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What we know of the actual life of Jesus comes almost exclusively from the four gospels, primarily from the first three. The earliest of these, believed to be Mark, was written about thirty years after the death of Jesus. Neither Mark nor the other gospels was compiled with a strictly biographical purpose in mind. Each writer selected from written and oral sources what he thought was necessary to provide the Church with an inspiring account of the sayings and acts of its founder, an account which could be used for edifying the faithful and for spreading the gospel In all probability there is in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John a record of no more than 50 or 60 separate days in the life of Jesus. [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.