community are linked. Christ is not mentioned during the rite of cup (9:2), neither does this title appear in the post-communal thanksgiving prayer. During the eucharist (9:2-3, 10:2-3) Jesus is called "servant" (Greek "pais") of the Father and "Christ" only once (cf. the connection with the "broken bread" and the embolism of 9:4). In this early Christian community the "end time" had already started in Jesus.20

(3) Absence of eucharistic redemption ?

What we read in the Didache does not confirm what is evidenced by the synoptics (Marc, Matthew & Luke) & especially Paul, namely the introduction of paschal themes into the Christian eucharist. In the Didache, the traditional Jewish custom of drinking wine and breaking bread and saying thanks after the meal was not made "christic" by the introduction of a "mystical" bond between bread & wine on the one hand and the Body & Blood of the "Son of God" who commands : "Do this in memory of Me" on the other hand. Moreover, at that time the eating of the "flesh" of a sacrificial victim or "god" was common throughout the Middle East and the Greek speaking world (cf. mystery cults, Mithraism, Isis & Osiris, Greek mysteries & popular religious festivals). The rituals proposed in the Didache are firmly rooted in the tradition of Jewish prayer or "berakoth" (Didache 10 is suggestive of the "birkat ha-mazon", a thanksgiving prayer at the end of the Jewish supper).

Certainly no mention is made of the pivotal belief of Paul that Christ incarnates & dies on the cross for our sins, a notion which the later Christian Mass actually re-enacts "ad perpetuam" during the canon (the precise moment consecration happens has caused differences between Eastern & Western Christianity). The West stressed the words of Institution (and hence the Son), whereas the East invoked the Holy Spirit ("epiclesis") to effectively change the eucharistic substances.

It could be that the precise words of this consecration had to remain secret, but the complete absence of any reference to the Markian plot (the Jerusalem drama of Christ's Passion) during the eucharist of the Didachist only points to the fact that the whole notion of the eucharist being salvic because Christ dies again (by Himself, namely in the person of the priest) is a liturgical transposition of the beliefs & ideals of the second century and later (when the return of Christ is no longer immediately expected and martyrdom had been initiated). 

There is also the matter of the integrity of the order of the eucharistic prayer in the Didache. Some scholars rearranged the text of chapters 9 & 10 (in comparison with chapter 14) to accomodate their view that the later Roman Mass is closer to what they understand to be truly Christian. In their view the Didachist is too "primitive". Others accept the sacramentality of the text, other reject it (often claiming that this is the most common view). Differences between "minor" and "major" eucharist have been made (chapter 9 was considered not to be Christocentric enough). The nascent Christology was deemed too far removed from what these authors knew of the theology & dynamics of salvation of the Roman Mass. Recently Mazza21 claimed that the love-meal (agape) was rooted in the eucharist but became isolated only after the ritual meal of Judaism and the eucharist were separated.
(4) Traces of the historical Jesus in the Didache ?

Are there traces of Q-material in the Didache ? This delicate and highly specialized matter has been investigated by Draper who found details which evicence that the Didache is independent of Matthew "and perhaps even helps to explain the background behind the text of Matthew." 22 This important fact can be generalized, for the Didache suggests an independence over the synoptics, throwing light on the text of these gospels ... It never includes material Matthew & Luke have drawn from Mark. Moreover, it coincides with material which is described as the Q-source ! This confirms that the sayings of Jesus were collected & distributed in a fixed form by oral or written means.23 It was a fluid source apparently also used by non-evangelists (prophets, teachers, over-seers of communities, deacons).

The current translation was much helped by the work of Lake (1912), Besson (1977), Jefford (1995), Lewis (1998) & Rordorf and Tuilier (1998). Consideration was given to the Greek Jerusalem MS. The critical text of Tuilier has full notes on the variants.24

Wim van den Dungen,
March 2001.

Or Teachings of the Twelve Apostles.
The Lord's teaching to the heathen by the Twelve Apostles.

the Duae Viae

CHAPTER 1 : the way of life puts the two ways in evidence

1:1 There are two ways : one of life and one of death. There are great differences between these two ways.
1:2 The way of life is this : first, you must love God who made you. Second, you must love your neighbour as yourself. Whatsoever you would not want someone to do to you, do not do that to another.
1:3 Now, these are our teachings : Bless those that curse you, pray for your enemies, and fast for those that persecute you. For what credit is it to you if you love those that love you ? Do not even the heathen do the same ? But, for your part, love those that hate you, and you will have no enemy.
1:4 Abstain from carnal and bodily lusts. If any man strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also, and you will be perfect. If any man impress you to go with him one mile, go with him two. If any man takes your coat, give him your shirt also. If any man will take from you what is yours, refuse it not.
1:5 Give to everyone that asks you, and do not refuse, for the Father's will is that we give to all from the gifts we have received. Blessed is he that gives according to the mandate ; for he is guiltless. Woe to him who receives without need. For if any man receive alms under pressure of need he is innocent. But he who receives it without need shall be tried as to why he took and for what, and being in prison he shall be examined as to his deeds, and he shall not come out until everything owed is paid.
1:6 But concerning this it was also said to let your alms sweat into your hands until your know to who you should give.

CHAPTER 2 : list of forbidden activities

2:1 The second commandment of the teaching is this :
2:2 You must not murder ; you must not commit adultery ; your must not molest children ; you must not commit fornication ; you must not steal ; you must not use magic ; you must not use poisenous philtres ; you must not procure abortion nor commit infanticide ; you must not covet your neighbour's goods.
2:3 You must not commit perjury ; you must not bear false witness ; you must not speak evil ; you must not hold grudges.
2:4 You must not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is the snare of death.
2:5 Your speech must not be false nor vain, but completed in action.
2:6 You must never be greedy, nor accumulate riches, be a hypocrite, malignant, or proud. You must make no evil plan against your neighbour.
2:7 You must hate no man. But some you must reprove, and for some you must pray, and some you must love more than your own life.

CHAPTER 3 : list of forbidden and prescribed attitudes

3:1 My child, flee from everything evil and from all that resembles it.
3:2 Be not proud, for pride leads to murder, nor jealous, nor contentious, nor passionate, for all these lead to murder.
3:3 My child, be not lustful, for lust leads to fornication, nor a speaker of base words, nor a lifter up of the eyes, for all these lead to adultery.
3:4 My child, regard not omens, for this leads to idolatry. Neither be an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a magician, neither wish to see these things, for all these lead to idolatry.
3:5 My child, be not a liar, for lying leads to theft, nor a lover of money, nor vain-glorious, for all these lead to theft.
3:6 My child, be not a grumbler, for this leads to blasphemy, nor stubborn, nor a thinker of evil, for all these lead to blasphemies.
3:7 But be meek, for the meek shall inherit the earth.
3:8 Be long-suffering, and merciful and guileless, and quiet, and good, and ever fearing the words which you have heard.
3:9 Never seek to exalt yourself, nor let your soul be presumptuous. Your soul must not consort with the lofty, but you must walk with righteous and humble men.
3:10 Receive the accidents that befall you as good, knowing that nothing happens apart from God.

CHAPTER 4 : various precepts

4:1 My child, you must remember, day and night, him who speaks the word of God to you, and you must honour him as the Lord, for where the Kingdom is spoken of the Lord is present.
4:2 And you must daily seek the presence of the saints, so that you may find rest in their words.
4:3 You must not desire a schism, but must reconcile those that strive. You must give righteous judgment. You must favour no man in reproving transgression.
4:4 You must not be of two minds, undecided.
4:5 Be not one with hands to receive, but shutting them when it comes to giving.
4:6 Whatever you have gained by your hands shall be given as a ransom for your sins.
4:7 You must not hesitate to give, nor grumble when you give, for you shall know who is the good Paymaster of the reward.
4:8 You must not turn away the needy, but share everything with your brother, and never say that your goods are your own, for if you share in the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish ?
4:9 You must never neglect your son or daughter, but you must teach them from their youth up the fear of God.
4:10 You must not command in anger your slave or maid if they hope in the same God, lest they cease to fear God who is over you both. For He comes not to call men with respect of persons, but those whom the Spirit has prepared.
4:11 But you who are slaves must be subject to your master, in reverence and fear, as if your master represented God.
4:12 You must hate all hypocrisy, and everything that is not pleasing to the Lord.
4:13 You must never forsake the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, adding nothing to it and taking nothing away.
4:14 In the congregation you must confess your transgressions, and you must never approach your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life.

CHAPTER 5 : the way of death

5:1 But the way of death is this : first of all, it is evil and full of maledictions : murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, charms, robberies, false testimonies, hypocrisy, a double heart, fraud, pride, malice, arrogance, greed, foul speech, jealousy, impudence, disdain, boastfulness.
5:2 Persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of lies, knowing not the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to righteous judgment, awake not for good but for evil, from whom gentleness and patience is far, lovers of vanity, chasing reward, unmerciful to the poor, not working for the afflicted, without knowledge of their Creator, murderers of children, corrupters of God's creation, turning their backs to the needy, oppressing the distressed, advocates of the rich, unjust judges of the poor, altogether utterly sinful. Children, flee from these people !

CHAPTER 6 : the false teachers worship dead gods

6:1 See that no one leads you away from the way of this teaching, for they teach you without God.
6:2 If then you are able to bear the Lord's yoke fully, you will be perfect, but if you can not, then do your best.
6:3 And concerning food, bear what you can, but never eat from that which is offered to idols, for that is seen as worship of the dead gods.

