Notes From The Didache On The Early Christian View Of Abortion

The Twelve Apostles (Pushkin Museum in Moscow) - Wikipedia


By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

One of the more difficult and fascinating texts in the collection of texts known as the Apostolic Fathers is the Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles usually known as a the Didache (Διδαχὴ). It is difficult because there are genuine questions as to its original location. Some scholars place it in Alexandria others in Syria. It has been dated from 70 AD to 300 AD. The internal evidence indicates to me that it is probably a Syrian text. It was known to fathers by the mid-2nd century so it seems as if could not be dated much after 150 AD. The situation envisioned by the document fits the early 2nd century better than the 1st century.

The Didache is in two or three parts. The first part draws heavily from the gospels and follows the “two-ways” ethical tradition of Proverbs and the Psalms. It quotes and elaborates subtly upon the Sermon on the Mount, which elaborations (e.g., substituting “fasting” for blessing one’s enemies) seem to locate it more in the 2nd century than the first. The second part of the work is a fairly detailed account of the early Christian practice of baptism (by effusion) and the Lord’s Supper. The Didache knows nothing of transubstantiation or a memorial eucharistic sacrifice. The third part is a brief apocalyptic section. Naturally, there is much discussion among scholars about the source criticism and how to relate the three aspects of the document to each other.

Yesterday, in class, as we worked through chapter 2 I was struck by this portion of 2:2: “You shall not murder a child in destruction nor shall you kill one just born” (οὐ φονεύσεις τέκνον ἐν φθορᾷ οὐδὲ γεννηθέντα ἀποκτενεῖς). ...

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