Click to donate today!
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
A Greek work, in eight books, containing regulations of Church life, better known under the name of "Apostolic Constitutions," the full title being "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles [composed] by Clemens, Bishop and Citizen of Rome—Catholic Didascalia." Claiming to have been written by the Apostles, the work proves on closer examination to be based, like the see see DIDACHE, upon an original Jewish work, transformed by extensive interpolations and slight alterations into a Christian document of great authority. There exists another version, bearing the name "Didascalia," in Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Arabic, and (incomplete) in Latin, which, since the appearance of Lagarde's edition of the Syriac "Didascalia" in 1854, most modern scholars consider to be the original work. On the other hand, Bickell ("Gesch. des Kirchenrechts," 1843, pp. 148-177) has given convincing proofs that the "Apostolic Constitutions" is the original work, and the so-called "Didascalia" a mere condensation. In the latter the Jewish elements are to a large extent eliminated, and the Christian character is more pronounced.
Only the first six books of the "Apostolic Constitutions," which correspond with the "Didascalia"—the latter consists of twenty-six chapters and is not divided into books—form the original work; the last two, which contain, besides a remodeled version of the "Didache," many liturgical pieces of very ancient character and indisputably of Jewish origin, are later additions, but seem to have belonged in part to the older Jewish original. The work is of very great value to the student of Jewish and Church history, as it contains a large amount of haggadic and halakic material derived from unknown Jewish sources, and casts a flood of light upon Talmudic and New Testament literature. The original writer quotes the Scripture after the Septuagint version, and many apocryphal verses from unknown works; and, as will be shown farther on, he furnished to Paul and to other New Testament writers the source for many of their dicta. His style is fresh and vigorous, bearing striking resemblance to that of the "Didache." The Christian interpolator, on the other hand, is easily recognized by interruptions of the context, by ill-fitting New Testament references, and by occasional outbursts of Jew-hatred in glaring contrast to the Jewish spirit of the main work. The name "God" was frequently changed by copyists into "Christ," as was occasionally noticed by Lagarde; at times "Christ" is used for "Logos" (the Word).
The name "Didascalia" (given in the Preface and found in 2:39,55; 6:14,18; 7:36) was borrowed from the Jewish original, the introductory sentence of which, greatly amplified in the "Apostolic Constitutions" and still more in the Syriac "Didascalia," seems to have read as follows:
"The plantation of God and His elect vineyard, those who believe in His unerring worship and hope to partake of His kingdom, sharing in His power and in the communion of His Holy Spirit . . . harken to His holy 'Instruction.' Take care, ye children of God, to do all things in obedience to God and to be agreeable in all things to the Lord our God. For if any man follow unrighteousness and act contrarily to the will of God, such a one will be regarded by God as a lawless heathen [ὡς παράνομον ἔθνος= ]."
Dealing with the conduct of individuals, this book begins with a warning against the lighter transgressions (; DIDACHE), e.g., covetousness (Exodus 20:17), as coming from the Evil One (Test. Patr., Simeon, 3); the argument, based on the Targumic interpretation of Leviticus 19:18, as in the "Didache" (not the positive "golden rule" of the New Testament), has its exact parallel in Ab. R. N. - (ed. Schechter, pp. 60, 62, 65). The monition in ch. to bless him who curses is based on Numbers 24:9 and Proverbs 20:22; Luke 6:28 and Matthew 5:44,45 being obviously later interpolations. The warning against lascivious conduct of men, "which may cause the stumbling of women," is based on Exodus 20:14,17 (without reference to Matthew 18:7); and rules regarding modesty in the dressing of hair and beard, on Deuteronomy 22:5 and Leviticus 19:27 (compare Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 9:13). Ch. - recommend a useful occupation and the study of the Scriptures (Joshua 1:8; Deuteronomy 4:7; and verses from Wisdom and Proverbs), and warn against heathen and diabolical books. Ch. - contain rules of conduct for women, beginning with a sentence of which Paul's dictum, 1 Corinthians 11:3, is evidently the copy, not the source (the interpolation made here disturbing the sense). The sentence is as follows:
"Let the wife subordinate herself to her husband; for the head of the woman is the man, and of the man who walks in the way of righteousness, God, his Father, who is over all [compare "Didache," 4:10]; therefore, next to God, O wife, fear and reverence thy husband."
With copious references to Proverbs, woman is warned not to cause men to "stumble" by her enticing attire. She is admonished to go about with covered head in the street; not to paint her face, as "all frivolous adornment of what God Himself made beautiful is an affront to the bounty of the Creator"; to walk with downward look and be veiled; to bathe only in places and at times reserved exclusively for women; and, finally, to conduct herself so as not to cause her husband to stumble. All these teachings may be termed "Hilkot Ẓent'ut" (Rules of Modesty), and having many parallels in Massek. Kallah, ed. Coronel, Vienna, 1864, and in Massek. Derek 'Ereẓ, were conspicuous features in the life of the Essenes or Ẓenu'im (Ber. 62a, b; Shab. 118b, 140b; Ta'an. 21b, 22a; Meg. 12b; B. Ḳ. 82a).
Origin of the Institution of Bishops.
Dwells on the functions and powers of the head of the congregation, called "episcopus" = "overseer," the Christian "bishop," the ( = πρόνοος or προνοήτές) of rabbinical literature (Sifre, Bemidbar, 139; compare προνοίαν ποιούμενος in "Apost. Const." III. ). It begins with the rule: "The shepherd who is ordained overseer must be without blemish and not under fifty years of age" (compare Philo, "De Profugis,"; Ḥag. 14a; Sanh. 17a). The modification of this rule for small parishes, which follows, betrays the hand of Christian interpolators.
