The ancient world was given to Pantheism and creature-worship ; Israel only, not because of its "monotheistic instinct " (Renan), but because of the periodic interposition of God through His prophets, resisted in the main the general tendency to idolatry.
Moreover, many of them were characterized by rites of expiation and sacrifice, which familiarized men's minds with the idea of a mediatorial religion.
They combined to destroy the notion of a nation cultus, and to separate the service of the Deity from the service of the State.
Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origin of Christianity and its earliest developments are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures and various sub-Apostolic writings, the authenticity of which we must to a large extent take for granted here, as the much less grounds we take for granted the authenticity of "Cæsar" when dealing with early Gaul, and of "Tacitus" when studying growth of the Roman Empire. Kenyon "Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the N. We have this further warrant for doing so, that the most mature critical opinions amongst non-Catholics, deserting the wild theories of Baur, Strauss, and Renan, tend, in regard to dates and authorship, to coincide more closely with the Catholic position. He who attentively studies these letters (those i.e. Other points will, of course, be touched on and other results assumed, which are more fully and formally treated under J ESUS C HRIST ; C HURCH ; R EVELATION ; M IRACLES .
The Gospels, Acts, and most of the Epistles are recognized as belonging to the Apostolic Age. of Clement and Ignatius ) cannot fail to see what a fullness of traditions, topics of preaching, doctrines, and forms of organization already existed in the time of Trajan (A. 98-117), and in particular churches had reached permanence" (Chronologie der altchristlichen Literature, Bk. For clearness' sake we shall arrange the subject under the following chief heads: I. Christianity is the name given to that definite system of religious belief and practice which was taught by Jesus Christ in the country of Palestine, during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, and was promulgated, after its Founder's death, for the acceptance of the whole world, by certain chosen men among His followers.
These and other aspects of this great subject will receive treatment under separate titles.
Moreover, the Christianity of which we speak is that which we find realized in the Catholic Church alone; hence, we are not concerned here with those forms which are embodied in the various non-Catholic Christian sects, whether schismatical or heretical.
The whole history of the Jews as detailed in the Old Testament is seen, when read in the light of other events, to be a clear though gradual preparation for the preaching of Christianity.
In that nation alone, the great truths of the existence and unity of God, His providential ruling of His creatures and their responsibility towards Him, were preserved unimpaired amidst general corruption.
Again, the faith which He failed to arouse by the numerous miracles He wrought, He sought to provide with a further and stronger incentive by dying under every circumstance of pain, disgrace, and defeat, and then raising Himself from the dead in triumph and glory.