An award-winning historian has said Christianity played a much more significant part in the formation of modern society than he first thought.
Writing in the New Statesman Tom Holland said that the more he studied ancient history, the more he saw that pagan gods and followers did not value human life equally, routinely upholding the strong and rich above the weak and poor.
He also said that while pagan gods maintained their positions in the universe by punishing people, the Christian God acted profoundly differently by punishing himself on man's behalf - something unheard of before that point.
The historian said: "Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was.
"It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value.
"In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian."
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