April 17, 2014

Christian Hellenism — The Foundation of Western Culture

From the chapter on “Liturgy and Theology and Byzantine Culture” in The Formation of Christendom by Christopher Dawson (Sheed & Ward, 1967): The essential achievement of the patristic age was the synthesis of Eastern religion and Western culture, or, to be more precise, the uniting of the spiritual traditions of Hellenism and the political and social traditions of Rome. This synthesis has remained the foundation of Western culture and has never been destroyed, in spite of the tendency of the Reformation to re-Hebraicize Christianity and that of the Renaissance to re-Hellenize culture. And this synthesis has been no less important for Christianity itself. No form of Christianity since the days of Marcion has attempted to disavow its basis in the Old Testament, and Catholic Christianity has always been fully conscious of its debt to Hellenic thought, primarily for its contribution to the theology of the Fathers and the definitions of the Ecumenical Councils, but also in a secondary … [Read more...]