Today is the Feast of the Ascension in the Catholic Church, and one of the readings includes this:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Cast out devils? Laying on of hands? Curing disease?
Sounds like a Paladin to me.
Granted, the safe handling of snakes and ability to drink “any deadly thing” sounds like immunity to poison rather than disease, though the +2 bonus to all saving throws would certainly help against poison. And there is no D&D paladin ability equivalent to “speaking with new tongues” unless you count the ability to cast clerical spells at higher levels.
Still, seeing these abilities listed like this makes me think that this passage influenced the paladin class, either directly or at least by influencing the literature that Gygax and company drew upon.
Another theme mentioned that touches on the D&D paladin is Christ’s descent into Hell (sometimes referred to as the Harrowing) after his crucifixion. This idea is controversial among various Christian denominations, but it is part of the Catholic Apostles Creed.
Obviously, the concept of paladins in Hell is a strong one for old-timers:
One of the things I always found sorta cool about Dante’s Inferno was how there was so much wreckage from Christ’s descent that had not been repaired by those inhabiting the lower plane. He obviously shook the foundations when he arrived to take up those who were waiting for Him.