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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:09 pm 
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Does the Didache quote the New Testament?

In the debate about when the gospels were written, some Christian apologists claim that several "early" Christian texts like the Didache "prove" they existed by the early second century. They cite Didache 8:2 as referring to the gospel Matthew and claim that the Didache dates to around 110 AD.

So, I started this thread to examine when this text, the Didache, was composed and whether or not it quotes the canonical gospels verbatim.

Here is the background info - Acharya will weigh in below:

The Didache Texts - Teaching of the Twelve Apostles Translated by Charles H. Hoole

The Didache or Duae Viae

The Didache at Wikipedia: "The Didache is mentioned by Eusebius (c. 324)"

The Didache

The Development of the Canon of the New Testament - Clement

A Biblical study of the Didache

The Didache's use of the Old and New Testaments by William Varner, Professor of Biblical Studies The Master’s College

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:17 pm 
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Thanks for starting this thread. The best place to check for whether or not a certain early Christian text discusses the gospels, evangelists, etc., is:

Supernatural religion: An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation by Walter Richard Cassels. (There are two volumes of the original edition: v. 2.)

I found this fantastic and important book around 2003, when following the trail of the late dating of the gospels by Keeler Bronson and Charles Waite. I included several quotes and citations from Cassels in my book Suns of God.

Composing his opus anonymously in the 19th century (SR was first published in 1879), Cassels carefully examined every writing of the early Church fathers to a certain date - in their original Greek and Latin, the relevant parts of which he frequently provides - looking for the clear emergence of the canonical gospels as we have them. He found nothing, no mention by name, no unambiguous reference, no verbatim quotes, until the last quarter of the second century. I studied Cassels's massive work fairly thoroughly when writing Suns of God, and the meticulously researched and cited tome left no doubt in my mind that the canonical gospels as we have them constitute late second-century texts. I demonstrated this contention also in my book Who Was Jesus?

As one can imagine, Cassels - whose anonymity and erudition in this huge work led some to believe he was a bishop - was assailed by numerous churchman, who wrote screeds against him, including Bishop Lightfoot's rebuttal. Cassels's basic premise remained: There exists no clear and unambiguous reference to or quotation from the canonical gospels until the end of the second century, in the extant historical record. By the usual criteria and standards used by historians, that fact alone would suffice to indicate that the canonical gospels did not exist until that time, especially since there were plenty of literate Christians by then who surely would have discussed them, cited them, quoted them, etc. By this time, these texts would have been used widely for proselytizing efforts, if they had existed since the last quarter of the first century. But nowhere do we find that situation to be the case.

Justin Martyr

This debate includes the works of Justin Martyr - often held up, as in Ehrman's new book, as providing evidence of the canonical gospels' existence. However, as I will show in my Ehrman rebuttal and have already demonstrated elsewhere, such as in Suns of God, Justin does not make any clear and unambiguous references to the gospels or their pretended authors; nor does he quote verbatim from them. Moreover, he mentions stories about Jesus that are not known from the gospels. Justin quotes fairly carefully the Old Testament, but he gives no indication whatsoever of the canonical gospels. Cassels's work on Justin Martyr demonstrates that fact quite handily.

See my article here:

"The 'Historical' Jesus: The Gospels Dates and Justin Martyr"

When was the Didache written?

Concerning this book, which is also called "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," Wiki says:

Quote:
The Didache (play /ˈdɪdəkiː/; Koine Greek: Διδαχή) or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didachē means "Teaching") is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century. The first line of this treatise is "Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the Twelve Apostles."

The text, parts of which constitute the oldest surviving written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. It is considered the first example of the genre of the Church Orders.

The work was considered by some of the Church Fathers as part of the New Testament but rejected as spurious or non-canonical by others, eventually not accepted into the New Testament canon. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church "broader canon" includes the Didascalia, a work which draws on the Didache.

Lost for centuries, a Greek manuscript of the Didache was rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia in the Codex Hierosolymitanus. A Latin version of the first five chapters was discovered in 1900 by J. Schlecht. The Didache is considered part of the category of second-generation Christian writings known as the Apostolic Fathers.

Naturally, Cassels addressed this issue of when the Didache was written, since it has been claimed that the text dates to the late first or early second century. That date comes from Lightfoot, et al., but there is no clear literary evidence for the book's existence until significantly later. Apparently, this early mainstream date of the Didache c. 110 represents wishful thinking and circular reasoning: To wit, because it supposedly includes citations from at least one of the gospels, it must have come after them, and everyone knows they were written between 70 and 100 CE.

