The Teaching of the Twelve

Tony Jones calls the Didache the most important book you've never heard of.

In his book, The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community, he relates how the Didache (DID-uh-kay) was discovered and what it says about how the earliest Christians lived and tried to apply the teachings of Jesus and his apostles to their lives. It is a fascinating study, and one that not only challenged some of my assumptions and priorities, but also shed new light on numerous passages of Scripture for me.

An introductory chapter ("The Most Important Book You've Never Heard Of") and the translation of the complete text of the Didache (a mere 2,190 words in the original Greek) are followed by five short, easy-to-read chapters: "The Didache Community--Then and Now," "There Are Two Ways," "Sex, Money, and Other Means of Getting Along," "Living Together in Community," and "The End is Nigh." I found especially interesting the Didache's tone, as Jones puts it, of "centrist pragmatism," an approach that could benefit the twenty-first century church. In any case, the message of the Didache (which was considered for inclusion in the canon of Scripture, but rejected) and The Teaching of the Twelve has provoked thought and--I hope--prompted some changes in me.

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