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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Church Orders

The oldest surviving document delineating regulations for church life bears the title The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles through the Twelve Apostles, but usually goes by the title The Didache. It probably dates to the first half of the second century. After establishing ethical expectations for the community, The Didache then prescribes the proper performance of Christian rituals, establishes rules for community organization and discipline, and concludes with apocalyptic prophecies. No document extant from this period provides a clearer window through which to observe the practices of baptism, eucharist, and fasting. The Didache also documents the transition of religious leadership from wandering missionaries, “prophets and teachers,” to local clergy, “bishops and deacons.” In the subsequent centuries, Christians wrote many similar “orders” for governing the life of the church.

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Oxford University Press

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