Should They Stay or Should They Go? Traveling Prophets and the Split-Authorship of the Didache

This paper applies techniques from stylometrics and stylistic and computational linguistics in order to support the hypothesis of multiple authorship of the Didache, with the aim of resolving contradictory depictions of religious instruction and community organization within the text. Didache 11:1-12:5 and Didache 13:1-7 offer contradictory instructions regarding the prophet-teachers who visit early Christian communities. Didache 11:1-12:5 warns against any prophet who requests donations, or asks to be supported in exchange for teaching, or tries to settle within the community. Such men are identified as Christ-peddlers (christemporoi) and false prophets (pseudoprophetai). Didache 13:1-7 directly contradicts this warning, suggesting that prophets are worthy of financial support, and should be enticed to settle within the community. Previous scholarship (Draper, 1995; van de Sandt, 2002) has attempted to reconcile the conflicting instructions of 11-13 by supposing three distinct classes of religious instructor: "apostle," "prophet," and "teacher." This classification system is problematic, since the Didache sometimes uses these terms interchangeably. Empirically-based authorship attribution will make this classification system unnecessary, if statistical analysis shows that the contradictory passages were authored separately. With the empirical basis for an outline of authorship established, a theory is drawn regarding religious instruction at the time of composition: in the mid-first century C.E., primary instruction was delivered by iterant apostles; some of these apostles solicited gifts from their congregations, while others condemned this practice. In time, the former method of instruction won out. That the two systems of financial support existed simultaneously is supported by evidence from the book of Acts and 1 and 2 Corinthians. The eventual dominance of the gift-based support system of Didache 13 may be supported by evidence from 1 Clement.