Church and Culture in the Middle Ages: 350-814 - Vol. 1

Church and Culture in the Middle Ages: 350-814 - Vol. 1

Church and Culture in the Middle Ages: 350-814 - Vol. 1

Church and Culture in the Middle Ages: 350-814 - Vol. 1

Excerpt

From the time when historians began to consider the study of the genesis of events as the highest task of historical science, they have felt impelled to give an exposition of that "fullness of time" spoken of by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians: "But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. . . ." We venture to set out from this point, not with the intent to demonstrate the existence of a mechanical law in history divorced from the human will and from any lawgiver, but rather to discover the signs of a law which man, without ever completely understanding it, yet recognizes and honors as the direction of divine Providence. By "the fullness of time" we understand those circumstances under which the seed sown by the Incarnate Son of God was to develop. For us, this means chiefly the spread of Greco-Roman culture along the shores of the Mediterranean.

Attention has been rightly directed to the uniformity within the Roman Empire where one law obtained, where the Greek language was the medium of expression for the educated, where the Latin tongue, even where not spoken, was at least generally understood by officials everywhere, where peace and tranquillity reigned, and where a serious danger from without could not even be imagined. In the soil thus prepared, the new teaching, the "glad tidings," would find favorable conditions for its growth.

If, however, we wish to understand the earlier background of this development, it is necessary to consider in some detail the relations of Judaism to the Roman Empire. For Christianity was to manifest itself first in the most distant corner of the empire, a corner which had received but little attention. Thus was made possible Christianity's real and independent internal development. The belief of the Jews in one God had given them a unique position for centuries, and they were accustomed to go their own way. Yet set apart as their homeland was, the very peculiarity of its geography offered them commercial opportunities in all directions. The narrow strip of land, flanked by desert and sea, was to some extent a land-

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