Didache Research

A Proposal for Further Investigation:

Ethics and Ritual in Early Christianity: The Two Ways and Baptism


      1. Title
      2. Summary

      3. Description of the Proposed Research

          2.1 General description

            The Didache


            Innovative quality

            Scientific significance

            Surplus-value of this approach

          2.2 The Two Sub-projects

            2.2.1 The Dissemination of the Two Ways as a Pre-Baptismal Teaching

                Earlier Research on the Two Ways

                Proposed Research on the Two Ways

            2.2.2 The Ritual of Baptism as tending toward Moral Purification

                Earlier Research on Baptism

                Proposed Research on Baptism

          2.3 Elaboration of the two Sub-projects

            2.3.1 Further Details on Sub-project 1: Historical Context

            2.3.2 Further Details on Sub-project 2: Literary context

        3. References

        4. Nederlandse samenvatting


    1. Title: Ethics and Ritual in Early Christianity: The Two Ways and Baptism

        Two Sub-projects:

      • The Dissemination of the Two Ways as a Pre-Baptismal Teaching
      • The Ritual of Baptism as tending toward a Moral Purification
      • Summary
      • In early Christianity baptism had radical ethical consequences as it involved repentance and a moral change from evil to righteous conduct. Gentiles were called upon to leave behind customary pagan values of morality and instead to embrace a “higher” standard of conduct. The Two Ways manual served as a catechesis preceding baptism within the community whose traditions are reflected in an early Christian writing called “the Didache”. The extant version of the Two Ways in the Didache, however, ultimately depends on a moral Jewish instruction that is lost to us. The language of virtue and vice was an alternate way of understanding and expressing the value of the observance of the Jewish law.

        This research project is multi-disciplinary in scope, reaching from the fields of Patristics into the New Testament, History of Liturgy and Second Temple Judaism. Central to it is the generative role played by the ethical approach of the Two Ways as a pre-baptismal teaching in breadth and depth. First, on the basis of tentative earlier research we hypothesize that the Two Ways served as a pre-baptismal instruction in many more Christian communities than just the Didache community, as is usually assumed. The ritual of baptism may have spread the influence of the original version of the Two Ways much wider than is generally thought. This opens up a whole new area of research that awaits further fruitful exploration with respect to New Testament literature.

        Second, the prefacing of the baptismal ceremony in the extant Didache with the original Jewish instruction of the Two Ways resulted in an “ethicization” of baptism in the Didache. With reference to the works of Jonathan Klawans (2000), we propose that the Didache’s baptism was primarily a moral purification rite in preparation for the consumption of the community’s holy food. Of course baptism also marks an important step in the process by which an individual is welcomed into a religious group. Deviating from the traditional scholarly view, however, we propose that it is not initiation as such that has priority in the Didache’s baptism but the ritual of the eucharistic meal. The diffusion of the Two Ways as a moral, ethical instruction prior to baptism and the “ethicization” of baptism in the Didache caused by the preceding Two Ways seem to imply a tendency toward moral renewal and revitalization.

    2. Description of the Proposed Research

      2.1 General description

        The Didache was compiled from older sources around 100 C.E. for a Christian congregation in (western) Syria. These sources are structured into four clearly separated thematic sections: the Two Ways document (Chaps. 1-6), a liturgical treatise (Chaps. 7-10), a treatise on church organisation (Chaps. 11-15), and an eschatological section (Chap. 16).

        Methodologically we consider the Didache a window on the social and historical reality behind its literary world. It provides its interpreter with a view into the given historical situation of a supposed Didache community. The method used in this research, based on the principle of textual transparency, is historical-critical analysis. This approach searches for the sources that lie behind a given text and reveals elements in the extant text that suggest their earlier use elsewhere (Sitz-im-Leben), whether in oral or written form.

        The innovative quality of this project is two-fold. First, when used in a life situation of baptism the (written or oral) Two Ways teaching derives persuasive force from reminding the baptized hearers of their initial incorporation into the Christian community. If familiarity with the Two Ways’ catechesis preceding the rite of baptism was indeed widespread among first-century Christian communities, we would gain a deeper insight in the preconception (Vorverständnis) of early Christians and this would help us better understand their documents.

