1. There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways. 2. The way of life is this:” First, you shalt love the God who made thee, secondly, thy neighbour as thyself; and whatsoever thou wouldst not have done to thyself, do not thou to another.”
And so starts the book also known as ‘The Two Ways’. It is a set of aphorisms to follow, said to be the instructions given by Jesus Christ to the Disciples as part of his teaching. It was written down after his death, by whom nobody actually knows. The book was said to be lost for many centuries, rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios in Constantinople, modern day Istanbul.
Bryennios was a Metropolitan Bishop for the Greek Orthodox Church. Whilst he was assigned to the Jerusalem Monastery of the Most Holy Sepulchre, he came across a manuscript in the library, a manuscript that had not been looked at for many centuries. In it was the lost book known as the Didache. The document the Didache was found in was an eleventh century manuscript called the Codex Hierosolymitanus, often referred to as the Jerusalem Codex.
There is still much debate as to when the Didache was first written down, some scholars suggest the 1st century A.D., others the 2nd. Where it was first written is also up for debate as there are no early copies of this book but it is mentioned in many early Christian writers works, such as Eusebius of Ceasera.
The Didache is split into two parts-The Way of Life and The Way of Death. It is a book of instructions on how to live The Way of Life, which includes how to be a true believer in the Lord God, how to treat your fellow man, woman and child, basically how to be a good person.
The Book of Death warns one how not to live-
“1. But the Way of Death is this: First of all, it is wicked and full of cursing, murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, witchcrafts, charms, robberies, false witness, hypocrisies, a double heart, fraud, pride, malice, stubbornness, covetousness, foul speech, jealousy, impudence, haughtiness, boastfulness.
2. Persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of lies, knowing not the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to righteous judgment, spending wakeful nights not for good but for wickedness, from whom meekness and patience is far, lovers of vanity, following after reward, unmerciful to the poor, not working for him who is oppressed with toil, without knowledge of him who made them, murderers of children, corrupters of God’s creatures, turning away the needy, oppressing the distressed, advocates of the rich, unjust judges of the poor, altogether sinful; may ye be delivered, my children, from all these.”
The book ends with the promise that the Day of Judgement will come, but before that, in the last days, beware of false prophets and watch out for the anti-christ, who will come to mislead people and tempt them away from belief in the true religion of God. It records that there will be signs to look out for to signify that it is the last days, horrors will abound as ‘love is turned into hate’, but in the end “The Lord shall come and all his saints with Him”.
Whether the End Times and Judgement Day are just around the corner, or not, still the Didache has some good instruction for each and every person, Christian and non-Christian as to how to live a life that is wholesome and loving with everybody else that walks this planet.
You can listen to the full book here.
Debbie Elliott is the author of ‘The Emperor and the Servant of the Lord’, a historical fiction book about the Didache now available at Amazon.