Imagine for a moment that Jesus never entered history. There would be no Sermon on the Mount. No Crucifixion. No Resurrection. No New Testament. No Paul. Rome is the foundation of everything that comes after its fall.
And Rome, indeed virtually the entire ancient world, was based politically and economically on slavery, the rights and perogatives of elites, and raw, brute, unaccountable power.
Would there be an America if Christianity never happened?
Without Christianity, as it came to be explained in the New Testament and spread by Paul’s missionary journeys throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, it’s hard to imagine how we get to any recognizable notions of individual liberty, representative assemblies and equality under the law.
Noted historian of the ancient world Tom Holland does not call himself a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, but when he started thinking in terms of the opening graph of this post, he reached some conclusions that will startle more than a few of the folks working on Capitol Hill.
“Compacted into this very, very small amount of writing was almost everything that explains the modern world … Concepts like international law, for instance, concepts of human rights, all these kind of things—ultimately, they don’t go back to Greek philosophers; they don’t go back to Roman imperialism; they go back to Paul,” Holland claims in an Unbelievable? interview.
“His letters, I think, are, along with the four Gospels, the most influential, the most impactful, the most revolutionary writings that have emerged from the ancient world …,” he said. There’s a lot to digest in Holland’s analysis.
Here’s a video sample (and if you are up for the full hour-long interview, go here):