Early Christian Sources

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Didache (also called Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)

Brief description:

The Didache, in the form we currently have it, was only rediscovered in the late nineteenth century. The word Didache is a transliteration of the Greek word which means teaching, which comes from the long title The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.

This writing consists of at least two parts. The first part is the Two Ways, which is a discription of the way of life and the way of death. This Two Ways part is present in various forms in several writings from the early Christian era.

The second part of The Didache is instruction on the function of the local Christian assembly. It covers topics like baptism, fasting, prayer, the thanksgiving meal, what to do with traveling teachers and prophets, the Lord’s day gathering, appointing leadership. It ends with a short reminder to remain ready for the end.

Other than a reference by Clement of Alexandria1 to the Two Ways section (which he seems to view as authoritative), there are no references to The Didache before Eusebius (writing in the early forth century), who lists it as an non-authoritative writing. The date that The Didache was compiled is unknown. The Two Ways section is clearly a very early writing, likely first century. The second part of The Didache is usually dated in the first or second centuries.

Suggested first translation(s):

An easy-to-read, modern English translation that is freely available is the one by Cyril C. Richardson from 1953 listed below. A more literal translation that is also in modern English and freely available is the anonymous one from 2012 listed below.

English translations:

  1. Miscellanies, book 1, chapter 20. 

Please send reports of missing translations, broken links or other errors/omissions to early@xpian.info.