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Church Fathers Day 1: Didache

For Lent this year, I'm reading the Church Fathers, using a plan that has me reading 10-15 minutes a day, covering 10 Fathers during the 40 day period. I've never read the Church Fathers before and am looking forward to learning more about my Christian heritage through these readings. I'll be rambling here throughout the season with my thoughts about what I read. Since so much of this is new to me, I won't be surprised if I miss some things or get some things wrong. Feel free to correct me in the comments.

Today was Didache. The reading seems to be a general list of instructions teaching basic tenets of the faith. Most of the writing ties the teaching to the 10 Commandments. All in all, I found this to be a good introduction for the readings I'll be doing this season.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
I remember doing this some years ago [when I was at TIAA-CREF, so it was sometime 2003 - 2008].

You don't necessarily need the historical context of the readings to get something out them, but it can help. Think of Paul's letters -- what he has to write has eternal truths available to all, but each letter was directed to a specific audience for a specific reason. Knowing what was going on in Corinth at the time, for example, can give you better understanding Paul's letters to the Corinthians.

In the case of the Didache [think "didactic" ... or something for teaching purpose], remember that the earliest Church were all Jews. So they knew stuff like the 10 Commandments, the Old Testament, etc. They didn't need to be explicitly taught what came before, because they grew up in that tradition. They needed teaching as to how Christ was the fulfillment of what they were taught growing up, but they didn't need to be taught who Moses was and what he did.

Of course, it didn't stay an all-Jewish group long [especially once Paul showed up]. In some places, the Church was mainly ex-pagans, and they needed to be taught the whole context.

More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

Feb. 18th, 2010 12:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, after reading the letter, the first thing I did was skim the wikipedia article. Without the context, it was a little weird. I didn't even know when the letter was written, e.g.
Feb. 18th, 2010 11:41 am (UTC)
I think the advice on how to handle (those who claimed to be) itinerant prophets was great. We wouldn't have problems with televangelists if we followed that.


Edited at 2010-02-18 11:42 am (UTC)
Feb. 18th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
Agreed. The itinerant prophet advice was the part of the letter I found most interesting.

Thanks for the spelling correction.
Feb. 18th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
This is awesome. I love this stuff, and I think all Christians should check out these documents, especially these pieces that are from the first few centuries of Church life.

I'm not sure who generated the plan you're using, but it's worth noting that "Church Fathers" is a designation that covers many centuries and many volumes of material. For the Orthodox, at least, there are still such Fathers in recent years, though I believe most Western sources regard the patristic period as ending sometime in the 12th century, having been replaced/superseded by Scholasticism.
Feb. 18th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know "Church Fathers" is bigger than this plan has me reading. I saw, e.g., that they have a link to a 38-volume set. The Bible software that I use at home (Accordance, the absolute best Bible software I've ever seen) has a module called "Apostolic Fathers" that appears to contain everything in the reading plan I'm using, as well as some others.

Prior to engaging in this effort, I've glanced at some early writing, but never delved in deeply.
Feb. 18th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I figured you knew. :) (But you can't blame a preacher for playing to the whole reading audience!)

The designation "Apostolic Fathers" is a subset of stuff from the first few centuries. I think it's also some of the most accessible, coming as it does almost from the feet of the Apostles themselves (in some cases, it's closer than "almost"). I'm especially a fan of St. Ignatius, who lends his name as the first of my son's two middle names.
Feb. 18th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Looks like days 5-11 will have me reading St. Ignatius.
Feb. 18th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Lenten Reading
Hey Greg, I also decided to do a major Lenten reading this year. I'm reading the entire book of Luke... in Greek. I read Luke 1:1-38 yesterday, and 1:39-66 today. Yesterday's reading took a little over 2 hours (for 38 verses!) and today's took right around an hour. It's going to be a fun 40 days. Good luck with your reading, too. :-)
Feb. 18th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Lenten Reading
I saw a tweet (or FB or something) of yours yesterday that made me think that was what you were doing. I'm really impressed. Have a good journey through the whole translation process!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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