"Now Concerning the Ointment": A Coptic Edition of the Didache's Eucharist Liturgy
For the past number of years, I have been slowly chipping away at a commentary on Didache. The goal is to offer a beginning to mid-tier commentary on the final form of the Didache text. This focus will permit some critical concepts to arise, but for the most part, I will be offering literary and theological comments on the text as a whole.
I am very pleased that it will be part of a commentary series on the Apostolic Fathers. I'm co-editing this series with Paul Hartog and will have more information once the publishing house approves all of our designated authors.
Below is a small, rough draft section from the commentary on the Coptic edition in the Eucharist liturgy. I'm still debating whether or not to incorporate it in the final draft of the commentary. But, nonetheless, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this section.
[Coptic Addition]: Concerning the Oil (Did. 10.8)
One more item I would like to bring up is the so-called myron (μύρον) prayer. It’s difficult to discuss a “hypothetical” final form of the Didache Greek text due to (1) a lack of modern critical edition and (2) the modern base Didache text builds upon H54, an 11th century document. So, here in Did. 10.8 and in Did. 16.9, I will briefly comment upon a reconstructed text.
Besides being found in the Apostolic Constitutions VII, 27, 1–2, Did. 10.8 appears in a Coptic translation. Br. Mus. Or. 9271 is a Coptic papyrus text that includes Did. 10.3b–12.2a. F. Stanley Jones and Paul A. Mirecki have offered a readable Coptic text, translation, and comments on the text. Unlike Jones and Mirecki and Niederwimmer who title this addition as Did. 10.7, I want to cohere more with Van de Sandt and Flusser, and Jefford by enumerating this Coptic version as Did. 10.8. In my mind, this coheres better to distinguish the ointment addition from H54 without confusing the material in H54 Did. 10.7.
For one community of Didache readers, especially for whoever used what is now catalogued as Br. Mus. Or. 9271, Did. 10.8 functioned as part of a final form text. I’m not commenting upon whether or not Did. 10.8 needs to be included in a modern edition of the Didache. I assume the critical position of Jefford via Niederwimmer: “The ‘ointment’ prayer was likely interpolated either around the year 200 CE or slightly earlier, was then incorporated into ApCon with alterations, and the ‘noninterpolated’ text continued in the forms now known from the witnesses of H and Geor.” So, the critical discussions often consider the Vorlage, whereas I want to suggest that some second century community (more likely a Coptic community) understood this tradition as part of the Didache’s Eucharist liturgy.
If I can join Br. Mus. Or. 9271 version of Did. 10.8 with H54, what kind of interpretive possibilities arise? No internal coherence for the ointment prayer appears elsewhere in Did. 1–16. Rather, there does appear to include liturgical stable expressions in the following: (1) the expression “we give thanks”; (2) the opening line “concerning the ointment” may cohere with the Greek περί δέ + genitive; (3) thanksgiving is given to the Father; (4) Jesus, as the servant, is the means by which something is revealed; and (5) the shorter benediction.
Although no direct or clear interpretive function is given in Did. 10.8, a consideration of other traditions may inform the Didache’s tradition. I forsee a few possibilities. Given the Didache’s general coherence with James, the use of oil is in a prayer of blessing for the sick (Jas 5:14–15; Mark 6:13). Next, in Apos Const VII, 44, 1, ointment is used in the process of baptism. Ointment was placed upon the baptizee as an aroma of Christ and identification with his death and resurrection. In another tradition in the second century, Justin Martyr offers an allegorical reading of Ps 44:8 whereby the oil is a figure of Christ. None of these previous interpretive options are totally outside the scope of what could be implied in Did. 10.8. Ointment for sickness, preparation for death, association with Jesus, or a sacramental presence of Christ himself are all possible readings for Did. 10.8.
 Jones and Mirecki, “Coptic Papyrus of the Didache.”
 Niederwimmer, Didache: A Commentary, 165–67.
 Sandt and Flusser, Didache, 299.
 Clayton N. Jefford, Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Early Christian Apocrypha 5 (Salem, OR: Polebridge Press, 2013), 56–57.
 Klaus Wengst, Didache (Apostellehre), Barnabasbrief, Zweiter Klemensbrief, Schrift an Diognet: Eingeleitet, herausgegeben, übertragen und erläutert, Schriften des Urchristentums 2 (München: Kösel-Verlag, 1984), 82; For the Coptic, see Jones and Mirecki. Given the readership of this commentary, I deemed Greek to be more helpful for my readers than providing Coptic. Jones and Mirecki, “Coptic Papyrus of the Didache,” 52.
 This translation is from Jones and Mirecki based of the Coptic version. I saw no reason to offer a modified translation after translating the Coptic. Jones and Mirecki, “Coptic Papyrus of the Didache,” 53.
 Jefford, Didache, 57; Niederwimmer, Didache: A Commentary, 167.
 A là Wengst, Didache (Apostellehre), Barnabasbrief, Zweiter Klemensbrief, Schrift an Diognet: Eingeleitet, herausgegeben, übertragen und erläutert, 82.