Apparently an ancient Jewish/Christian “Gospel”, one that had been forgotten about and lost, never to be a part of the Bible, but dates back to the original days of the advent of Christianity, has been rediscovered. For anyone who investigates ancient Christianity or prehistoric Judaism, such a discovery is extremely thrilling.
This happened when a document known as the Didache, an antique manuscript was found. It was penned in Greek and was first discovered in a library in 1873 at Constantinople by a priest, Father Philoteus Bryennios who was himself Greek. Didache means literally “to teach”, and the complete title is The Teachings of the 12 Apostles. It has only recently come to light once again.
Such a priceless copy of the ancient manuscript, which dated back to either the later first or very beginning of the second century CE, was talked about by original Christian writers but it ended up disappearing. There are very few Christians in the present time who have ever heard of it. The writing supposedly gave readers a view into a mostly overlooked method of Christianity, one that was vastly different from the Christianity which arose into expansion by the Apostle Paul several years after the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Didache is distributed into 16 chapters and was planned to be a sort of “handbook” for converts of Christianity. The first six sections provide a summary of ethics for Christians, which are founded on Jesus’ teachings. They are separated into two different parts: the way to live life and the way of death.
Most of the contents is comparable to what is found in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain. This essentially means the rudimentary moral teachings of Jesus were drawn from teachings found in both Bible chapters of Matthew and Luke. It also starts with what it calls the “two great commandments,” which are to love God and to also love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.” There is also an alternate form of the Golden Rule that states, “And whatever you do not want to happen to you, do not do to another.”
After the ethical counsels, next come four chapters which deal with prayer, fasting, baptism, the Eucharist and anointing of oils. The Eucharist in the Didache describes a basic meal of thanksgiving made of bread and wine and references made toward Jesus as being the holy vine from David. However there was no mention of the blood or body of Jesus in relation to lessening of sin. It ended with a prayer that said, “Hosanna to the God of David,” highlighting the lineage from David to Jesus.
The last chapters focus on the testing of prophets and being able to appoint commendable leaders. The final chapter covers warnings over the “Last Days of Earth,” and talked about the approaching of a final deceptive deceitful prophet and resurrection of the righteous who have passed away. It ended with dialect that was comparable to what was used by Jude, Zechariah and Daniel.
What seems to be most noteworthy about the Didache is that in there is nothing that relates to the Apostle Paul’s Gospel. There is no record of atonement through Jesus’ blood and body and no reference to Jesus’ resurrection. In the Didache, it does talk about how Jesus was the one who carried the knowledge of both faith and life but there was never any importance placed upon the figure of Jesus apart from the message he gave. Forgiveness of a person’s sins in the Didache appeared to come from a consecrated life and doing good deeds for others.
The Didache is a valuable paper to the type of Christian acceptance which is more directly related to the Jewish belief of Jesus’ first factions. It helps to remind one of the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. The Didache has preserved for individuals in the present day an indication of a more Jewish leaning version of the early Christian movement. Apparently the ancient Jewish/Christian writing, one that had been forgotten about and lost, never to be a part of the Bible, dates back to the original days of the advent of Christianity.
By Kimberly Ruble