The Truth of Orthodoxy

The Martyrdom of St Polycarp

The Martyrdom of St Polycarp

My father is a fundamentalist, a dispensationalist, and an ordained minister. For many years he taught courses on a variety of subjects and has recently collected his lecture notes into a series of books. In one entitled The Kingdom of the Frauds, he describes a number of Christian and non-Christian religions. In the section on Eastern Orthodoxy he writes:

The Orthodox Church traces its development back through the Byzantine or Roman empire, to the earliest church established by St. Paul and the Apostles. It practices what it understands to be the original ancient traditions, believing in growth without change.[1]

Now if what Orthodoxy claims is actually true — if the Eastern Orthodox Church indeed descends from and continues in the teachings of the Holy Apostles — then its truth claims have to be taken seriously. It is not enough to dismiss them out of hand, as the historical evidence is all there. Nor is it enough to claim some great apostasy took place without pointing to evidence of the early church apostatizing.[2]

My sister recently encountered this all-too-easy dismissal of Orthodoxy. Not long ago she attended her class reunion at Colorado Springs Christian School (CSCS). She was sitting with some of her friends when a former classmate approached. When the subject of my sister’s recent conversion to Orthodoxy came up, her classmate snidely commented: “Oh, they’re the ones who think they are descended from the original Church.” After making this comment, her classmate turned and walked away. My sister’s friends then asked: “So why did you become Orthodox?” My sister replied: “Because I became convinced they are descended from the original Church.” [Cue rim shot.]

The historical evidence is all there. For me, there were perhaps three works that had the greatest impact upon me. The first was the Didache, aka the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.[3] This is an ancient church order, one which scholars now think could date between 50 – 120 AD, although it seems likely to have been written before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.[4] There is a clear continuity of thought and practice between the Didache and other ancient church orders such as the Didascalia Apostolorum, (c. 200-250 AD)[5], the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome (c. 215A.D., and written by Hippolytus)[6], and the Apostolic Constitutions (c. early 3rd century, with interpolations dating out to 400 A.D.)[7] A comparison of these documents shows a certain creative elaboration, or as my father put it, “growth without change.”

The second major influence was the Commonitorium of St. Vincent of Lerins (c. 434 A.D.) St. Vincent wrote following his participation in the third Ecumenical Council in 431 A.D.; his Commonitorium was written to capture the methods used by the Ecumenical Council to define Orthodox doctrine over against error.[8] The famous rule of Vincent of Lerins is summed up on three words: catholicity, antiquity, and consent. St. Vincent writes:

This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.[9]

While the protestant translator chose to use the word “universality”, the actual word is “catholicity.” The term “catholicity” has to do with a faith which is whole, complete, and entirely sufficient.[10] This meaning is clearly different than the term “universal”, which term is generally used as a replacement for “catholic” or “catholicity.” The term “universal” has reference to the Protestant doctrine of the invisible church, that which is made up of all saints, whether dead or alive. This hidden or invisible church is by extension the “universal” church, as opposed to the sectarianism of the visible church. But the idea of catholicity is a rebuke to all schisms, sects, and denominations.

Following the rule of St. Vincent of Lerins, we must search out that which is whole, entire, and sufficient (catholicity); we must search out that which is from antiquity; and we must search out that which is of common consent (not new or innovative.) Thus a new doctrine — such as the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, or the Dispensational Protestant doctrine of the secret return of Christ and the subsequent Rapture of the Church — is automatically excluded. By common consent we refer to the consensus fidelium — the widespread agreement, or the general consensus of the faithful.

The third major influence is The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp,[11] which is a rather obscure reference. St. Irenaeus, in his book Against Heresies, writes concerning St. Polycarp:

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.[12]

What I find most interesting is St. Polycarp’s response to the Roman proconsul who had asked him to recant his Christian faith. Polycarp replied: “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”[13] St. Polycarp, at that time an 86 year old man, proclaims himself to have been a Christian for 86 years. In other words, this man who was the companion and disciple of the apostles was baptized as an infant. By extension, then, the apostles practiced infant baptism.

