Dating from the first century, the Didache offers a unique window into early Jewish Christianity. Its Jewish-Christian author seeks to mediate the Torah for the text’s gentile recipients, steering diplomatically between the Scylla and Charybdis of the Law-observing church in Jerusalem and Paul’s more open teaching. The Didache is thus very clear that gentile believers do not need to convert to Judaism, but at the same time its author argues that the Torah – particularly the second table of the Decalogue – is universal. The Deuteronomic paradigm of the ‘Way of Life’ against the ‘Way of Death’ applies to all.
In Torah for Gentiles? Daniel Nessim explores this juxtaposition in depth. How is Jesus’ ‘easy yoke’ to be held alongside the strenuous commands of Mosaic Law? What does it mean to attain perfection? The path the Didache offers is not as straightforward as one might suppose, yet both Jews and Christians would recognize its moral basis as largely the same as that which underpins Judaeo-Christian values today. Moreover, the Christian community it describes, from a time when that community still looked very much to its Jewish forebears, makes it a fascinating example of the origins of Christian life and worship.
About the Author
Daniel Nessim is an author and speaker on early Christianity. He gained his PhD from the University of Exeter for his work on first-century Christian Judaism and the Didache.
Endorsements and Reviews
In this stimulating and original monograph, Nessim argues that the author of the Didache mandated the same Torah followed by the Jewish people for gentiles, insofar as it was deemed to apply to them. The claim is controversial, but in arguing it, Nessim touches on an array of issues pertinent to the study of Jewish and Christian identity and their relationship to each other. James Carleton Paget, University of Cambridge
Much has been written since the rediscovery of the Didache on its relationship to Judaism and Torah, but most of the work has been piecemeal, focusing on particular texts and problems. . . . In this book Daniel Nessim has provided a plausible and holistic account of its background in the historical context of the failed revolt against Rome and its aftermath in Antioch, drawing particularly on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Jewish sources. He locates the struggle in the emergence of the earliest movement of Jesus believers around the position of Torah, God’s covenant with Israel, and continuing Jewish ethnic identity in mixed communities of Jesus believers. . . . His study provides intriguing possibilities for rethinking relations today between Jesus-believing Jews and gentiles who identify with and wish to live and worship in common with them. Jonathan Draper, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
A fresh and measured study of how the Didache understood the application of the Torah to Gentile followers of Jesus and Jews respectively. I highly recommend it! David Rudolph, The King’s University, Southlake, Texas