Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why we should keep classical languages

Fr. Hunwicke writes: As long ago as 1933, C S ('Patrimony') Lewis advanced the suggestion that the attacks — even then — upon the position of Latin and Greek as the basis of education, might be part of a plot devised in Hell to subvert the Faith.

Not only did the real John XXIII (not the legend) want to step up teaching Latin in seminaries but the Oxbridge don C.S. Lewis (also one of the greatest ambassadors and apologists not only for Christianity generally but for England's weird, confused Reformed church that's long been a halfway house back to the church) understood the importance of classical languages to teach new generations; evil people want you to be ignorant that way ("suppressing every kind of knowledge except mechanical knowledge"). (I don't know much Greek; I know Latin but am not fluent.) I add: classical languages (especially Latin?) were also how educated Europeans, with very different vernaculars, communicated for about 1,500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Reasons the church uses Latin (traditionalism is not about Latin, but...), still another being a dead language is a good template for precise understanding because its meanings don't change anymore.

1 comment:

  1. Anglophones are very lucky that most of the major classical and medieval works are available in free and fairly accurate English translations online, though you always lose a lot even in the best translation (why Muslims, with their literalist/fundamentalist method of exegesis, consider non-Arabic versions of the Koran to be "interpretations" rather than true translations). Nothing will dispel nonsense about the past faster than reading original source material from the period. Thirty minutes with the Apostolic Fathers, for example, will seriously shake any thinking person's confidence in well-respected modernist scripture scholars and historians. Still, even with free translations all over the place, most people won't bother to read old works firsthand without being forced to do so in a class on Greek or Latin.


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