“The importance of the achievement must be apparent to every historian, no matter how unsympathetic his attitude toward the content of Christianity may be. The modern European world, what may be called “western civilization,” is descended from the civilization of Greece and Rome. Our languages are either derived directly from the Latin, or at any rate connected with the same great family. Our literature and art are inspired by the great classical models. Our law and government have never been independent of the principles enunciated by the statesmen of Greece, and put into practice by the statesmen of Rome. Our philosophies are obliged to return ever anew to the questions which were put, if not answered, by Plato and Aristotle.
Yet there has entered into this current of Indo-European civilization an element from a very diverse and very unexpected source. How comes it that a thoroughly Semitic book like the Bible has been accorded a place in medieval and modern life to which the glories of Greek literature can never by any possibility aspire? How comes it that the words of that book have not only made political history—moved armies and built empires—but also have entered into the very fabric of men’s souls? The intrinsic value of the Book would not alone have been sufficient to break down the barriers which opposed its acceptance by the Indo-European race. The race from which the Bible came was despised in ancient times and it is despised to-day. How comes it then that a product of that race has been granted such boundless influence? How comes it that the barriers which have always separated Jew from Gentile, Semite from Aryan, have at one point been broken through, so that the current of Semitic life has been allowed to flow unchecked over the rich fields of our modern civilization?The answer to these questions, to the large extent which the preceding outline has attempted to define, must be sought in the inner life of a Jew of Tarsus. In dealing with the apostle Paul we are dealing with one of the moving factors of the world’s history.” (20-21)
THE ORIGIN OF PAUL’S RELIGION, BY J. GRESHAM MACHEN, D.D. Assistant Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis in Princeton Theological Seminary