The qualities necessary for an overseer (based on Exodus 18:21; compare Mek., Yitro, ad loc.; Sifre, Bemidbar, 92; Debarim, 15; Sanh. 17a) are enumerated in ch. , and repeated in 1 Timothy 3:2-7. One of these is that he should not be a proselyte (νεόφυτος = ; compare Ḳid. 76b; A. V. "novice," 1 Timothy 3:6, is incorrect). From Leviticus 21:17 (compare Sanh. 36b) is derived the rule in ch. that the overseer must be examined in order that it may be ascertained whether he is free from blemish; but chief stress is laid upon his being a compassionate friend of the widow and the stranger, eager and capable to administer to the poor, this being his principal task (ch. ).
In order to fulfil well his other task, that of instructing the people in the Law, he must (ch. -) always be sober-minded (compare Sifra to Leviticus 10:8; Sanh. 42a; 'Er. 64b); show no greediness, especially in dealing with Gentiles (the latter words are omitted in 1 Timothy 3:3; compare, however, Yer. B. M. 2:8c); suffer rather than inflict injury (compare Shab. 88b, ); shun heathen festivals and heathen lusts; and as a good shepherd lead his flock by a good example (after Leviticus 15:31, LXX.; Hosea 4:9, LXX.).
The name "episcopus," taken as "watchman" ("The shepherds should be good watchmen"; compare Jeremiah 6:17, LXX., and Ezekiel 33:6), is dwelt upon as enjoining him to expel bad sheep from the flock (ch. -x, with references to Achan and Gehazi, but without mention of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-10). Ch. -: "One scabbed sheep, if not separated, infects the rest with disease"; "A little leaven infects the whole lump" (hence, also, Galatians 5:9); therefore sinners should be separated, like Miriam (Numbers 12:14; compare Sifre ad loc., ), for longer or shorter periods, and avoid "the wrath of divine judgment pronounced by the overseer, the watchman of righteousness," who has the power of binding and loosing; who is like Moses and Aaron, being made to bear the sins of all (Numbers 18:1); and who, as shepherd, is held to account for every single sheep of his flock (Ezekiel 34). The whole disciplinary system in use among the Essenes and the Pharisees as well as among the early Christians (ANATHEMA; see EXCOMMUNICATION) is here (ch. - and ) fully presented, the excommunicated being characteristically called ἀποσυνάγωγος = "expelled from the synagogue" (ch. , p. 71, line 5, ed. Lagarde [compare p. 72, line 8]; book III., ch. , id., p. 105, line 6; book IV., ch. , id., p. 119, line 23).
The overseer also offers remission of sins to the transgressor who repents, exactly as, when David confessed his sin before God, the Holy Spirit answered (2 Samuel 12:13, LXX.): "The Lord also hath put away thy sin; be of good cheer, thou shalt not die" (ch. and ). Moreover, "he who does not receive the penitent is a murderer of his brother, like Cain" (ch. ). The sinner's claim upon compassion is especially illustrated by a remarkable portion of a Midrash relating more elaborately than in any other work the story of Manasseh's idolatry and repentance, Manasseh's prayer forming an integral part of the whole haggadic legend, while the fruitlessness of hypocritical repentance is illustrated by the singular story of Amon (AMON (2); see MANASSEH). Ch. -: The weak, malapropos Apostolic testimony here added by the Christian redactor only serves to establish the Jewish character of the remainder.
Still more remarkable are ch. -, which, dwelling upon the proper treatment of the penitent sinner, refer to Ezekiel 33:11 et seq. Ch. and contain arguments in favor of mingling with the wicked in order to win them over to righteousness and to obtain God's pardon for them, without even a reference to the life work of Jesus—a fact which excludes the very possibility of a Christian authorship of the book. On the contrary, remonstrating against those "relentless" fanatics who would let the wicked perish in their sin, the author says (ch. ):
"The lovers of God who commune with the sinners are not guilty of sin, but are imitators of their Father in heaven, who maketh His sun rise on the righteous and on the wicked, and sendeth His rain alike upon the evil and the good. [Compare Agadat Shir ha-Shirim, ed. Schechter, p. 4. This is the source also of Matthew 5:45 and of 2 Timothy 2:5.] Victors and vanquished are in the same arena, and only those are crowned who have nobly striven." "Nor is the teacher defiled by coming nigh to the sinners [compare the controversy between the Shammaites and the Hillelites in Ab. R. N. (ed. Schechter, p. 14), and Ber. 22a]. The sinners should be offered comfort and hope [Isa. 1, LXX.]; and Noah, Lot, and Rahab are given as instances that conversation and association with the unrighteous do not condemn the righteous."
The Good Shepherd.
Likewise is the picture of the good shepherd, who "strengthens the weak, heals the sick, and seeks that which is lost" (derived from Ezekiel 34), elaborately described in ch. -; accounting for the New Testament similes (Luke 15:4 and Matthew 10:6), as well as for the haggadic pictures of Moses and David (Ex. R.; Tan., Shemot, ed. Buber, p. 6; Midr. Teh. to Psalms 78:71). "Like the gentle shepherd [Isaiah 42], the overseer should endeavor to save all the members of his flock, and say to the sinner, 'Do thou but return, and I will accept death for thee.'" This is the original of "the good shepherd" who "giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11-13, quoted in the interpolated passage). "Like a father he should love them as his children, and rear them as the hen rears her chickens" (hence Matthew 23:32).
