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The Apostasy In Light Of The Didache.


Mudcat

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The Didache, or Teaching of the 12 Apostles as it is known, was an early Christian work. Circa 50-120 C.E.

Though it was never included in the canon of Scripture. It was read amongst the early churches and gives us a snapshot of very early Christianity.

Though scholars trend towards dating it with Mark, even looking at it's latest proposed date. This document seemed to be circulating amongst the early church in what LDS might deem as Pre-Apostasy.

I wanted to look at the section on baptism in particular. Though the whole work, which is a rather short read, can be seenhere.

As translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.

7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.

7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;

7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.

7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;

7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.

In this section there is no reference to the notion that a member of a specific priesthood should baptize nor is laying upon of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by a priesthood holder either.

In light of that, what is to made of it?

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The Didache also makes no mention of the resurrection of Jesus.

I'm not certain what to make of the non-existence of authority that you bring up, though. It could be that its original intent was for those who held the Priesthood as the LDS understand it. It could be something else entirely. I'm curious about why some considered the whole thing non-canonical, and why. I'll just wait for someone more knowledgeable to chime in.

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The Didache also paints a picture of itinerant prophets and apostles that's somewhat out of keeping with the institutional-authority model. (Actually, I'm not aware of any Christian document that refers to an institutional Christian "priest" or "priesthood" until the third century.)

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It really doesn't answer the question asked, but it is the only contribution I have to the baptism passage in the Didache, so I'll pass it on. About the time I first read the Didache I had been doing an assigned paper on Greek funeral customs. In those practices, the preferred method of body disposal was burial, and there were strong religious feelings about the necessity of a proper burial. However, perhaps because it dealt with men who might die at sea and wash upon the shore, the Greeks had another custom. If one were to come upon a body and not have the time to properly bury it, then one could cast three handfuls of dirt on the head and that would be a sufficient symbolic burial.

The parallel to baptism in the Didache is pretty obvious.

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I believe it is becoming more and more obvious that Mormonism's view of the early church is not corroborated by other texts that have come to light. To me this just another example of something we hold so absolute as baptism and how it is to be performed did not exist in the same manner in the early church. Does this make Mormonism wrong? Not necessarily but I think we need to start to acknowledge our practices are not so ancient as we want to believe.

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I believe it is becoming more and more obvious that Mormonism's view of the early church is not corroborated by other texts that have come to light. To me this just another example of something we hold so absolute as baptism and how it is to be performed did not exist in the same manner in the early church. Does this make Mormonism wrong? Not necessarily but I think we need to start to acknowledge our practices are not so ancient as we want to believe.

I disagree. The notion that the Didache didn't 'evolve' doctrinally is problematic for me. 150 years is plenty of time for teachings to get tampered with. Just look at our own history. (and that's WITH a continuation of keys and authority... from our perspective)

The NT makes it clear that immersion was the method of Baptism. The Didache also says later that a candidate for baptism must be capable of a certain confession of faith. When was infant baptism introduced, and why is it not consistent with the Didache?

...just some ponderments.

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the Greeks had another custom. If one were to come upon a body and not have the time to properly bury it, then one could cast three handfuls of dirt on the head and that would be a sufficient symbolic burial.

Now I'm remembering a class I had in high school, during the huge mythology push our English and History teachers made, where a Greek warrior fell in battle in the enemy's territory. They wanted to give him proper burial but it was too risky so instead one person drove a chariot near his body and sprinkled dirt over him to make him good with the Gods. I, of course, have no reference for this and it's very frustrating. Any other Greek mythology fans know of this?

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Now I'm remembering a class I had in high school, during the huge mythology push our English and History teachers made, where a Greek warrior fell in battle in the enemy's territory. They wanted to give him proper burial but it was too risky so instead one person drove a chariot near his body and sprinkled dirt over him to make him good with the Gods. I, of course, have no reference for this and it's very frustrating. Any other Greek mythology fans know of this?

Your teacher was probably talking about Antigone, whose brother led a rebellion and who sneaked out at night, heedless of danger and the King's decree, and sprinkled dust on the corpse and poured out the funerary libations. Even the French existential playwright, Anouilh, wrote a play about it back in the '50s (if memory serves . . . on date of production, not the fact of the play, which I've seen produced in translation).

Here's an online thingle:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_significance_of_Antigone%27s_sprinkling_wine_three_times

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Well, there you have it. Thanks, USU78.

Now... is there really a link between the Didache's instructions for non-immersion baptism and this burial practice as Brant asserted, or is it just circumstantial?

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I'm curious about why some considered the whole thing non-canonical, and why. I'll just wait for someone more knowledgeable to chime in.

I don't think it was rejected from the canon for fraudulent reasons, like some of the gospels and apocalypses that got given the old "heave ho". It seemed to be fair reading for new converts, much like Hermas was.

