Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



We know very little about the organization of what has been called the primitive Church. The belief in the imminent second coming did not put to rest the need for some arrangement to keep the faithful together and to spread the gospel. No one polity prevailed, but the general pattern was for each group of believers to organize a church and choose those who taught or preached, those who took care of external matters, and those who administered the assistance rendered to unfortunate members. Each church was an independent unit but almost all of them maintained connections with each other through correspondence or other devices. During the second century the clergy, in the person of the priest, became differentiated from the other members. The priest was set apart -- ordained -- for his work, devoted himself entirely to his religious duties, and began wearing distinctive garb. [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.