I recently purchased a book titled, The Teaching of the 12: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community by Tony Jones. It’s a small book and reveals a long hidden document by an ancient Christian community living mid to late first century. According to Jones, it appears that the community didn’t seem to have knowledge of St. Paul or his writings. The book contains the Didache text itself plus commentary from Jones and some insights from a small, organic Christian community living The Way in Missouri who call themselves Cymbrogi -- Celtic for “companions of the heart.” According to most scholars, the Didache “is one of the most important documents in the history of Christianity.”
I finished reading this book today and wanted to post each of the Didache “chapters” on here for us to reflect and discuss. The text of the Didache that I will be using was translated and edited by Tony Jones, and is under the protection of a Creative Commons license, so we won’t get into trouble with copyright infringement and I don't think the original community would have minded anyway. They were all about giving things away. Furthermore, this Didache seems to have been some kind of required reading or training manual for the newly “converted” (I don't particularly like that word).
My plan is to quote each chapter in it’s entirety and then reflect on it and have a conversation on it for a week or two before moving on to the next chapter. Sound good? Alright, let’s begin.
1 There Are Two Ways
1:1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death! and there is a great difference between the two ways.
1:2 The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.
1:3 The meaning of these sayings is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the heathens do the same? But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies.
1:4 Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts: If someone strikes your right cheek, turn the other also, and be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone takes your cloak, give also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, don't ask for it back. You really cannot.
1:5 Give to every one who asks you, and don’t ask for it back. The Father wants his blessings shared. Happy is the giver who lives according to this rule, for that one is guiltless. But the receiver must beware; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless, but if one receives not having need, he shall stand trial, answering why he received and for what use. If he is found guilty he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny.
1:6 However, concerning this, there is a saying: “Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give them.”