Madeline Stickler
January 22,2016
Religion 1350-Christian Heritage
Professor Ryan

Reading Response #1: The Didache

Thesis: The Didache, Greek for “teach,” or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a handbook consisting of instructions derived directly from the teachings of Jesus. The work consists of two parts, the first section, known as "Two Ways, offering teachings on the way of life versus the way of death, and the second section, “Other Instructions,” gives descriptions of Christian ceremonies such as baptism, fasting, and communion. The purpose of the Didache is to guide in the process of standardizing and regulating church leadership and methods of worship.

Subsequently after Jesus’ crucifixion, the prevalent notion among Jesus’s early followers was that the world was going to end approximately within a generation. Understandably, followers of Jesus, especially the apostles, used their time and energy spreading the word of Jesus rather than developing an institutionalized structured for the religion. However, time continued on and generations came and passed. Followers of Jesus realized that perhaps the world was not going to end in the near future and there would need to be a formalized and unifying belief system in place in order for Christianity to continue on in the future. The Didache demonstrates phenomena which support the claim that, during the second century, Christianity is ceasing to be a movement; it is becoming an institution. These phenomena include the configuration of church orders and organization, the outline of moral expectations and the establishment of a hierarchy of authority within the church. These phenomena are evidence of such a process because the Didache’s intention is to establish uniformity and universality within Christianity. The Didache outlines the how the sacrament of baptism is to be performed. It affirms, concerning baptism baptize this way, “pour[ing] water three times one the head, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Baptism is a fundamental component of Christianity because it ceremoniously initiates people into the church. Christians must also fast, but not as the hypocrites do, on Wednesdays and Fridays and pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day as a prayer of perfect and unselfish love. Then comes Eucharist, better known as Holy Communion, bread to symbolize Christ’s body and the nourishment that sustains life and wine as a symbol of His blood. The Didache states moral expectations and behaviors that are meant to unify the belief systems of Christians from across the globe. The Didache describes fundamental principles of Christianity by outlining the first commandment, the precepts, forbidden sins as well as discouraging the worship of those who are believed to be as false idols. Chapter 1 states that one should, “…love.. your neighbor as yourself, and all things that you would not have done to you, do not to another…” This concept captures the essence of Jesus Christ. Placing moral teachings at the center of the faith will enable institutionalization in the sense that it will unite Christians. This quote calls Christians to rise above hatred and shallow worldly ambitions and to try to emulate the meek and kind nature of Jesus. Following Jesus and his teachings is the reason why Christianity came to be, therefore, it makes sense that one would include examples of how to act righteous in the Didache.