        Second, the earliest surviving description of the administration of baptism in general is found in Didache 7 (Ferguson: 2009, 202). It has come to be widely accepted in our days that the ultimate roots of Christian baptism lay in Jewish immersion practices. And indeed, the interest in ritual purity is still paramount in Did 7 as it reflects the central concern that one should use the most appropriate water available for baptism. On the other hand, the directives in Did 7:1c-3a seem to embody concessions toward this formerly strict practice. Should circumstances so demand, they permit performance of the rite of baptism “in another kind of water.” The passage gives the impression that the importance of the quality of the water for the ritual of baptism is diminishing. This project helps elucidate why the rules governing ritual purity were losing their significance. It contributes to an explanation of the development of baptism in early Christian communities.

        The scientific significance of this project is multifold. First, the teaching of the Two Ways circulated at a pre-Christian stage in Judaism. Once the church took it over this ethical instruction became closely related to baptism. Our research project might explain that its later life situation (Sitz im Leben) as a pre-baptismal teaching accounts for the Two Ways becoming widespread in the first century.

        Second, the concession toward a formerly strict ritual practice in Did 7 reveals that the Two Ways may well have been part and parcel of the baptismal liturgy itself and have served within the context of ceremony.

        Third, the project shows the direct link between baptism and Eucharist, since purification in the ethical sense was necessary in preparation for eating the community’s holy food. It probably will corroborate the assumption that the baptismal ritual is likely to have taken place on the same day (Sunday? cf. Did 14) immediately before the sacred meal. Evidence in Christian communities supporting this assumption is found in Justin Martyr’s 1 Apology 65-66 and the Apostolic Tradition 21 where initiation is followed by “prayers of the faithful”, the “kiss of peace”, and the Eucharist (see also Draper, 2000: 127-28; Rordorf, 1962: 257-68; Milavec: 2003: 239).

        Fourth, this research project is likely to explain why this baptism is a one-time event and not a repeated rite. On account of the choice for the Way of Life and rejection of the Way of Death tied to the baptismal ritual, a radical restraint from evil expressed in a once-for-all baptism was required.

        The surplus-value of this approach is that through the interaction between the sub-projects on the Two Ways ethics and the baptismal ritual (and consequently between their researchers) the project offers new perspectives in the interpretation process. The Two Ways disseminated as a result of its being directly or indirectly linked to Christian baptism while a form of early Christian baptism took its ethical shape as a result of being preceded by the Two Ways.

      2.2 The Two Sub-projects

          2.2.1 The Dissemination of the Two Ways as a Pre-Baptismal Teaching

            The first sub-project focuses on Did 1-6. The opening line of the Didache, “There are two ways, one of life, the other of death” (1:1), introduces the subject of the Two Ways treated in its first part (Did 1-6). The Way of Life (Did. 1-4) contains moral instruction which is expounded at greater length than the Way of Death, which contains a mere list of warnings (Did. 5). The thesis of this sub-project is that the Two Ways’ instruction, orally or in writing, was also being used as a prebaptismal catechesis in many local Christian communities other than the Didache.

            Earlier Research on the Two Ways
            The study of the Two Ways section of the Didache received a major boost by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The contribution of the Canadian scholar Jean-Paul Audet is of overriding importance here. He demonstrated (Audet: 1952) for the first time that a pattern of the Two Ways tradition was incorporated into the Manual of Discipline (1QS III,13-IV,26). Audet’s article showed that a written Two Ways manual, containing lists of virtues and vices, was known in Judaism in the pre-Christian era (Draper, 1983: 76-80; 116-120).

            The link between the Manual of Discipline and the Two Ways has been further explored by scholars including Siegfried Wibbing (1959), Ehrhard Kamlah (1964), M.J. Suggs (1972), Willy Rordorf (1972), and Jonathan Draper (1983). They established that the resemblance between the Two Ways and other early Jewish materials was by no means restricted to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Similarities were found to the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in wording, spirit, and social message. Others discovered that elements in the Two Ways also reflect a prevailing propensity in rabbinic literature (Alon, 1939-40; Flusser, 1979; 1987;1990; Flusser-Safrai, 1986).

            In 2002 a study was published that established that the original teaching of the Two Ways, freed from the secondary Didachean context, was constructed, preserved, and handed on within pious Hassidic circles that maintained highly refined ethical standards. The text shows an undeniable relationship with a particular type of rabbinic literature called Derekh Eretz (Van de Sandt-Flusser, 2002: 172-180). Both the Greek Two Ways and the rabbinic Derekh Eretz tractates reveal a specific trend in early Jewish thought that calls on a newly refined moral sensitivity. We note here that oral tracts with subjects concerning Derekh Eretz existed as early as the second century C.E. and that part of these writings reflect the teachings of pious Jewish circles on moral behaviour in the first and second centuries C.E. (Lerner, 1987: 380; Safrai, 1965: 25-28; Id., 1984-85, Id., 1994; Id. 1996; Van de Sandt-Flusser, 2002: 165-80). Thus as far as the Didache is concerned, the rules for Jewish life were modified into a prebaptismal catechesis, an adjustment that is shown by the phrase “Having said all this beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father” in Did. 7:1b.

