Didache, Torah, and the Gentile Mission: A Mediation of Torah for the Church
Date: 20 May 2019
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Theology and Religion
Long looked to for insights into the life of the early church, the Didache’s reception of the Torah has received significant passing attention but never benefitted from an extended systematic analysis. Well received in the early church, it reflects both a first century and Antiochene provenance. The Didache was written for a church ...
Long looked to for insights into the life of the early church, the Didache’s reception of the Torah has received significant passing attention but never benefitted from an extended systematic analysis. Well received in the early church, it reflects both a first century and Antiochene provenance. The Didache was written for a church enduring internal and external social and political stresses. In this environment it sought to establish norms for the individual and the community. It is specifically in the context of its Two Ways teaching that the Didache adopted an established topos rooted in both the Torah and other traditions, accessible to Jew and Greek alike, to convey its teaching on the Torah. This teaching was established on the basis of the authority of the religious teacher and that of Jesus himself. On the basis of this assumed authority, the Didache mandated the Way of Life for Christian disciples, laying the foundations of its approach with the double command to love God and neighbour, reflective of the two tables of the Torah. Tightly bound structurally and thematically to the following Two Ways, the sectio evangelica, comprising known Jesus sayings, shows an affinity to Torah affirming passages in the gospels. As a prologue that bears comparison to the Two Ways ‘yoke of the Lord’ epilogue, it places stress on the Torah as mediated by Jesus. Within the Two Ways material itself, there is not only a marked structure revolving around the second table of the Decalogue, but textual markers linking and equating it in some ways to the Torah as a whole. In the context, its endorsement of the ‘yoke of the Lord’ is a striking Torah affirmative statement which reinforces the commitment to the Didache’s teaching that is required of it. It is this commitment to the Torah as applicable to all Christians that is enjoined upon the gentile disciple; the Torah presented in those respects that were deemed to apply to gentiles. Acceptance of this sine qua non formed the basis for induction into the church and participation in its eschatological hope.
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