In the Didache we see an ancient church order of the apostolic church, one untainted by the supposed “Great Apostasy.” This church order is liturgical, hierarchical, and sacramental, all of which are anathema to the Protestant church of my youth. In the Rule of St. Vincent we see the manner in which the ancient church determined and maintained the apostolic faith over and against all manner of theological errors and heresies. When applying these principles to the Protestant church of my youth, or the Lutheran church of my adulthood, I was forced to acknowledge them to be weighed in the balance and found wanting. And then the witness of St. Polycarp, while not conclusive in itself, was nevertheless the final straw.

The evidence was all there, right in front of me. I could no longer deny that the Orthodox Church was indeed the lineal descendant of the church of the apostles. The only question was whether I was going to accept the historical evidence and adapt myself to the church, or whether I was going to continue to try and get the church to adapt itself to me and my desires. Despite become Orthodox, this is a struggle that will be with me until the day I die.



Ancient Christian Writings. n.d. “Didache.” Ancient Christian Writings. Accessed May 25, 2015.

Carlson, Norman. n.d. “The Kingdoms of the Frauds: The Major Religions And Cults Of The World.” The Colorado Free Bible College. Edited by Norman Carlson. Accessed May 25, 2015.

Chapman, Henry Palmer. 1913. “Didascalia Apostolorum.” Catholic Encyclopedia. Accessed June 9th, 2013.

Hippolytus. 1997. “The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome.” Kevin P. Edgecomb. July 8. Accessed May 25, 2009.

Martini, Gabe. 2015. “Vincent of Lérins and the Catholicity of the Church.” On Behalf of All. May 24. Accessed May 25, 2015.

Schaff, Philip. 1884. ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Vol. 1. 10 vols. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

—. 2004. ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies. Edited by Philip Schaff. Vol. 7. 10 vols. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

—. 2004. NPNF2-11 Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian. Edited by Phillip Schaff and Henry Wace. Vol. 11. 14 vols. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library.



[1] (Carlson n.d., 167)

[2] When I was a young man, I remember being taught that the “Great Apostasy” took place immediately after the death of the last apostle. The evidence for this was taken from Revelation chapter two, in the letter to the church of Ephesus, where it is stated: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Rev 2:4) Additional evidence is from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, where he says there will be “a falling away” before the “day of the Lord.”(2 Thes 2:1-3) No historical evidence was ever provided to back up this claim, even though those making the argument claimed to be using the “grammatical-historical method” of exegesis. As it turns out, the greatest proponent of the “Great Apostasy” occurring immediately after the apostolic era is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormons.

[3] (Schaff 2004, 552)

[4] (Ancient Christian Writings n.d.)

[5] (Chapman 1913)

[6] (Hippolytus 1997)

[7] (Schaff 2004, 573)

[8] (Schaff, NPNF2-11 2004, 207)

[9] (Schaff, NPNF2-11 2004, 214)

[10] (Martini 2015)

[11] (Schaff, ANF01 1884, 65)

[12] (Schaff, ANF01 1884, 688)

[13] (Schaff, ANF01 1884, 69)

The People of the Word

People of the Book

People of the Book

The Koran defines Muslims, along with Jews, Sabians,[1] and Christians, as “people of the book.” This makes sense in a Islamic context, because the Koran is the Word of God made text. Moreover, by the time the Koran was spoken (and later written down), both Jews and Christians had a defined canon considered to be inspired, and a process to preserve the inspired text relatively uncorrupted from additions and errors.

Most modern Christians would agree with the Islamic assessment of themselves as being people of the book. After all, they have the bible, which they refer to as Sacred Scripture and as the Word of God. And yet it is unlikely that the ancient Jews, or the earliest Christians, would have defined themselves as people of the book, for they had no such book.

Judaism was in flux during the time of Christ, with multiple canons and textual traditions; the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was not formalized until the 3rd century, and the differing textual traditions were not merged into a single text until the 9th century Masoretic text. Meanwhile primitive Christianity used the Septuagint text as Sacred Scripture, but the various New Testament writings only gradually became thought of as scripture, and the current canon of the New Testament was not formalized until the 9th century.

