The oldest catechism in Christian history dates from the 1st century

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And it is an anonymous treaty that the Fathers of the Church held in the highest regard.

According to most scholars, The Didache (a short anonymous Christian treatise, considered the oldest Christian catechism in history) was written between the 65s and 80s. Also known as “the teaching of the Twelve Apostles” or simply “the teaching” (Didache means “to teach” in Greek), the Didache is a letter belonging to the very first Christian body of literary production. It is considered the first and oldest written catechism, and as such has been respected and preserved to this day.

The author and place of writing of Didaché remain unknown. The original text of the Didache has survived in a single manuscript, known as Codex Hierosolymitanus. Some scholars argue that the text was written by an editor (instead of an author) who may also have written some teachings directly from apostolic preaching, in Syria or Egypt. After the text was lost for years, the Metropolitan of Istanbul, Philoteos Bryennios, found a Greek copy in 1873 and published it in 1883. The copy found by the Metropolitan dated from 1056.


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This brief treatise provides us with extra-biblical data concerning the institutions and the life of the first Christian communities. The Didache codifies the moral, liturgical and legal arrangements of the early Church which were then considered convenient and necessary. It consists almost exclusively of “practical” teachings, leaving aside any discussion of the dogmatic contents of the faith, with the exception of one chapter.

There are hardly any quotes from the Old Testament in the Didache; instead, the author speaks of “the Gospel of the Lord” (without specifying which synoptic he is referring to), and cite and allude to about 20 sayings or statements of Jesus Christ. The author seems to ignore the Gospel of John, and none of Saint Paul’s epistles is formally cited.


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The Didache contains the first known instructions for the celebration of Baptism and the Eucharist, as well as one of the first three known forms of the Lord’s Prayer. Taking into account the different translations of the work, the geographical dispersion of the fragments found and the list of subsequent works which depend on it, the Didache should be better known to Christians today.

If you want to read it, here is a full version, in english.


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