Another [Early] Account of Christian Worship: Off topic

Mr. Timothy T. Dickens (
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 13:35:06 -0500 (EST)

Hi guys and gals!

Here is something abit of topic, but nonetheless interesting for
individuals interested in studies of Greek New Testament. My account to
Pliny, the younger, mentioning how the Christian in the early second century
chanted hymns to Christ could very well be Pliny's alluding to Philippians
2:5-11 or Colosians 1:15-18. Please forgive my off-topic postings.

Tim Dickens

>Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 13:22:48
>From: "Mr. Timothy T. Dickens" <>
>Subject: Another [Early] Account of Christian Worship

>>From: (D Stephen Heersink)
>>First, to the best of my knowledge, Saint Justin Martyr's "Apologia"
>>is the first descriptive account of the Sunday liturgy for Christians.
>>Has anyone found an earlier source?
>>Second, the "Didache" was written about the same time that Justin
>>Martyr wrote his "Apologia." The Didache gives a description, perhaps
>>even the text, of the Church's first Eucharist's. If these are indeed
>>"texts" of the Eucharist, they obviously lack what we today would call
>>"essential" features: (1) Anamnesis, (2) Epiclesis, and (3) Oblation.
>>Even the "eucharistos" seems too brief to be much of a "thanksgiving."
>>Thus, is it likely that the Justin Martyr narrative would incorporate
>>the "Didache's" text?
>TTD: Dear D. Stephen Heersink!
> I am honestly thankful for your question. your question made me go
to my library and think a bit more critically about some of the things you
mentioned above.
> ". . .to the best of my knowledge, Saint Justin Martyr's 'Apologia'
>>is the first descriptive account of the Sunday liturgy for Christians."
> You may be right about Justin's "Apologia" being the first
[EXPLICIT] account of Sunday liturgy, but it was not written about the same
time as the "Didache" i.e., The Teaching of The Twelve Apostles." According
to Helmut Koester and J.B Lightfoot, the Didache was written around the end
of the first century; Lightfoot adds that it may have been written
immediately in the second century. According to Koester again, Justin's
"Apologia" was written middle-second century(150CE). Thus, the Didache is
earlier than Justin's account.
> To get to the heart of your question, there is an account earlier
than Justin's "Apologia"; this account is found in the letter of Pliny, the
younger. In 112 CE, Pliny was governor of Bithynia of Asia Minor, during
which time he wrote a letter to the emperor Trajan asking for advice as how
he should treat Christians. In letter 10.96 Pliny wrote:
> [The Christians] declared that the sum total of their guilt or
> error amounted to no more than this: they had met regularly
> before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among
> themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god.
> _The Christians as The Roman Saw Them_, Robert L.
> Yale Univ
Press. p.22
> While Pliny's account is an earlier than Justin's "Apologia" and is
an explicit account about Christian meetings on a "fixed day" of the week,
it does not make mention which specific day the meetings occurred.
Personally, I think it was Sunday, but this is my opinion and has not yet
been proven.
>>Thus, is it likely that the Justin Martyr narrative would incorporate
>>the "Didache's" text?
>TTD; possibly.
Peace and Love,
Timothy T. Dickens
Smyrna, GA Home School

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Near Eastern specialist and Egyptologist. . .are too aware of the
isolationism often seen in traditional classics--or more precisely in
studies of Greek civilization--with its emphasis on the events of a
relatively short period, primarily in a particular exemplar of a single
group of cultures. Studies that appear to see fifth-century B.C.E Athens as
the defining experience of all civilization puzzle those whose interest lie
in other areas of the Mediterranean antiquity, and still more those
concerned with other regions of the world.

"On The Aims And Methods of Black Athena"
by John Baines in Black Athena Revisited