The earliest reference to the Didache appears to be Eusebius, around 324, although some claim to see allusions or inferences to the text in the writings of earlier Church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Origen, who "seem to use the work." Other texts of the second to third centuries such as the Shepherd of Hermas are likewise cited as containing "allusions" to the Didache.

However, there exists no clear and unambiguous literary evidence - no direct citations or verbatim quotes - for the Didache's existence at this early date. The "allusions" could represent doctrine and tradition orally shared or from another text or texts. Allusions aside, there is little reason to insist that the Didache dates from the late first to early second century. Hence, it cannot be used in order to demonstrate that the canonical gospels existed by that time.

Even if it did exist before then, it would serve as a proto-canonical gospel text, which could have been used by the evangelists in their compositions, possibly one of the 33 or so texts evidently used by the author of Luke, for example, as related by Charles Waite in The History of the Christian Religion to the Year 200:

Quote:
According to Schleiermacher, Luke consists of a compilation of at least 33 different manuscripts.

Cassels on the Didache/Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

Regarding the Didache, Cassels makes the following observations. The pages here are reproduced from the second edition, which was published in three volumes and which included corrections and a response to Lightfoot.

In this detailed analysis, Cassels ultimately proves his conclusion:

Quote:
The "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" [Didache] is anonymous, and nothing is either known or surmised as to its compiler. He does not mention any of the Apostles, and gives no indication whatever of the writer of any work in our New Testament. He does not afford the slightest evidence, therefore, even of the existence of any of our Gospels, and in no way bears testimony to their credibility as witnesses for miracles and the reality of Divine revelation.

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As you can see, Cassels's analysis is exhaustive, and his conclusion sound.

One might wonder why most do not know the facts Cassels proves here and why this fact of the Didache being useless in dating the canonical gospels is not widely known, since we clearly have had this evidence before us for the past nearly century and a half. In this discussion of censorship and ignorance of the evidence, we must be grateful that such illuminating volumes as Supernatural Religion have even survived. We all may wish to download and print out the PDF, so this book will never lost.

Note also that you will find in the same resource (Cassels) an equally thorough discussion of the value of other texts, as by early Church fathers such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius and Papias, held up by Christian apologists and others as evidence of received early Christian history. Again, Cassels shows clearly when the canonical gospels as we have first emerge unambiguously in the historical/literary record.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:57 pm 
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ALL THREE VOLUMES OF CASSELS BOOKS ARE FREE DOWNLOADS ON AMAZON KINDLE...just downloaded them to my IPAD Kindle...FYI


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:03 am 
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The pre-Christian Buddhist-Jewish roots of the Didache

In Buddhism's Relation to Christianity, Dr. Michael Lockwood raises the issue of the Didache, showing the commonality between the Christian doctrines and rituals therein and the Buddhist doctrines and rituals, which are demonstrably pre-Christian. (See, e.g.,

On pp. 189-193 in Lockwood's anthology appears an article on the Didache from the Jewish Encyclopedia by Drs. Solomon Schechter and Kauffman Kohler that can be found on the internet.

From internal and external evidence, including the "Two Ways" doctrine, which reminds me of "The Way" in Acts (9:2, 19:13, 24:14, 24:22), a Buddhistic sounding theme, my impression is that the earliest possible date for the Christianized Didache in its final form is the end of the second century.

However, it is apparent that the Didache consists significantly of a rehash of Jewish literature, as indicated by Solomon and Kohler:

Quote:
A manual of instruction for proselytes, adopted from the Synagogue by early Christianity, and transformed by alteration and amplification into a Church manual.... the first part of the "Didache," the teaching concerning the "Two Ways" ("Didache," ch. i.-vi.), was originally a manual of instruction used for the initiation of proselytes in the Synagogue, and was converted later into a Christian manual and ascribed to Jesus and the Apostles. To it were added rules concerning baptism, fasting, and prayer, the benedictions over the wine and the bread and after the communion meal, and regulations regarding the Christian community...

Title of the Book

The composite character of the "Didache" is shown by the double title or heading. The first words, "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," form the general title, and therefore need not now be considered. But of the second heading, which refers to the original book, ch. i.-vi., only the words "Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles" (Διδαχὴ Κυρίου τοῖς Εθνεσιν) are genuinely Jewish; the words "through the Twelve Apostles," which assume that the word "Lord" refers to Jesus, are a Christian interpolation. The book known to Christians as the "Teaching of the Two Ways" corresponded probably with the "Hilkot Gerim" (Rules Regarding Proselytes) referred to in Ruth R. i. 7 and 16...

