Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

12. Apostolic Fathers

For this unit on the second century we follow traditional groupings of the documents.1 The so-called Apostolic Fathers brings together a disparate group of writings that belong to the earliest noncanonical works not regarded as heretical by the mainstream of the church.


Didache

The date and unity of the Didache (“The Teaching of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations”) are much controverted, and its chapter on baptism is intimately connected with these issues.2 The Jewish affinities of the account agree with an early date,3 perhaps end of the first century or beginning of the second, but the existing form of the text is suspect of interpolation.

1. For the period in general see Jack P. Lewis, “Baptismal Practices of the Second- and ThirdCentury Church,” Restoration Quarterly 26 (1983): 1–17.

2. For studies of baptism in the Didache, note André Benoît, Le baptême chrétien au second siècle (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1953), pp. 5–33; Willy Rordorf, “Le baptême selon la Didachè,” in J. von Allmen et al., eds., Mélanges liturgiques offerts au R. P. Dom Bernard Botte O.S.B. de l’Abbaye du Mont César (Louvain, 1972), pp. 499–509; reprint in Liturgie, foi et vie des premiers chrétiens: Études patristiques (Paris: Beauchesne, 1986), pp. 175–185; English translation in Jonathan A. Draper, ed., The Didache in Modern Research (Leiden: Brill, 1996), pp. 212–222; Nathan Mitchell, “Baptism in the Didache,” in Clayton N. Jefford, ed., The Didache in Context: Essays on Its Text, History, and Transmission (Leiden: Brill, 1995), pp. 226–255; Huub van de Sandt and David Flusser, The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), pp. 273–291; Aaron Milavec, The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50–70 c.e. (New York: Newman, 2003), pp. 253–284 (text and translation of the whole, pp. 12–45).

3. Explored extensively in van de Sandt and Flusser, The Didache. Milavec, The Didache, places the document 50-70 but without a specifice section devoted to the date.

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