The Religious Quests of the Graeco-Roman World: A Study in the Historical Background of Early Christianity

The Religious Quests of the Graeco-Roman World: A Study in the Historical Background of Early Christianity

The Religious Quests of the Graeco-Roman World: A Study in the Historical Background of Early Christianity

The Religious Quests of the Graeco-Roman World: A Study in the Historical Background of Early Christianity

Excerpt

Christianity arose as an historical religion, historically conditioned in a definite environment. It was based on certain historical facts; it was preached by and to men who held a view of the world which differs radically in many respects from the views of the present. Christianity not only made history but was modified and shaped by history. No genetic study of Christianity will ever explain Christianity, yet ignorance of its antecedents and of the contemporary spiritual forces and mentality renders a true appreciation impossible. There is a more excellent way of magnifying Christianity than by ignoring or decrying Paganism, or disparaging the rival systems which Christianity overcame and laid under tribute.

During the last generation there has been an increasing recognition of the effect of environment on early Christianity and of the necessity of envisaging Christianity in its complete cultural and religious background. The Graeco-Roman world was the soil on which the Sower went forth to sow the Christian seed; the growth depended not only on the vital forces inherent in the seed but on the preparation and fertility of the soil. We must know the ancient habits of thought and intellectual postulates with which Christianity came into contact and which it partially at least adopted, to understand adequately its task.

To the question, 'Is God the God of the Jews only?' students of ancient history must affirm that He is also the God of the Greeks and the Orientals and the Romans. There was a rich Pagan preparation for Christianity as there was undoubtedly a rich Jewish contribution to 'the fullness of the times.' The spiritual values of . . .

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