A genuine piece of halakic legislation occurs in ch. - concerning the use of charity-offerings: "The overseer should not use the godly things  as if they were profane [ = ἀλλότρια], but with restraint;" he may, as "a man of God" (compare 2 Kings 4:42; Ket. 105b; "Didache," 13:3-6), use as godly things the tithes, first-fruits, and all the freewill offerings brought in for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the sick, and the stranger, but may not misuse them in selfish greed. Here follows, with references to Numbers 32:22 (compare Yer. Sheḳ. 3:47c), Ezekiel 34:3, Isaiah 5:8, and Leviticus 19:18 (34?), the passage which is obviously the source of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:7-9. Referring to Deuteronomy 25:4, it says:
"In the same manner as the ox that labors on the threshing-floor without a muzzle eats indeed, but does not eat it all up, so do you who labor for the threshing-floor [: compare Ḥul. 5a]—that is, for the congregation of God—eat of the congregation.In the same manner as the Levites who served in the Tabernacle partook of the things offered to God [Numbers 18], should the administrators of charity be supported out of the charity gifts."
In the following passage, beneath "the Church of Jesus the Savior" (), there is discernible "the congregation of God that escaped the Ten Plagues and received the Ten Commandments, and has yod (=ten) as its first letter, while named after God (Yhwh), whose first letter is also yod (= ten)." Here the overseer is recommended to the people's love and reverence as their high priest, as "the father ["abba"; see Kohler in "Jew. Quart. Rev." 13:567 et seq.] who caused you to be born anew as God's children through baptism and the Holy Spirit" (ESSENES), and as "the earthly god," after Psalms 82:6; Exodus 22:27. As without the priest no one could approach the altar, so the means of support for the widows and orphans, which is a type of the altar of burnt offering, may not be offered without the overseer, lest punishment, as in 1 Samuel 13:13, 2 Chronicles 22:16, and Numbers 16, follow (ch. -). Ch. : "The overseer, who adopts thee as God's child, is thy father, and his right hand, with which he imbues thee with the Holy Spirit, thy mother; so honor them as thy spiritual parents" (Exodus 20:12; comp. B. M. 2:11).
Jewish Courts of Justice.
Great stress is laid in ch. et seq. upon the avoidance of heathen courts of justice for the adjustment of differences (comp. Tan. Yelamdenu to Deuteronomy 16:18; Yalḳ. to Psalms 147, ). On Sabbath no judicial debates should take place; peace only is to prevail; wherefore the court sessions should be on the second (and the fifth [?]) day of the Sabbaths, so that the controversy may be settled in the interval, and the contestants may have peace again on the Lord's Day (see Syriac "Didascalia,"; Ket. 1:1; Beẓah 5:2; compare "Didache," 8:11 against the Jewish "Ma'amadot"). According to ch. , the assistants ("diacones") and elders give their votes as "men of God," and the overseer decides; God, whose Shekinah (the text has Χρίστος) is present, confirming the judgment (after Ps. lxxxii 1; compare Midr. Teh. ad loc.).
"Even the heathen judge, before passing the final decree of capital punishment, lifts his hand toward the sun and swears that he is innocent of the blood of the culprit; so much the more should your verdict be given only after careful investigation."
"Be, therefore, righteous judges, peacemakers, and free from anger. If it happen that by some evil influence you become angry at anybody, let not the sun go down upon your wrath; for, says David, 'Be angry, and sin not' [Psalms 4:4, LXX.]: that is, Be soon reconciled, lest your wrath, lasting long, become hatred and work sin.' For 'The souls of those that bear a settled hatred are to death,' says Solomon [Proverbs 12:28, LXX.]." It is plain that Ephesians 4:26 is based upon this passage (compare Resch, "Agrapha," p. 210, Leipsic, 1899).
"Wherefore, brethren, it is your duty to pray continually and to remove enmity. God hears not those who are at enmity with their brethren on account of unjust anger" (compare Ber. 19a).
"Before the prayer which follows the reading from the Law and the psalm-singing and the instruction ["didascalia"] out of the Scriptures ["Hafṭarah"], should the assistant [deacon = ], while standing near you, say with a loud voice: 'Let no one have a quarrel with another. Let none come in hypocrisy!' For the greeting of peace [Isaiah 57], offered on entering private houses, is all the more applicable to those that enter the congregation of God, as the name 'bet ha-keneset' ["synagogue") indicates the gathering of all who belong to the Lord and the augmentation of the number of those 'saved by concord'" (ch. ).
Divine service, under the direction of the overseer, "as the commander of a great ship" (compare Clement's Epistle to James 14-; B. B. 91b; Ber. 28a; Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." s. ), and under the supervision of the deacons (), begins with the reading of the two lessons from the Torah and the Prophets, while "all stand in silence" (according to Deuteronomy 5:28 [A. V. 31], 27:9). This is followed by expositions by the seven elders, and finally by the overseer ("maftir"); then prayer is offered for the land and its produce, for the high priest and the king, and for the peace of the universe, the faces of all being turned eastward "toward the site of Paradise"; and the overseer then gives the closing benediction (ch. ).