Notes :

These notes aim to qualify -ex hypothesi- five major thematical sections in the text :

  1. Chapter 1 - 6 : the ethical preamble or "duae viae" (also a designation of the work as a whole), based on earlier Jewish sources, like Qumrân-material ;

  2. Chapter 7 - 8 : preparatory work done by neophytes : baptism, regular fasting and at least three daily prayers ;

  3. Chapter 9 - 10 : eucharistic activity involving the eucharistified cup and the broken bread, communion & thanksgiving in which only the elect participate ;

  4. Chapter 11 - 13 : the work of the Spirit in prophecy, rules of acceptance of new Christians & the high authority of the prophets ;

  5. Chapter 14 - 16 : the spirito-communal work of the community acting as a whole.

This first chapter of the Didache contains a considerable number of quasi-literal Q1 parallels (in green). Jesus' teachings summarized the new Christian synthesis of the law (love God and the other like yourself) and stressed renunciation (we have received everything). Syntax (laconic wisdom-discourse) & semantics (themes) of this text and Q1 do evidence common traits.

This is the only chapter in the text with that amount of references to the authentic part of the gospels of Matthew & Luke. This is highly significant (for according to the Jesus Seminar 82% of the words ascribed to Jesus in the gospels were not actually spoken by him !).25 Moreover, the whole "ethical section" of the text (1-6) is reminiscent of what could be called "Jewish ascetism" or the reflex of going "back to the roots" of individuals (like John the Baptist) & groups (like the Qumrân-people) rejecting Hellenism and the official promotion of a Hellenizing programme in Judea under Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), eagerly embraced by the Jewish elite.26 The first Qumrân-texts are dated 150 B.C. The Qumrân-corpus disproves the "originality" of early Christian messianism, eschatologism & eucharism. But also ethically (the work of the virtues) common traits spring to the fore.

"In 169 B.C. Antiochus IV visited Jerusalem and looted the Temple. But when in 167 B.C. he actually prohibited the practice of Judaism under pain of death and re-dedicated the Jerusalem Sanctuary to Olympian Zeus, the 'abomination of desolation', the opponents of the Hellenizers finally rose up in violent resistance."
Vermes, G. : The Dead Sea Scrolls, Penguin - New York, 1990, p.21.

The radical moral division between those guided by light (righteousness, truth) versus those doomded to wander in darkness (unlawfulness, falsehood) upheld by the Qumrân-people (cf. the Community Rule or Manual of Discipline, 1QS, dated ca. 100 B.C.) 27 resembles the "Duae viae" of the Didache. Many other points have been proposed 28 but for our purpose it shows that the Didache made use of exceptional material, for there are no writings in ancient Jewish sources which parallel the Community Rule.29 The "purity" of this elite was deemed very important. Sexual abstinence was imposed in every (symbolically approached) sacrificial worship. Abstinence (1:4) and purity-rules (4:14 - 7:4 - 8:1 - 9:5 - 14:1-3 - 15:3) can also be found in the Didache. The various references to purification by water as well as the bathing installations at Qumrân parallel the importance of the quality of the baptisimal water suggested in Didache 7:2-3. The Qumrân-people have been compared (and also identified) with the "Therapeutae" mentioned by Philo of Alexandria in his On the Contemplative Life. The theme of the "duae via" reemerges later in the Jewish qabalah (cf. tree of life versus tree of death - Sepher Yetzirah & Sepher Zohar).

" ... the Christian list of vices and virtues depends on the same of the Manual of Discipline from Qumran. (...) Light thus seems to have been cast on the provenance of the duae viae : it issued from a dualistic Essene tradition and has made its way into Christianity."
Rordorf, W. : "The Two Ways", in Draper, J.A. : Op.cit., p.151.

The negationistic distinction between life (light) & death (darkness) got intermixed with the neo-Platonic interpretation of evil, namely "evil" as the complete absence of goodness (cf. Plotinos), radically turned away from the source of all that exist (cf. chaos as "privatio boni" and later the scholastic interpretation of chaos).

Regarding 6:2, it seems that "the yoke" mentioned is the "yoke of the Torah", but then as "interpreted by the Lord, i.e. by the Christian community under the influence of the Jesus tradition." 30

"In short, the New Testament writings and the Qumrân Scrolls mutually illuminate one another, but neither group of documents can be said to 'explain' the other. That individual Essenes became Christians is probable enough, but it is most unlikely that there was any institutional continuity. Surprisingly the first Christians appear to have adopted a much more positive attitude than the Qumrân community towards the temple worship at Jerusalem."
Chadwick, H. : Op.cit., p.15.

Divine register : "God", "Father", "you must pray", "love more than your own life", "the Lord", "Paymaster", "the Spirit", "Creator", "the Lord", "dead gods"


CHAPTER 7 : reborn as a Christian : baptism

7:1 Concerning baptism, baptize in this way : having first rehearsed all these things, baptize in the Name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in living water.
7:2 But, if you have no running water, baptize in other water, and if you can not in cold, then in warm.
7:3 But if you have neither, pour water three times on the head in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
7:4 And before the baptism, let the baptizer and him who is to be baptized fast, and any others who are able. And you must bid him who is to be baptized to fast one or two days before.

CHAPTER 8 : fasting & the Lord's prayer

8:1 Do not fast when the hypocrites fast, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays, so fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
8:2 And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, pray thus :
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your Name,
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our bread for later,
and forgive us our debt 
in the manner that we forgive our debtors,
and lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil,
for Yours is the power and the glory for ever."
8:3 Pray in this way three times a day.

Notes :

The last words of 6:3 "the dead gods" are followed by "concerning baptism" (7:1), i.e. the initiation of a "new", reborn life as a Christian (by means of living, spiritual water, i.e. cleansed by the Holy Spirit in Jesus). A departure from the material of 1-6 is indicated and part of the aim of the editors. After the ethical preamble, the seeker of life is initiated (in Qumrân the period of probation lasted at least two years if not more). This sequence is also suggested by the instructions regarding new Christians, known by understanding their left & right (12:1), i.e. their evil and good tendencies (which according to Jewish tradition are both rooted in the heart) as well as in repentance before a "pure", undefiled thanksgiving (9:5). 

This procedure is not uncommon in spiritual communities. Even in Ancient Egypt elaborated cleansing-rituals have been recorded (both in the monuments as in the writings). It is likely that the members of the Qumrân-community immersed themselves in water before sitting at the sacramental common table, only allowed to the faultless. 

"Entrance to the community was hedged about with tests and solemn vows preceded by a novitiate, and any delinquency led to expulsion. They practiced very frequent ritual washings, and had a sacred common meal to which the uninitiated were not admitted. They rejected the use of oaths."
Chadwick, H. : Op.cit., p.14.

The enormous (collective) baptisimal areas near the Jordan also suggest this. In the East, the "eight limbs" of Classical Yoga start with what is prescribed & forbidden ("yama" & "niyama"), whereas in the mystical path of the Christian monastic, the distinction between "purification" and the two other steps of the "scala perfectionis" (namely "illumination" and "deification") is significant (first the work of the "virtues" then the work of contemplation and union). The general characteristics of the initiatoric experience show that probation always precedes initiation.

"There is no doubt that the instruction to baptize in 'living water' in Didache 7:1 is archaic and goes back to the beginnings of the Christian mission. It has a Jewish background and was not unknown in the Greco-Roman world."
Rordorf, W. : "Baptism according to the Didache.", in : Draper, J.A. : Op.cit., p.218.

The expression 'living water' was not unknown to Judaism : "For My people have committed two evils : they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of Living Water, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, than can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:13.

The baptisimal formula is trinitarian. It is probably a later interpolation.31 Nowhere else is the "Son" invoked (except in His apocalyptic reversal - 16:4), and nowhere is the identity between Jesus and this the "Son" of the "Father" clearly and explicidly made.

"La formule baptisimale trinitaire était d'usage dans la mission pagano-chrétienne ; dans la mission judéo-chrétienne, on baptisait au nom de Jésus seul (cf. Did. 9,5)."

Rordorf, W. & Tuilier, A. : La Doctrine des Douze Apôtres, Du Cerf - Paris, 1998, p.170.

According to Draper, the use of the word "ethaggelion" (8:2 - 11:3 - 15:3-4), meaning "wage, offer of thanks for a good tiding, gospel", probably refers to collections of wisdom-discourses of Jesus (Q) instead of implying the narrative gospels (written around the same time).32 This is confirmed by 9:5 were a logia is mentioned found in the Gospel of Thomas.

In Q1 the following prayer to the Father is found :

"When you pray, say : 
'Father, may Your Name be holy. 
May Your rule take place.
Always give us our bread.
Forgive us our debts, 
for we ourselves forgive everyone that is indebted to us. 
And lead us away from a trying situation'."

Q1, logia 42-44.

The word "epiousios" (8:2) is usually translated as "daily". In view of the general agreement among scholars that no reliable translation exists, it is remarkable that the current one has become so common, especially among Christian believers. The word "epiousion" has "epi" or "it is there", "it is present", "it happens", "it is about to happen" and "ousia", substance, essence, that what remains (the not-accidental). Why is there no reliable translation ? Because "epiousion" is a technical term ? It may refer to what is present (what happens) with this "bread". Is this the "eucharistified" bread of the eucharist (the only place in the Didache were Jesus Christ is mentioned as such is 9:3) ? 

If "epiousion" is understood as the special, christic "spiritual" process happening with this "bread", then this crucial sentence could also be read as : "Give us now our spiritual bread."

Spoken by Jesus, these words suggest that physical bread and the satisfaction of the needs of the physical body are less important than one's daily nourishment "in the Spirit". Instead of only confirming the fact that the Holy Father gives us daily what we need, the verse suggests that He can give us even more than that, namely a new spiritual awakening "epi-ousion" every time we praise His Name and glimps His Presence, to which we return through the Parousia of Jesus Christ, himself the "broken bread" ... the servant of God the Holy Father, who unites the pure.