In the ancient world, the oral word was primary; the written word was of little importance, useful only to a very small class of people in government, religion, or business. John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy write:

After the discovery of writing, whether for the Egyptians or Sumerians, the Greeks or Romans, it was often only the priestly or commercial elites that acquired enough literacy to carry out their duties (or they purchased slaves who had been trained to read and write on behalf of their masters). Beyond that, the wealthy may have been educated enough to be literate. For the general populace literacy was rare, for it was almost never a necessity. (Walton and Sandy 2013, 90)

This seems odd to us, being raised in a literate culture, one in which someone who is illiterate is seen as uneducated, backwards, and unintelligent. And yet, even in our literate age, people learn to speak before they learn to write; and the mass media of television and radio are oral means of communication. Speaking and hearing are fundamental; reading and writing come later. Walton and Sandy write:

Fundamentally, speaking is primary; writing is derivative. So it is in the Bible: nothing in the biblical creation accounts suggests that God wrote or created writing. Speaking was the focus; writing would come later. So it is for children: learning to speak is essential and comes first; learning to write is helpful and comes second. So it has been in history: a society that does not speak to one another has never existed ; a society that does not write to one another has always existed. (Walton and Sandy 2013, 89-90)

This may be hard for us to grasp, but the bible was primarily oral before it became the written text we know today. In the synagogues, the reader would translate the written text on the fly into the vernacular tongue. In the early churches, Christians would gather together to hear the Gospels and the epistles read to them.  Even today, we gather together to hear the scriptures read to us, after which we hear a sermon or a homily, usually interpreting the text we just heard. The distinction between an oral culture and a textual culture revolves around the question of authority. Walton and Sandy write: “For oral communication, authority focuses on the persons who transmit the tradition. In written communication, authority shifts to the words on the page.” (Walton and Sandy 2013, 89)

The Holy Prophet Jeremiah

The Holy Prophet Jeremiah

In an oral culture, the speaker is the one who transmits the tradition. In other words, it is the speaker who determines what is said, and how it is understood. In a textual culture, the hearer is responsible for determining what the author meant, irrespective of the tradition. And thus it is that modern Protestantism, which developed side by side with the Gutenberg press, is compelled to disregard the oral tradition in favor of its own interpretation. And having disregarded the apostolic tradition (2Th 3:6), it is no wonder that each reader, having determined a new meaning in the text, is compelled to create a new denomination, leading directly to the confusion of denominations.

If, as the scriptures state, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Co 14:33), is it possible that we are approaching Sacred Scripture incorrectly? That the God who spake the worlds into existence, who commanded the prophets to speak the words of God unto the people, and who gave prophets, evangelists, and teachers unto the church, expects the oral transmission of tradition — including Sacred Scripture?


Walton, John H, and D. Brent Sandy. The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013.


[1] The Sabians seems to refer to a variety of monotheistic faiths that are neither Jewish nor Christian, although they appear to have more in common with Christianity than with Islam.

Repristination and the Plan of Salvation

The Harrowing of Hades, fresco in the parecclesion of the Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315, raising Adam and Eve is depicted as part of the Resurrection icon, as it always is in the East.

The Harrowing of Hell. This representation of Christ’s descent into Hell shows Him breaking down the gates of hell and restoring Adam and Eve to Paradise.

My first indication that something was seriously wrong with the various Protestant communions was when I read the Didache (aka The Teaching Of The Lord To The Gentiles By The Twelve Apostles.) This document very likely preserves the order of the church in Jerusalem; scholars now believe to be a first century document, likely before A.D. 70, placing it well within the apostolic era.[1] Here was a different expression of Christianity, one completely foreign to me, yet one the apostles did not seem to have a problem with.

One thing that struck me is that although the Didache contains a great deal of information about how to live and worship as a Christian community, it contains nothing of what I recognized as doctrine. I compared this to the Apostolic Traditions, written by Hippolytus in the third century to preserve the church order and practices in use in Alexandria; once again, it contains nothing of what we today would call doctrine. Finally, I came across the Apostolic Constitutions, a second or third century work containing fourth and fifth century interpolations, a document preserving the church order of Asia Minor. This work is more extensive than the first two, yet only the sixth book against Heresies contains any doctrine—and apart from a creedal portion in Section III entitled An Exposition of the Preaching of the Apostles, most of the work consists of a description of various errors or of the prescriptions of the apostles. What we would term the doctrinal portion of this work is surprisingly brief.