Ch. states that the overseer should enjoin the people to attend the service regularly, and not by their absence to cause the body of the divine glory, Shekinah (text, "Christ"), to lose a member (compare and Yeb. 64a; Ber. 6a, 8a); especially on the Sabbath day, on which "we pray thrice standing, in memory of the exodus from Egypt and the manna, and on which the reading of the Prophets takes place" (ch.; see further regarding the Sabbath prayer). In ch. it is stated that the people should emulate the heathen, who rally in the theaters, as in a synagogue, for "things that do not profit," while deprived of the power of the Word and of the power of the name "Judah," which is interpreted "confession" (; Ezekiel 5:6,7; 16:47; Jeremiah 2:10,11).
According to ch. , the people should pursue their trades as by-work () and the worship of God as their main work (), avoiding the shows and theaters of the Hellenes and the Hellenic oracles, and adhering to the congregation of the Lord, "the daughter of the Highest" (Psalms 26:4,5; 1, 2; Jeremiah 15:17, LXX.; Job 31:5,6; compare 'Ab. Zarah 18b). They should also avoid the indecent spectacles, the sports, and the feasts of the heathen (Numbers 23:23; 2 Samuel 15:23, LXX.; Leviticus 19:26; Jeremiah 9:2). "There is no fellowship between God and Satan" (hence Cor. 6:14,15). Only for the sake of redeeming a captive and saving a soul () and other necessary objects may such places be visited (compare Shab. 150a).
"The younger men of the congregation should work for their own support and for that of the needy [Proverbs 6:6, LXX., 12:11, 19:24; Ecclesiastes 10:18]: 'And if any one will not work, neither shall he eat among you,' for the Lord our God hateth the slothful. For no one of those who are dedicated to God [ ; Targ. to Judges 5:9; I Macc. 2:42; see Deborah in Rabbinical Literature] ought to be idle." Here again Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:10) copies from the "Didascalia."
Books III. and IV.:
These, as well as part of Book V., contain regulations concerning the support of widows, orphans, and other persons in distress; but the order in which they are presented is scarcely the original one. The fundamental idea underlying the book which deals with widows as a special class, or holy order, is that they are "types of the altar of God" (Book III., ch. , ,; compare Book II.,ch. , and see ALTAR); they pray for him who gives alms (Book III., ch. , ).
Widows "the Altar of God."
The institution of pious widows spending their time in prayer goes back to pre-Christian times, and can not but be of Essene or Ḥasidic origin (see Luke 2:36-38; ANNA (4) and Serah Bat Asher); the Therapeutes had their class of aged women who led a holy life, and who were regarded as virgins because they would not marry a second time (Philo, "De Vita Contemplativa," § 8; see especially Conybeare in his edition, pp. 305 and 353; compare Kohler, "Testament of Job," in Kohut Memorial Volume, pp. 287-292). These "virgin widows," whose type was Judith (see Judith 11:17, 12:6-8, 16:22), are called "the pious women" ( ) that "save their generation" (Ex. R.; Num. R.; Targ. Yer. to Exodus 38:8; Soṭah 12a). These widows had to be sixty years of age (; compare Abot 5:21) before they were admitted into the order of women (hence 1 Timothy 5:9; the Syriac "Didascalia" has "sixty" changed into "fifty"). On entering the order they had to take the vow of virginity—that is, that they would not marry again; wherefore they were to be of an age when remarrying was no longer thought of. Exceptionally young widows after a brief marriage were admitted when they had an "especial gift of widowhood," to be blessed like (? Judith and) the widow of Sarepta mentioned in 1 Kings 17:9 (Book III., ch. ). Widows not belonging to the order might marry a second time, lest they be ensnared by Satan (ib. ch. ). "The widows who are supported as consecrated to God must be sober, chaste, faithful, and pious; they must have been married only once, have brought up their children well, and have entertained strangers without blemish" (ch. ). The widow "should be meek and not hasty of speech, and leave to the rulers doctrinal questions to be answered for the young applicants. Only the unity of God she should defend against polytheistic errors, but in regard to the mysteries of the Shekinah [the text has "Christ"] she must use caution in order not to blaspheme God" (Isaiah 52:5, LXX.). "She should not teach in the assembly, but pray, and listen to those that teach" (hence Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:34). "Being the altar of God, she should go to the houses of the faithful to obtain alms, not to the houses of strangers [Syriac "Didascalia": "to become a stumbling-block to men"]. Nor should she indulge in foolish prattle instead of going to the synagogue on the Day of the Lord for rest and watchfulness like the angels ["watchers"]. Nor should she, dissatisfied with her support by the congregation, be solicitous about mammon and make her bag her God, 'worshiping mammon instead of God' [hence Matthew 6:24; compare Sifre to Deuteronomy 6:5]; but, like Judith, she should pray unceasingly for the congregation, remaining in her house, singing psalms, reading the Scripture, holding vigils and fasts, communing with God continually in songs and hymns; and let her take wool for work to help others, but not for her own use" (ch. -). "As little as the priests were allowed to accept free-will offerings from a rapacious person or a harlot [Deuteronomy 23:18; Malachi 1:13,14], is the widow allowed to accept any gift from improper sources, nor indeed from any one who has been excommunicated from the Synagogue; for prayer ought not to be offered by the recipient for such a one, this being an offense against the Holy Spirit [the text has "Christ"]" (ch. ). "Any widow who fosters strife acts like Cain, and will be cast out of the kingdom of God and delivered to eternal punishment as doing the work of Satan" (ch. ). "It is by appointment of God that the overseer distributes the gifts among the widows, and they have to pray both for him and for the giver" (ch. -). In ch. - it is stated to be the overseer's duty, as the steward of God, to provide for the wants of all the needy, the widows and orphans, the friendless and the afflicted, without any partiality, and to mention the name of the giver so that the recipients may be able to pray for him (Isaiah 58:7; Daniel 4:27; Psalms 41:2 [A. V. 1], exii. 9; Proverbs 16:6, 19:17, 21:13). Also those who assist the overseer in the administration of the needy (; compare Kohler, "Testament of Job," in c. p. 318; hence "diacones" = "deacons") are required to be spotless like him and still more energetic (), ever ready to travel, to carry messages, and to minister to the needy. Women should attend to women in need. They should not be ashamed to attend to those in want, but, if needs be, should lay down their lives for a brother, imitating the Lord of heaven and earth (compare Targ. Yer. Genesis 35:9), acting only for His name's sake. They should visit all who are in need of visitation, and report to the overseer (ch. ).