It was claimed to be the teaching of the 12 apostles and I don't know that it was refuted, it just didn't actually bear any specific apostolic authorship and simply seemed to be a collection of common methodology, would be one likely reason.

Though I think it was likely quite instructive, it wasn't really part of the narrative of Christ or the apostles. As you said it doesn't really even discuss the resurrection of Christ.

Rather than a God inspired work, It was more like a How to manual of sorts. I have always been fond of it, for just that reason. It's nice having things spelled out plainly once in a while.

IIRC, there was some difficulty with the way the sacramental language was viewed that made it a bit problematic and likely contributed to its exclusion, as well.

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The Didache also paints a picture of itinerant prophets and apostles that's somewhat out of keeping with the institutional-authority model. (Actually, I'm not aware of any Christian document that refers to an institutional Christian "priest" or "priesthood" until the third century.)

That is interesting. I haven't read them all and wouldn't have likely pulled that parallel from them had I done so. Thanks for the information.

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It really doesn't answer the question asked, but it is the only contribution I have to the baptism passage in the Didache, so I'll pass it on.

Brant,

I suppose I am offering a bit of an argument from silence. I don't the hypothesis is off the wall though.

About the time I first read the Didache I had been doing an assigned paper on Greek funeral customs. In those practices, the preferred method of body disposal was burial, and there were strong religious feelings about the necessity of a proper burial. However, perhaps because it dealt with men who might die at sea and wash upon the shore, the Greeks had another custom. If one were to come upon a body and not have the time to properly bury it, then one could cast three handfuls of dirt on the head and that would be a sufficient symbolic burial.

The parallel to baptism in the Didache is pretty obvious.

If you don't mind me asking, is the suggestion that the Didache synthesized Greek customs or are suggesting the Didache influenced Greek customs? The former makes the most sense, but I am not much of a historian.

Regards,

Mudcat

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Another interesting distinction is the eucharist instructions in the Didache. Unlike the NT eucharist, this is my body/blood etc.., the instructions in the Didache don't attempt to connect the wine & bread to the death of Jesus. Rather they seem to represent something from a meal associated with Hellenistic Judaism.

Phaedrus

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It really doesn't answer the question asked, but it is the only contribution I have to the baptism passage in the Didache, so I'll pass it on. About the time I first read the Didache I had been doing an assigned paper on Greek funeral customs. In those practices, the preferred method of body disposal was burial, and there were strong religious feelings about the necessity of a proper burial. However, perhaps because it dealt with men who might die at sea and wash upon the shore, the Greeks had another custom. If one were to come upon a body and not have the time to properly bury it, then one could cast three handfuls of dirt on the head and that would be a sufficient symbolic burial.

The parallel to baptism in the Didache is pretty obvious.

Interesting!

And this of course parallels the symbolism in Baptism to the "death" of the old person and "resurrection" of the new person. Good stuff!

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Now I'm remembering a class I had in high school, during the huge mythology push our English and History teachers made, where a Greek warrior fell in battle in the enemy's territory. They wanted to give him proper burial but it was too risky so instead one person drove a chariot near his body and sprinkled dirt over him to make him good with the Gods. I, of course, have no reference for this and it's very frustrating. Any other Greek mythology fans know of this?

I don't know anything about this, but find it an interesting parallel that Bin Laden "funeral" is being criticized because he was not buried in the earth, after dying on the earth. I have heard this is also a Jewish burial custom- buried in the earth if you die on the earth?

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The Didache also makes no mention of the resurrection of Jesus.

I'm not certain what to make of the non-existence of authority that you bring up, though. It could be that its original intent was for those who held the Priesthood as the LDS understand it. It could be something else entirely. I'm curious about why some considered the whole thing non-canonical, and why. I'll just wait for someone more knowledgeable to chime in.

Well I don't know about the "more knowledgeable" part, but maybe it was considered non-canonical because it got the baptism part wrong. ;)

Just because it's old- that doesn't make it right!

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I disagree. The notion that the Didache didn't 'evolve' doctrinally is problematic for me. 150 years is plenty of time for teachings to get tampered with. Just look at our own history. (and that's WITH a continuation of keys and authority... from our perspective)

I think there are a couple of ways to look at that Sevenbak.

I don't think it was tampered with in the sense that doctrines were changed within it. As you point out, it disagrees with other views on baptism that gained popularity. One would think if were tampered with, it would be drawn into consistency with those views. However, the fact that it was unsupportive of such things and sacramental language as well. Would be good reasons that the document lost popularity.

But I would agree that it likely evolved. Chapter 11 deals with an itinerant sort of ministry. Chapter 15 deals with a resident type ministry. I imagine as the Church grew more stable, with more followers and so forth 15 was tacked in there to address the changing situation.

The NT makes it clear that immersion was the method of Baptism. The Didache also says later that a candidate for baptism must be capable of a certain confession of faith. When was infant baptism introduced, and why is it not consistent with the Didache?