"And the coming of the Bridegroom is so rapid that He is always coming and is indwelling with fathomless richness, and that He is coming anew personally, without crease, with such new brightness just as though He had never come before. For His coming consists in an eternal now, without time, which is always received with new lust and in new joy. See, the bliss and the joy which this Bridegroom brings in His coming are fathomless and incommensurable, for He Himself is that bliss and joy. And therefore, the eyes with which the spirit contemplates and gazes upon its Bridegroom are so widely dilated that they will never again be closed. For the gazing and contemplation of the spirit remain eternally fixed on the hidden revelation of God, and the comprehension of the spirit is so widely dilated for the coming of the Bridegroom that the spirit itself has become the wideness which it apprehends. And so God is apprehended and seen with God ; in this all our blessedness resides."
Ruusbroec, J. of : Spiritual Espousals, Third Book.

Now, this "parousia" is precisely the return to time present when the realization dawns that this "eschaton", the end, is unknown and hence always imminent. This eclipse of past & future by the truth of the moment is what happens "on top" (cf. "epi") of the substantial processes related to the making, breaking, sharing & eating of bread during the Jewish ritual meals.

Through this surplus, the Lord's Prayer and the eucharist become also linked, all lines of perspectives centralizing in the pais-christology of Jesus who always says thanks ("eu-CHaRist) to God who rules all. In fact, nobody who is unbaptized will be allowed to participate into the "higher" mystery of the eucharist (9:5). Praying the Lord's Prayer three times a day was clearly seen as the "active" pole of the proposed Christian initiation, preparing the initiate for the eucharistic mystery.

Christianizing these meals did not call for the incorporation of the Jerusalem drama composed by Mark, nor for a "memoria" (anamnesis). Only necessary is the capacity to use the Jewish ritual as a framework enabling the immediate & urgent anticipation of the "hour", the return of Christ (cf. chapter 16 & Revelations). History, tradition (the past) and a future we can expect are squeezed into the eternal moment which emerges in consciousness. This emergence happens through the presence of "Christ" who is vehemently anticipated as :

(1) "epiousic" bread in the Lord's Prayer ;
(2) eucharistified bread, broken & eaten bread during the eucharistic meal ;
(3) together with saints riding on clouds at the "eschaton" of all things, which is always imminent.

This presence is expressed by "Marana tha !" or the imperative : "Come Lord, come !". The indicative, "Maran atha." or : "Our Lord is here." being the eucharistic reply (cf. "ascendat oratio, descendat gratia").

These early Christians clearly believed that Christ would come back within their lifetime. And meanwhile, they had liturgic ways to keep the candle burning. These ways are parousic, epiousic, prophetic & communal. The latter activity is not made part of the "actio mystica" undertaken with the elements of the eucharistic liturgy (cf. Paul's interpretation of "bread" as the "Mystical Body of Christ"), nor is there a trace of the "this is My body" & "this is My blood", so crucial after martyrdom had become more important than the continuous revolution in the Spirit evident in prophethood. To call the Lord and experience the presence of Christ by always anticipating this return explains a lot of the spirituality evidenced in the Didache, the only text containing liturgical information about the Q-communities. 

"Si l'on veut se faire de l'Eglise primitive une représentation exacte, il faut se bien souvenir que c'est le Saint-Esprit qui à fondé l'Eglise. Les 'inspirés' avaient la place principale dans la création et dans la vie des plus anciennes communautés chrétiennes. (...) Les premiers ministres de l'Eglise furent des inspirés ; ce n'est que bien plus tard qu'il y entra des fonctionnaires et des administrateurs."
Besson, E. : La Didachè et l'Eglise primitive, Amities Spirituelles - Paris, 1977, p.64.

The Q-communities were against securing oneself in the physical, economical sense (ample examples of this are found in Q1 and explicidly in 1:4 - cf. interpretation of Q1). Trust in the Holy Father who knows what each one of us needs is all what is asked for. So it is unlikely that the "bread" mentioned in the Lord's Prayer is just ordinary bread used to feed the body. Probably it did that too, but its mention here is beyond the physicalities involved in removing hunger. In 9:4 "bread" is used as a metaphor, so why should this not be the case here (cf. certain Eastern Orthodox interpretations of "epiousion") ?

Divine register : "the Father", "the Son", "the Holy Spirit", "the Lord", "His Gospel", "Kingdom"

A Pais-Eucharist

CHAPTER 9 : eucharistic consecration

9:1 Now regarding the eucharist, give thanks in this way :
9:2 First concerning the cup :

"We thank You, our Father,
for the holy vine of David Your servant,

which You made known to us through Jesus Your servant.
To You belongs the glory for ever."

9:3 And concerning the broken bread :

We thank You, our Father,
for the life and knowledge which You made

known to us through Jesus Your servant.
To You belongs the glory for ever."

9:4 As this broken bread was scattered over the mountains, and was brought together to become one, so let Your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your Kingdom, for the glory and the power are Yours through Jesus Christ forever.
9:5 But let none eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord. For concerning this did the Lord say : “Give not what is holy to dogs.”

CHAPTER 10 : thanksgiving after communion

10:1 But after you are satisfied with food, give thanks in this way :
10:2 We give thanks to You, O Holy Father, for Your Holy Name which You made to live in our hearts, and for the knowledge, the faith and the immortality which You did made known to us through Jesus Your servant. To You belongs the glory for ever.
10:3 You, Lord Almighty, did create all things through Your Name, and did give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to You, but us have You blessed with spiritual food, drink and eternal light through Your servant.
10:4 Above all we give thanks to You because You are mighty. Yours is the glory for ever.
10:5 Remember, Lord, to deliver Your church from all evil and to make it perfect in Your love, and gather it together from the four winds, holy in Your kingdom which You have prepared for it. For Yours are the power and the glory for ever.
10:6 Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the God of David. If any man be holy, let him come ! If any man be not, let him repent. Marana tha ! Amen.
10:7 But permit the prophets to hold the eucharist as they see fit.

Notes :

§ 1 to read the text as it is

These chapters belong to the core of the teaching. They are so interesting because they help us understand how the format of this early Christian liturgy was. Scholars (mostly Christian conservatives) have moved parts of these chapters around to allow their interpretation of the eucharist (based on the later format of what became known as the Roman Mass) to conform with the didactical eucharist. In my opinion these chapters should be read as they stand. They give an interesting acount of what happened in these early Jewish Q-communities, people who were -historically speaking- closest to the historical, authentic Jesus. Read alongside Q1 they reveal the earliest stage of the formation of the eucharistic Christ.

The Catholic Church (still) regards the eucharist as the cornerstone of her salvic work in Christ.
33 Its importance is also evidenced in this didactic (9:5), for only the baptized "in the Name of the Lord" are allowed. Note that 9:5 reduces the baptisimal formula to "the Name of the Lord", eliminating the distinction between the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit established before (7:1). 

Jesus receives the title "Lord" and says : "Give not what is holy to dogs."  This saying resembles logion 93 of the Gospel of Thomas : "Do not give what is holy to the dogs, lest they throw it on the dunghill. Do not cast pearls to swine, lest they grind them {to bits}."

The word "eucharist" appears in a technical, liturgical context. My reading gives credit to the Didachist (especially because we are dealing with a canonical work of a composite nature). This does not take me so far as to alter the order of the words to satisfy a possible reading. My hermeneutical guidelines 34 allow me to observe the composition of a given work as a totality or "Gestalt". In some cases this is difficult if not impossible to achieve, because a diversity of meaning-bearers are used (cf. the Pyramid Texts or Coffin Texts of Ancient Egypt). But in the case of the Didache, a composition is at work which allows texts of different age to come together and form a more or less complete picture of the basic didactical tenets held by the authors & the editors. As it was finalized between 80 and 100 A.D., hence most of its texts were earlier.

The text immediately confronts us with the earliest non-canonical description of what later would become the Offertorium, the first sacral act initiating the liturgical core of the Roman Mass (after Vaticanum II called : "the liturgy of the eucharist"). After the altar and the gifts are prepared, the priest utters prayers over bread and cup (his offertory), which leads to the "canon" proper, namely the Preface (ending with the Sanctus) and the Eucharistic Prayer which contains the consecrational formula, the institution of Christ, closely linked with the "anamnesis" ("to this in memory of Me") and Christ's imminent death. However, it is clear that in early Christianity the account of the Institution and the words of the Lord were not asked "ad efficacitatem".35

In this context it may be interesting to note that :

  1. it is explicidly mentioned that the prayers over the eucharistic elements are part of the ritual of thanksgiving and the short embolism or prayer for unity (9:4) does not end with "Amen" as does 10:6, suggesting that 9 & 10 form a compositional unity ;

  2. the cup is first consecrated, not the bread ;

  3. nowhere is the divinity of Jesus Christ mentioned during the Offertory or the Eucharistic Prayer (ritualized in the Roman Man by adding a little water to the wine, enabling all participants to share in this "divine" nature of Jesus Christ) ; 

  4. Jesus is only spoken of as "Christ" over the bread, not over the cup ;

  5. the offertory is immediately followed by a short warning (9:5) based on a logion of Jesus not to approach the altar if unbaptized ;

  6. communion happens before thanksgiving ;

  7. thanksgiving does not ask for the consecration of the fully prepared eucharistic elements for they are no longer present. Are they already "at work" in the participants, vivifying their consciousness so that they are able to say thanks "in the Spirit" by raising their voices and praying together 10:2-6 ? 

