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Reflections on the Διδαχή Reading Group

In preparation for the SBTS Greek Reading Group (Click here and here for more details), I wrote a basic introduction highlighting elementary information about the Didache. Over the past number of weeks, I have been posting portions of that text. Here is the series of posts about the Διδαχή.

The Didache Pt. 1: Why Read the Didache

The Didache Pt. 2: Modern Discovery and Textual Status

The Didache Pt. 3: Canon and the Didache

The Didache Pt. 4: Date, Place, and the Use of Scripture

The Didache Pt. 5: Selected Bibliography

For more information about the Διδαχή reading group email swilhite at sbts dot edu

I was encouraged to highlight a few reflections on our time in the literature. Here are a few items I've gleaned from others, from experience, or thoughts I've had over the past 3–4 months. Language study is so important and here is my call to all language teachers: Teach to captivate their interests beyond the classroom so that your love and interest and value in the language will shape and influence your students beyond your time with them. Model how to use it and model the types of questions to ask. Model in such a way to shape and influence their affections for the value of language study.

Benefits to reading Greek Literature I am a firm believer in reading primary literature. It expands our knowledge, our abilities, our cognitive skills, our composition practices, etc. Read, Read, and Read more; there is never enough for you to read. One of my PhD advisor's recollects in his PhD days how his advisor would constantly push him back to the original sources, only accepting work that was reflecting over original sources, and demanding abilities to read the original. Here are only a few reasons why you should read original literature.

  1. Reading Greek literature enhances syntax and reading abilities.
  2. Bible students, especially OT and NT students, by default, engage in language study. However, they typically know the English well enough to use it as a crutch during language reading. Reading non-biblical Hebrew and Greek demands the student to become conversant with lexemes and syntactical features that, sometimes, by reading the OT or NT will not force them to engage.
  3. Familiarity with Greek provides the reader to ask Greek related syntactical questions and teaches them to engage a text “textually”.

Pedagogical Lessons

Whenever you teach, you are communicating something. Obviously that is true; However, as a teacher, my aim is to have my teaching and conversations carry beyond the classroom. Here are few pedagogical lessons I've currently been interacting with over the past few months. If you have any, please share your insights.

  1. Students/Peers will gain interest the more you are excited and motivated for the topic of study.
  2. Students may take your hypothetical theories into factual analysis when you publically interact with arguments.
  3. Straw-man arguments tend to be easy and self-serving. Strive to think well and to articulate your arguments in a manner that your students will be able to hear scholar-like arguments.
  4. Set standards high and expect students to reach them.
  5. Taking interest in your students will only benefit their character and intellectual abilities.
  6. Model “how to” research, think, and interact with theories that demand cogent interaction.
  7. Make students aware of other sources and demonstrate their usefulness and necessity. Expand their awareness of available sources and give books away. Be generous with your knowledge and skill set.
  8. Be exorbitantly generous with ideas, sources, and research topics. Creating an “open access” model may communicate a greater concern for scholarship than personal research interests.
  9. Be interesting and demonstrate the inter-connectedness of ideas. You create a “scholarly world” compelling them to have better cognitive skills and increase their desire for excellence.

Research Questions

During our time of study, various questions constantly were asked of the text. Here is a brief list of research questions for future inquiry. Please make use of them to engage the content and surrounding scholarship. If you have any, please add more to the list.

  1. What is the history of interpretation of Matt 7:6 Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσι(ν)? Matthew’s context is judging others and hypocrisy whereas the Διδαχή (Διδ 9.5) changes the referent to exclude unbaptized people from partaking in the Eucharist.
  2. How does the Didachist use περὶ δὲ + gen. (Διδ 6.3; 7.1; 9.1, 3; 11.3) as a discourse feature? How does this provide content continuity between potentially disparate thoughts/themes (7.1–3 with 8.1–3; 9.[1–]3–5 with 10.1–7 and 11.1–2).
  3. How does Μετὰ δὲ τὸ ἐμπλησθῆναι affect our understanding of the Eucharist as a meal (Διδ 10.1)?
  4. How does ταῦτα πάντα προειπόντες affect interpretation and use of Διδ 1–6?
  5. Why is there a pattern of intermediate fasting prior to Baptism (Διδ 7.4)? Also, if Διδ 1–6 is vague on the expression of faith, what is precluding this baptism? Faith? No faith? Catechesis into the community of faith? Is this a cultural norm? How did this develop throughout Patristic thought?
  6. Has literary borrowing occurred? If yes, is the author alluding to a source? Then, are there various evocations of texts? Are there non-allusive quotes (Διδ 9.5)? What is cultural repertoire of Διδαχή? Does the Didachist change or maintain the author’s intentions in allusive texts?
  7. Are there non-Jesus traditions in Διδαχή? How do Διδ 1.3//Rom 12.14//Luke 6.28, Διδ  4.1//Heb 13.7, Διδ 10.6//1 Cor 16.22, Διδ 16.6//1 Cor 15.52//1 Thess 4.16, and Διδ 16.7//1 Thess 3.13  speak for a Pauline tradition?

1 Peter, Familial Language, and Cultic Imagery

The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians