Tertullian is one of the key early theologians of the Western/Latin-speaking Christian church.
Here is the link to "Prescription Against Heretics".
As someone who teaches theology for a living I have long wanted to be able to better work from the Hebrew (the Old Testament is mainly in the Hebrew language). So, on my sabbatical this spring I decided to go back and begin to work through a Hebrew grammar. It has been wonderful, and I am trying to complete a chapter a week until I complete the grammar (I am using Basics of Biblical Hebrew by Pratico and Van Pelt). As I was reading today about Hebrew verbs Pratico and Van Pelt included a brief selection from Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), one of the Protestant reformers in Switzerland. Zwingli is making the case for why young persons should be instructed in Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) and Greek (the language of the New Testament) and Latin. Zwingli’s piece is commonly titled “On the Education of Youth”. Here is a brief selection:
“Once a young man is instructed in the solid virtue which is formed by faith, it follows that he will regulate himself and richly adorn himself from within: for only he whose whole life is ordered finds it easy to give help and counsel to others.
But a man cannot rightly order his own soul unless he exercises himself day and night in the Word of God. He can do that most readily if he is well versed in such languages as Hebrew and Greek, for a right understanding of the Old Testament is difficult without the one, and a right understanding of the new is equally difficult without the other.
But we are instructing those who have already learned the rudiments, and everywhere Latin has the priority. In these circumstances I do not think that Latin should be altogether neglected. For an understanding of Holy Scripture it is of less value than Hebrew and Greek, but for other purposes it is just as useful. And if often happens that we have to do the business of Christ amongst those who speak Latin. No Christian should use these languages simply for his own profit or pleasure: for languages are gifts of the Holy Ghost.
. . . .
If a man would penetrate to the heavenly wisdom, with which no earthly wisdom ought rightly to be considered, let alone compared, it is with such arms that he must be equipped. And even then he must still approach with a humble and thirsting spirit.”
As one involved in a classical and Christian school, it is helpful to always think through why we do what we do, and to remind one’s self about the importance of language. What would it be like if children in our community coming out of high school could read Latin, Greek, and Hebrew? I suspect such children would enter adulthood with blessed gifts enabling them to see, understand, and accomplish wonderful things!
This essay can be found in Zwingli and Bullinger, ed. G. W. Bromiley (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1953).
Dorothy Sayers gave a talk in 1947, "The Lost Tools of Learning," which has proved to be seminal to the renaissance of classical education in the USA during the last 30 or so years.
It is a wonderful read. She was not giving a detailed outline on how to recover true education. Nonetheless, it was a provocative talk, and it deserves repeated readings.
Here is a PDF of this classic the essay. Happy Reading!
The above picture was taken this week when I was working with the fourth grade Latin students at Augustine School. I had made up this fun story, and then the class translated it (not really a "story," but some sentences utilizing vocabularly which the students know!). Then we labeled every word, clause, etc., in the sentence. When I stood back and looked at it, I thought, "My! This is a real joy, and these students are actually doing some neat Latin work!" For those who are interested, the "method" is rather basic. We put all the verbs in "boxes," we put prepositional phrases (including words in the genitive case) in brackets, we underline remaining words, and then we label each and every word. Watch out for the Augustine fourth grade students as they progress this year!
This is one of our "silly sentences/stories" and can be translated as follows:
"The happy students of the small town love to go to the good school. They were walking to the large island, and the boys and girl go in front of the silent road, and will look at the old teacher, and were fighting the high, large, tired wolves."