  8. thanksgiving is fully focused on God the Holy Father and Jesus is not mentioned as Christ, nor as Son, but only as a servant through whom the Holy Name of the Father lives in our heart ; 

  9. the whole movement of this thanksgiving aims at the end of things. It finds its spiritual optimum not in paschal themes and in the indwelling of Christ as Blood & Body but in the anticipation of the return of Jesus which happens when the work of this servant of God is accomplished everywhere, when all has become holy because every sinner has repented, the earth being one whole and thus His Kingdom ;

  10. emphasis is put on what happens "in the Spirit" for the prophets may hold the eucharist as they seem fit. The form of the eucharist remains open. 

In the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumrân, we find the following interesting text :

"And when they shall gather for the common table, to eat and to drink new wine, when the common table shall be set for eating and new wine poured for drinking, let no man extend his hand over the first-fruits of bread and wine before the Priest ; for it is he who shall bless the first-fruits of bread and wine, and shall be the first to extend his hand over the bread. Thereafter, the Messiah of Israel shall extend his hand over the bread, and all the congregation of the Community shall utter a blessing, each man in the order of his dignity."
The Messianic Rule (1QSa) - translated by Vermes, 1990.

§ 2 the eucharist after the Didache

Ignatius of Antioch (executed in Rome in 107 A.D.), who only wrote of the eucharist in passing, calls the celebration "breaking of bread" (Letters). The word "eucharistia" has a wide range of meanings : prayer of thanksgiving, eucharistic elements, the entire ritual. His realism ("I crave that Blood of His.") is also coupled with symbolism (love as the blood of Christ). 

In his Apologia (ca.150 A.D.), Justin Martyr (born ca. 100 A.D.) describes the sunday ritual as starting with the service of the word immediately followed by thanksgivings ("eucharists") spoken by the president of the congregation. The offerings mentioned are bread, wine & water. There is no offertorium and no evidence of any consecrational section in the great prayer of thanksgiving. Afterwards the "eucharistic aliments" are distributed (also to the absent). The rich give and the poor are immediately helped (1,67). For Justin, the "eucharistic prayer" is important because it ensures a correspondence between the "eucharistified" elements and the proto-type of the Last Supper narrated by the synoptics and others. 36 But the eucharist is still a rising to God, a praise & a glorification of the Father of all things ("patri tôn holôn").37

In Adversus Haereses of Iranaeus of Lyon three passages occur which refer to the "bread" of the eucharist.

"The bread taken from the earth having received the prayer of God is no longer ordinary bread but Eucharist made up of two elements, earthly and heavenly, body of Christ. The bread prepared receives the word of God and becomes Eucharist. The grain of wheat fallen to the earth receiving the word of God becomes Eucharist that is, body of Christ."
Iranaeus of Lyon : Against Heresies, 4.18.5 & 5.2.3. (translated by Mazza, E. : The Celebration of the Eucharist, Pueblo - Minnesota, 1999, p.111)

Clearly between the redaction of the original Didache and the end of the second century a major change of perspective had taken place. The Parousia of Christ had moved to the background, the blood & bones martyrdom had become prominent and hence the spirito-communal more important. Prophesy became less frequent and administrators (over-seers) took over. 

"Why did the orthodox view of martyrdom - and of Christ's death as its model - prevail ? I suggest that persecution gave impetus to the formation of the organized church structure that developed by the end of the second century."
Pagels, E. : The Gnostic Gospels, Vintage - New York, 1979, p.98. 

In the "eucharistia", the Parousia of Christ (the connection with the eternal moment of unity) was step by step replaced by a more substantial and incarnational approach of the eucharistic elements, a relapse into the "antependium"-ritualism of old (for only the priest could consecrate).

"Since the bread and wine are connected with the Eucharistic Prayer and have their meaning determined by it, they too are called 'Eucharist'. This is the first term used by the early Church to indicate the sacramental character of the bread and wine and of the entire meal as an imitation of Jesus' supper in the upper room. This usage gave rise to a second way of referring to the sacramental bread and wine : 'eucharistified'. In both cases the intention was to assert a ritual and ontological correspondence between the Eucharist of the Church and the type established by Jesus at the Last Supper. (...) there has been a shift from the theology of the connection to the theology of the effect of the connection."
Mazza, E. : The Celebration of the Eucharist, Pueblo - Minnesota, 1999, p.115, my italics.

For Cyprian of Carthage (first half third century), the eucharist is a sacrifice, moreover it is the passion of the Lord which is offered (cf. Letter 63 written ca.253) ... Tertullian (155 - ca.220) writes in his De resurrectione mortuorum (8) that the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ so that the soul may be nourished by God. His sacramental realism is outspoken (the Body of Christ is really flesh and not mere appearance, as Marcion maintained). In his writings we see the two last stages of the liturgy of the Christ myth : (1) the eucharistic bread is "figura corporis", i.e. eucharistified and partaking in the nature of Christ (the bread represents his body) precisely because (2) Christ really incarnates in the eucharistified bread and cup.

The prayer of the first antipope Hippolytus of Rome found in his Apostolic Tradition comes already very close to the later Roman Preface & Canon :

"Bishop : The Lord be with you.
People : And with your spirit.
Bishop : Lift up your hearts.
People : We lift them to the Lord.
Bishop : Let us give thanks to the Lord.
People : It is meet and right.

Bishop : We give thanks, O God, through your beloved Son Jesus Christ, whom in the last times you sent to us as saviour and redeemer and as angel of your will, who is your inseparable Word, through whom you made all things, and whom by your good pleasure you sent from heaven to a Virgin's womb, who was conceived and was made flesh and was manifested as your Son, born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin ;

Who, fulfilling your will and procuring for you a holy people, stretched out his hands when he suffered that he might free from suffering those who have believed in you ;

Who, when he was betrayed to a voluntary passion to destroy death and break the devil's chains, to tread down hell and lead the just to light, to fix hell's limits and to manifest the resurrection, took bread and gave thanks to you and said : 'Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you.' 
Likewise also the cup, saying : 'This is my blood which is shed for you. When you do this, do it in remembrance of me.'

Remembering therefore his death and resurrection, we offer you this bread and cup, giving you thanks that you have counted us worthy to stand before you and minister to you as priests.

And we beseech you to send the Holy Spirit on the offering of the Holy Church. Gather them together and grant that all who partake of the holy things may be filled with the Holy Spirit for the confirmation of their faith in the truth, that we may laud and glorify you through your Son Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and honour to you, Father and Son with the Holy Spirit, in your holy church, both now and for ever, Amen."

Hippolytus of Rome : Apostolic Tradition, in : Chadwick, H. : Op.cit., p.263-264.

In this prayer, narration plays an major role. Instead of speaking "in the Spirit", the bishop develops a Christocentric view. God, the Father and His Kingdom are less prominent. The latter is replaced by the "Holy Church". Fully incorporated are the notions that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who voluntarily died to free the believers of the devil and who (in the upper room) initiated (instituted) a commemorative ritual to return in sacramental form as his own body and blood.


 mystical or pneumatic

figural similarity

 incarnational realism


 anticipate the Parousia
His Name in our heart
through Jesus Christ

Justin ... Ambrose
imitate Christ's passion
the Church saves
through the Son of God

Paschasius Radbert ...
Christ's Body & Blood
to exist in the mystical
body of Christ Jesus

So already in the first half of the third century, a liturgy different than the one proposed in the Didache became "orthodox". If was focused on the imitation of the narrative story of institution, did not have a "real" consecration but maintained a sacramental realism alongside the symbolical interpretation of the eucharistified elements. For in this early patristic period there is no prayer that the bread and the wine may become the Body and the Blood of Christ. Only in the final redaction of the "Quam oblationem" of the Roman Canon is this the case. However, not every prayer over the bread and the wine is to be understood like that. The problem of the actual change becomes crucial when the imitation of the model established by Christ is left behind.38 The first one to initiate this kind of eucharistic realism to the full was the monk Paschasius Radbert in his De corpore et sanguine Domini (ca.831-833), who also introduced the notion of the "eucharistic veil", a garment which covers the Body & Blood of Christ so that they appear as bread and wine (so as to not to horrify the believers) ...

"The emphasis of the late-medieval Church on the sacrament of the Eucharist, as the focus of religious piety as well as the touchstone of orthodoxy, would seem to be another sign of the increasing 'bodiliness' of its rule of faith."
Emery, K. : "Margaret Porette and Her Book", in Porette, M. (ca.1250-1310) : The Mirror of Simple Souls, University of Notre Dame Press - Notre Dame, 1999, p.xix. 

The eucharist will be more and more approached by the orthodox centrists as if it had been initiated by Christ Himself (the narrative is taken literal). Later it became monopolized by the clergy (cf. the iconostasis in the Eastern churches, keeping the believers out and the priest = Christ formula). As soon as the realistic interpretation of the eucharist became common practice (9th century), the actual ritual of consecration was introduced. In the West, the transubstantiation (the actual, fysical change in substance of the bread & the wine) happened during the narrative of institution (in the 12th century the elevation would accompany this operation), wheras in the East the miracle happened during the epiclesis, when the Holy Spirit is called in to precipitate the actual change.

Jesus said : "The Pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge and hidden them. They have not entered, nor have they allowed those who wish so to enter. You, however, be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves."
"Jesus said : "Damn the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let the oxen eat."
Thomas : Gospel of Thomas, 39 & 102.

