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Perhaps no individual after Paul exercised an influence on t he history of Christianity comparable to that of Augustine (354- 430). Beyond a doubt the greatest of the Latin Church fathers, he lived during the years when the formative period of the Christian Church was drawing to its close. By the time of his death, the polity, the doctrine, and many of the practices which the Western Church was to carry into the Middle Ages were already clearly recognizable, if not finally set. It was the contribution of Augustine, during the last half of a long and eventful life, to sharpen, expound, and expand upon so many different aspects of the Christian faith and in such a convincing (though sometimes inconsistent) way that there was no significant restatement of Roman Catholic doctrine for more than eight hundred years after his death. When the early Protestants of the sixteenth century wished to return to what they held to be true Christianity, they did so through Augustine. [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.