What was the cruelest pagan religion

Summary

We do not intend to portray Jesus in his human personality and to present the fate of his life historically, tasks which, according to the state of tradition, are perhaps unsolvable, at least not yet solved. Even what of the doctrine that we call Christian goes back to him, what was added to it by Paul, John or other disciples only after his death, should not concern us here. All questions relating to the emergence of Christianity are so difficult that we are pleased to be able to avoid them. For what we have to deal with here is only its influence on the downfall of the ancient world, and this only began to assert itself when it was essentially finished. We therefore do not need to restrain ourselves from determining which New Testament writings are genuine and which are not, although we do not want to conceal the fact that in most cases the doubts seem to us to be unfounded. But even if they were justified, it is certain that the entire collection had been completed since the middle of the second century and was soon afterwards recognized in its full extent as binding for every believer. Thus the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, Epistles and Apocalypse all had an equal share in that influence and can therefore be regarded as a single mass for our purpose.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 1966

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