...just some ponderments.

Though the introduction of infant baptism is debated. We do know that Irenaeus is the first to mention is in Against Heresies c.180, so the concept must have been in practice prior to that. But given the notion the Didache doesn't mention it, I would think the emergence of the practice to have arisen after the earliest date attributed to the Didache of 60.

As to why this is inconsistent with the Didache? I can't answer other than to suggest that, as I believe, infant baptism was not a part of the early Church and the Didache seems to be evidence for that.

edit add - Bold mine. Regarding the Didache on baptism. I am not sure if you are saying you think it disagrees with the NT on this part? I think it seems to support this idea as well, but seems to be concessional on methodology if there are difficulties with the resources for doing so.

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Brant,

I suppose I am offering a bit of an argument from silence. I don't the hypothesis is off the wall though.

If you don't mind me asking, is the suggestion that the Didache synthesized Greek customs or are suggesting the Didache influenced Greek customs? The former makes the most sense, but I am not much of a historian.

Regards,

Mudcat

I can't see any way that Christian practice influence Hellenic customs. I think we can pretty sure that it went the other way. The interesting points are that the adoption of the symbolic gesture tells us that the Christian use of baptism really did become tied to the death/resurrection theme (which surely distanced it from Jewish cleanliness rituals). The idea of the baptism as the death of the old man was the similar point along which the concept of symbolic burial could be borrowed.

Likewise, I think this confirms that immersion was the intended form. I liked the Didache's preference for living water. We rather ignore that in Christian tradition now, but I think it was a very nice part of the symbolism. (Room for some holy envy here ;) ).

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Likewise, I think this confirms that immersion was the intended form. I liked the Didache's preference for living water. We rather ignore that in Christian tradition now, but I think it was a very nice part of the symbolism. (Room for some holy envy here).

This ultimately is a Jewish element.

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Likewise, I think this confirms that immersion was the intended form. I liked the Didache's preference for living water. We rather ignore that in Christian tradition now, but I think it was a very nice part of the symbolism. (Room for some holy envy here ;) ).

I agree with you here. Rivers and oceans just aren't convenient year round... but it is a direction I would be thrilled to see Christianity at large go back towards, when possible. So quite concessionally, I find room for some Holy Envy myself. :pardon:

I have speculated about the baptismal concessions made for circumstances in the Didache. I think availability of resources is one. But I am also of the opinion expediency may have been the driving force behind.

It has given me cause to at least reflect on the veracity of the notion that baptism is a Christian ordinance rather than salvific, if the early Church felt expediency of baptism superseded the mode in which it occurred. But that is a whole other issue.

Thanks for the response.

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It really doesn't answer the question asked, but it is the only contribution I have to the baptism passage in the Didache, so I'll pass it on. About the time I first read the Didache I had been doing an assigned paper on Greek funeral customs. In those practices, the preferred method of body disposal was burial, and there were strong religious feelings about the necessity of a proper burial. However, perhaps because it dealt with men who might die at sea and wash upon the shore, the Greeks had another custom. If one were to come upon a body and not have the time to properly bury it, then one could cast three handfuls of dirt on the head and that would be a sufficient symbolic burial.

The parallel to baptism in the Didache is pretty obvious.

Like Antigone did for her brother! Interestingly enough, those not properly buried could not cross the river Styx into the underworld.

Makes a lot more sense now.

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Likewise, I think this confirms that immersion was the intended form.

An excellent excellent point!

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I think there are a couple of ways to look at that Sevenbak.

I don't think it was tampered with in the sense that doctrines were changed within it. As you point out, it disagrees with other views on baptism that gained popularity. One would think if were tampered with, it would be drawn into consistency with those views. However, the fact that it was unsupportive of such things and sacramental language as well. Would be good reasons that the document lost popularity.

But I would agree that it likely evolved. Chapter 11 deals with an itinerant sort of ministry. Chapter 15 deals with a resident type ministry. I imagine as the Church grew more stable, with more followers and so forth 15 was tacked in there to address the changing situation.

Though the introduction of infant baptism is debated. We do know that Irenaeus is the first to mention is in Against Heresies c.180, so the concept must have been in practice prior to that. But given the notion the Didache doesn't mention it, I would think the emergence of the practice to have arisen after the earliest date attributed to the Didache of 60.

As to why this is inconsistent with the Didache? I can't answer other than to suggest that, as I believe, infant baptism was not a part of the early Church and the Didache seems to be evidence for that.

edit add - Bold mine. Regarding the Didache on baptism. I am not sure if you are saying you think it disagrees with the NT on this part? I think it seems to support this idea as well, but seems to be concessional on methodology if there are difficulties with the resources for doing so.

I believe losing doctrine happens the same way as receiving it... line upon line. The doctrine of baptism within the early church changed gradually after the death of the Apostles. This is why the early Didache doesn't allow infant baptism, but does allow sprinkling. jmho

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