So the following steps emerge :

(1) original connection between God and humanity through Jesus Christ and his Parousia : the eucharist as pneumatic, "parousial" prayer (every prophet doing it as he seems fit) to the Father for what has been received through Jesus Christ, his servant, who as "broken bread" makes all one and who's return is imminent = the oldest layer of the myth of Christ ;
(2) effect of the established connection through the Institution & Passion of Christ : the eucharist as imitation, figural representation of the model initiated by Christ (as Son of God) in the upper room, i.e. paschal themes with only an implicit realistic interpretation of the eucharistic elements (here we have the Lord's Passion but no actual consecration in the realistic sense) ;
(3) solidification of the effect by explicidly understanding the eucharistified elements as "divine" realities : the eucharist as the actual incarnation of the Lord as His redemptive Body and Blood through the repetition of Christ's words of institution (West) or the work of the Holy Spirit (East). Yes, the mouse too ate the Body of Christ ...

Rome's overt rejection of the Jewish heritage and covert recuperation & adaptation of the principles of the Jewish prayer happened very early (both departed when Jerusalem was destroyed) and remained more or less unaltered. The question of the date of Eastern also points in that direction. The Eastern churches wanted to celebrate this major event in the mythology of Christ on the 14th of Nisan (the Jewish calendar), whereas the West considered Sunday to be primordial (cf. the resurrection).

"La barakah en effet, spécialement les berakoth liturgiques qui sont les antécédents immédiats de l'eucharistie chrétienne, est toujours la prière propre du juif, comme membre du people élu, qui ne bénit pas Dieu en général, à la manière d'un philosophe néo-platonicien, pour les mirabilia Dei qui ne le concerneraient pas lui-même. C'est au contraire la 'bénédiction' du Dieu qui s'est révélé à Israël, qui s'est communiqué à lui d'une façon unique, qui l'a 'connu', et par suite s'en est fait 'connaître' : ce qui veut dire qui a créé entre Lui et les siens une relation sui generis qui, quel que soit l'object précis de la louange, y demeure à tout le moins sous-jacente."
Bouyer, L. : Eucharistie, Desclée - Tournai, 1990, p.36.

Despite separative intentions Judaism & Christianity remained interlocked : Christianity never broke away from the formal schemes of Jewish liturgy. Synagogal Judaism was impotent to be a proper substitute for the possibility of the "shekinah" living in a single human being, the "Messiah" or "King of Israel". The connection "sui generis" which existed between God and humanity through Jesus Christ was replaced by the effect of the connection and a solidification of the effect by introducing a realistic view on the eucharistified elements ...

§ 4 specifics of chapters 9 & 10 

In the Didache, the cup is first because in the Jewish rite two cups are to be blessed. One before the meal and one after (cf. Luke 22:17-20). The early Christians identified Christ with this second cup, the "new" alliance ... Especially the fact that in this liturgical section of the so-called "apostolic" didactic there is no trace of paschal themes an of any of the later bloodless sacramental magic of the figural and/or physical presence of Christ in Body & Blood (via bread & wine) is very remarkable and begs the (Protestant) question of the historical authenticity of the orthodox, centrist eucharistic liturgy (West as well as East). Vaticanum II claims to have gone back to the early Church. How far back?

In the synoptics, the two cups (one before and one after supper) plus the thanksgiving after supper are only mentioned by Luke (his gospel also contains a shorter text dealing with bread & cup before supper). In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 we read about a rite with cup with thanksgiving after supper but then nothing is said about the cup before supper. In 1 Corinthians 12:16-17 this first cup figures but then nothing happens after supper ... In the Jewish practice, the first cup and the bread are blessed ("eulogein"), whereas the last cup (after supper) accompanies thanksgiving ("eucharistein"). This blessing is only mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 12:16-17). Matthew and Mark only "bless" the bread ...

In the Didache the Jewish form is altered in two ways : 
(1) to remember the first Parousia (the coming of the Messiah) thanksgiving starts with the cup (the second cup of the Jews, the awaited King of Israel, is the first cup of the Christians) ;
(2) the broken bread is again the Messiah but now in his sacramental effectiveness (9:4) ;
(3) no blessings are uttered for thanksgiving happens through the Messiah, anticipating his imminent return.

Thanksgiving as such takes place after supper. No second cup is necessary. This points to an eucharistic liturgy which is independent from the narrative gospels & from Paul's gentile mission. The phrase "holy vine of David", a "servant" like Jesus, is incompatible with the theology of the council of Jerusalem (accepting non-Jewish Christians).39 Hence, the two eucharistic prayers are not older than ca. 50 A.D., i.e. contemporary of Q1 or earlier.

The reliance of early Jewish Christianity on Jewish synagogal liturgy is attested by the historical study of the prayer of thanksgiving itself, the cornerstone of all possible Christian sacraments (admirably done by Louis Bouyer as early as 1966). Before him, Dibelius (in 1958) had understood the didactical prayer of thanksgiving as an example of Hellenistic Judaism.40 Bouyer, however, studying the exceptional pictoral representations in the synagoge of Doura-Europos (suggesting that the later synagogal system rejected pictures to oppose Christianity) found an original Hebrew prayer on papyrus which is nearly identical with the one found in the Didache41

In the above text of chapter 9 & 10, those parts of the prayer which were added by the Christian editor are in black (the original Hebrew in green). The distinctions between the original Hebrew and the additions evidenced in the Greek didactic, suggest that the Christian recuperation consists in adding "through Jesus Your servant" or "through Jesus Christ" to the Hebrew text. In later times, the same method is used but more narrative information is added, specifying who this Son of God is and how, why & when He saves His believers in & through the eucharist (cf. the prayer of Hippolytus of Rome). In the Didache a Jewish prayer of thanksgiving is used and "Jesus Christ" is added, not as the Son (this word "yios" is used in 7:1) but as a "servant" (the Greek word "pais" also means "child" but also "slave") of the same rank as David (no distinction is introduced in the text).

The embolism (9:4) or a prayer for gathering (also found in the Egyptian anaphorae) is part of the rite with bread (with blessing). Jesus Christ, the broken bread, feeds his community. This food is physical (the actual bread eaten) but also pneumatic, for the "broken bread" was "scattered over the mountains" and the many grains are unified to form "one church". This gathering is also a symbolic representation or foretaste of the eschatological unification.42

Chapter 10 is the actual thanksgiving. It occurs after the rituals with cup and bread after communion. Bread & cup have been eucharistified and the presence of Jesus invoked. Moreover, the broken bread is scattered but pneumatically returned as the unity of the one church of the Kingdom of God. These eucharistified elements are consumed during communion. Hence, when the prayer of thanksgiving starts, the believers are already brought in a higher state of consciousness, risen as a result of the pneumatic activity engendered by communion with the eucharistified gifts, fully anticipating the return of Christ, and recognizing the Lord's Name in their hearts (the seat of all spiritual activity) through Jesus the servant. The Lord created everything through this Name. Thanks is given for communion, described as "spiritual", and for the eternal light experienced through Jesus the servant of God. Above all (after 10:3 Jesus is not mentioned again) thanks is given because the Lord God is Powerful & Glorious. Focus is on God, not on filial Christocentrism. The "memento" of 10:5 is not "for the dead" but again a kind of embolism (cf. 9:4), a gathering this time of the perfect church, seen as "holy" in the Kingdom of God (the unity of the "bread" -Christ- is the necessary condition for the unity of the "pure" church).

The words "marana tha" (meaning "Lord come !") are a clear organ-point to underline the intimate relationship between thanksgiving as a whole and the second coming of Christ which is anticipated in the eucharistic elements in specific. As Betz rightly said : "The eucharist functions as the bridge between the first and the second Parousia." 43 The Parousia of Christ is anticipated in the liturgy. These didactical Jewish Christians cried out "Lord come !" for it is through Jesus the servant of the Father that the Name of the Holy Father lives in their hearts. In the eternal present, beginning (the awaited return, the "Lord come !") and end or "maran atha" ("The Lord is here.") coincide ...

"The primitive community considered their Lord's Supper as the paradisal gift of salvation, because it considered it primarily as eschatological event and gift of salvation. Since, indeed, according to ancient belief, the end time repeats the first time, the Didache meals as an event of the end time repeats the gifts of the first time. The eschatological orientation comes most clearly into focus in the cry of 10:6 'Let grace come and let the world pass away ! Maranatha !' By the 'grace' which is implored is meant the completed eschatological salvation, which the Lord will bring with his return. (...) What is new and unheard of in the belief of the Christian community is that the end time has already started in Jesus."
Betz, J. : "The Eucharist in the Didache", in : Draper, J. : Op.cit., pp.261-262, my italics.

The last paragraph added by the editor (10:7) shows the potency of prophecy in early Christianity. A genuine prophet may say thanks as he seems fit

§ 5 no pascal themes, no anamnesis, no bloodless redemption

If the didactic was written down as late as 150 A.D. (the most probable terminus date) then clearly what became known as the "Mass" (a word used since Gregory the Great) had a different storyline. How did that come about ? These early Christians expected Christ to come back within their lifetimes (probably because they were direct witnesses of the power of Jesus, described in the Gospel of Thomas and in the Gospel of Mark) ! Christ did not come back so soon ... At the end of the first century, they had to survive the great miseries caused by many harsh persecutions (earlier Nero had used Christians as living torches on one of his banquets). The Romans saw in Christianity a form of magic, possibly evil and undermining the status of the emperor (cf. Seutonius). Neither was their worship of this man called Jesus, who had been nailed to the cross with Roman nails, to the taste of any of the known Roman gods & goddesses, the emperor included (for he was also a god). 

Is the "passion-section" of the Christian Mass not truly symbolic of this morbid blood of martyrdom (cf. the bones of dead martyrs & saints as relics under the altar and the power of Rome "who had the bones" of Peter & Paul) ? These rubrics became the core of the "great prayer" of the later Mass, and in it the eucharist is directly linked with the death of Christ (paschal theme) and His incarnation in the eucharist (consecration). This is done with such emphasis that Christians directly associate the eucharist with the Passion and the eucharistic Presence of the God-with-us in the gifts, more so than with its original, core meaning, namely to say thanks to the Holy Father (through the Son & in the Spirit).

