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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.
Besides maintaining those pure conceptions of Deity, the prophets from time to time, and with ever increasing distinctness until we come to the direct and personal testimony of the Baptist, foreshadowed a fuller and more universal revelation — a time when, and a Man through Whom, God should bless all the nations of the earth.
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In the following article an account is given of Christianity as a religion, describing its origin, its relation to other religions, its essential nature and chief characteristics, but not dealing with its doctrines in detail nor its history as a visible organization.
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 .
It was to this fact rather than to the wonders He worked in His lifetime that His accredited witnesses always appealed in their teaching.
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We may trace, too, in the world at large, apart from the Jewish people, a similar though less direct preparation.
Whether due ultimately to the Old Testament predictions or to the fragments of the original revelation handed down amongst the Gentile, a certain vague expectation of the coming of a great conqueror seems to have existed in the East and to a certain extent in the Roman worlds, in the midst of which the new religion had its birth.
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