Synoptic Tradition in the Didache Revisited

This study reexamines the evidence for and against the claim that the creators of the Didache made use of Matthew's gospel. In the past, scholars were content to list parallel texts by way of establishing the case for dependence. More recently, however, more insightful criteria have been defined. Even in cases of exact verbal agreement, for example, one has to explore to what degree contexts and meanings overlap. Furthermore, one has to explore whether shared issues (fasting, praying, almsgiving, correcting, offering "sacrifice") are resolved along parallel lines. Likewise, textual dependence can no longer disregard orality and oral transmission. In the end, this study concludes that Matthew's gospel and the Didache reveal two religious systems that grew up independently of each other. Should Didache scholars come to accept this, the way would be open for an early dating of the Didache and for its interpretation as a self-contained religious system that must be allowed to speak for itself without appealing to any known gospel. A new era of Didache studies would thus lie open before us.