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Attitudes to the Sabbath in three apostolic fathers: Didache, Ignatius, and Barnabas

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Chapter Summary

In the Didache, as well as in Matthew, there is no explicit trace of a competition between Sabbath and Sunday. Ignatius' situation is very different. He uses the opposition between the Sabbath and Sunday as a polemical argument: it becomes the symbol of the incompatibility between &t;Christianity&t; and &t;Judaism&t;. Barnabas, who like Ignatius is hostile to the observances, seems aware of the difficulty that the Sabbath belongs to the Decalogue. Christianity tried to preserve the sanctity of time. While at first the construction of time served to model Christian identity without the need to abolish the Sabbath and other liturgical moments of the Jewish tradition, later on the process of separation between Christianity and Judaism also involved the Sabbath. This chapter by analyzing three texts from the first century and the early second century, sheds some light on the initial stages of this long process.

Keywords: apostolic fathers; Barnabas; Christianity; Decalogue; Didache; Ignatius; Judaism; Matthew; Sabbath



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