I found a similar concern in the epistles of the apostle Paul. The first two thirds are usually concerned with correcting certain matters of theology, while the latter third is concerned with matters of church order, and with prescriptions for holy living. The epistles to the Corinthian Church are even more explicit, mixing prescriptions for church order and discipline, theology, and exhortations to holy living throughout these letters. How we live as Christians mattered to the apostle. We are to live out our faith; we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Other New Testament authors say the same. James tells us to resist the devil (Jas 4:7). In his exhortation to holy living, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews write: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Heb 12:4).

I now had three different church orders from different regions: one from the apostolic era, one from the era prior to Constantine, one from after Constantine, and all saying basically the same thing. What I had was an expression of Christianity that I could not deny, yet could not explain either. These Christians were concerned with how one lived in community with each other and before the world, and with how they were organized and worshiped as church. These two were not separate areas, but were commingled together in a manner I found confusing. As I was working at Lutheran seminary at the time, I raised these issues with some of the professors. The basic answer I got was that we could not repristinate, a word that means to restore something to its state of original purity. This was an implicit admission that we no longer believed and worshiped in a manner like the early church. Somehow they were alright with that, but I couldn’t make sense of it.

The attempt to “revive the faith of a pristine church” is the functional definition of repristination. In Lutheran history, repristination was an attempt to restore historical Lutheranism over and against the Prussian Union, which attempted to unify the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Germany. Although the founder of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (C.F.W. Walther) is historically identified as part of this movement, today the term is generally used in a perjorative sense, for a romantic attachment to a golden age.

Interestingly, that was the same argument used to explain all the changes in Lutheran practice and worship from the time of Luther. It also became clear that neither Luther, Melanchthon, nor Chemnitz would have been welcome in most Lutheran churches, as they believed, taught, and confessed a different faith than did modern Lutherans. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.[2] Not only did Lutherans not worship the same way as the ancient church, they didn’t even worship the same way as the Lutheran Reformers. That indicated that they had a different doctrinal understanding than did the Reformers, who had a different doctrinal understanding than did the ancient fathers of the church. It became clear that the argument against repristination was a tacit admission that the Lutheran faith had changed.

Fr. Anthony McGuckin, in his book “The Orthodox Church”, brings up the issue of repristination when discussing the mystery of marriage. While the Pharisees had a contractual understanding of marriage, similar to that found in modern civil law. Jesus expressed a different understanding of marriage, one of intense, interpersonal communion. The Pharisees came to Jesus and tested him by asking if it was lawful to divorce one’s wife for any reason. Jesus answered with a reference to the orders of creation, and the covenant God made with humanity when He instituted marriage. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt 19:5-6). Of this, Fr. McGuckin writes:

Over and against the economies that were necessary for society where hardness of heart was the common order of the day, Christ begins to set a new standard for his church, which itself goes back to the more fundamental creation covenant, which he has come to restore and repristinate in his church. The Mosaic law of contractual divorce is made to give way to a higher ‘law of one flesh’, that is communion. It is God who bonds a man and a woman in a mystical union that grows out of the union of flesh. This psycho-physical bond is a profound sacrament of the love Christ has for his church.” (McGuckin 2011)

We humans seek to justify our departure from the truth by telling ourselves that we cannot repristinate, that we cannot return to the state of original purity, that we cannot return to Eden. And yet this is countered by St. Irenaeus and his discussion of the economy of salvation as one of recapitulation, as the restoration of the natural order of things, as the reopening of the gates of paradise so that whosoever will may come.

The Protestant urge for the restoration of the early church is an admirable thing. And yet that restoration is nothing without repristination, without a return to Eden and the restoration of the state of original righteousness.


McGuckin, John Anthony. The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.