            Proposed Research on the Two Ways
            We believe that the Two Ways teaching was not restricted to the community from which the Didache is derived. Further research is needed in order to find comparative material suggesting that this ethical exhortation was diffused more widely as an indispensable catechetical instruction preceding baptism.

          2.2.2 The Ritual of Baptism as tending toward Moral Purification
            The second sub-project focuses on the significance and implication of baptism as a ritual in Did 7. That the ritual of baptism is framed in the Didache between the Two Ways and the Eucharist (Did 9-10) has consequences for its meaning. The thesis of this sub-project is that Didache baptism primarily provided the initiate with the necessary moral purity that allowed him/her to participate in community meals rather than becoming a member of the community through washing or a bath.

            Earlier Research on Baptism
            Recent scholarship points out various options regarding the significance and practice of ritual bathing in Second Temple Judaism. The two most important trends are the following. An initial trend was presented by A. Benoit. In 1953 he published a significant study that displayed a renewed interest in the Didache for the investigation into the development of baptism in early Christian communities. He showed that the baptism of John the Baptist cannot be considered the exclusive channel through which the ritual was mediated to Christianity. He suggested that early on Christian baptism developed connotations of initiation under the influence of the cultic ablutions of the Jewish proselyte baptism (that is, the baptism by which Gentiles became Jews; see Benoit, 1953: 12-27). For the admission of proselytes into the Jewish community, rabbinic literature demanded gentiles to be circumcised, perform an immersion in water, and offer a sacrifice in the temple (see Schürer, 1973-1987: III:173; Moore, 1927-30: I:331-33; Rowley, 1940: 327). The rabbis employed one form of impurity in constructing a boundary between Jews and unconverted Gentiles: ritual impurity (Hayes, 2002: 195). Yet it is hard to date the emergence of proselyte baptism before the end of the First century (Rouwhorst, 2009; Cohen, 1994).

            A second tendency is to focus on texts describing washing rituals. Ritual impurity, no matter how great or slight the impurity, bars a person from God’s presence and forms a barrier that must be removed. Purification was necessary before participating in Temple worship (Num 19:20). The Hebrew Bible emphasizes bathing for cultic purposes, but there were also other uses of bathing that were continued and expanded in the Second Temple literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as in the New Testament. Many scholars have noticed that immediate antecedents to baptism might be found in the ablutions of the Essene community of Qumran (B.E. Thiering, 1979-80; D. Smith, 1982: 27-32; R.L. Webb, 1991: 209-13; G.R. Beasley-Murray, 1972: 39-40).

            With respect to the second tendency, it is particularly instructive to focus on a recent publication by Jonathan Klawans (2000) dealing with the general role of purity in early Judaism. He provides a concise and systematic approach to purity. One of his most important points is the distinction between “ritual” and “moral” impurity (Klawans, 2000: 22-31). He argues that cultic uncleanness was a state disqualifying a person from certain ritual acts relating to sacred foods and the temple area. This kind of impurity, which he labels “ritual impurity”, is to be differentiated from “moral impurity”. Whereas the sources of ritual impurity are mostly confined to natural phenomena, including childbirth, the carcasses of animals, menstrual and seminal emissions, scale disease, or a human corpse, moral impurity results from immoral acts such as idolatry, sexual sins, and bloodshed.

            Emphasis on moral purity is common in the Qumran texts and is also widespread in early Christian literature (Klawans, 2000: 148-156; Regev, 2004: 390-92). For our purposes it is interesting to see that in the Qumran scrolls the line between ritual and moral impurity is blurred. The purificatory immersion rites were thought to have no effect unless accompanied by the appropriate inner disposition (Klawans, 2000: passim; Id., 1997: 1-16; Neusner, 1973: 78; 87; 119; Regev, 2004). At Qumran moral failure causes ritual impurity and, without repentance, immersion was meaningless. Those who violated any of the community’s laws became impure and were punished by a food ration reduction, denial of pure food, or even expulsion from the community. Participation in the communal meal depended on each community member’s level of purity. Rather than ritual purity, it was moral purity that was significant for a community meal.

            Proposed Research on Baptism
            This sub-project explores the ritual of baptism in the Didache in line with Klawans’s distinction between “ritual” and “moral” (im)purity. It investigates whether the presence of the Two Ways instructions prior to the baptismal ritual indicates that only the purity of heart was the precondition before entering the water, and in this way becoming completely pure. Just as moral purity prepared the Qumran community for the communal meal, moral purity might have been considered necessary in the Didache community for participating in the Eucharist (Did 9-10).

        2.3 Elaboration of the two Sub-projects

          2.3.1 Further Details on Sub-project 1: Historical Context

            The close resemblances between the different versions of the Two Ways (including Did 1-6, Barnabas 18-20, and the Doctrina Apostolorum) are generally explained in modern research by their — direct or indirect — dependence upon an earlier Jewish Two Ways document that is no longer known to us. Each of these writings represents an independent witness to the ancient Two Ways tradition in which the basic pattern is essentially the same, particularly the contrasting of two ways, one of life and one of death, each of which is followed by a distinct catalogue of virtues and vices respectively. Recently a reconstruction of the original Greek Two Ways teaching was published (Van de Sandt-Flusser, 2002: 112-139) and, since this (hypothetical) text of the Two Ways is available, one is in a position to detect traces of the Two Ways in Jewish and Christian first-century documents.

            There are some indications of the dissemination and diffusion of an independent Two Ways tradition, often serving as a basic catechetical instruction preceding baptism. First, Athanasius of Alexandria in his Festal Letter 39 (367) lists an independent Two Ways manual among those documents that were considered appropriate reading for baptismal candidates. Moreover, Merovingian and Carolingian documents prove the influence of a tradition that is at least closely related to the Two Ways and somehow served as a model for basic instruction of neophytes and Christian believers (Davis, 1995: 352-367; Van de Sandt- Flusser, 2002: 81-111).

            Second, the commonalities of perspective with regard to the law in the Gospel of Matthew and the Letter of James are probably the result of their sharing a section of the Jewish Two Ways. By recognizing passages as referring to (parts of) the Two Ways ethics, some puzzling obscurities in these documents were clarified (Van de Sandt, 2007: 38-63; Id., 2008: 315-338; see also Lockett, 2008). The Two Ways materials in Matthew and James are linked to a pre-baptismal teaching. Alistair Stewart-Sykes recently showed that James’s exhortations were meant “as a means of restoring the hearers to their baptismal resolve” (Stewart-Sykes, 2008: 347; Popkes, 1986: 125-56). Also the supposed life situation (Sitz im Leben) of the Two Ways tradition used by Matthew—that is the setting of the Two Ways before it was introduced into the present context of the gospel—might have been a catechetical situation, perhaps even an instruction for neophytes (Braumann, 1960: 259-60. Popkes, 1989: 17).

            The basic tradition of the Two Ways doctrine has circulated for a long time in Jewish and Christian communities apart from its eventual incorporation and modification in the Didache and served in various first-century local communities as a basic catechetical instruction preceding baptism. Since both the writer and the addressees of the gospels and New Testament letters were baptized, they may have been familiar with the Two Ways teaching. The tradition might have been just as fixed and influential upon the faith of the first readers and writers as are popular hymns upon people today.

            We will have to repeatedly ask whether a specific passage in a document (letter, gospel, etc.) echoing elements of the Two Ways first existed in a (oral or written) form of the Two Ways or a similar exhortation before its insertion into this document. This identification of pre-literary traditions in literary texts allows us insight into the situation of the writer and hearers that otherwise may be missed. A large amount of the ethical instruction prevalent among various Jewish and Christian groups at this time is at least partially indebted to a pre-baptismal Two Ways teaching.

          2.3.2 Further Details on Sub-project 2: Literary context

            The discussion of the various types of water mentioned in Did 7:1c-3a alludes to Jewish ablutions for ritual purification. It was a principle issue to determine what sort of water was needed for the purificatory washing and in rabbinic sources six types of water supply are distinguished (m. Mikw. 1:1-8). “Living” or running water has long been highly valued in Israel (cf. Lev 14:5.50.52; Num 19:17) and in the Hellenistic-Roman world (Klauser, 1974: 177.180-82). Our text does not reflect a continuous, strong adherence to Jewish halakhot governing ritual purity. The level of ritual or cultic purity in baptism seems to be decreasing. The moral purity of the Two Ways rather than cultic purity is emphasized here. The ritual is on its way to a stage in which the effect of baptism is unquestioned, even if the water is less suitable (Vööbus, 1968: 25). Rather than becoming a member of the community through the water/bath (as suggested in Did 7), the character of the bath gives the impression of providing the necessary degree of purity that allowed the initiate to participate in community rituals (as suggested in Did 9:5).

