The Didascalia apostolorum is one of the ancient church
orders, setting out the duties and responsibilities of laypeople,
bishops and widows, regulating the keeping of Pascha and engaging
in polemic with Judaism. It is a work of extraordinary interest for
the history of the church in Syria, as a document of social and
liturgical history and as a document bearing witness to relations
between Christians and Jews.
Alistair Stewart-Sykes presents the text in a readable English
version which takes full account of the various textual witnesses.
Of particular importance is the introduction. The
Didascalia is conventionally ascribed to a single hand in
third-century Syria, but here an entirely new compositional
hypothesis is proposed in which the work is shown to be composite
and to include sources of much greater antiquity than the period of
final redaction. In the light of the compositional hypothesis there
are radically new discussions of ministry (including the ministry
of widows), relationships with Judaism, and liturgy (including the
penitential process). Beyond this the introduction engages with the
social context in which these developments emerged.
The work is suitable for a wide audience. The translation will
be useful to undergraduate and graduate students whereas the
introduction and commentary will be of interest to scholars in
ecclesiastical history, historical liturgy, forming Judaism and
Jewish-Christian relations as well as Syriac studies.
The author, Alistair
Stewart-Sykes, is well-known in the field having produced
the first critical text for over a century of the Apostolic church
order and the first full-length commentary on the Apostolic