...Whether taken from an old Essene document (see Hippolytus, "Refutatio Hæresium," ix. 23 [18]) or from some Christian collection of "Sayings" older than Matt. v. 39-48 and Luke vi. 27-39, verses 3-4 are certainly out of place; they interrupt the order. So do verses 4-5, in which "the commandment of charity" is treated from the Jewish point of view, though they have parallels in Matt. v. 26; Acts xx. 35....

The "Two Ways"

As a matter of course, this Jewish manual could not be used in its entirety by the Church from the moment when she deviated from Jewish practises and views. Just as the Shema' Yisrael in the saying of Jesus (Mark xii. 29) was dropped by the other Gospel writers, so was the whole first part of the "Didache," dealing with monotheism, tampered with by the Christian editor. The whole book has fallen into disorder, and much of it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by Christian scholars, who judge it only from the point of view of the Church. The fundamental ideas of the "Didache" are indisputably Jewish. The teaching of the "Two Ways," the one of life and the other of death, runs as a leading thought throughout Jewish literature....

...Over the cup: "We give thanks to Thee, our Father, for the holy wine of David Thy servant which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus Thy servant." This strange formula is the Jewish benediction over the wine,"Blessed be Thou who hast created the fruit of the vine" Christianized (compare Ps. lxxx. 15, Targum.

The original Jewish benediction over the meal was a thanksgiving for the food and for the Word of God, the Torah as the spiritual nurture, and a prayer for the restitution of the kingdom of David. The Church transformed the Logos into the incarnated son of God, while expressing the wish for His speedy return to the united congregation (the Church). It is the prayer of the Judæo-Christian community of the first century, and this casts light upon the whole Christianized "Didache."...

As we can see, the Didache is significantly a pre-Christian text that has been reworked as a Christian document. This reworking seems to have been finalized at the end of the second century, possibly begun some decades earlier, at Alexandria.

Regarding the Didache and Schechter's conclusions, Lockwood (193) comments:

Quote:
The Didache, which is a manual for the initiation of converts to Christianity, has a title "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles." Schechter and Kohler suggest, however, that its first six chapters are really just an adaption of an earlier Jewish manual of instruction for the initiation of proselytes in the Synagogue. They have also pointed out that the teaching in these chapters is characterized by "the use of the Decalogue [Ten Commandments] as the exponent of ethics in its twofold aspect: duty to God, and duty to man"...

And they note that the Christian version concentrates only on the second part of the Decalogue...

[In] the "Out of Egypt Theory," these so-called "Judaeo-Christians" who adapted the original Jewish "Didache," creating the present Christian version of it, can be viewed as crypto-Buddhist Christians: Jews, Copts, Greeks and others. Remember Philo's remarks...about the Therapeutae?:

Quote:
Now this kind [the Therapeutae] exists in many parts of the inhabited world...for both Greece and the non-Greek world must share in the perfect good, but it abounds in Egypt in each of the so-called nomes and particularly around Alexandria. But those who excel in every way settle in a certain favorable spot as in their fatherland... This place is situation above the Mareotic Lake...

Buddhism, in Egypt, had, from the third century BCE, adapted itself to a Jewish form (pursuing the strategy of upaya-kausalya. At that time, Buddhism was in the process of spreading its Dharma throughout the inhabited world and by the first century CE, Buddhism had spread to every district (nome) of Egypt, its followers, there, named "Therapeutae," "Gnostics," etc., and in the Holy Land, "Essenes." By the first century, after times of violent unrest, many of its followers may have forgotten their Buddhist roots, 250 years earlier! Some followers were solitary hermits, some were "homeless," traveling preachers of he "Dharma" (like "Jesus"), others formed groups which gathered in homes and synagogues, and still others lived in various forms of monasteries. (The earliest recorded used of the Greek word monasterion is by Philo [in Contempl., 25] in the first century.... Buddhist monasticism is the chief progenitor of these different forms of apparently Jewish sects, but with the incorporation of doctrinal admixtures from other religions

There is good reason to suggest that the Didache's "Jewish" roots were composed of one or more texts found among the Therapeutae, whom Eusebius associated with the earliest Christians in Egypt and whose "allegorical works" the Church historian identified as the basis of the gospels.

