Do not deal in omens - The Didache

Hey everyone, coming in peace with a question. I know that the Didache is not authoritative or binding on any Christian denominations but I wanted to know what this means and if you agree with it?

The Didache is a first century Christian writing on how they should act as Christians:

Didache 3:4
My child, be no dealer in omens, since it leads to idolatry, nor an enchanter nor an astrologer nor a magician, neither be willing to look at them; for from all these things idolatry is engendered.

So what would be considered an omen and do Catholics have any types of omens? The reason given is that it could lead to idolatry.

Again, I ask this out of respect and ignorance. Thanks.

I have the Didache as well and find it fascinating.

I may be wrong (am ready to stand corrected) but I thought an omens were things like an event or happening that people say will mean good or bad luck e.g. believing that of you see a raven evil or bad things will happen. I would think that if you let your life be ruled by counting magpie’s, not walking under ladders and throwing salt over your shoulder, there wouldn’t be much time for God or indeed trust in Him.

With regard to the rest of your question, I will be silent as I just don’t know.

Interesting question. Thanks for posting!

When I think of “Christian” omens, I think of some bible prophesy, for one. We were given signs to be aware of the second coming. But when we constantly focus on certain events as “proof” of Christs return at any given period, I think we become idolators. We make ourselves God, the Father, because only He knows the hour and minute of Christ’s return. Much of the “prophesy” in the book of Revelation, from a Catholic perspective , includes events that already occurred or refers to eternal realities in heaven. So, identifying bible “prophesies” creates a type of omen. I dont think that is necessarily what is mentioned in the Didache, but I do think it is something that we should be concerned about not doing. I would imagine the more relevant meaning was to not look at certain signs to guidepost your life. But, if you are making decisions on your life ( eg. quitting your job to evangelize full time, not working to improve your community, or society in general, stockpiling resources) according to “bible prophesy” , other than continuing to live in Christ , then I think this would an applicable meaning as well.

As far as the authority of the Didache, for the Catholic Church, I believe it is considered as having some authority in terms of the Tradition of the Church that comes from the Apostles. Its not biblical authority but it is the Tradition of the Apostles that the bible refers to when it says “hold fast to the Traditions of Apostles, both written and unwritten”. This means it is completely consistent with Catholic teaching.

I think it refers to divination, but I’m not sure. :slight_smile:

Bingo. Refers to astrology, mediums, psychics, and other means of gleaning information about the future and possibly influencing events.

It would also be interesting to hear the OP’s opinion about other parts of the Didache, including the Eucharist, but maybe that is best for another thread.

I think the gist of this is saying don’t have anything to do with divination. This teaching finds its basis in the Bible (Duet. 18:9-12 and other verses).

Thanks for the answers. So how would such things lead to idolatry? What does idolatry mean in this context?

Well you could say that by trusting in omens, the stars, magic, etc. you are giving your trust which rightfully belongs to God to those things, this making them idols. Perhaps another way is that they encourage a superstitious mindset that is inclined toward idoltry instead of God’s revealed Truth. Maybe?

Such things might lead one to worship (or at least get close to) the demons that are involved in some forms of divination, or worship “cosmic forces” that are involved in these exercises. It still happens in our day and age, when politicians hire astrologers to forecast the future, and get embroiled in questionable “New Age” practices. :stuck_out_tongue:

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

OMEN. Any chance happening or event that is supposed to be a prophetic sign. If the sign is learned by a dream, it is called a dream omen. It is morally wrong to take omens seriously and above all to guide one’s life according to them, apart from such exceptional circumstances when there is clear evidence of divine intervention. (Etym. Latin omen, augury, foreboding.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit