Friday, June 27, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 6-27-08

Be watchful over your life. Never let your lamps go out or your loins be ungirded, but keep yourselves always in readiness. For you can never be sure the hour when the Lord may be coming.

Didache 16.1 (ca. 90-100 CE)

Commentary: This old text is an early Christian handbook that contains traditions about as old as any we can recover from surviving Christian documents. The first Christians were very millenarian.

1 comment:

Geoff Hudson said...

They were also aware of the prophets: 13:6 in like manner when thou openest a jar of wine or of oil, take the firstfruits and give it TO THE PROPHETS. 13:3 likens prophets to chief priests, thus entitled to 'firstfruits'.

As for 16:1, the version on my computer has: "let not your 'lamps' be quenched". 'Quenched' is a term used in relation to the spirit. The light of the body, the 'lamp', is a person's spirit of truth (in effect conscience). Thus the concern of the writer was "watch for your 'life' (your spirit that animates you); let not your 'lamps' (spirits of truth) be quenched or your 'loins' (what must implicitly be your spirits of deceit) be loosed. A 'loosed' spirit of deceit could be 'infectious', i.e. enter others. Each had the two spirits, the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

1:1 should thus be: "There are two spirits (not paths), one of truth (not life), and one of deceit (not death)." These were the two spirits of the DSS. The Didache has come to us via the Pauline editors.