[1] There are differences of opinion about this. Some date the Didache as early as 50 A.D., while others date it as late as the 4th century. The reason for an early date rests on a number of pieces of evidence. First, the Didache uses the ‘Two Ways’ description of Christianity; the Way was an early way of referring to Christianity (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 19:23; 22:4; 24:14; 24:22). Second, the Didache does not reference the different factions surrounding different apostles, suggesting an early date. Third, the Didache does not reference the growth of heresies, also suggesting an early date. Fourth, the Didache refers to itinerant apostles, prophets and teachers, and ways of determining their legitimacy. This was a problem in the earliest church, suggesting an early date. Fifth, it appears that Bishops and Deacons were, at this time, chosen by their congregations rather than the later tradition of election, then ordination by the bishops. Sixth, there is no reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Seventh, after the martyrdom of St. James in 63 A.D., the historian Eusebius writes that the Jerusalem Christians were warned to leave Jerusalem due to its imminent destruction. The Jewish historian Josephus writes that this flight of Christians occurred in 64 A.D. (Jewish War 2, 20, 1) This flight from Jerusalem is not referenced in the Didache.

[2] Lex Orandi – the law of prayer; Lex Credendi – the law of belief. Loosely translated, this states that the law of prayer is the law of belief. The way you prayer (and worship) is the way you believe. This is transitive, in that the way you believe is reflected in the way you prayer. Thus a change in the way you pray and worship reflects a change in your beliefs, while a change in beliefs is reflected in the way you worship.

Book cover for "The Orthodox Church" by John Anthony McGuckin

The Orthodox Church

Catechesis and the Virgin Mary

One Protestant objection is that we do not see a well-developed Mariology in Sacred Scripture or in the writings of the earliest church fathers. To answer this objection, we need to examine the concept of catechesis — of instruction in the faith. For a number of reasons, catechesis in the early church was primarily oral.

  • First, because there was no New Testament canon in the ante-Nicene church. For nearly thirty years there were no epistles; for nearly forty years there were no gospels; for many years different bishops promulgated different canons, and the canon as we know it today wasn’t standardized until the late 4th century.
  • Second, there were no books as we know them today, only scrolls; different churches had different collections of scrolls.[i]
  • Third, scrolls were hand-copied, and therefore expensive.
  • Fourth, literacy was not widespread, especially among the lower classes that formed the bulk of the Christian Church.[ii]
  • Fifth, because scrolls were hand-copied and errors were frequent, the written word was not considered to be as trustworthy as the oral word passed on from teacher to student.
  • And finally, because the Christian Church was an underground movement. As Christianity was technically an illegal religion in the Roman Empire, and also so as not to cast pearls before swine, the mysteries of the faith were kept hidden from non-believers. It is perhaps for these reasons that we do not see well-defined theology on a great many subjects within the writings of the earliest church fathers.
Fresco of Virgin and Child, Catacomb of Priscilla

Fresco of Virgin and Child, Catacomb of Priscilla

As evidence, let us examine some of the works preserving the church order of the early church. The Didache (a.k.a. the Teachings of the Apostles), is a very early work, perhaps written as early as 50 AD (but certainly before 70 AD), which was accepted as scripture by many church fathers and within several jurisdictions, and was not officially excluded from the canon until the 4th century. (O’Loughlin 2010, 26) [iii] The Didache contains very little doctrine, but is mostly concerned with matters of church order, church practices, and holy living. (P. Schaff, ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies 2004) In the third century, Hippolytus (c. 170-c. 236) wrote his Apostolic Traditions, preserving the church order and practices in use in Alexandria, but containing none of what we today would call doctrine. (Hippolytus 1997) The  Didascalia Apostolorum, probably from the early third century, preserves the early church order and practices in use in Syria, likely close to Antioch. The so-called Constitutions of the Holy Apostles appears to be a second or third century work (with fourth or fifth century interpolations), which preserves the church order and practices of the churches in Asia Minor, and appears to be “a revised and enlarged edition of the Didascalia.” (Chapman 1913) This work consists of eight books, most of which are solely concerned with church order and holy living. Only the sixth book, “Against Heresies”, contains any doctrine — and apart from a creedal portion in Section III entitled An Exposition of the Preaching of the Apostles, most of the work consists of a description of various errors or of the prescriptions of the apostles. What we would term the doctrinal portion of this work is surprisingly brief. (P. Schaff, ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies 2004)