The Parousia was the central liturgical concept of the Christians of the Didache. Their way of saying thanks did not include the redemption of humanity through the passion of Christ nor its liturgical re-enactment and solidification as the consecration of the effects of the connection with Christ (leading to the incarnation of Christ as Body & Blood). The latter became the case when the blood of persecution had to be stressed to "explain" and "justify" the suffering inflicted upon Christians by numerous Roman emperors. Some have rightly called this focus on suffering during the Christian Mass as the greatest catastrophe ever (it was maintained after Vaticanum II).

The earliest Christian groups (as the Q-community of the Didache) did not preach a universal redemption through Jesus Christ. Only his return was eargerly awaited for with it all things would be oned and this world would pass away ! The Christians of Jerusalem were Jewish (the Mosaic law was not put aside). The core of this Jewish identity was ethnic & genealogical. Circumcision & Sabbath-observance were the outer signs of adherence to the God of Israel, called : "YHadonaiVH ALHYM" (cf. theonomy). Gentiles could not participate. That had been the law. Gentile Christianity became possible because of the work of Paul, who only met Jesus "in the Spirit". Paul proved the importance of prophecy. For his spirituality was able to convince the others (council of Jerusalem) to allow non-Jewish converts, a major step. His absence in the pen of the pneumatic Didachist is therefore suggestive of the relative independence of prophecy and the strength of early Jewish Christianity.

Divine register : "Father", "holy vine", "David Your servant", "Jesus Your servant", "life and knowledge You made", "Your church", "Kingdom", "Jesus Christ", "Name of the Lord", "Lord"

Reliable authorities & new Christians

CHAPTER 11 : reception of teachers, apostles, prophets true & false

11:1 Whoever comes to teach you all these things aforesaid, receive him.
11:2 But if the teacher himself goes astray and teaches another doctrine destroying these things, do not listen to him, but if his teaching increased your righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, then receive him as the Lord.
11:3 And concerning the apostles and the prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel.
11:4 Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord.
11:5 But he must not remain longer than one day, or if need be, a second as well. But if he stays three days, he is a false prophet.
11:6 And when the apostle leaves let him accept nothing but bread to sustain him to his next shelter. But if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.
11:7 Do not test or judge any prophet who is speaking in the Spirit, for every sin will be forgiven, but not this sin.
11:8 But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet, but only those who walk in the ways of the Lord. By his conduct, then, is the true prophet known from the false.
11:9 Never does a prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit eat of it, except if he is a false prophet.
11:10 Every prophet teaches the truth, but if he does not do what he teaches, he is a false prophet.
11:11 But no prophet who has been tried and is genuine, acting according to the worldly mystery of the church, but does not teach others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged by you for his judgment is with God. The prophets of old are examples of this.
11:12 But if somebody in the Spirit says to you : “Give me money." or something similar, do not listen to him. But nobody should judge him if he tells you to give to the needy.

CHAPTER 12 : reception of new Christians, rule of work

12:1 Everyone who comes in the Name of the Lord should be received. Then, examine him. You shall know him by understanding right & left.
12:2 If he is a traveller, help him as much as you can, but he must not remain with you for more than two days, or, if need be, three.
12:3 And if he wishes to settle among you and has a craft, let him work for his bread.
12:4 But if he has no skills, provide for him according to your understanding, so that no man shall live among you in idleness because he is a Christian.
12:5 But if he will not cooperate, he is making traffic of Christ. Beware of such.

CHAPTER 13 : the prophets as high priests among us

13:1 But every true prophet who wishes to settle among you is worthy of his food.
13:2 Likewise a true teacher is himself worthy, like the workman, of his food.
13:3 Therefore you must take the first-fruit of the winepress and of the threshing-floor and of oxen and sheep, and give them as the first-fruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests.
13:4 But no prophet is among you, then give it to the poor.
13:5 If you make bread, take the first-fruits, and give it according to the commandment.
13:6 Likewise when you open a jar of wine or oil, give the first-fruits to the prophets.
13:7 Of money also and clothes, and of all your possessions, take the first-fruits, as it seem best to you, and give according to the commandment.

Notes :

In early Christianity (as in Judaism), the prophetic faculty was considered as crucial (one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit). Genuine prophets are able to "speak in the Spirit", which is nothing less than contemplate reality at will (compare this with "dhyâna" in Classical Yoga). Teachers teach what the Didache teaches. The hour is imminent and through Jesus Christ the Lord's Name lives in our hearts and knowledge, faith and immortality are bestowed upon the Christians. Apostles are special prophets. They are "on the move", always "by-passers" announcing the salvation through Jesus Christ in terms which focus on God, His Kingdom, the Parousia of Christ, and the eschaton. If they say too long, their prophethood becomes less authentic, even false. That "speaking in the Spirit" is venerated & holy is attested by 11:7 and chapter 13.

With the desert fathers, the monastic movement and (in the Middle Ages) the cistercian movement (and later - cf. Grotius & the modern devotion) we see the rise of "Christian mysticism" (cf. ps.-Dionysius the Areopagite on "mystikos"). They too were often in conflict with centrist (Roman) authority. But the essence of their teaching can be read in 11:8, for the genuine mystic is someone who acts in accordance with his Lord, completely him or herself (i.e. genuinly humble).44 The distinguishing mark of the prophet(ess), more than Divine words, is the way s/he behaves. Comparative mysticism confirmed this by showing that authentic mystical experiences always imply an increased ethical engagement.45 Prophets may do things which they do not teach but they always exist by what they teach.

The rule of work is the foundation needed to shape strong virtues. Nothing better to hold a community together than to "work for one's bread". The quasi militaristic spirito-communal approach can be felt here (cf. Pachomius' wall). Mystics were allowed their raptures & visions only after having assimilated the dogmatic teachings, the long liturgies & other very hard work. At the end of the day some of them synchronized their inner contemplative life with the liturgical calendar (Hadewijch of Antwerp & Beatrice of Nazareth). This enhanced communal life and reinforced (proved) the right of the authorities enough to keep the visionaries safe and well.

This distinction between "virtues" and a life "in the Spirit" was important. If the ecclesiastical authorities allowed rapture (mystical union) without virtue then Christian dogma could be in jeopardy. This could lead to heretism, schisms, anti-churches and counter-popes. Some mystics advocated (not unlike Bistami Sufism) the idea that in the case of the mystics all laws are abrogated except those that please God. In general however, and probably in order to survive, Christian mystics adhered to the language of the centrist church of Rome, reinterpreting its symbols to elucidate their visions, contemplations, raptures & supernatural wanderings.

A complete chapter dedicated to genuine prophets ! They do not have to work for their bread, receive the first of everything and are the high priests who daily offer to God. The prophets belong to God and by sustaining them one receives the blessing of the Lord. For the centrists, the prophets were dangerous. Christian prophecy was lost as a function of their rise. Not unlike the Gnostics, they had access to special knowledge & realities which could change the dogmatic status quo through direct, personal revelation. The historical community of Jesus existed in continuous reformation. This notion was (and still is) totally alien to the centrists.

Divine register : "the Lord", "in the Spirit", "God", "the Name of the Lord", "Christ"

Communal Life

CHAPTER 14 : the communal sacrament

14:1 Gather together on the Lord's day, break bread and hold eucharist, after first having confessed your transgressions, so that your offering may be pure.
14:2 But let none who has a quarrel with his fellow join you until they be reconciled, so that your sacrifice may be undefiled.
14:3 For this is the sacrifice spoken of by the Lord : “In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King, says the Lord, and My Name is wonderful among the nations.".

Notes :

We learn more about the eucharist. No impure thanksgiving is allowed. Only peace must exists between those gathered. The "confiteor" ("I confess") is a necessary condition to be able to participate in the communal sacrament.


 Catholic Mass

breaking bread
= communion


Curiously, the word "sacrifice" is used, also "offering" (absent in chapters  9 & 10). However, there are no redemptoric associations, for it is the Lord who as a great King exclaims that the pure sacrifice can be made "in every place and time". This is primarily associated with the Name of the Lord (as 10:2 also teaches), a Name which is "wonderful among the nations". 

In 14:1 suggests that "breaking bread" and "eucharist" are not identical. The former refers to the communion (9:5) after the prayers over the parousial cup & the (broken) bread, whereas in 14:1 the word "eucharist" is used for what it actually means, namely to say thanks (cf. the eucharistic prayer proper). The type of eucharist found in the Didache differs from what later will become known as "the Christian Mass". As liturgy is the practice, pragmatics (or "locus") of theology, the didactic does not call for paschal themes, martyrdom or the sacramentalism of Body & Blood. Its theology orbits around the duae viae, prophethood, the unity via the broken bread, the Parousia of Christ & the eschaton.

Divine register : "the Lord's day", "the Lord"

CHAPTER 15 : communal hierarchy & method of reproof

15:1 Therefore, appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, meek men, disinterested in money, truthful and approved, for they too will fulfill among you the services of prophets and teachers.
15:2 Do not despise them, for they are your honourable men, together with the prophets and the teachers.
15:3 Do not reprove one another in wrath but in peace, as set forth in the Gospel. Let nobody speak with anyone who has wronged his neighbour, nor let him be heard, until he repents.
15:4 Perform your prayers, alms and all your deeds as found in the Gospel of our Lord.