Of Book IV. the earlier chapters treat mainly of orphans:
"When the son or daughter of any brother [the Christianized text has "Christian"] becomes an orphan, some one of the brethren should adopt the same, and, if feasible, marry the girl to his son. They who do so, perform a great work  and will receive reward from God; and if, because such orphans are poor, he, being rich, is ashamed to do so, the Father of the fatherless and the 'judge of the widows' (Psalms 68:6 (A. V. 5)] will provide for these, while the fortune of such a one will be spent by prodigal heirs".
"While the overseers have, like husbands, to provide for the widows [compare Sirach (Ecclus.) 4:10, Hebrew text]; to give work to the mechanics; to show compassion to the feeble; to give shelter to the strangers, food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, visitation to the sick , rescue to the imprisoned , they must take especial care of the orphans, give the marriageable maiden in marriage to a brother, and cause the young man to learn a trade  in order to become self-supporting [see concerning the bringing up of orphans, , Ex. R.; Sanh. 19b]. Both widows and orphans receiving gifts shall give thanks 'to the Lord who giveth food to the hungry' . . ."
Forbidden Charitable Gifts.
Peculiarly instructive are the regulations concerning the acceptance of charitable offerings. Being considered as holy sacrifices for the altar of God, the Law (Deuteronomy 18:12, 23:19 [A. V. 18]; Proverbs 17:12) was applied, and no gift was to be received from unjust dealers in merchandise ( Ecclus. [Sirach] 26:29; Isaiah 1:22,23), from fornicators or such as abuse their own female servants (, Lev. R. ), from sodomites, idol-makers, blasphemers, thieves, publicans, informers, any subverter of justice, usurer, or from any one acting against the will of God. Acceptance of gifts from any of the foregoing wouldevoke divine punishment, as in the case of the prophet (1 Kings 13:1-5); and the prayer of those who received such gifts would not be heard (Jeremiah 7:16, 15:1). "Neither did Elisha accept gifts from Hazael nor Abijah from Jeroboam's wife" (2 Kings 8:10; 1 Kings 14:3). "Ye have received the gifts of the Levites and should not receive from the wicked. It is better to perish from want than to accept from the enemies of God" (Psalms 114:5). "Receive only from such as are found, on examination, to walk in holiness, and not from those who are expelled from the Synagogue." "The Lord is honored only out of righteous labor" (Proverbs 3:9, LXX.). "Only righteous money is to be used for the ransom of captives and imprisoned ones" (Proverbs 24:11). "Should, however, the acceptance of money from ungodly persons be enforced upon any, it is to be used only for fuel, like the forbidden holy thing  which is to be consumed with fire, being evil not by nature, but only in the minds of those that offer it" (Leviticus 19:7; compare Sifra thereto). Compare with these regulations those regarding "ẓedaḳah" practised by the Jewish charity administrators (; Tosef., B. Ḳ. 11:6-9; Sanh. 26b; B. B. 10b; also Charity); the interpretation of the Law, (Deuteronomy 23:19), with reference to charity, was a matter of controversy between the Christian Jacob the Gnostic, and the Rabbis ('Ab. Zarah 17a).
Of the four chapters which close Book IV., only partly preserved in the Syrian "Didascalia," the eleventh is, with the exception only of the words "and our divine words," certainly Jewish. It enjoins parents to train their children well, have them learn useful trades, familiarize them with holy Scripture, guard them against bad company, and, finally, to join them in wedlock in due time (compare Ḳid. 29a; Tosef., Kid. 1:11; Yeb. 62b).
This book, treating of martyrdom, resurrection, heathenism, and the feast-and fast-days, rests, in spite of the pronounced Christian character which it now has, upon a Jewish substratum, "Christ" having often, and at times very awkwardly, been substituted for "God." The idea presented in ch. - is that "he who is condemned by the heathen to the games and the beasts for the name of the Lord God is a holy martyr, the son of the Highest, and a vessel of the Holy Spirit" (compare the expression in the Midr. ha-Gadol, quoted by I. Lewy in his "Ein Wort Ueber die 'Mechilta des R. Simon,'" p. 38, note), and "whosoever aids or rescues these martyrs by means of his work shares in their glorious martyrdom." "He who denies being God's in order not to be hated by men, loving his own life more than he does the Lord in whose hand his breath is held, is wretched, an enemy of God, who has his portion with the accursed and not with the saints, and inherits the eternal fire prepared for Satan and his angels, instead of the reward of the blessed" (compare Sifre, Debarim, 32; Philo, "Quod Omnis Probus Liber,"; Wisdom 3:11-19; Bousset, "Die Religion des Judenthums," 1902, p. 168).
