In which is dating – not THAT kind.

by Craig on August 30, 2012

The Apostolic Church Fathers - the guys right after the Apostles...

And oooh, this site has really nice timelines ¯(ˆ◡ˆ)/¯



The Didache really does seem like a document from the first century church, detailing how to live, and how to be in, and operate a church. It was lost to us until the 1800’s. So how do we pin down the date of the Didache?

Like this…

a little logic…
a little history…
piece by piece.

For instance, if the Apostolic Church Fathers knew of it…
then it predated them…thus it was written before 150ish.

On the historical clothesline…
it goes after he letters of Paul…
but before the death of John.


It’s a sum up of the teaching of the apostles. No document like this would have been written if most apostles were still prolifically teaching. However it does speak about rolling out the red carpet when apostles visited, so some of them must still have been traipsing around.


some dates…

dating ancient Christian documents | the Didache


Philip died about 50 ish.
Peter died during Emperor Nero’s persecution, 64ish.
Andrew and Thomas, 70 ish, half a world a part from each other.
And then there’s John, who died about the turn of the 1st Century.


The Didache dates after Paul’s letters (68ish)…
and before the death of the last apostle, John (100ish).

The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome 70 ish AD. This was a big thing for Jews and Christians  alike. But there’s no hint of it in the document. So some time must have passed since the event…at least a decade. Think of how distant 9-11 seems now.

Then there’s the content.

As time went by, and heresies arose, the church needed to brush up and organize its official doctrine. Thankfully, they were very active at defending the purity of the teaching of Jesus and the 12. So as time passed, the formulation of church doctrine became more precise.

The doctrine in the Didache is “undeveloped”.
♥✞ღ    Baptism is simply defined
♥✞ღ    There are no traces of any creeds (a later development)
♥✞ღ    There’s no mention of a canon of NT Scriptures (post 100ish)
♥✞ღ    There are indications of developing, but not yet mature, heresies
♥✞ღ The description of the Eucharist carefully avoids mention of the “body and blood of Christ”.
This fits in with the first century church, which closely guarded this “secret” mystery of early Christianity

And so, we work our way toward a date.

But you can see where things are headed.


more historical clothes-pinning…

dating BIblical stuff is kind of like this...


and the official dating.

Please come back.

(p.s.) I got mixed up no my Clements. Clement of Alexandria? Not really an Apostolic Father – he’s next gen. Clement of Rome is the Apostolic father – the quotes are from him though – the history I wrote is of Clement of Alexandria – I’ll go back and fix – ooops ¯\(°_o)/¯  sorry – I’ll fix everything. [eek]

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie August 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

Interesting to this history lover. It was my minor, in college. Except I was never good at the history dates. I got the stories of people and places and could tell you this event happened before this one or after this one, but not the dates. The dates just were not important to me. I love learning church history. More than church history is reading the stories of people in history. I love reading biographies and such. I really need to visit the library and find some of those in church history.


Craig September 1, 2012 at 10:24 am

I wasn’t very good with the dates either – but these dates are all pretty close together – and pretty interrelated – we’re only talking a generation since our Lord’s lifetime. This is the time that everybody always wants to get back to – the early church – but it’s this that we know so little about – but it’s not because the information is not available. Anyway thank you Katie, God bless and keep.


A. August 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

Craig, I have had a recent but very much growing interest in knowing about church history at the time of Christ and in the church…just after the apostles were all killed. What was the early early church like? So I am very interested in this series and what you find to share with us! I had heard of theDidache but didn’t know what it was. I hope you share with us titles of resources that would be good for reading more about this. I love the way you share these things…glad to be back in time to catch this. Will need to do some catch-up reading here!


Craig September 1, 2012 at 10:29 am

I first heard brief mention of these guys in my church history class in seminary. I would’ve heard more, but it was Protestant seminary and – to be honest sometimes Protestants think Christianity started with Martin Luther. There was a time when the only place you could find the readings of Polycarp or Ignatius was in the seminary library – but now we have the internets. I think all share the links to all it soon. Were not talking tons of reading here – these guys were not prolific writers. Anyway – no reason we can’t all read it and find our own favorite quotes. God bless and keep you A.


Sylvia R August 31, 2012 at 10:11 am

Hi Craig.
Husband and I were reading about, and reading, a “copy” of the didache last year, and finding it very interesting, and enlightening. So I’m really getting a lot from this post and your preceding ones. Thank you for this great information. Looking forward to your next installment.


Craig September 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

A thing I have to keep remembering as I read, again, all of this writing is that there is reason why it’s not in the Canon of inspired Scripture. It’s all good – it’s probably all true – but it didn’t pass the test of cannonicity. It’s important to read – but I guess there’s a reason for the expression “it’s not gospel” – still – good stuff – important stuff.

And thank you – and God bless you Sylvia!


Martha Orlando August 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm

This series is so enlightening, Craig, and I’m so enjoying learning from you. Like Sylvia, I need to get a copy of the didache as I am so curious about it.
Blessings to you!


Craig September 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

there’s a really good site that has a lot of ancient Christian documents on there –I’ll get the site for the next time – but I think it’s something like early Christian writing.something or other. All this stuff is out there. Anyway, thank you very much as always Martha – and God bless and keep you!


Martha Orlando September 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thanks, Craig! I’ll check it out. :)


Debbie September 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Getting some time to sit, stay and read . .. and so thankful! God bless you, Craig, as you bring us a look at the early church.


Craig September 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm



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