The Didache

I have just learned there is a book called The Didache. I was wondering what the history of this book is, its importance and if there is a publishing which is purchasable for reading. What I have learned so far seems very interesting.

Here is the entire text of The Didache:

Thank you! I thought there was more, but I seem to have been mistaken.

You could call it the first RCIA manual for the Church.

Its importance is debatable. There are some things that are rather odd in it, such as the directions about prophets and apostles. How widespread was its use? Who wrote it?

There has been a LOT of debate about it. You can find a lot about it on the internet.

You might start with

It doesn’t seem odd if you consider it in 1st century terms. It explains how Christians could differentiate between true teachers and false. There were many in the 1st century who were using the faithful for monetary gain, and others who were creating their own faith and claiming it was the true Christian faith.

Well, then, the apostle Paul must have been a false apostle according to the Didache (11.3), because he stayed in many places more than three days! And prophets were not to be tested when speaking in a spirit, in direct contrast to Paul’s directions in 1 Corinthians.

It’s interesting also that in 15 they appointed to themselves bishops and deacons - no mention here of outside direction or rule. Sounds like a bunch of congregationalists to me!

It is included in the Penguin Classics edition of “Early Christian Writings”, which also includes many other writings from the same period:

Thank you all for your input!

The word “didache” means Twelve. The idea is that the original work was made up of a brief contribution from each of the Twelve Apostles.

This idea is almost certainly nonsense. But it does not mean that the Didache is nonsense. It remains an important (though not doctrinal) source of information about the Early Church, regardless of who the author(s) might have been. It is one of the most ancient non-Biblical Christian texts.

Excuse me, but it means “teaching”. The word for twelve is δώδεκα* dodeka*, which can be confusableed: didache-dodeka. The title is “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” which in Greek has both terms.

The idea is that the original work was made up of a brief contribution from each of the Twelve Apostles.

It was commonplace to write something and then slap a big name on it. All the Gnostic gospels and acts have a Big Name, for example. The Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Peter, etc. So there is no guarantee the apostles were even aware of it.

Which is why Tradition (capital T) is also important as well as the writings of the other church fathers.

Sorry, I don’t follow you here. Because the two terms sound alike? I don’t think so…

What do you mean by “important”? What are you saying in terms that even I can understand?

Tradition and the didache for teaching catechumens, you know, before the New Testament was canonized by the Catholic Church.

Not if you consider that it was written to established communities. Paul specifically worked so that he was not a burden to the community. This is talking about traveling preachers who are unknown to the community. It also teaches about those that come to stay for much longer time, which is what Paul would have been.

And it only sounds like congregationalists if you think the entire community is the primary recipient for the teaching, instead of the bishops and priests.

Well, SOMEBODY wrote the Epistle to the Romans and the Epistle to the Hebrews. You might have heard of those letters - they happen to be in your Bible (and in mine).

SOMEBODY slapped the REALLY big name of “St Paul” on BOTH of these epistles. Of Romans, I have no quarrel. But NO Scripture scholar today (of ANY faith) would claim that the author of Romans ALSO wrote Hebrews. Romans is claimed to be authored by Paul, but Hebrews claims nothing of the kind (it is attributed by tradition only).

But Hebrews MADE IT INTO OUR NEW TESTAMENT. There is no guarantee that St. Paul was even aware of it. But it is in OUR NEW TESTAMENT. Yet, we have absolutely no flippin idea who wrote it!

Catholics DON’T CARE. The Church tells us that Hebrews is Scripture, and that’s good enough for us. Upon what basis do PROTESTANTS accept this Catholic teaching? It cannot be based on history or authorship, because NO reputable protestant Scripture historian would support EITHER point from any scholarly perspective.

I hae enjoyed reading The Didache and it has helped me grow in my faith.

Here is some history behind it: Only one Greek text of the Didache has survived. It is the Jerusalem Codex discovered by Byrennios in 1873, and published by him in Constantinople ten years later. It was written by a scribe, Leo, in 1056.

The Didache is a part of the Jerusalem Codex:

is the word “didache” latin? I was wondering what it meant. thank you for saying it means Twelve.

now I am confused. is the word greek then. does it mean teaching or twelve?

It doesn’t really matter. I will accept Tomyris’ post that the title means “teaching of the Twelve.”

Whether the title means “Twelve” or “teaching of the Twelve” is irrelevant. Actually, ancient documents typically did not have titles at all. When James wrote his letter, he did not write, at the top, “The Epistle of St. James.” Someone added this later. Whomever wrote the “first edition” of the Didache almost certainly did not put a title on it.

And, even if he did, it would not matter. The understanding was that it was comprised of contributions by each of the Twelve Apostles. This is surely not true, and no modern scholar thinks that it is true. Whatever the title might translate to, the underlying idea is false.

That does NOT mean that the Didache itself is false in any way. It is a very ancient and important source of information about the Early Church. But it should not be accorded any president over other early writings because it was “written by the Apostles.”

If it WAS written by the Twelve Apostles, it would probably be in your Bible, and be regarded as the most theologically significant book in there.

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