parting thoughts on 1 Clement, Barnabas and the Didache

English: Manuscript of Didache
English: Manuscript of Didache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past few weeks in Sunday School, we’ve discusses the above named early Christian writings.

We wrapped it up this past Sunday.

Here are some thoughts…

What are the things you need when creating/forming a qualitatively new religion. I maintain Christianity grew out of Judaism. At this level, then, it was not quantitatively new, as in a separate entity, but only about quality.

What are the things you need?

First, you need an identity. This is what Barnabas gives us. He recasts the Jews as the non-Jews. Sure, they were for a time, but now God has restored the real covenant to the people called Christians. This is their new identity — he is co-opting in a rather unique way the Jewish identity.

The second thing you need is structure, or some ordering hierarchy. 1st Clement gives us this. He establishes Apostolic Succession, albeit not in the way Rome would see it today, but not that far off. He also establishes hierarchy. You must follow a prescribed institution. And this goes back to the very men who received their authority from Jesus.

Third, you need a ritual. This is the Didache’s purpose. It connects us to something of the synagogue service but sets it in a framework honoring Jesus. Some scholars see pre-Christian sources. This would fit, actually, with the idea that such a hymnbook was later co-opting by followers of Jesus to fit their bill. I am still not convinced that the Didache is pure descendant of Matthew. Given its textual history, who not have it both? It preceded Matthew and likewise descended from the same Antiochene community.

Next week, we are starting on Ignatius of Antioch, Hermes, and Diognetus.

I used this Logos Resource for the Didache.

This is a good one for 1st Clement.

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One Reply to “parting thoughts on 1 Clement, Barnabas and the Didache”

  1. By the way, your comment about “anti-structure becoming structure” is brilliant. I know that you already knew that it was brilliant, but… just sayin’

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