These three stages in Nemo’s morphogenesis are uncontroversial and highlight the synthesis between the Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian strata that underlie Western culture. The third stage, however, brings with it a significant revaluation of the late Middle Ages and the contribution of the Scholastics, in contrast to the traditional cultural history provided in the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century—illustrated, for example, by the work of Jacob Burkhart, who preferred to emphasize the revolutionary role of the Renaissance and the Reformation in the advent of modern liberal, individualistic culture.
Following the work of Harold J. Berman on the history of law, Nemo holds that the Gregorian Reform and the broader “Papal Revolution” of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries are the locus of the real synthesis of Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. The result is a new weltanschauung in which Greek science and Roman law are thereafter put to work within History. Thus, during this period, the Catholic Church replaces the Augustinian theology of original sin with Anselm’s doctrine of free will and later introduces the doctrine of the purgatory.
These theological innovations emphasize that each individual human being’s efforts matter in the “economics of his salvation” and therefore stimulate him to play an active, as opposed to a contemplative, role in the world. This stage in the morphogenesis of Western culture, which is also characterized by the recovery of ancient philosophy, marks the separation with the Eastern (largely Orthodox) Christian area. In fact, the expression Western culture originally denoted this distinction between Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity.