Paul Williams continues on from the last episode; the topic of conversation shifts to the early Christian monotheism and how today it is anything but monotheistic. Featuring Hussain Thomas.
Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, Catholicism, Christianity, God, Islam
Salam Alaykum, it’s been a long time. Hope Brother Paul and all the brothers are in good health.
I want to bring to attention a certain Aaron Milavec (ThD) who has studied the Didache thoroughly and has written a well-received book analysing the ancient document. His arguments are sound and in line with methods used in mainstream scholarship. You’ll find them interesting and informative concerning the historical faith of Jesus.
His main arguments are as follows:
1) Although the Didache in its present form dates to the early 2nd century, it is of Jewish origin (albeit christianized), and thus dates the origin to 50-70 CE.
2) He disagrees with other scholars who understand it to be a church manual, he convincingly argues that it was a manual of instruction (didache=teaching) for new converts.
3) Unlike other scholars, he considers it to be independent from the gospels.
4) In contrast with the Pauline gospel which is Christ-centric and based on the redemptive death of Christ and his exaltation ; the Didache, along with the Q gospel and the Gospel of Thomas are mainly concerned with the teachings of Jesus. They constitute a “gospel” which is dissimilar to the gospel of Paul.
The Didache contains interesting themes and points:
The argument of Jewish-Christian origin is strong (not of the document itself, but many of the teachings in it). The first 5 chapters talk about “the way of life and the way of death”, one finds similar language is found in the Dead seas scrolls, but not in the NT. There is no mention of the death and resurrection of Christ. It re-affirms the commandements, preaches against false teachers and false prophets. It prohibits food offered to idols, considering it service to dead gods.
Jesus is called the “servant” of God multiple times (pais in Greek), the Didache provides no exaltation of Christ in the Pauline form.
The Eucharist is altogether unlike its depiction in the gospels or 1 Corinthians, there’s no mention of the body and blood of Christ, instead the eucharist symbolizes the “spiritual food” i.e: life and knowledge as spoken by Jesus the “servant” of God. There are two thanksgivings with a doxology, before and after the meal, directed to God the Father. Milavec contends that the invocations of “Hosanna” and “Maranatha” here are directed to God the Father, unlike in Paul’s epistles and the gospels which direct them to Christ.
The eschatology is of a future kingdom of God with a gathering and resurrection. Milavec argues that the expectation of the Lord coming in the clouds is of God the Father, not Jesus Christ. (compare with Quran 2:210)
The triadic baptismal formula is possibly an interpolation, as the Didache itself also mentions baptism in the name of the Lord. The same issue is also found in the great commission in Matthew’s Gospel, Eusebius is said to report a different reading, citing baptism in the Lord’s name.