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Source: (consider it) Thread: Open canon?
HCH
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From time to time on the Ship, questions arise about the biblical canon. There are disagreements about what is canonical and some people argue for an open canon.

If the canon was to be open, do you have any specific documents to nominate for inclusion? To make it interesting, let's focus on relatively recent documents: within the last 50 years or maybe the last 500 years.

There's a whole world to choose from: essays, plays, poetry, history, fiction, systematic theology, popular theology, song lyrics, Tweets, graffiti, "The Book of Mormon", the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the speeches of Lincoln or King, etc. What would be important enough? (Or is "important" the wrong word?)

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Garasu
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Like the great books?

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"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

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South Coast Kevin
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Just one book springs to my mind instantly, and that's The Divine Conspiracy.

It has utterly transformed my thinking about the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount, the here-and-now element of Christianity (it's not just a ticket to heaven), and the way that God transforms us into holier, more Christlike people.

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stonespring
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Wait. Would adding a book to the Scriptural Canon mean that every word in it is just as inspired and inerrant (not inerrant when read literally, but still inerrant in its proper interpretation) as the words of Scripture?
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Moo

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The Kerygmania hosts have decided that this thread is better suited to Purgatory.

Hold your hats!

Moo

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jrw
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The Narnia Chronicles.

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k-mann
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The question that needs to be asked, is this: What criteria would there be to ‘include’ a book? Apostolic origin, perhaps? (Where that is more ore less ‘loose.’) What do people mean when they argue for an ‘open canon’? Most systematic theologians who argue for this seems to use apostolic origin as one of the criteria, and many use the example of the discovery of, say, Paul’s third letter to the Corinthians.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by k-mann:
Most systematic theologians who argue for this seems to use apostolic origin as one of the criteria, and many use the example of the discovery of, say, Paul’s third letter to the Corinthians.

Ooh, that's interesting - what would theologians, churches and Christians in general do with a 'new' letter of Paul's?

Mind you, HCH's thread starter asked us to focus on writings from the last 50 or perhaps 500 years, so your comment, k-mann, is answering a different question. Both interesting questions, though, IMO...

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by South Coast Kevin:
quote:
Originally posted by k-mann:
Most systematic theologians who argue for this seems to use apostolic origin as one of the criteria, and many use the example of the discovery of, say, Paul’s third letter to the Corinthians.

Ooh, that's interesting - what would theologians, churches and Christians in general do with a 'new' letter of Paul's?
Probably the same thing as an old letter from 'Paul'.

Blogger Fred Clark made the suggestion that Letter From a Birmingham Jail be added to the Christian canon.

quote:
It’s a prison epistle from an apostle of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is where we usually keep those. It would fit right in.
Just rename it "King's Epistle to the Alabamians" and you're done!

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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SvitlanaV2
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It would just be one more thing for Christians to disagree about! We have enough difficulty understanding and living according to the teachings of the Bible as it is - we don't need any more new gospels, or epistles from Paul, or whatever!

I do understand the excitement generated by new discoveries, though. Any scholar would love to discover something of major importance, and any Theology Department would be delighted to see its profile raised as a result of being connected with a great new find.

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Gramps49
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A number of years ago some people wanted to include Martin Luther King's Letters from Prison. Myself, I would nominate Dietrich Bonhoeffer's works.
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Jack o' the Green
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Some scholars e.g. the late Robert Funk might argue for the Gospel of Thomas to be included as (they argue), it contains as much historical information as the Synoptics including a more primitive account of the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. If a complete copy of the Gospel of the Hebrews was ever discovered, (aassuming all the references refer to one Gospel), then a case might be made for that to be included.

[ 19. April 2014, 18:01: Message edited by: Yonatan ]

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HCH
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I think Stonespring's question needs an answer. If you regard our existing scripture as inerrant, then presumably you would be willing to add to it only new documents you also regarded as inerrant. If you do not regard our existing scripture as inerrant--and many do not--you might be more flexible.

I like the suggestion of "Letter from Birmingham Jail". A suggestion of my own is "The Canticle of the Sun" by St. Francis.

I probably would not include many of the Great Books. How are the Greek epic poems relevant to Christianity, for instance?

Another approach to this is to say that the Bible is an account of the history of the people of Israel followed by the early history of Christianity. Are there documents in more recent Jewish history to consider? Perhaps something from or about the Holocaust or the founding of modern Israel?

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Hairy Biker
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Could we cut out some dead wood while we're about it? The pastoral epistles, or perhaps the first half of 1 Chronicles? Would make it easier to read and sort out some of the dead horses if we could edit it a bit more carefully.

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there [are] four important things in life: religion, love, art and science. At their best, they’re all just tools to help you find a path through the darkness. None of them really work that well, but they help.
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Bostonman
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1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius, and the Didache, for starters. That'd kind of screw all those lacking bishops, though...
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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Bostonman:
1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius, and the Didache, for starters. That'd kind of screw all those lacking bishops, though...

Certainly it'd screw all those churches lacking 'episkopos' (or whatever the plural would be!), but translating that directly into modern-day bishops is something that could be reasonably contested, I'd have thought.

