Today I have something to follow up on my discussion of Aaron Milavec and the Didache. It concerns the Lord’s Prayer.
Milavec did not think the Lord’s Prayer meant Jesus’ prayer. He thought it meant the prayer that came from the Lord God. The Didache quotes the Prophets and says these words come from the Lord. So words from the Lord in the Didache are words that come from the Lord God through a prophet.
This caused me to think about Luke 11:1:
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (NET Bible).
There follows then Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.
Both Jesus and John preached the coming of the Kingdom of God. The prayer calls for God’s kingdom to come and defines that as the divine will being done on earth as in heaven.
John and, probably, Jesus expected a time of trial or testing to precede the kingdom’s arrival. The Lord’s Prayer culminates with this petition: “Do not bring us to the time of trial” (NRSV).
My question is whether it is possible that the Lord’s Prayer is actually the prayer that was revealed through the prophet John and simply appropriated by Jesus.
According to Milavec’s interpretation, the prayer was prayed by the newly baptized. Could this tradition go back to John? Did he teach this prayer as fitting for those who received his baptism?
A further question then would be whether the Didache community stood in some relation to the John the Baptist sect. We know that there were still people who identified as disciples of John many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 19:1-6). Many understand that the Gospel of John contains a polemic against a John the Baptist sect.
I did a web search for “John the Baptist Didache” and “Mandaeans Didache” and came up with very little. But there was this site, which connects the Didache with the Ebionite sect:
The Didache also relies on Matthew’s gospel and does not put any emphasis on the divinity of Jesus – these characteristics are consistent with the early Jewish movement referred to as Ebionites.
Milavec questions the dependence on Matthew but agrees that there is little or no emphasis on the divinity of Jesus.
There were several movements that arose in the first and second centuries and seem to have had different understandings of Judaism, John, and Jesus.
But I am apparently odd and alone in entertaining the idea that the Didache might represent a group of followers of John. It would mean that the disciples of John had a gentile outreach. We do not know anything about that from any other source.
Speaking of odd and off-the-wall ideas, here is a link to a series of videos where Alan Garrow argues that the Didache is an example “Q”, the until-now hypothetical gospel source.