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Christianity began as a religion centering around the person of Jesus, and not as a philosophy. It was rooted in Judaism, likewise a religion, not a philosophy. The truths of both were held to have been revealed by God and hence the need for a rational inquiry into their nature was minimized. Many individuals to whom Christianity appealed were satisfied with the simple message of repentance and salvation, but there were many others whose minds were more inquiring and who could not rest until they had explored in a rational way the deep questions which Christianity posed. Most early Christians and most early Christian activity were in the Greek East, where inquisitiveness was more pronounced than in the Roman West. [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.