Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

James A. Tucker

Third Advisor

Edgar Elliston



The problem investigated in this study is how the oikoscode (Haustafeln), a pattern of ethical education replicated by earliest Christianity, can be developed into a theoretical model. The oikoscode is the lifestyle pattern, the lifecode of attitudinal framing and behavioral conduct that guided earliest Christianity, the generation of the first 25 years after the resurrection of Jesus.


For this study in theory construction, Lynham‘s five-phased (conceptual development, operationalization, application, confirmation or disconfirmation, and continuous refinement and development) theory-building recursive system was used, delimited to only two of the five phases, conceptual development and operationalization. Data regarding the shape, the nature, and the usage of the replicative pattern, evidenced by missional leaders Peter, James, Paul, and others in their New Testament writings, were gathered building on the seminal works of Seeberg, who rediscovered the code; Bultmann, who decoded the pattern‘s logic; Carrington, who argued the coherence, thought sequence, and parallel order of the primitive catechism; and Selwyn, who gave what became a classic exploration, reflective of the familiar faith-love-hope triad, and extensive tabulation of the paraenesis.


First, this study uncovered the seed-plot for living life that was replicated by the transformational movement of earliest Christianity, the lifecode that, like some ancient inscription, had been mislaid, shattered, and scattered over time, but in the first half of the 20th century was rediscovered, decoded in its logic, categorized, and displayed. Second, as part of a bricoleur exercise in "disciplined imagination,"these basic findings were developed into an informed conceptual framework called the "Universal Disciple," a Building/Body or Temple/Jesus graphic. This explanatory graphic conceptualizes the ancient, authoritative, and global-standard catechetical code for use in contemporary situations. Third, the Universal Disciple is operationalized by eight components with 40 memorable indicators, translating the lifecode into a set of measurable components.

Subject Area

Christian life--Biblical teaching, Discipling (Christianity), Church history--Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600.