What About The Didache? by Thomas Weisser

The Didache is an ancient writing attributed to the Apostles. Since the discovery of an eleventh-century copy of it in 1875, it has been the subject of great controversy. Various dates have been ascribed to it and authorities have yet to agree on a date. The problem that we must consider is that some say it was written in the first century.

The particular part we are concerned with is Didache 7:

But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Many Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church was Trinitarian. Let us first consider that we are dealing with a forgery. Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it. Secondly, the internal evidence points to Didache 7 as an interpolation, or later addition. In Didache 9, which deals with communion, the writer says, "But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs."

Shortly after saying baptism should be performed in the titles Father, Son and Holy Spirit he states the absolute necessity of being baptized in the name of the Lord (i.e., Jesus-the same Greek word as in Acts 10:48). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to the argument Didache 7 is an interpolation.

Thirdly, the writer's approval of baptism by pouring presents a problem with dating it in the first century. Bigg points out that this must have been written after A.D. 250. He argues that pouring was generally unacceptable in baptism as late as Cyprian (c.250). Therefore, Didache 7 could be no earlier than the late third century.

Thomas Weisser

from "Was the Early Church Oneness or Trinitarian?" delivered at Symposium on Oneness Pentecostalism, 1986. St. Louis, Mo.


Bigg, Charles, The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1898), p. 58.


Ryan Gustason said...

I agree with your conclusion. Good work.

JN Anderson said...

Ryan, this is part of Bro. Weisser's paper given some time ago. I am just reposting it here.

John Sacker said...

Can I get a copy of that paper?

I've read more "Catholic documents" in the past 6 months than I thought I ever would, and this is one of them. Multiple Catholics have used this document to try to support multiple doctrines of the CC.

What I first learned is what your blog post identifies, and that is that there is nothing close to a consensus on when this document was written OR by whom. I then began to read it and identified the inconsistency in chapters 7 and 9 regarding the "formula" for water baptism noted in your post. Of course, the most astute Catholic will use the same logic on this as they do on Matthew 28:19 vs. all the other baptismal passages: that Matt 28:19 is THE formula and all others merely indicate the authority by which water baptisms are done.

Also, if you've ever run into the argument from Catholics about the "pure offering" mentioned in Malachi 1:11 being Jesus Christ, check out chapter 14 of The Didache:

Didache, Chapter 14.
Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day.

But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: "In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations."

WHOEVER wrote this document clearly explains that the "pure offering" is a reference to the offering that WE bring to the Lord.....ourselves.

The more I study Catholic theology the more I am convinced how wrong it is. We might not have ALL of the truth and they might have some of it, but it's obvious the errors of their doctrines. Of course, the greatest error they continue in is the one from which all heresies come: the trinity.

JN Anderson said...

Bro. Sacker, try this link.


John Sacker said...

Man, those look like some great topics! Unfortunately, none of the links on that page work.

JN Anderson said...

Yes, quite a few of the links are broken for whatever reason but NOT all of them are. Keep clicking. It's not my server.

John Sacker said...

Got 'em! Thanks!

Marvin said...

If you're going to make a text-critical argument like this, you either need to show some of your own work in Greek or cite a secondary source newer than the 19th century.

A good place to start is with Thomas O'Loughlin's "The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians" which argues for a very early date for the text, mid-first century. His book begins with a review of scholarship on the Didache, and he points out that a lot of scholars, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, have dated the Didache much later or doubted its veracity because it doesn't line up with their vision of "what Christianity was in the beginning," which always happens to be that particular scholar's tradition.

I think that this blog post is a pretty good example of that mistake. It sounds as though the author has already made up his mind about what Christians did "in the beginning," and anything that doesn't agree with those assumptions is bracketed out as either an interpolation or an outright forgery. That's got it exactly backwards.

JN Anderson said...

Marvin, I appreciate your reply.

First, it would likewise be more convincing if you could show how the Biggs, the 19th Century scholarship is false or mistaken.

Second, I haven't read much of Loughlin but I do not plan too either. He describes those who point to Leviticus to support a Christian's stance against homosexuality are "fundamentalist Christians want to beat up on gays..." You can watch the video also where he says just that in his comments on Leviticus. http://www.bibledex.com/videos/leviticus.html

Third, if this blog post is an example of "that mistake" you suggest then what is that of Loughlin? His opinion about "particular scholar's tradition" is rather disingenuous. He derides others while positing his own opinion, ironically, in its place.

Fourth, the Didache is not an attempt to regulate behavior for the church at large. It was written, likely as a catechism, for a local assembly.

Fifth, the supposed trinitarian baptism is in Ch. 7 yet in Ch. 9 it clearly states those baptized "have been baptized in the name of the Lord..."

Sixth, there are differing recensions also that are early and late. As is found even in patristics.

Seventh, Arthur Voobus (Liturgical Traditions in the Didache, Estonian Theological Society; 1968 pg. 127) notes that the Trinitarian formula arose in the middle of the second century and was an addition to both the Didache and Matthew 28:19.

Eighth, the dating of the Didache is complicated because it is dependent upon various sources itself. The first certain witness to the Didache is the Apostolic Constitutions copied from the Didache in AD 300.

Ninth, it is possible the trinitarian additiosn are later or it was written in a time of transition and the unknown author was trying to harmonize traditions of the church with newer ecclesiastical necessities.

Tenth, Christians committed to the Biblical text can clearly see that water baptism is done in the name of Jesus. The Didache is helpless to usurp the Scriptures. Baptism in Jesus name is the practice of The Early Church as well as The Church that continues until this present day.

TSVDP said...

So, these Church Fathers were so careless they didn't check parts 7 vs. 9 of the Didache? Man, you all are conspiracists to think they'd be so careless. Enjoy reading about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane to himself and as he said "Not my will shall be done by MY will shall be done", oh wait a minute, he said "Thy will be shall be done." How do you explain that one?

Anonymous said...

Daniel Marsh
6539 Linville drive
Brighton, MI 48116-9531 USA

Dear Sir, I am unemployed due to unpaid care giving responsibilities and due to poor health -- cancer, degenerative bone disease. I am interested in studying some theology. Is there anyone who would sponsor the following books, free of charge, please.

History of Christian Doctrine Vol 1 RR | David K. Bernard

Jesus The Ultimate Ology | Johnny James

What Trinitarian Doctrine Misses Glen Kirt Johnson

Contending for the Faith David Lamar Welch

Three Two the One True God L. Aubrey Gard

Oneness of God and The Doctrine of The Trinity by Kulwant Singh Boora

Apostolic Heritage Series | Thomas Weisser

Ancient Champions of Oneness William Chalfant Th.D.

Oneness and Trinity AD 100-300 David K. Bernard

Oneness View of Jesus Christ

Oneness of God, The RR | David K. Bernard

The Oneness of God David K. Bernard

History of the Church Starks Dale R. Starks

Countering Trinitarian Arguments by Dr. Clinton Willis

History of the Origin of the Trinity | Robert McFarland

After the Way Called Heresy Thomas Weisser

Oneness and Monotheism, by Kulwant Singh Boora

One True God Mark Fogarty.

God in 13 Dimensions Kenneth Reeves

God in Flesh Revised & Expanded 2009 Daniel Segraves

In the Name of Jesus RR David K. Bernard

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Trinitarian Controversy in the Fourth Century RR David K.Bernard

Origin of the Trinity Doctrine David E. Adams

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Anonymous said...

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Daniel Marsh
6539 Linville dr
Brighton, MI 48116-9531 USA

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)