The telephone call came just after we had finished our evening meal at the Knight's Palace Hotel in the Old City of Jerusalem in May 2005. The message instructed me to come now to the library of the Greek Orthodox patriarch if I wanted to see the manuscript. I changed my clothes quickly and scurried through the labyrinthine lanes of the Old City. After entering the Greek Orthodox monastery, I made my way to the library. Soon, the librarian delivered what I had waited years to see—a 950-year-old, 200-page manuscript containing, along with a dozen other early writings, a little work only 10 pages long. Its name is the Didache (the "Teaching," pronounced "didakhay"), short for The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. While no one believes that any of the twelve apostles wrote it, scholars agree that the work is a faithful transmission of the apostles' teaching, intended primarily for the training of Gentile believers.

Why do I have such an interest in this piece of parchment, the only manuscript copy known to exist? Although scholars fiercely debate many issues about the Teaching, most agree that it was written toward the end of the first century, by an anonymous author who probably lived in the area of Syria near Antioch. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the believers were first called Christians in Antioch. This term also appears in the Teaching.

The fact that the Didache comes from such an early period of church history should make the Teaching of interest to every believer. But, while scholars have discussed the Teaching for years, the average Christian has virtually no knowledge of this little treasure, which can be found in The Apostolic Fathers in English (Baker, 2006) edited by Michael W. Holmes. That's too bad, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Heard Any Good Books Lately? Subscriber Access Only
Audio is the new medium, and Christian publishers are getting the message.
RecommendedGender Inclusivity Isn't Liberal. It's Biblical.
Gender Inclusivity Isn't Liberal. It's Biblical.
Why conservative theologians are defending changing certain Bible verses to include women.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
What the Teaching Can Teach Us
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.