“The Didache is the most important book you've never read,” starts Tony Jones, in his latest book, The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community.
And while Tony's examination of this ancient Christian manuscript is engaging and thoughtful, I just don't know if I'd go quite that far. I enjoyed reading this book- well-written, I think well-researched... but the main premise is something I find myself wanting to push back against somewhat.
The Didache, according to The Teaching of the Twelve, records "a primitive Christianity" of about the same era in which the synoptic Gospels were composed, and seemingly unfamiliar with the theology of the Apostle Paul.
And in that, it's a helpful look at some of the rhythms of the early church. The question, of course, is what can/does that early Christianity mean for us today?
Tony attempts to answer that question as he examines the Didache, by also looking at a small, modern community of Christians who call themselves the Cymbrogi- a house church of sorts which includes Trucker Frank, a friend we've gotten to know from some of Tony's other works.
The Cymbrogi take from the Didache a very praxis-oriented approach to their walk with Jesus. They are in search of that primitive Christianity that "emphasizes how you live."
Tony writes, "The Didache's vision of communal life in Christ is powerful and potentially transformative. For the Cymbrogi, the Didache's primitive rhythms of faith have changed them personally. Each one of them I've spoken to has professed that the raw, organic Christianity that they find in the Didache and now attempt to practice is exactly what they've been looking for all along." Tony continues, "The Didache offers something of an alternative to what many know of Christianity. The real power of the Didache is its ability to remind us of what is truly important in Christianity: showing the love of Jesus to the world."
Okay... Here's where I start to wonder.