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Sooner or later the Christians were bound to collide with the Roman government. This collision came not primarily on religious grounds, for the Romans had long tolerated Eastern faiths, even in Rome. It came simply because they could not understand as anything but subversive or treasonous some of the practices of the early Christians: their refusal to worship (even the nominal worship which would have satisfied the government completely) either living or deceased emperors or other gods of the state; their strong bent to pacifism; their withdrawal from significant aspects of community life, such as games or festivals; and, perhaps most inexcusable from the authorities' point of view, their secret and legally unauthorized meetings, often at night, concerning which there were rumors of immoral and offensive proceedings. [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.