            Didachic baptism “regulates” the initiation of new members into the community but, at the same time, seems to set the acceptable limits of table fellowship. The particular antonymy of the holy thing(s) and dogs in Did 9:5 provides the Eucharist with distinct features of a sacrificial offering in the sanctuary. The proverb “Do not give what is holy to the dogs” is used in a metaphorical way as it is meant to enforce and justify the exclusion of the unbaptized—characterized here as (scavenging) dogs—from the holy food. Baptism is referred to as the general prerequisite authorizing participation in the Eucharist and preventing pagans from sharing the meal (Van de Sandt, 2002: 223-46). New Testament evidence and rabbinic literature testify that the Pharisees, predecessors of the rabbis, and other groups within Jewish society observed these purity rules before the communal meal. Luke, for example, strongly implies that it was Pharisaic practice to bathe completely before eating (11:38). Additional evidence that the Pharisees did eat in a state of purity is found in that very same account where Jesus’ disciples are criticized for eating with defiled hands (Mark 7:1-23; cf. Matt 15:1-20).

            Did 14 portrays quite a different picture of ritual cleanness (see also Draper, 2008: 223-52). With regard to the nature of the eucharistic food in Did 9:5, it is only natural to conclude that the eucharistic meal presented in Did 9-10 is essentially equal to a sacrificial ritual. Did 14 focuses on the Eucharist as a sacrifice (Schwiebert, 2008: 165-690, and community members must acknowledge their sins for the sacrifice to be ritually clean. This confession purifies those participating in the Eucharist and constitutes the precondition for the ritual purity of the sacrifice presented at the meal. The purity required to approach God is no longer attained in the first place through the performance of ablutions or immersions, but has been shifted to a state of moral blamelessness with regard to the confession of sins and mutual reconciliation. Fights, quibbles, and controversies within the community are regarded as a defilement of the Eucharist so that fellow Christians in conflict must be excluded from celebration of the Eucharist until they reconcile. The Dead Sea Scrolls provide us with the most appropriate context for our passage in Did 14:1-3 as they detail a rigorous concern for moral impurity.

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        • _____, On the Two Ways: A Collection of Material (forthcoming).
        • Suggs, M.J., “The Christian Two Ways Tradition: Its Antiquity, Form, and Function”, in D.E. Aune (ed.), Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature (FS. A.P. Wikgren), NovTSup 33, Leiden 1972, 60-74.
        • Thiering, B.E., “Inner and Outer Cleansing at Qumran as a Background for New Testament Baptism”. NTS 26 (1979-80) 266-77.
        • Vööbus, A., Liturgical Traditions in the Didache; Stockholm: Estonian Theological Society in Exile. 1968.
        • Webb, R.L., John the Baptizer and Prophet. A Socio-Historical Study, JSNTSup 62, Sheffield 1991.
        • Wibbing, S., Die Tugend- und Lasterkataloge im Neuen Testament und ihre Traditionsgeschichte unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Qumran-Texte, BZNW 25, Berlin: Töpelmann, 1959.

        4. Nederlandse samenvatting

        Uit allerlei bronnen (ook in het Nieuwe Testament) blijkt dat de christelijke doop (in meerdere vormen) een vrij algemeen verspreid fenomeen was in het vroege christendom. Maar hoe is die rite ontstaan, welke elementen maakten er deel van uit en wat voor betekenis kende men eraan toe? Om aan deze discussie te kunnen bijdragen concentreren we ons in dit onderzoeksvoorstel vooral op de Didachè, een geschrift dat zeer vroege christelijke tradities bevat.

        De Didachè is in het Grieks geschreven en bestaat voor het grootste deel uit voorschriften die het dagelijks leven van christenen regelen. Men gaat er vrij algemeen van uit dat het document als geheel aan het einde van de eerste eeuw ontstaan is in Syrië. De tekst is heterogeen van inhoud en bestaat uit vier onderdelen van verschillende herkomst. Deze onderdelen gaan terug op afzonderlijke oudere documenten en tradities. Op ethisch en liturgisch gebied is de Didachè (hoofdstukken 1-6, respectievelijk 7-10) sterk verwant met het jodendom. De gemeente achter de Didachè was – zeker in eerste instantie – een joods-christelijke groepering, een gemeenschap die uit joden bestond voor wie Jezus de centrale figuur in hun leven was geworden.

