In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Didache

  • Introduction
  • Introductions
  • General Overviews
  • Translations
  • Commentaries
  • Essay Collections
  • Bibliographies
  • Date and Provenance
  • Source and Redaction Criticism
  • Genre and Purpose
  • Relationship with Forming Judaism
  • The Two Ways
  • Baptism
  • Prayer and Fasting
  • Church Office
  • Communal Sacrifice
  • Eschatology

Biblical Studies Didache
Taras Khomych, Alistair C. Stewart
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 May 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0223


The Didache, while not among the canonical writings of the New Testament, is widely agreed to be at least roughly contemporary with the canonical books (although estimates of its date vary). The writing opens with a characterization of life, using the schema known elsewhere in early Christianity and forming Judaism, as the Two Ways to live: one of life and another one of death. This constitutes chapters 1–6; the last of these chapters, however, may well be an addendum. The document then discusses baptism (chapter 7), prayer and fasting (chapter 8), the Eucharist (chapters 9–10), functions in the community (chapters 11–13, 15), and communal sacrifice (chapter 14), concluding with an eschatological section (chapter 16). The treatment below follows these topics. The title (the authenticity of which is disputed) attributes the production to the twelve apostles. It reads as follows: “Teaching [or Instruction] of the Twelve Apostles”. There is also the subtitle (or the longer title): “The Teaching [or Instruction] of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles.” It flows directly into the text. It is worth mentioning that some ancient authors called this writing simply the Didache, and this name is generally used in contemporary scholarship. There is virtually no aspect of the Didache that is not the subject of scholarly dispute, and advances in understanding have led chiefly to the posing of new questions.


Many of the commentaries, texts, and translations listed in this bibliography contain extensive introductions, which often presuppose advanced knowledge of early Christian studies. The following entries are helpful for elementary courses. Draper 2007 can be used as a general introduction for both undergraduate and graduate students, whereas Draper 2010 might be better suited for theology students. Beyond these there are more extensive overviews directed at general audience. Milavec 2003 is a learned and reader-friendly introduction suitable for non-specialists. While offering a general survey of important topics and aspects of the text, it focuses especially on the antiquity, integrity, and oral character of the Didache, the features that receive more attention in Milavec 2003, cited under Commentaries. Subsequent introductions of Varner 2007 and O’Loughlin 2010 essentially adopt Milavec’s views on the antiquity and integrity of the Didache. Jefford 2013 offers yet another user-friendly and thorough introduction, which includes up-to-date scholarship and helpful notes on different ancient translations of the Didache.

  • Draper, Jonathan A. “The Didache.” In The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Edited by Paul Foster, 13–20. London: T&T Clark, 2007.

    A succinct introduction, highlighting the Jewish character of the Didache and its importance for the study of the Christian origins in general.

  • Draper, Jonathan A. “The Didache.” In The Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction. Edited by Wilhelm Pratscher, 7–26. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010.

    A brief and accessible introduction, focusing especially on the theology of the Didache in its 1st-century setting. Originally written in English but translated into German and first published as Die Didache in 2009.

  • Jefford, Clayton N. Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Salem, OR: Polebridge, 2013.

    An accessible and thorough guide that presents the text in a handy multilayered fashion with useful cross-references and with notes on original language manuscripts and on the translation of the text. Aimed at both students and scholars.

  • Milavec, Aaron. The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2003.

    Although a short commentary, at an introductory level, this provides a useful way into the text.

  • O’Loughlin, Thomas. The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.

    A useful elementary introduction for undergraduates and general readers.

  • Varner, William C. The Way of the Didache: The First Christian Handbook. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

    Aimed at the same audience as O’Loughlin 2010, though written from a conservative and evangelical perspective and aimed at an audience with that same perspective.

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