Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is the title of a newly discovered writing belonging to the Patristic period. In the year 1883 Philoletheos Bryennios, metropolitan of Nicomedia, published. from the Jerusalem manuscript of the year 1056, and preserved at Constantinople, a hitherto unknown writing, bearing two titles, Διδαχὴ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων and Διδαχὴ κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. An edition with critical emendations was published in 1884 by Hilgenfeld, in his Novum Testamentum Extra Canonem Receptun (Leipsic, 1884, 4:94-103), and from that time the republic of letters has been kept alive by translations, essays, etc.

I. Contents. — The "Teaching" comprises sixteen chapters, and may be divided into four parts: chapter 1-6, comprising the doctrinal and catechetical part, setting forth the whole duty of the Christian; chapter 7-10 and 14 contains the liturgical and devotional part, giving directions for Christian worship; chapter 11-13 and 14 contains the ecclesiastical and disciplinary part, concerning church officers, and chapter 16 the eschatological part, or the Christian's hope.

II. Theology of the Teaching. — God is the Creator (1:2), who made all things (10:3), and. is our Father in heaven (8:2). Nothing can happen without him (3:10); he is the giver of all good gifts, the author of our salvation, the object of prayer and praise (9 and 10), to whom belongs all glory through Christ Jesus (8:2; 9:4; 10:4). Christ is the Lord and Savior (10:2, 3), God's servant and God's son (9:2), and David's God (10:6), the author of the gospel (8:2; 15:4). He is spiritually present in his Church, and will visibly come again to judgment (16:l, 7, 8). Through him knowledge and eternal life have been made known to us (9:3; 10:2). The Holy Spirit is associated with the Father and the Son (7:1, 3); he prepares man for the call of God: (4:10), speaks through the prophets, and the sin against the Spirit shall not be forgiven (11:7).

The Teaching speaks of the Lord's Day as a day to be kept holy (14:1), and recognises only two sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist (7:1-4; 9:10, 14).

Man is made in the image of God (5:2) but sinful, and needs forgiveness (8:2); he must confess his transgressions to receive pardon (4:14; 14:1, 2). There are only two ways, the way of life and the way of death.

III. Language of the Teaching. — The "Didache" is written in Hellenistic Greek, like the New Test. It is the common Macedonian or Alexandrian dialect, with "a strong infusion of a Hebrew soul and a Christian spirit." The "Didache" contains 2190 words, 504 are New Test. words, 497 are classical, and 479 occur in the Septuagint, 15 occur for the first time in the "Didache," but are found in later writers.

IV. Authenticity of the Teaching. — It is first quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, 1:20), who cites a passage from it as "Scripture." Eusebius (died A.D. 340) mentions it as "the so-called Teachings of the Apostles" (Hist. Eccl. 3:25), and so does Athanasius (died A.D. 373) (Epist. Fest. 39, in Opera, ed. Bened. 1:2, 963). The last mention of the "Teaching " is by Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople (died A.D. 828), who speaks of such a book as among the Apocrypha of the New Test.

V. Date, Place, and Authorship. — The most prevailing view as to the time when the Teaching was composed is between A.D. 80 and 120; but this date seems to us rather early. The majority of scholars assign the Teaching to Alexandria in Egypt, a minority to Palestine or Syria. Who the author of the Teaching was is not known. From the work itself, it may safely be stated that he was a Jewish Christian.

VI. Scripture Quotations and Allusions in the Didache. — The author of the Teaching quotes not only the Old and New Tests., but also the Apocrypha of the Old Test., as the following table will exhibit:


Zec 14:5 Teaching 16:7. Malachi 1:11, 14 14:3.


Ex 18:20; De 31:29; De 20:13-17; De 5:17-22. Nu 18:12-13,15,30; De 18:3-4; Eze 45:25; Eze 1:1.

3. Ne 10:35-37; De 12:32; De 4:13. Job 4:10,6. Isa 66:2,5; Isa 3:8. Jer 21:8; Jer 1:1. Da 4:27,6.


Apocrypha. Tobit 4:7 4:6-8. 15 1:2. Ecclus. 2:4 3:10. 4:5 4:8. 31 4:5.


Matthew 5:5 3:7. 23, 24 14:2. 25, 26 1:5 39-41 (Lu 6:29-30; Lu 4.

44-46 (Lu 6:27; Lu 1:3. Mt 6:5; Mt 8:2. Mt 1:5; Mt 4:9-13; Mt 2:16; Mt 8:1. Mt 7:6; Mt 5:12; Mt 1:2.

Mt 10:9-10 (comp. Lu 9:1-6; Lu 10:4-7) 13:1, 2. Mt 12:31; Mt 1:7. Mt 18:15,17; Mt 15:3. Mt 11:9; Mt 10:6. Mt 22:37-39; Mt 1:2. Mt 24:10-14; Mt 16:4; Mt 5:30-31; Mt 6; Mt 8:31,34; Mt 1:25,25; Mt 15:34; Mt 28:19-20; Mt 7:1. Lu 6:27-30; Lu 1:3-5. Lu 12:35; Lu 16:1.


Ac 4:32,8. Ro 15:27; 1Co 15:52; 1Co 6:6 " 16:22 (Maranatha) 10:6. Eph 6:5,9; Eph 4:10-11. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 16:4-8. " 5:22 2:1. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 16:4. Heb 10:22 (συνέιδησις πουηρά) 14:1. Hebrews 13:7 15:1. 1Pe 2:11; 1Pe 1:4. Re 1:8; Re 2:10; Re 14:1. Re 22:15; Re 5:2.

The absence of any reference to so many books of the New Test. accords with the view that we have before us a very early document; but it does not, of course, prove that the sacred writings were unknown to the writer, and still less does it furnish any argument for the view that they were not then known to the Church in general. The object of the writer was very limited; his intention was to furnish a manual or catechism for catechumens.

VII. Literature. — Although so recently discovered, this little tract has already been the subject of very numerous essays and expositions. In addition to the treatise mentioned above and De Romestin, Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Lond. 1884, 8vo), the most complete and exhaustive work, giving, besides the original text, an English translation and literary matter, is the one published by Ph. Schaff, The Oldest Church Manual, called "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" (New York, 1885). (B.P.)

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