On pp. 250-253, Lockwood picks apart various lines in the Didache, showing how the text has been Christianized. He also states:

Quote:
By the end of the first century CE, the allegorical narratives of the New Testament Gospels had begun to be introduced into the crypto-Buddhist churches/synagogues... As we have noted, in the earliest versions of the Gospel, Jesus the Nazarite is a Jewish transmogrification of the Buddha of India. During the first half of the second century, however, were added accounts of his death and resurrection, versions, of sorts, of the Egyptian god Osiris's death and resurrection - the Christian Passion competing with the very ancient and compelling Osirian Passion Drama which was being staged actually in Alexandria. From the beginning, like Osiris, Jesus/Buddha was portrayed as a guide in life (through gnosis) with the final goal of attaining "heaven" (as in the Gospel of Thomas, for instance). The "Christian" Gnostics believed in reincarnation/metempsychosis, and in this they were only following the common view of Buddhism - which had been, for several centuries, the "orthodox" view of the various crypto-Buddhist organizations in Egypt....

As we can see, Dr. Lockwood takes the mythicist position and comes up with some extremely important correspondences and conclusions. These are, in fact, ideas I and others have put forth in earlier books (Lockwood read Christ in Egypt, for one), and it is very gratifying to have professional scholars approach the subject from the perspective of mythicism and provide such germane input. That sort of analysis is what we need from more scholars, including Egyptologists.

Anyway, the Didache cannot be said to provide any evidence of the canonical gospels or a historical Jesus. On the contrary, we can see that no such "historical" figure was necessary to inspire the creation of these various texts and that, in reality, Jesus is in significant part a mythical rehash of Buddhist and Osirian traditions.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Commentary about the Didache/Teaching of the Twelve Apostles in Christ Con and Suns of God

I briefly covered this issue in my books The Christ Conspiracy (published 1999) and Suns of God (2004).

In Christ Con (166), I included a quote from ben Yehoshua:

Quote:
The first time that twelve apostles are mentioned is in the document known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles [Didache]. This document apparently originated as a sectarian Jewish document written in the first century C.E., but it was adopted by Christians who altered it substantially and added Christian ideas to it. In the earliest versions it is clear that the "twelve apostles" are the twelve sons of Jacob representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The Christians later considered the "twelve apostles" to be allegorical disciples of Jesus.

It should be noted that there were "apostles" in the Jewish congregation prior to the founding of Christianity. Also, we need to recall the 12 tribes were associated by both Josephus and Philo with the 12 signs of the zodiac, as were Jesus's apostles during the second century by the Gnostics. (See "The Twelve in the Bible and Ancient Mythology.")

Concerning the Didache, on p. 314 of CC, I write:

Quote:
Moreover, [Theodore] Gaster also points out that the Manual of Discipline and Zadokite Document [from the Dead Sea Scrolls cache] are similar to the Christian texts called the Didache, the Didascalia Apostolorum, and the Apostolic Constitutions of the early Church organizations....

In the part of Christ Con in which I examine various texts evidently used in the creation of Christianity, a chapter entitled "The Making of a Myth" that is unfortunately overlooked, I included a subsection about the Didache, as follows.

Quote:
The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, or The Didache

The early Christian apocryphon "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," also called the "Didache," was [possibly] utilized in the manufacture of the canonical gospels. ben Yehoshua states it was based on writings concerning the "12 tribes," and Larson say it combines the Logia Iesou, or Sayings, with the Manual of Discipline found at the Dead Sea. The Didache does not contain a narrative but provides explanation and instructions concerning baptism, the eucharist, tribulation and parousia, or arrival of "the Lord in the clouds."

In Suns of God (423), in discussing various pre-Christian and proto-Christian concepts, I write:

Quote:
In addition to these pre-existing Apostles are Messianic Saints, the Elect, and the Congreation/Church (ecclesia)--terms and concepts all found within texts such as the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Jesus (Ecclesiasticus), the Book of Tobit and the Book of Enoch, as well as the Didache, Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas, all of which Johnson clearly shows to be pre-Christian texts later Christianized. These texts belong not to "Judeo-Christians" but to these "heretical" Messianic proto-Christians who already possessed an ecclesia/church, "comprising the Dispersed through the world."...

"Johnson" refers to Edwin Johnson, in his book Antiqua Mater, which contains further enlightening details, such as (75):

Quote:
The internal evidence of the Didaché so far hints the existence of communities of Hagioi [saints], as distinct from Christianoi... In the Didaché, the Ecclesia, is the congregation of the dispersed, who are to be gathered into the kingdom; and there is no clear reference to any Christ who has appeared, and belief on whom is the condition of membership in the ecclesia....

In other words, here is a pre-Christian religious organization or "church" that had no "historical" founder called Jesus of Nazareth. The evidence points to various such organizations in a widespread area around the Mediterranean, centuries before the common era, likewise founded without "Jesus Christ." The evidence further shows that these various organizations were later incorporated into the Christian effort, with the creation of a fictional messiah/savior as their spiritual figurehead and "founder."

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