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My blog - wondering about Christianity in the 21st century, chess, music, politics and other bits and bobs.

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Beeswax Altar
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Journey's Greatest Hits [Votive]

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Prester John
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We could call it the Orange Catholic Bible.
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Beeswax Altar
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Selected episodes of The Big Bang Theory mostly the sayings of Sheldon Cooper

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Losing sleep is something you want to avoid, if possible.
-Og: King of Bashan

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Prester John:
We could call it the Orange Catholic Bible.

[Overused]

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MSHB
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The one book that I remember reading where passages leapt out at me rather like passages of scripture was Martin Buber's "I and Thou".

I'd include it as a Tritocanonical book of the Bible!

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Robert Armin

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The book I go back to most often after the Bible is The Cloud of Unknowing. I'd be tempted to include that, and maybe Mother Julian's Revelations. Coming closer to the present day, possibly The Great Divorce.

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Martin60
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Love Wins, Rob Bell

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Love wins

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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The London Telephone directory. It's pure fact and empirically verifiable.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by HCH:

Another approach to this is to say that the Bible is an account of the history of the people of Israel followed by the early history of Christianity. Are there documents in more recent Jewish history to consider? Perhaps something from or about the Holocaust or the founding of modern Israel?

quote:
Originally posted by bostonman:
1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius, and the Didache, for starters. That'd kind of screw all those lacking bishops, though...

Interestingly, the Ethiopian Orthodox canon contains some New Testament works related to Clement, as well as a history of the Jews related to Josephus.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
The book I go back to most often after the Bible is The Cloud of Unknowing. I'd be tempted to include that, and maybe Mother Julian's Revelations.

Ooh, I've just bought Revelations of Divine Love but haven't got round to reading it yet! *Moves it up the reading list*

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An die Freude
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The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz. Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist. Or perhaps I'd consider them to be modern Apocryphal books, at least.

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Formerly JFH

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Alberto
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I second the nomination of St.Francis' Canticle of the Sun and Bonhoeffer....I'd also include his Peace Prayer, MLK, and the Didache...the Didache is so conspicuously absent......
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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by Alberto:
and the Didache...the Didache is so conspicuously absent......

It certainly is. Along with other works like the 'Shepherd of Hermes', it very nearly made it into the canon.
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Robert Armin

All licens'd fool
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It's interesting to imagine how the history of Christianity would have been different if the Didache had been included. The Reformation, for one, would have had to take a different shape.

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Keeping fit was an obsession with Fr Moity .... He did chin ups in the vestry, calisthenics in the pulpit, and had developed a series of Tai-Chi exercises to correspond with ritual movements of the Mass. The Antipope Robert Rankin

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Jack o' the Green
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Indeed. I also think it would have done Christian theology no harm to have had the more Jewish-Christian scriptures as a permanent part of its canon.
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Ricardus
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I sometimes think it would be beneficial to have at least a basic awareness of the Talmud, if only to counteract too many sermons that blithely talk about 'the Law' without reference to the way Jews actually apply the Law.

In terms of more modern works (as per the OP), I vote for The Way of the Pilgrim. And possibly The Screwtape Letters.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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tclune
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
It's interesting to imagine how the history of Christianity would have been different if the Didache had been included. The Reformation, for one, would have had to take a different shape.

How so?

--Tom Clune

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k-mann
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quote:
Originally posted by tclune:
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
It's interesting to imagine how the history of Christianity would have been different if the Didache had been included. The Reformation, for one, would have had to take a different shape.

How so?
For one, it clearly describes the Eucharist in sacrificial categories.

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— Paul Tillich

Katolikken

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tclune
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quote:
Originally posted by k-mann:
quote:
Originally posted by tclune:
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
It's interesting to imagine how the history of Christianity would have been different if the Didache had been included. The Reformation, for one, would have had to take a different shape.

How so?
For one, it clearly describes the Eucharist in sacrificial categories.
I have only read the the Didache a few times, and then only in translation. But I don't recall anything that would give Zwingli fits. Could you be specific?

--Tom Clune

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dj_ordinaire
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I have a vague notion that what is really needed is... mathematics.

A selection of the major works on algebra, calculus and relativity would surely merit inclusion as witnesses to the mathematical wonder of God's creation!

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Flinging wide the gates...

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stonespring
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Judaism at the time of Jesus was pretty different than the Orthodox Rabbinical Judaism of today, and even from the Judaism of the Middle Ages. Responding to the destruction of the Temple and the rise of Christianity (and Islam) basically made Judaism as we know it today. Therefore, any Jewish text written after the Judaism and Christianity began to be seen as separate religions would not be very useful in understanding the New Testament, and might not even be that useful in understanding the Old Testament from a Christian perspective.
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PaulTH*
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quote:
Originally posted by Alberto:
the Didache is so conspicuously absent

As K-mann has pointed out, the sacrifcial element of the Eucharist is clearly present in the Didache, but I suspect it was left out of the canon because of its low Christology. Its first chapter on the two ways is very Jewish and pure salvation by works. In the Eucharist in chapter 3 it says,

"First, about the cup: "We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of your boy David which you made known to us through your boy Jesus. Glory be to you for the age,"

"Now about the broken loaf: "We thank you, our Father, for the life and the knowledge that you made known to us through your boy Jesus. Glory be to you for the age."