Notes :

In the Didache the verb "cheirotonein" (cf. imposition of hands) is used to define the ordination of bishops & deacons, however without mentioning the special "charisma", or extraordinary, permanent power of the Holy Spirit, so important later (to guarantee & justify apostolic succession as an institution). It was this power of the Holy Spirit which assured the proper working of the priest, even if the latter was sinful (cf. the Donatist schism). Later Augustine argued that the only thing necessary for the eucharist to be valid is the awareness of the priest that during Mass he acts on behalf of the church as a whole !

Divine register : "the Lord", "the Gospel of our Lord"

CHAPTER 16 : gather to persevere until the coming of the Lord

16:1 Watch over your life. Keep your lamps burning and do not ungirdle your loins, but be ready. For you do not know the hour when our Lord returns.
16:2 Gather frequently together, seeking the things which benefit your souls. For the whole span of your faith will not profit you if you do not persevere until the end.
16:3 For in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters will be multiplied, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will change into hate.
16:4 As lawlessness increases they will hate, persecute and betray one another. Then the deceiver of the world will appear as son of God, and he will do signs and wonders and the earth will be given over into his hands and he will do terrible abominations surpassing all evil done since the beginning of the world.
16:5 Then all of humanity will be tried by fire and many succumb and perish. But those who endure in their faith will be saved from the cursed one.
16:6 Then appear the signs of truth. With the first sign, heaven opens, then the sign of the sounding trumpet, and thirdly the resurrection of the dead.
16:7 Yet, not of all the dead, but as it is said : “The Lord will come and all his saints with him”.
16:8 Then the world will see the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven.

Notes :

The phrase "son of God" occurs in the context of the apocalypse and the rise of an "anti-christ" just before the end when the Lord returns "on the clouds of heaven" (cf. Revelations).

Divine register : "our Lord", "deceiver of the world", "son of God", "the Lord on the clouds of heaven"

Final Remarks :

The Didache was probably written in Galilea (as was Q1), in my opinion shortly after Q3. Q was composed in three stages (Kloppenborg, 1988), called Q1 (ca. 50 A.D.), Q2 (ca. 65 A.D.) & Q3 (ca. 80 A.D.). The Didache may well be the earliest synthetical work dealing with the spiritual life of a Galilean Q-community of Jewish Christians. No traces of the major ideas of Paul. No phrases as "in Christ", no "mystical body", neither a redemptoric paschal thanksgiving. The whole edifice points to pneumatic Christians, leaders of communities who wrote a didactical work to assure their inspired "parousial" interpretation of Jesus Christ (close to but independent of the narrative Gospel of Matthew).46 

"We are sure that Didache 6:2-3 is of Christian and not Jewish origin. It is a precious document from the first years of Christianity. The passage fits the meagre and incomplete information about the tendencies and aims of the group in the Apostolic Church which Paul opposed, and thus it enlarges and supplements our knowledge about this trend which was once named the 'Petrine' fraction."
Flusser, D. : "Paul's Jewish Christian Opponents", in Draper, J. : Op.cit., p.210.

Is the Didache not essential to understand how these Jewish Christians of the first hour lived their faith in Jesus Christ ? Probably these communities were or had been directly in touch with the Jesus-people (cf. "apostles"). What could be more interesting ? Especially if a return to the authentic heart of the Christian faith is sought (cf. the intentions of Vaticanum II).

"If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
1 Peter, 2:3-5 

The didactic, belonging to an early Jewish Q-community, proves that faith in a purely "parousial", "pneumatic" Christ is possible. They evidence the first stage in the formation of the myth of Christ, who's salvic potency lies in the eternal now established by the realization of the imminent hour of the return of the Lord, which leads to paradise (cf. the Name living in our hearts) and which is anticipitated in the eucharist. No wonder that this tradition was linked with "mysticism" (cf. the "mystical eucharist" and the meaning of "heart" as receptacle for spiritual experiences in both Sufism -Ibn'Arabî- & Cistercian mysticism -Beatrice of Nazareth-). 

The Didache proves that Christian faith may exist without a paschal Jesus Christ, for only the Parousia of Christ suffices. Even a logoic Christology (Jesus the Christ as the Son of God) is not necessary, for Jesus is a mediator who serves the Holy Father and it is to God that all returns, not to Christ. Giving Jesus the title "Lord" does not justify the trinitarian identification of Jesus Christ with God (there is no Nicean trinitarian circularity here). During the eucharist, no mention is made of the paschal Jesus Christ, nor has his participation during thanksgiving to be understood as the mediation of the "logos" or "second God" (cf. Paul and Philo of Alexandria).

Thanksgiving is directed towards God, the Holy Father. It is His Name which the Didachist puts in the middle. The cup and the "broken bread" refer to Jesus Christ, the always awaited, who is scattered but who unites, for his return is imminent. He is always the mediator, never the principal subject.

The members of the Q-community who used the Didache no doubt saw themselves as Christians. In fact, they were pneumatic Christians for the Spirit was their driving force. For them Jesus Christ was salvic when approached as a "child" or "servant" of the Holy Father, but not as God Himself. But he does receive the title "Lord" ... Although the notion of a trinity is not absent, it plays no explicit significant part during thanksgiving and was probably added later. That the "pagan" trinitarian formula became orthodox and not the Jesus-based "In the Name of the Lord" proves the influence of Greco-Roman trinitarian approaches on the maturation of the myth of Christ.

As early as mid first century A.D. numerous stories about Jesus were told (cf. oral traditions, Q1, the miracle-stories, the "kerygma", Paul's mission, Q2 & Q3, narrative gospels with their inconsistencies, the Didachist, the Thomas-people, etc.). This diversity as it were explodes in the second century. We see "heretical" counter-churches (Marcion, Montanus), inspired teachers, Christian prophets & the fantastic, multi-faceted christic theo-ontologies of various Christian gnosticisms ... 46 Eventually, Roman centrism became state rule. This started with Constantine and became law by the edict of the emperor of the West, Gratianus, and his co-emperor Theodosius of the 27th of February A.D. 380, forcing every Roman to believe in the Holy Trinity as defined by the bishops of Rome & Alexandria. This outlawed heathenism. This "imperial" Christianity had established its monopoly and "great peace" thanks to the power of arms of a clever Roman emperor (baptized at his dead-bed), a scenario the Roman church would repeat a lot. In 391 A.D. the temple of Alexandria was set on fire, destroying its important library. A year later nobody was allowed to perform a heathen ritual at home. The synagogue of Israel was compared to a brothel ... Books were burned or hidden (cf. Nag Hammadi). Consecrated Christian emperors & kings would rule the West "de manu militari" for 15 centuries. Pope (Rome) and "Basileus" (Constantinople) were invented and a new theo-political system became common practice.

Surely by that time they had gone astray ?!

Footnotes :

(1) Bryennios, P. : Didache ton dodeka Apostolon, S.I.Boutura - Constantinople, 1883.
Bryennios, P. : The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, Clay - London, 1887.
(2) Harnack, von, A. : Die Lehre der zwölf Apostel, Hinrichse - Leipzig, 1884.
Harnanack, von, A. : The Statutes of the Apostles or Canones Ecclesiastici, Williams & Norgate - London, 1904. 
(3) Draper, J.A. : "The Didache in Modern Research.", in :
Draper, J.A. : The Didache in Modern Research, Brill - Leiden, 1996, p.5.
(4) Grenfell, B.P. & Hunt, A.S. : The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Egyptian Exploration Society - London, 1922, p.14.
Horner, G. : "A New Fragment of the Didache in Coptic.", in : Journal for Theological Studies, 1924, n°25, pp.225-231.
Schmidt, C. : "Das koptische Didache-Fragment dere Britisch Museum.", in : Zeitschrift für neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, 1925, n°24, pp.81-99.
Lefort, L.Th. : Les Pères apostoliques en copte I, Durbecq - Louvain, 1952, pp.ix-xi.
Gebhardt, von, O. : "Ein übersehenes Fragment der Didache in alter lateiner Übersetzung.", in : Harnack, von, A. : Op.cit. (die Lehre), pp.275-286.
Schlecht, J. : Doctrina XII Apostolorum, die Apostellehre in der Liturgie der katholischen Kirche, Herder - Freiburg im Breisgau, 1901.
Peterson, E. : "Über einige Probleme der Didache-Überlieferung.", in : Rivista di archeologia cristiana, 1951, n°27, pp.37-68.
Peterson, E. : Frühkirche, Judentums und Gnosis : Studien und Undersuchungen, Herder - Rome, 1959, pp.146-182. 
(5) Vööbius, A. : Liturgical Traditions in the Didache, Estonian Theological Society - Stockholm, 1968, pp.29-33.
Rordorf, W. & Tuilier, A. : La doctrine des Douze Apôtres (Didachè), du Cerf - Paris, 1978, pp.102-110.
Schöllgen, G. : Didache - Zwölf-Apostel-Lehre, Einleitung, Übersetzung und Kommentar, Herder - Freiburg, 1991, pp.85-94.
Draper, J.A. : Art.cit., p.3.
(6) Draper, J.A. : "Jesus Tradition in the Didache.", in : Draper, J.A. (edit) : Op.cit., p.83.
(7) Draper, J.A. : Art.cit., p.5.
(8) Dungen, van den, W. : Kennis & Minne-mystiek, Antwerp, 1994, epistemologisch preludium, § 3. See als my studies on the Jesus-people, theonomy, theodicy, Jewish prayer & qabalah
(9) Sabatier, P. : La Didaché ou l'Enseignement des douze apôtres, Noblet - Paris, 1885.
(10) Mack, B.L. : Who wrote the New Testament ? The Making of the Christian Myth, Harper - San Francisco, 1995.
Kloppenborg, J. : The Formation of Q : Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections, Fortress Press - Philadelphia, 1987.
Kloppenborg, J. : Q Parallels : Synopsis, Critical Notes and Concordance, Polebridge - CA, 1988.
Kloppenborg, J. : The Q Thomas Reader, Polebridge - CA, 1990.
Schweitzer, A. : The Quest for the Historical Jesus, Black - London, 1910.
Havener, I. : Q : The Sayings of Jesus, Glazier - Wilmington, 1987.
Mack, B.L. : The Lost Gospel : the Book of Q and Christian Origins, Element - Queensland, 1993.
Piper, R.A. : Wisdom in the Q Tradition : The Aphoristic Teaching of Jesus, Cambridge University Press - New York, 1989.
Robinson, J.M : "Logoi Sophon : Zur Gattung der Spruchquelle Q" , in : Dinkler, E. (edit) : Zeit und Geschichte, Festschrift R.Bultmann, Tübingen, 1964, pp.77 - 96.
Wansbrough, H. (edit) : Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition, Sheffield, 1991.
Weiss, B. : The Quellen des Lukasevangeliums, Cotta - Stuttgart, 1907.
Weiss, J. : Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, Fortress - Philadelphia, 1971.
Dodd, C.H. : The Parables of the Kingdom, Nisbet - London, 1961.
Funk, R.W. & Hoover, R.W. : Five Gospels, One Jesus : What Did Jesus Really Say ?, Polebridge Press - CA, 1992.
Catherine, L. : De Gelaagde Religie, Hadewijch - Baarn, 1996.

