Although the numbers of Christians were few in relation to the empire as a whole, the new movement was beginning to lay the foundations for a Christian culture. And by culture I do not mean primarily what we call high culture, but the “total harvest of thinking and feeling,” to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase – the manners, morals, customs, and arts; the pattern of inherited meanings and sensibilities embedded in rituals, rules, and language; the institutions, practices, persons, and stories that order and inspire the behavior, affections, and thoughts of a people. (54)
Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity
See also Wilken’s article “The Church as Culture” (First Things2004):
“Culture lives by language, and the sentiments, thoughts, and feelings of a Christian culture are formed and carried by the language of the Scriptures. St. Augustine, for instance, believed that there was a distinctively Christian language, what he called the Church’s way of speaking (ecclesiastica loquendi consuetudo). He considered the term “martyr” (witness) to be a word sanctioned by the Bible (notably in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles) and hallowed by early Christian usage. It would be “contrary to the usage of the Church,” said Augustine, to replace it with the conventional Latin term for hero, vir. Salvator (savior) is also a biblical word with pronounced Christian overtones: natus est vobis hodie Salvator, qui est Christus Dominus. In conventional Latin salus meant health, not salvation. Christians, however, coined the words salvare (to save) and salvator (savior); in doing so they began to create a Christian language formed by the Scriptures.”
n., the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
[from Latin cultūra, from cultus, of colere, to till; inhabit]