"Now after you have been filled, give thanks this way: "We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name, which you made to live in our hearts, and for the knowledge and trust and immortality which you made known to us through Jesus your boy. Glory be to you for the age."

Perhaps others will read this differently, but I see it as a gentile community which is thanking God that the vine of David, as well as the "Knowledge and trust and immortality" which is God's promise, has been made known to them through Jesus, a boy equated with David. This doesn't to me, represent the Christology of the Church.

quote:
Originally posted by MSHB:
The one book that I remember reading where passages leapt out at me rather like passages of scripture was Martin Buber's "I and Thou".

I'm pleased I've finally heard of a shipmate who appreciates "I and Thou" as I do. Yet I doubt if it would fit into Scripture.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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k-mann
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# 8490

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
quote:
Originally posted by Alberto:
the Didache is so conspicuously absent

As K-mann has pointed out, the sacrifcial element of the Eucharist is clearly present in the Didache, but I suspect it was left out of the canon because of its low Christology. Its first chapter on the two ways is very Jewish and pure salvation by works. In the Eucharist in chapter 3 it says,

"First, about the cup: "We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of your boy David which you made known to us through your boy Jesus. Glory be to you for the age,"

"Now about the broken loaf: "We thank you, our Father, for the life and the knowledge that you made known to us through your boy Jesus. Glory be to you for the age."

"Now after you have been filled, give thanks this way: "We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name, which you made to live in our hearts, and for the knowledge and trust and immortality which you made known to us through Jesus your boy. Glory be to you for the age."

Perhaps others will read this differently, but I see it as a gentile community which is thanking God that the vine of David, as well as the "Knowledge and trust and immortality" which is God's promise, has been made known to them through Jesus, a boy equated with David. This doesn't to me, represent the Christology of the Church.

The word translated ‘boy’ is παιδός (paidos), from παῖς (pais), which can mean both ‘servant, slave’ or ‘child, boy’ (and sometimes ‘girl’). The Greek text is found here. It seems to me that the most likely translation is ‘servant’ (or perhaps ‘slave’), and that doesn’t seem to be ‘low’ Christology. The ‘vine’ in question seems to be Jesus, not David. When we say “the holy vine of David Thy servant” (or “the holy vine of your boy David”), it seems to be alluding to Christ being a descendant of David, a theme which is very present in the Gospels.

For those who haven’t read Didache, my reference to the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is from chapter 14 (from the Roberts-Donaldson English translation):
quote:
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.”


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"Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt."
— Paul Tillich

Katolikken

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PaulTH*
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# 320

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quote:
Originally posted by K-mann:
It seems to me that the most likely translation is ‘servant’ (or perhaps ‘slave’), and that doesn’t seem to be ‘low’ Christology. The ‘vine’ in question seems to be Jesus, not David .

This translation with commentary by Ben Swett is interesting to me. He suggests a very early date, perhaps as early as 49AD, and proposes that the Didache could even be the work of Paul and Barnabbas on their original mission to the Gentiles. He includes several parallels between it and known teachings of Paul. Concerning the son David, he writes:

quote:
Direct comparison of "your son David" and "your son Jesus" must be a very early doctrine, predating the doctrine that Jesus is the only son of God and the doctrine set forth by Athanasius in AD 318 that Jesus was God Incarnate. This is probably one reason why Athanasius excluded the Didache when he finalized the list of New Testament books in AD 367. Paul compared David and Jesus (Acts 13:16-41, Romans 5:15-17, I Timothy 2:5).
Paul in Romans 11 describes Israel as the vine, onto which Gentile branches are grafted. The vine of God's servant David is revealed to the Gentiles by His servant Jesus. I still read this as a low Christology. Your quote from Chapter 14 shows conclusively that the Eucharist was seen as a sacrifice, but atonement in Jewish culture was of a sacrificial nature, and here, the Eucharist is replacing the Temple sacrifices, including Jesus' instruction to make peace with one's brother before offering sacrifice, and Paul's instruction to confess sins beforehand.

Some authorities date it much later, to the second century, and it may indeed have had redactions made to it, but I favour Swett's early date and the low Christology which goes with that.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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tclune
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
This translation with commentary by Ben Swett is interesting to me. He suggests a very early date, perhaps as early as 49AD, and proposes that the Didache could even be the work of Paul and Barnabbas on their original mission to the Gentiles.

My favorite translation is this one by Aaron Milavec. He also argues for at least part of the Didache having a very early provenance, and suggests that the earliest part may have been a catechism that arose out of the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Acts. I have no idea whether there is a reasonable basis for that view, but it rather delights me to think so. But I just can't see the word "sacrifice" as a stumbling block for anyone in the Reformation. As always, YMMV.

--Tom Clune

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