Sunday, May 25, 2008

Christian Latin

The Christian Church not only overcame the mighty Roman Empire, she also conquered the Latin language, which in turn served the Church until recent centuries as the language not only of theological study, but of prayer, liturgy, and the Scriptures. Latin preserved Western Civilization and the texts of the Christian faith.

Here are some outstanding reflections on the role of Latin in the lives of modern Christians.

First, an article by the brilliant English apologist of the Christian faith, outstanding scholar, and friend of C.S. Lewis - Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) - an autobiographical account of her own studies in Latin.

Next, here is an inspiring tribute to studying the classics in the original languages by the legendary Penn State football coach (and scholar) Joe Paterno.

Finally, a reflection on Latin's immortality as the language of the Church (as opposed to the "dying" languages such as our own English) by the Rev. Randall Paine (a biographer of G.K. Chesterton).

I can really relate to the Randall Paine article, as I have had to learn two versions of the Small Catechism and three versions of the Nicene Creed. This results in the frustration of getting the words muddled up - thus defeating the purpose of committing these texts to memory.

The translations of the Bible, the creeds, and the liturgy that are used in "living" (read: "dying") languages are constantly subject to change. The only ones that are constant are those translations in "dead" (read: "immortal") languages, such as the Koine Greek of the New Testament and the Latin of the Western Church.

Note: All three of these articles are from Memoria Press. You can find some other great links here.


Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Thanks for keeping Latin before us! And here's another link for those who love the classics:

It's a regularly-published blog with all sorts of information on Latin and Greek language, culture, and archaeology.

Susan said...

Wow! Thanks for a wonderful informative post. You have given me so many things to think about learning and reading.

Most of all, I've been struck by how God preserves His Word for us and works in ways to take care of us that most of us don't even realize. Wow!

kuniklo said...

Math and Science are the new Latin. What I mean is that in the same way Latin can offer glimpses of the classical world math and in particular science are essential to understanding the modern one. I know that they are given lip service in most of what makes up the national curricula but they need to be "mastered" -in the Latin sense.