(12) Mack, B.L. : Op.cit., appendix A.
Bultmann, R. : Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht - Göttingen, 1921.
Chouraqui, A. : La Bible, Desclée de Brouwer - Paris, 1989.
Denaux, A. & Vervenne, M. : Synopsis, Brepols - Turnhout, 1986.
De Bijbel, Willibrord Vertaling, 1981, 1992.
The Holy Bible, Cambridge University Press - Cambridge, 1986.
Nestle-Aland : Novum Testamentum Græce et Latine, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft - Stuttgart, 1979.
(13) Vermes, G. : The Dead Sea Scrolls, Penguin - New York, 1990.
Golb, N. : Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls ?, Simon & Schuster - New York, 1995. 
Berger, C. : Qumran und Jesus. Wahrheit unter Verschluss ?, Quell Verlag - Stuttgart, 1993. 
Martínez, G. & van der Woude, A.S. : De Rollen van de Dode Zee (2 vol), Lannoo - Tielt, 1994.
(14) Draper, J.A. : Art.cit., p.72.
(15) Most of these texts are available on the internet (search = "apostolic fathers").
Lake, K. : The Apostologic Fathers, Loeb - London, 1998.
(16) Mack, B.L. : Op.cit., chapter 9, "apostolic instructions".
(17) This enterprise is never finished for the investigation of the endless is itself endless. Nevertheless, in all four quaters of the world spiritual models have been proposed and this despite the fact that the endless can not be named. A selective study of these systems is the object of comparative mysticism, the prelude to a possible philosophy of mysticism.
(18) Dungen, van den, W. : TLTC, 2000.
(19) Dungen, van den, W. : On Seven Ways of Holy Love : an Interpretation, 1995, Dutch (384KB).
(20) Betz, J. : "The Eucharist in the Didache.", in : Draper, J.A. : Op.cit., p.262.
(21) Mazza, E. : "Elements of a Eucharistic Interpretation.", in Draper, J.A. : Ibidem, p.286.
(22) Draper, A.J. : Art.cit., p.88.
(23) Tuckett, C.M. : "Synoptic Tradition in the Didache.", in : Sevrin, J-M. (edit) : The New Testament in Early Christianity, Louvain University Press - Louvain, 1989, pp.197-230.
(24) Rordorf, W. & Tuilier, A. : Op.cit., 1978, pp.141-199.
Funk, R.W. & Hoover, R.W. : Op.cit., p.5.
) Vermes, G. : Op.cit., p.20.
(27) Vermes, G. : Ibidem, p.61.
(28) Audet, J-P. : "Literary and Doctrinal Affinities of the 'Manual of Discipline'." in : Draper, J.A. : Op.cit., pp.129-147.
Rordorf, W. : "An Aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic : the Two Ways.", in Draper, J.A. : Ibidem, pp.148-164.
(29) Vermes, G. : Op.cit., p.61.
(30) Draper, J.A. : "Torah and troublesome Apostles." in Draper, J.A. : Ibidem, p.354.
(31) At the beginning of Christianity one baptized "in the name of Jesus" (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16 ; 1 Corinthians 1:13).
Cullmann, O. : La foi et le culte de l'Eglise primitive, Delachaux & Niestlé - Paris, 1963, p.67.
Rordorf, W. : "Baptims according to the Didache.", in Draper, J.A. : Op.cit., pp.217-218. According to some the trinitarian formula only appeared in the milieu of the second century :
Kretschmar, G. : "Die Geschichte des Taufgottesdienstes in der alten Kirche.", in : Leiturgia, 1970, n°5, pp.18f, pp.32-36. See also :
Gough, M. : De Eerste Christenen, Standaard - Antwerpen, 1963.
Griffiths, P.L. : Who wrote the New Testament and Why ?, Minerva - London, 1994.
Gruber, E.R. & Kersten, H. : The Original Jesus, Element - Dorset, 1995. 
Hamman, A. : Prières des premiers chrétiens, Fayard - Paris, 1952.
Thiede, C.P. & d'Ancona, M. : Eyewitness to Jesus, Doubleday - New York, 1996.
Lenzman, I. : L'Origine du Christianisme, Edit.Lang.Etrang. - Moscou, 1961.
(32) Draper, J.A. : Art.cit., pp.90-91.
(33) In the Catéchisme de l'Église Catholique, Mame Plon - Paris, 1992, "eucharistie".
Bernard, C.A. : Traité de théologie spirituelle, Cerf - Paris, 1986.
Bouyer, L. : Eucharistie, Desclée - Tournai, 1990.
Butler, C. : An Approach to Christianity, Fount - London, 1981.
Galot, J. : L'Esprit Saint, personne de communion, Parole et Silence - Saint-Maur, 1997.
Hollaardt, A. : Liturgisch Woordenboek, Romen - Roermond, 1970.
Latourelle, R. (edit) : Dictionnaire de Théologie Fondamentalle, Cerf - Paris, 1992.
Laurentin, R. : Le démon, mythe ou réalité, Fayard - Paris, 1995.
Laurentin, R. : Un Advent avec Marie vers l'an 2000, Fayard - Paris, 1996.
Laurentin, R. : Vie authentique de Jésus Christ (2 volumes), Fayard - Paris, 1996.
Laurentin, R. : L'Esprit Saint cet inconnu, Fayard - Paris, 1997.
Laurentin, R. : Dieu notre Père, Fayard - Paris, 1998.
Lécuyer, J. : Le Sacrement de l'Ordination, Beauchesne - Paris, 1983.
Scouarnec, M. : Pour comprendre les sacraments, Editions Ouvrières - Paris, 1991.
Valamo, C. of : The Art of Prayer, Faber and Faber - London, 1966. 
Van Amerongen, M. (edit) : Sceptici over de Schrift, Anthos - Baarn, 1989.
(34) Dungen, van den, W. : Op.cit, epistemologisch preludium (also : The Rules of the Game of "true" knowing, 1999).
(35) Mazza, E. : Art.cit., p.290.
(36) Mazza, E. : The Celebration of the Eucharist. The Origin of the Rite and the Development of Its Interpretation, The Liturgical Press - Minnesota, 1999, p.115.
(37) Mazza, E. : Ibidem, p.109. Iranaeus uses this title for God.
(38) Mazza, E. : Ibidem, pp.183-187.
(39) Mazza, E. : Art.cit., p.281.
(40) Dibelius, M. : "Die Mahl-Gebete der Didache.", in : Zeitschrift für neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, 1938, n°37, pp.32-41.
(41) Bouyer, L. : Op.cit., pp.32-34.
(42) Betz, J. : Art.cit., p.273.
(43) Betz, J. : Art.cit., p.272.
(44) The Cloud of Unknowing, chapter 13.
(45) Bucke, R.M. : Cosmic Consciousness. A Study of the Evolution of the Human Mind, Citadal - New Jersey, 1961, part III, X - XV.
Lapierre,  J-P. : Règles des Moines, Seuil - Paris, 1982, p.78 (Régle de saint Benoît, n°62).
(46) Amis, R. : A Different Christianity, University of New York Press - New York, 1995.
Besson, E. : Les Logia Agrapha, Legrand - Bihorel-lez-Rouen, 1926.
Bloom, H. : The Gospel of Thomas, Harper - San Francisco, 1992.
Catherine, L. : De Gelaagde Religie, Hadewijch - Antwerpen, 1996.
Couliano, I.P. : The Tree of Gnosis, Harper - San Francisco, 1992.
Doresse, J. : The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, ITI - Vermont, 1986.
Luttikhuizen, G.P. : Gnostische Geschriften, Kok - Kampen, 1988.
Mouravieff, B. : Gnosis, Praxis - Sussex, 1993.
Pagels, E. : The Gnostic Gospels, Random - New York, 1979.
Peuch, H.CH. & Quispel, G. : Op zoek naar het Evangelie van de Waarheid, Callenbach - Nijkerk.
Robinson, J.M. : The Nag Hammadi Library, Brill - Leiden, 1984.
Rudolph, K. : Gnosis, Harper - San Francisco, 1987.
Slavenburg, J. & Glaudemans, W.G. : Nag Hammadi (2 volumes), Ankh-Hermes - Deventer, 1995.

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initiated : 19 III 2001 - last update : 24 X 2018 - version n°1