The Ethical Teachings of the Didache

We have been talking about the Didache on the blog, and it occurred to me that it might be useful to post part of its text, so readers can see what we’re talking about.  The book has several discrete parts: it begins with a discussion of the “two ways” – one that leads to life and one to death.  This is a set of ethical instructions for Christians.  As you’ll see, the author appears to have taken materials from ...

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What Is the Didache? When It Was Written & Why It Isn’t In the Bible

In the recent exchange that I posted on the blog (dealing with the existence of Q) the document known as the Didache was mentioned – especially by guest contributor Alan Garrow, who thinks that the Didache was a source used by the authors of Matthew and Luke.  I think even Alan will agree that this is a highly anomalous view; I don’t know of any other scholar who accepts it (though if Alan knows of any who do, I’m sure ...

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Could Q Have Been Lost? Readers’ Mailbag December 3, 2017

I have received a lot of questions about Q this week.  If you’re wondering about why blog members are interested in a figure from Star Trek, you may want to review this week’s posts.  Here is a question that I find particularly intriguing.

 

QUESTION:

It is hard to believe that Q, if it existed, circulated enough to be used by both but then dropped off the face of the Earth without so much as a mention by an early church father, while ...

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Jesus’ (Young?) Mother and (Half?) Brothers? The Proto-Gospel of James

A few days ago lot of readers made comments on the question (thanks to the Roy Moore newsflashes) of whether Mary was a young girl when she got married; and now I have mentioned Jesus’ mother and brothers in Mark’s Gospels.  So let me say a few more things about them.

The earliest non-canonical source that talks about Jesus’ mother (indicating she was a teenager — not something found in the NT) and his brothers (were they really is brothers?) is ...

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Fun with the Jewish Christian Gospels: A Blast from the Past

I was looking through the blog archives today, and ran across this interesting one from four years ago.  In additional to being rather informative about Gospels outside the New Testament, it shows how even in antiquity Christians had to figure out how to reconcile minor discrepancies among the canonical Gospels.  Enjoy!

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Yesterday in my graduate seminar we spent three hours analyzing the three so-called “Jewish-Christian Gospels.” These are very tricky texts to deal with. We don’t have ...

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How Women Came to Be Silenced in Early Christianity: A Blast From the Past

Time for a blast from the blog’s past.  Here is a question I get asked about a lot by my students: Why did women come to silenced, their voices muted, in the early Christian tradition — especially if, as the evidence suggests, women were even more attracted to this new faith than men in the early years? When I dealt with that issue exactly four years ago on the blog, this is what I said (it came at the end ...

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Why Was Marcion Declared a Heretic?

              The question I will be dealing with this week relates to the issue of heresy and orthodoxy in early Christianity.  If you have a question you would like me to address, let me know!

 

QUESTION:

As I am reading about Marcion being declared a heretic I wonder, who had the authority to do this?

 

RESPONSE:

It’s a very good question, and more significant than, on the surface, one might think.  First some background.

Marcion was a second-century philosopher/theologian/teacher who eventually came to ...

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How Did Judas Iscariot Die? Readers’ Mailbag June 18, 2017

Two questions in this week’s Readers’ mailbag.  The first concerns the very strange tradition about how Judas Iscariot actually died, as found in the writings of the early church father Papias; the second is about modern evangelical Christian biblical scholars: how do they deal with the fact that our manuscripts contain so many textual variants?  If you have a question, feel free to ask, and I’ll add it to the ever growing mailbag.

 

QUESTION:

Papias didn’t think very highly of Judas. I ...

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How We Got Our 27-Book New Testament: The Case of Didymus

As I pointed out in my previous post, when I was a graduate student I wanted to show that I was not interested only in New Testament textual criticism (using the surviving witnesses to establish what the authors of the New Testament originally wrote) but in a range of important historical and interpretive issues in early Christianity.   I wanted to be broad ranging.  And I wanted this already at the very beginning of my graduate work.

My first semester in the ...

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Jesus’ Teaching in Aramaic and the Books of the Canon: Mailbag February 24, 2017

There are two interesting questions in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: one about Jesus’ teaching in Aramaic and the other about which books did not make it into the New Testament.  If you have a question yourself, ask it as a comment and I will add it to the burgeoning list!

 

QUESTION:

Even though Christ taught in Aramaic, was there absolutely nothing written down in Aramaic? Is there much of a language translation problem going from Aramaic to Greek? (Again, it’s mind boggling ...

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