The Essene principle is set forth in ch. -:
"Let us then renounce our parents, kinsmen, and friends, wife and children, all possessions and enjoyments of life, if they become an impediment to piety [compare Philo, "De Vita Contemplativa." § 2, and parallels in Conybeare's ed., p. 49]. For while it behooves us to pray that He may not lead us into temptation [Ber. 60b; Matthew 6:13], yet when we are called upon to give testimony [as martyrs; compare LXX. to Isaiah 43:10-12], while confessing His precious name with defiance [; Sifra, Emor, 9], let us rejoice, hastening toward immortality. And when persecuted, let us not be perplexed and let us love neither this world nor the praise of men nor the glory and honor of rulers; but let him who has been deemed worthy of martyrdom rejoice in the joy of the Lord as obtaining thereby a great crown, and ending life with a confession [: compare Sifre, Deut., 32; Ber. 61b]. For the Almighty God will Himself raise us up, according to His infallible promise, and grant us a resurrection with all those that have slept from the beginning of the world [ in the Eighteen Benedictions], whether we die in the sea, are scattered on earth, or torn to pieces by wild beasts or birds. He will raise us by His own power [compare in Eighteen Benedictions], for the whole world is held together by the hand of God." Here references are made to Daniel 12:2-3; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Ezekiel 27:11; Isaiah 26:19, 66:24; then to Enoch and Elisha, to the raising of the dead by Ehjah and Elisha; to Jonah (2:11), to Daniel and his three youths (Daniel 2-), and finally, to convince heathen readers, to the Sibylline Oracles (4:178-190), and to the mythical phenix.
"In this hope we undergo stripes, persecutions, and deaths. Just as God by His will made heaven and earth [Genesis 1 l; Jer. i, 5; Zechariah 12:1; Job. 10:10; Psalms 103:14: 119:73; 139:5,16], so will He raise all men by His will either to crown them or to punish them [Daniel 12:3], man being His workmanship made by His word [Genesis 1:26 et seq.; text has "Christ"], just as He raises the wheat out of the ground [compare Sanh. 90b] and as He made Aaron's dry rod put forth buds [Numbers 17:8]."
Martyrs should be held in honor, according to Psalms 116:15; Proverbs 10:7; Isaiah 57:1, "A faithful martyr ["witness"] is he who strove by his own blood for the cause of faith" (ch. -).
On Sabbath and holy days, which are days of joy (Isaiah 58:13), all obscene talk and song should be avoided, according to Psalms 2:11: "Rejoice with trembling." Names of heathen gods are not to be mentioned, nor should one swear by any of the luminaries or elements (ch. -).
Ch. - warn against heresies and schisms, dwelling at great length on the sedition of Dathan and Abiram against Moses—who "exhibited the Law of God in the perfect number of Ten Commandments," and of whom God said: "There arose not a prophet like unto Moses" (Deuteronomy 34:10; no Christian could without considerable modification have written of Moses all that is stated here)—and on Sheba the son of Bichri (the name is twice misspelled almost beyond recognition); and on Joshua the son of Josedech, who also was tempted by Satan (Zechariah 3:1). In ch. the Sadducees and Dositheans seem to have originally been characterized as heretics among the Jewish people. The present text enumerates all the Jewish sects, and what follows to the end of the book—with the exception of some parts of ch. -, which dwell on Levitical impurity in connection with prayer and the Holy Spirit (Ber. 3:5; compare Kayser, "Die Canones Jacob's von Edessa," 1886, pp. 12, 81)—is altogether of Christian origin and anti-Jewish in character.
The "Didache" in an Older Form.
Books VII. and VIII.:
These contain, besides third-century Church canons and the like, diverse subject-matter—probably thrown out by the late Christian redactor of the "Didascalia" on account of its Judæo-Christian character. The first thirty-two chapters of Book VII. contain a version of the "Didache,"which, while betraying, like the rest of the "Didascalia," the hand of a Christian redactor, rests nevertheless upon a more complete Jewish original than the one discovered by Bryennios. Its whole tenor is characteristically Jewish in so far as it has each single precept or sentence based upon some Scriptural verse; and its mode of teaching, like any haggadic or halakic work, is argumentative. It begins the "Two Ways" with an apt reference to Deuteronomy 30:15 and 1 Kings 18:21; the reference to Matthew 6:24 is manifestly an interpolation. In ch. the verse "Love the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 6:5) is given (compare Iselin's [Coptic] "Apostellehre," p. 6, Leipsic, 1895). The rule, "Love those that hate you, and ye shall have no enemy," in itself decidedly Jewish in tone (see Bousset, c. p. 393), is derived from Deuteronomy 23:7: "Thou shalt not hate any man, Egyptian or Edomite, as they all are the works of God" (; compare "Apost. Const." II. , V. ). Likewise is the precept "If any one give thee a stroke on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" based upon the argument "Not that revenge is evil, but that patience is more honorable"; and Psalms 7:5 (A. V. 4) is referred to. This proves that Matthew 5:39 is not the source. Old Testament quotations and specific references to the Law are frequent throughout ch.
The principle "Flee from all evil and whatever is similar to it" () is derived from Isaiah 54:14: ("Abstain from injustice"), and the warning against anger and envy is illustrated by the fate of Cain, Saul, and Joab (ch. ). The lesson of submission to God's decree is aptly illustrated by the example of Job—and very inaptly by the interpolator's reference to Lazarus (ch. ). In ch. honor for the teacher is required, because "where there is teaching concerning God, there God is present" (Abot 3:3; compare Matthew 18:20). The sedition of Korah is to warn man against making schisms; and the examples of Elijah Micaiah, Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, and Nathan, against taking presents from sinners that are to be reproved (ch. ). Ch. contains as the last rule: "Thou shalt not proceed to thy house of prayer on a day of thy misfortune before thou hast laid aside thy bitterness"—a decidedly Jewish precept (Ber. 31a).
