Sunday, August 26, 2012

Didache Questions

Basic Questions:
1. What is the nature of the document? Approximately when was it written? Who was the intended audience? 
2. When and where was it "rediscovered"? 
3. What is the basic four-part structure of the work?

Monger (Christmonger)

1. The “Way of Life” is often spelled out in the negative (i.e. what a Christian should not do).  Briefly summarize it in the positive – what, based on the teachings of the Apostles, should a Christian do?

2. Chapter 3 uses “slippery slope” logic to deter readers from committing minor sins. List the minor sins mentioned and explain why each one is bad in its own right, even if it does not lead to the “greater sin” associated with it.

3. Chapter 4 reiterates what we find in the 4th Chapter of Acts, namely that to be a Christian was to share one’s worldly goods without noting the loss or expectation of repayment. Why is such emphasis made on this in the early Church? Evaluate the current atmosphere of stewardship and charity in the Church in light of this command, speculating as to the causes or reasons for any discrepancies. Provide evidence to support your theory.

4. Chapter 4 also presents two seemingly problematic directives: first it urges parents not to “withdraw their hands” from their children, seeming to condone corporal punishment. Secondly, it tells slaves to “be submissive to your masters”.  Are these directives inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Should they be quietly pushed aside  in favor of the “big picture” or even dismissed as outdated and obsolete?

5. As stern as the first section of the Didache is, in chapter 6 we see the very moderate admonition to “do what you can” rather than a demand for perfection. What is the danger of straying too far to one side (expecting perfection of Christians) or too far to another side (expecting virtually nothing of Christians)? Where do you find the contemporary Church on that spectrum? Provide evidence to support your answer.

6. In chapter 7 we see a call for those being baptized (and any others associated with baptism) to fast for two or three days prior. What is the purpose of fasting and why would it be considered preparation for baptism?

7. What are chapter 7’s specifications as to the type of water used for baptism? What is the purpose of these regulations and how do they compare to the current rubrics regarding baptism? (Consult the Catechism and the Rite of Baptism for a treatment of contemporary practice.)
8. We find an instruction to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. Why do you think this prescription was made? And why is there a concern about keeping (and avoiding) particular days as fast days?

9. Compare & Contrast the Eucharistic Prayers described in the Didache with the prayers you are familiar with at mass. (Consult the prayers of the RomanMissal 3rd Edition for comparison.) Identify three substantial similarities and three considerable differences and offer commentary for one of each.

10. Chapters 11 – 13 give guidelines for the reception of travelling preachers as well as criteria for testing the authenticity of these “prophets”. How do these guidelines and criteria compare to the respect shown to clergy today and to the Church’s expectations of them?

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