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We know that the civilizations of most of the world's people today are the outgrowths of previous civilizations which for some reason or another came to an end, though not without leaving a deposit of ideas and techniques for their successors to appropriate. At the moment, we are interested in examining the more immediate background from which Western Civilization grew. Many writers have summarized the cultural heritage bequeathed to the West in terms of the tale of three cities: Athens, representing the contributions of the Classical Greeks; Rome, representing those of the Romans; and Jerusalem, representing the contributions both of Judaism and of Christianity. To each of these cities in succession and to the cultural legacy which each represents we now turn. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.