A striking parallel to the Mishnaic statement, "The ancient Ḥasidim used to spend a full hour in silent meditation before prayer in order to turn their hearts in true devotion to their Father in heaven" (Ber. 5:1), is preserved in ch. : "Pray thrice a day, preparing yourselves beforehand that ye may be worthy of being received as children by the Father, lest, when you call Him 'Father' unworthily, you be reproached by Him, like Israel, 'If I be a Father, where is My glory? And if I be a Lord, where is my fear?'".
God of Our Fathers, etc.
Irrefutable proof of the Jewish provenience of the "Didache" and, as will be seen, of the whole "Didascalia," is given in the words "O God of our holy and perfect fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Thy faithful servants," preserved in the thanksgiving prayer after a meal (ch. ), which also contains a thanksgiving "for the Law which Thou hast planted in our souls" (compare in the grace after meals). The same characteristic words, "The God of our holy and perfect forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" ( ), occur also in the prayer which follows in ch. This prayer is an older version of the first of the Eighteen (or Seven) Benedictions, called by the Rabbis , and, with a few omissions, it reads as follows:
"Our eternal Savior, King of the godly beings, who alone art the Almighty and Lord, God of all things, God of our holy and perfect forefathers, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, merciful and compassionate, long-suffering and abundant in mercy, to whom every heart is naked and every secret thought revealed, to Thee the souls of the righteous cry aloud; upon Thee do the hopes of the holy ones rest in confidence, Thou Father of the perfect, who hearest the prayer of those that call upon Thee in uprightness and knowest the supplication unuttered. . . . Thou hast made this world a place of combat for righteousness and hast opened to all the gate of mercy , having shown to each man by the knowledge implanted [, by natural judgment [, and by the admonition of the Law , that riches, beauty, and strength vanish and only the guileless conscience of faith  abides throughout the heavens, and walking with truth receives the right hand of victory, exulting in hope before even the world is regenerated. For Thou didst guide our forefather Abraham when he found the way of truth, and didst teach him in a vision what this world is, faith preceding his knowledge [γνῶσις]; and the covenant was the consequence of his faith [Genesis 15:6, 22:17]. And when Thou gayest him Isaac as son, Thou saidst, 'I will be a God to thee' [Genesis 26:3], and when our father Jacob was sent to Mesopotamia Thou showedst him the Word [text: "Christ"], and through him spakest, 'Behold I am with thee' [Genesis 28:15]. And so spakest Thou to Moses, Thy faithful and holy servant, at the vision of the bush: 'I am He that is' [Exodus 3:14,15]. O Thou shield of the posterity of Abraham, be blessed forever".
The prayer which follows in ch. is the second of the Seven Benedictions; it has not been preserved intact. It begins as follows:
The Seven Benedictions.
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord, King of the worlds, who by the word [; text has "Christ"] hast made the universe and by the same hast brought order into chaos." Here follows an enumeration of the whole work of Creation (), after Genesis 1, closing with the formation by the divine Wisdom of man as "the citizen of the world," "the cosmos ["ornament"] of the cosmos" (κόσμου κόσμον); his body being formed of the four bodily elements, his soul endowed with five senses as a new creation out of nothing, and his mind being the charioteer of the soul. 'The closing sentence reads: "When man was disobedient Thou didst not destroy him forever, but laidst him to sleep for a time, and by an oath didst promise him resurrection and didst loose the bond of death. Blessed be Thou, O Reviver of the Dead" (; "through Jesus Christ our hope" is the Christian addition).
The prayer in ch. begins, "Great art Thou, O Lord Almighty, and great is Thy power," exactly as the second of the Seven Benedictions in the Jewish ritual (), and enumerates the wondrous works of God's power— (Ta'an. 1; Ber. 5:2)—also characteristic of the same benediction. So this part evidently belongs to the preceding prayer. But it also contains, in an elaborate form, those portions which constitute the third benediction (). It describes the sanctification of God by the hosts of celestial beings—the holy seraphim and the six-winged cherubim, the angels and archangels; the thrones ("ofannim"), dominions, principalities, authorities, and powers—citing Isaiah 6:3; Daniel 8:13; Ezekiel 3:12 (see FALASHAS); and then speaks of Israel as "Thy congregation selected from the nations onearth, emulating the heavenly powers night and day, and singing with a full heart and soul" (Psalms 68:18 [A. V. 17]). After quotations from Deuteronomy 4:39; 1 Samuel 2:2-4; and Deuteronomy 34:2, the benediction closes thus:
"Thou art glorious and highly exalted, invisible and unsearchable; Thy life without want; Thy operation without toil; Thy work without assistance; Thy dominion unchangeable; Thy monarchy without succession; Thy kingdom without end; Thy strength irresistible; Thine army very numerous. Thou art the Father of Wisdom, the Creator of Creation, the Bestower of Providence, the Giver of Laws, the Supplier of Wants, the Punisher of the Ungodly, and the Rewarder of the Righteous, the God and Father [here "Christ" is interpolated] and Lord of those that worship Him whose promise is infallible, . . . whose thanksgiving is everlasting, to whom adoration is due from every rational and holy creature." Here the blessing formula, , is omitted.
