Some Patterns of the New Testament Didache -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 119:474 (Apr 1962)
Article: Some Patterns of the New Testament Didache
Author: Everett F. Harrison


Some Patterns of the New Testament Didache

Everett F. Harrison

[Everett F. Harrison is Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.]

For some years students have become accustomed to thinking and speaking of the materials of the New Testament as for the most part capable of division into two broad categories, kērugma and didachē. Speaking broadly, the former pertains to the message of the gospel as it relates to sinners and their need, whereas the latter is specifically pointed at the saints and has to do with the working out of the gospel, largely in terms of ethical conduct. C. H. Dodd must be credited with giving this distinction classic expression in his work, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments. In that work he was more concerned with the kērugma than with the didachē, but has written on the subject more pointedly in recent years, both in his Gospel and Law and in the T. W. Manson memorial volume entitled New Testament Essays, his own contribution being called “The Primitive Catechism and the Sayings of Jesus.” The leading works apart from those of Dodd are Carrington’s The Primitive Christian Catechism and Selwyn’s Commentary on First Peter, in which he has a long essay entitled, “Formgeschichte’ and Its Application to the Epistles.” David Daube has also contributed valuable help from the side of Old Testament and Rabbinic studies. It is not our purpose to try to cover the whole field here, so we will not be treating the Gospels in terms of the didachē but rather concentrating on the epistles.

It is inconceivable that Christianity, from the start, should lack a fairly well defined corpus of teaching for its new

converts, for, after all, this new faith had its roots deeply embedded in the Old Testament, where systematic instruction was carried out in the home (Deut 8) and by the priests and later by the scribes.

We must not limit ourselves in our search for the didachē to passages which bear this tag. Certain other key terms must be kept in view. One is paradosis. This is an all-inclusive term which is capable of being used both for kerygmatic material and for didachē. The verb paradidōmi occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:3, for example, in a passage where Paul is talking ab...

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