Fresco of the Adoration of the Magi in the catacomb of Marcellinus and Peter

Fresco of the Adoration of the Magi, Catacomb of Marcellinus and Peter

Given this, it is likely that Marian doctrine was considered to be a mystery, preserved orally and passed on to catechumens only after their baptism. It is also possible that Marian doctrine, along with Christology, was not especially well developed in the primitive church; but when heretics such as Arius began to attack the nature of Christ, Christology became increasingly important and well-defined. In this view, Marian doctrine developed as an outgrowth of and in support of Christology. In any case, it seems the primitive church had no need of a written dogmatic tradition, being content with the apostolic witness passed on orally to the catechumens. And if some hold that Mariology was a creation of the later Ecumenical Councils, what are they to make of the 2nd century fresco entitled “Virgin and Child with Balaam the Prophet”, preserved in the Catacomb of St Priscilla? (Fletcher n.d., Beckett 2009, 30-31) What are they to make of the early 4th century Fresco of the Adoration of the Magi in the catacomb of Marcellinus and Peter? (Beckett 2009, 31-32) What are they to make of the 4th century marble sarcophagus with its image of the Adoration of the Magi? (Beckett 2009, 31-33) Or of another similar mid-4th century sarcophagus with its image of the Adoration of the Magi, including one of the figures carrying a gold wreath which was a gift “offered only to the emperor”? (Beckett 2009, 33-34)

4th century marble sarcophagus with its image of the Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi, 4th century marble sarcophagus

Mid-4th century sarcophagus with its image of the Adoration of the Magi, including one of the figures carrying a gold wreath which was a gift "offered only to the emperor

Adoration of the Magi, mid-4th century marble sarcophagus


Beckett, Wendy. Encounters With God: In Quest of the Ancient Icons of Mary. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2009.

Fletcher, Elizabeth. Bible Archaeology:Tombs and Catacombs:tomb where Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead,catacombs of St.Priscilla,St.Callixtus for the early Christians. n.d. (accessed May 25, 2009).

Hippolytus. “The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome.” Kevin P. Edgecomb. July 8, 1997. (accessed May 25, 2009).

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

Schaff, Philip. ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies. Edited by Philip Schaff. Vol. 7. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2004.


[i] It was Christians who first began cutting scrolls into pages, sewing the four gospels together to form a Codex, the predecessor of our modern books. Even so, the Bible was still known as a collection of scrolls and codices—a library, and not a single book.

[ii] A study by William Harris indicates “literacy rates were rarely higher than 10-15 percent of the population.” (Ehrman 2005, 37)

[iii] Clement of Alexandria, writing in the 2nd century, quotes directly from the Didache as though it were scripture. In the Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book 1, chapter 20, he says: “he who appropriates what belongs to the barbarians, and vaunts it is his own, does wrong, increasing his own glory, and falsifying the truth. It is such an one that is by Scripture called a ‘thief.’ It is therefore said, ‘Son, be not a liar; for falsehood leads to theft.’ (P. Schaff, ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire) 2004, 529) This is a direct quote from the Didache 3:5, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles: “My child, be not a liar, since a lie leadeth the way to theft”. (P. Schaff, ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies 2004, 561) Irenaeus, also writing in the 2nd century, may mention the Didache in fragment 37, as discussed by Henry Wace: “In one of the fragments, published by Pfaff, as from Irenaeus, we read: ‘Those who have followed the Second Ordinances of the Apostles (οι ταις δευτεραις των αποστολων διαταξεσι παρηκολουθηκοτες) know that our Lord instituted a new offering in the New Covenant according to the saying of Malachi the prophet, ‘From the rising of the sun to the going down, my name has been glorified in the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name and a pure offering.” This passage is quoted in the Didaché with reference to the Eucharist [Didache XIV:3-4]; not, however, textually, as in the fragment, but very loosely. We can only say then that it is possible the Didaché may be the Second Ordinances of the Apostles referred to here.” (Wace 2001)