Ch. contains the following portions of the original Jewish prayers for Sabbath and festivals:
"O Lord Almighty, Thou hast created the world by Thy Word [text: "Christ"], and hast appointed the Sabbath as a memorial thereof, because on that day Thou hast made us rest from our works that we may meditate upon Thy laws.
Prayers for Sabbath and Festivals.
"Thou hast appointed festivals for the rejoicing of our souls, that we may remember the Wisdom created by Thee. . . . Wherefore we assemble on the Day of the Lord and rejoice with Thy Word which has lit up life and immortality. For through it Thou hast made Israel, the God-beloved, Thy peculiar people. For Thou, O Lord, didst bring our fathers out of the land of Egypt and didst deliver them out of the iron furnace, from brick-making, and didst redeem them out of the hands of Pharaoh and those under him, and didst lead them through the sea as through dry land, and feed them in the wilderness with all kinds of good things.
"Thou didst give them the Law, the Ten Words pronounced by Thy voice and written with Thy hand. Thou didst enjoin them to observe the Sabbath not for the sake of affording them an occasion of idleness, but as an opportunity of piety that they might learn to know Thy power; having, in order to prevent them from evil things, kept them as within a holy circuit [ ] for the sake of instruction that they might rejoice in the number seven (for there are the seventh day and the seven weeks and the seven months and the seventh year and the jubilee year for remission) [a marginal note probably; compare Philo, "De Septennario," §§ 7-8], so that men might have no cause for pretending ignorance. Wherefore, He permitted men to rest every Sabbath so that no one should send forth one word in anger on the Sabbath day; for the Sabbath is the cessation of the creation, the completion of the world, [given for] the study of the Law, and the thanksgiving hymn to God for the blessings bestowed upon men. As the Mediator, Provider, and Lawgiver of all this, does the Lord's Day hold forth the word of God as the first-born of the entire creation, so that the Lord's Day commands us to offer unto Thee, O Lord, thanksgiving for all."
Obviously the fourth benediction, , has here assumed an Essene, or Gnostic, character, without, however, obscuring the features of the typical synagogue formula.
Ch. , , and Book VIII., ch. , have preserved portions of the last three benedictions recited both in the synagogue and in the Temple, the , and , and .
The first commences: "Thou who hast fulfilled Thy promise made by the prophets, and hast had mercy on Jerusalem by exalting the throne of David Thy servant, do Thou now, O Lord God, accept the prayers of Thy people who call upon Thee in truth as Thou didst accept of the gifts of the righteous in their generations. [Here follows an enumeration of all the righteous men from Abel to Mattathias and his sons.] So receive Thou the prayers of Thy people, offered to Thee with knowledge [the phrase "through Christ" is a Christian addition; there is no mention of Christ in the prayer itself] in the Spirit."
The Last Three Temple Benedictions.
The Modim prayer begins exactly like the Jewish benediction: "We give thanks to Thee for all things. O Lord Almighty, that Thou hast not taken away Thy mercies and loving-kindnesses from us, but generation after generation dost Thou save, deliver, assist, and protect. Thou didst assist in the days of Enos and Enoch, of Moses and Joshua, of Samuel and Elijah, of David and the Kings, of Esther and Judith, and of Judas Maccabeus and his brethren ["Christ" very inappropriately interpolated here]. For He has delivered us from the sword and from famine, from sickness and from an evil tongue. . . . For all these things do we give Thee thanks [compare ]." Here follows a special thanksgiving for the wonderful creation of man, for the immortal soul, and for the laws given to him, and for the promise of resurrection. The closing sentences are as follows: "What life is sufficient—what length of ages will be long enough for men to be thankful! For Thou hast delivered us from the impiety of polytheism. [Then follows a Christian addition quite characteristic, "and from the heresy of the murderers of Christ!"]. Thou hast delivered us from error and ignorance. Thou hast set angels over us, and hast put Satan to shame. Thou hast created us and provided for us. Thou measurest out life to us, and affordest us nourishment, and hast provided repentance. Glory and worship to Thee for all these things for ever and aye."
Of the closing benediction only the following portion has been preserved as the bishop's benediction:
"O God of our fathers, Lord of mercy, who didst form man by Thy Wisdom. . . . look down, O Lord Almighty, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy people and bless them by Thy Word [text: "Christ"], through which Thou hast enlightened us with the light of Thy knowledge, and hast revealed Thyself unto us. Adoration is due to Thee from every rational and holy creature forever."
As all these prayers go back to pre-Christian times, they are of incalculable importance to the student of Jewish and Christian liturgy. Here is also the origin of such names as "the Lord's Day" for Sabbath (Sunday).
There are a number of other benediction formulas given in Books VII. and VIII. which betray an adaptation from Jewish prayers and anthems. Especially is the "Trisagion," or "Thrice Holy," in Book VIII., ch. —which has, in more or less modified form, been universally adopted in the various churches—based on a somewhat older form of the Jewish sanctification than the one in ch. of Book VII., mentioned above; while the prayers for penitents and for the various classes of people (Book VIII., ch. and ) have striking parallels in the older portion of the Jewish litanies (see SekiḤot). See also Essenes; GNOSTICISM; LITURGY; SABBATH.
- Lagarde, Constitutiones Apostolorum, Leipsic and London, 1862;
- idem, Didascalia, 1854;
- Funk, Die Apostolischen Constitutionen, Rothenburg, 1891;
- Bickell, Gesch. des Kirchenrechts, , Giessen, 1843;
- Kohler, in Monatsschrift, 1893, p. 447.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Didascalia'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/d/didascalia.html. 1901.