“One of Life and One of Death”: Apocalypticism and the Didache’s Two Ways
Wilhite, Shawn J.
Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2019 pp. xxvii + 367. $95.00
Gorgias Studies in Early Christianity and Patristics, 70
Description: In this book, Wilhite assesses the apocalyptic influence upon the ancient Two Ways metaphor and, more specifically, how the Didache neglects to include a broadly standardized apocalyptic Two Ways genre. His argument will include essential critical evaluation of the apocalyptic genre and assess the apocalyptic features in ancient Two Ways texts, while the predominant focus of the book will document and critically assess how the Didache veers from maintaining an apocalyptic worldview in its expression of the Two Ways (Did. 1–6). This study portrays how ancient Two Ways texts comprise of a constellation of apocalyptic themes. In antiquity, the Two Ways often conveys the following five apocalyptic motifs: (1) angelic or otherworldly figures; (2) angelic or otherworldly ethical influence; (3) dualistic cosmological structures; (4) divine determinism; and (5) anthropological telic ends. Given this historical assessment of ancient Two Ways literature, Wilhite addresses the following question: if ancient Jewish and early Christian Two Ways texts have a common literary structure and reoccurring apocalyptic dualisms, how and why does the Didache neglect to frame the Two Ways with an apocalyptic worldview? With these prominent apocalyptic features in ancient Two Ways literature, the Didache’s Two Ways (Did. 1–6) does not include the common apocalyptic features normally found in an ancient Two Ways genre and primarily maintains an ethical Two Ways orientation. The argument progresses in two stages that correspond to the topics of external texts and traditions, and literary readings of Did. 1–6. These two foci enable the argument to find historical correspondence with other literary traditions as well as identify a particular literary logic in the Didache itself.
Subjects: Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Judaism, Early Church Origins, Form, Tradition and Redaction Criticism
Review by Jonathan A. Draper
Citation: Jonathan A. Draper, review of Shawn J. Wilhite, “One of Life and One of Death”: Apocalypticism and the Didache’s Two Ways, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2020).
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