        Ondanks veel onderzoek op dit terrein is het nog steeds onduidelijk wat het ritueel van de doop precies betekende. Natuurlijk, het ritueel heeft te maken met initiatie. De bepalingen in Did 7:1c-3a aangaande de soorten water die bij de doop een rol kunnen spelen doen sterk denken aan joodse regels die voorschrijven hoe mensen gebruik moeten maken van onderdompelingsbaden na een verontreiniging te hebben opgelopen. Maar tegelijkertijd laten ze een wat relativerender houding zien ten aanzien van deze richtlijnen.

        Hierop sluit ons onderzoek aan. Dikwijls wordt de doop, vanwege zijn initiatiekarakter en het ermee gemoeide water, in verband gebracht met de manier waarop nieuwelingen in de joodse gemeenschap werden opgenomen (proselietendoop). Met verwijzing naar Did 9:5 waar de doop geassocieerd wordt met het eten van het “heilige”, vragen we ons af of de doop in de Didachè misschien niet nog meer te maken heeft met een ander voorschrift, namelijk de onderdompeling voor onreine personen ter voorbereiding op hun deelname aan viering van de gezamenlijke maaltijd. In een dergelijke context vergt dit ritueel een zelfonderzoek op eigen moreel falen, erkenning van menselijke tekortkomingen en reiniging (Deelproject 2).

        In de gemeente van de Didachè blijkt de doop in Did 7 verbonden te zijn geweest met een catechese (Did 1-6) waaraan een joodse leer van de Twee Wegen ten grondslag lag. In dit joodse instructieboekje dat in zijn oorspronkelijke vorm verloren is gegaan werden twee wijzen van leven, moreel en immoreel, tegenover elkaar gesteld in de vorm van twee alternatieve levenshoudingen. Dit joodse Twee Wegentraktaat deed, aangevuld met christelijke elementen (vooral Did. 1,3b-2,1 en 6,2-3) in de Didachè, dienst in het onderricht voor diegenen die zich voorbereidden op de doop zoals blijkt uit de aanwijzingen voor het doopritueel die in Did 7,1-4, onmiddellijk na de Twee Wegenleer, volgen.

        De joodse Twee Wegenleer die aanvankelijk op zichzelf stond ging dus op een gegeven moment in de gemeente van de Didachè deel uitmaken van de catechese voor de doop. Daarnaast bleef dit nu verloren geraakte document natuurlijk ook separaat, dus los van de Didachè, (mondeling?) circuleren. Maar als het in de gemeente van de Didachè verbonden werd met de doop, kan dit dan ook niet in andere gemeenten zijn gebeurd? Zou het geen wijdverspreide gewoonte geweest kunnen zijn dat christelijke bekeerlingen werden geïnstrueerd met de ethiek van de Twee Wegen voordat ze werden gedoopt? De doctrine is in ieder geval in veel vroegchristelijke geschriften te vinden (Doctrina, Brief van Barnabas, Apostolische kerkorde, Arabisch Leven van Shenoute enz.). Om een dergelijke situatie op het spoor te komen is vergelijking van de tekst van die instructie met daarvoor in aanmerking komende geschriften noodzakelijk.

        Een dergelijk onderzoek levert nu minder problemen op dan het vroeger gedaan zou hebben omdat we sinds 2002 een (hypothetische) versie van de oorspronkelijke tekst van de Twee Wegen hebben. Op dit punt zijn er al enkele geschriften met succes onderzocht (Matteüs, Jakobus) maar het is zaak ook andere documenten aan een diepgaand onderzoek te onderwerpen. Dit zou ertoe kunnen leiden dat wij – met een beter inzicht in het Vorverständnis van de eerste Christenen – hun documenten anders gaan lezen. (Deelproject 1)

        Tot slot, de nauwe samenhang tussen de deelprojecten 1 en 2 geeft aan het onderzoek als geheel een extra dimensie. De Twee Wegen konden zich in de vroegchristelijke wereld verspreiden omdat ze werden gekoppeld aan het doopritueel terwijl een vorm van het christelijke doopritueel een duidelijke voorkeur laat zien voor de ethische reinheid boven rituele reinheid omdat dit werd voorafgegaan door de Twee Wegen.