Didache

The apocalyptic XVIth chapter of the Didache – Part two

The apocalyptic XVIth chapter of the Didache – Part two

Didache XVI:3-4

(3) For in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall change to hate. (4) For as lawlessness increases, men will hate, persecute and betray one another, and then the deceiver of the world will appear as the son of God and will do signs and wonders, and the earth will be given into his hands and he will commit such abominations as have never been done before.


False prophets in the last days

Didache XVI

Josephus

NT

Verse 3

 

Mt 24

“For in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters shall be multiplied …”

 

 

(11) “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (12) And because lawlessness is multiplied, …”

24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise (…) so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

 

The ‘corrupters’ of D XVI:3 are the translation of the Greek φθορεις, which can be translated as well as ‘destroyers’, which brings this sentence closer to the war against the Romans. The false prophets (and false Christs in Matthew) don’t seem to be Jewish individuals, but seem to belong to the enemy.

This scene in Matthew also plays in ‘the last days’, not with exactly these words, but with the word τελος (‘end’) in 24:13 as well as in 24:14.

 

Civil war

Didache XVI

Josephus

NT

Verse 3 and 4

War book IV:132

Mt 24:10 and 12

Lc 14:26

(3) “Love shall be turned into hate.”

(4) “Men will hate, persecute and betray one another.”

 

“First of all in the homes this party rivalry disrupted unity among those who had been bosom friends; then the nearest relatives severed all former ties, and, attaching themselves to men who shared their respective views, lined up on opposite sides.”

 

Mt 24:10 “And then many will stumble, and betray one another, and hate one another.”

Mt 24:12 “And because lawlessness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold.”

Lc 14:26 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

I believe there is an interesting relation between Didache XVI:3 ‘love shall be turned into hate’, Mt 24:12 ‘most men’s love will grow cold’ and 1QS Community Rule IX:21 ‘These are the regulations of the way for the wise man in those times for his love as well as his hate: eternal hate in a spirit of secrecy for the men of perdition!’ In my opinion the ‘most men’s love will grow cold’ is a pale translation of ‘ψυγησεται η αγαπη των πολλων’ in Matthew 24:12. Οι πολλοι is the standard term for the general council of all the fully initiated Essenes of the Qumran community. Maybe, in the spirit of Qumran, Matthew means that the love of the Essene community had disappeared and that only hate remained. This Essene hate towards the Romans was the instigator of the war. I propose to translate ψυγησεται η αγαπη των πολλων as ‘the love of the whole congregation will extinguish’ to keep this possible (and in my opinion probable) link with the Qumran community intact.