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Christendom College | Academic Bulletin

Christendom College | Academic Bulletin

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Published by Christendom_College
Academic bulletin for Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.
Academic bulletin for Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.

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Published by: Christendom_College on Oct 06, 2011
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01/08/2015

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Greek and Roman literature preserve the wisdom of the ancients, the noble heritage that is
the thought of the peoples of antiquity. We should regard it as the first traces of the coming
dawn of Gospel truth that the Son of God, the Master and Teacher of the life of grace, the
Enlightener and Guide of the human race
, announced on earth. In this, the indisputably
pre-eminent legacy bequeathed from antiquity, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church
recognized that hearts were being prepared to receive the heavenly riches of which Christ
Jesus made mortals sharers in His plan realized in the fullness of time. The clear
consequence of this is that nothing true, nothing positive, nothing noble, nothing beautiful
that past ages had produced was in any way lost in the renewed order of Christendom.

John XXIII, Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia 1

Classical and Early Christian Studies has two major focuses. The first is to have the
student increase his knowledge of the literature, history, and mores of Graeco-Roman civilization
even as he develops his grammatical, lexical, and rhetorical command of Greek, Latin, and–to a
lesser degree–Hebrew. The second is to have the student appreciate how that civilization was
transformed into Christendom beginning from the Apostolic Age through late antiquity and into
the Middle Ages.

Greek, Latin, and Hebrew were the three languages in which Christ the King was
acclaimed on the Holy Cross; Greek, Latin, and Hebrew are the languages in which Sacred
Scripture and the pure doctrine of the Fathers of the Church were written. The Church has,
therefore, always considered the study of these three tongues a field of special importance for the
intellectual formation of Christian scholars. As John XXIII expressed it, the Church fosters the
Greek and Latin languages and literature “because they have had no small role in the
advancement of the human race.” As recently as 2006, Benedict XVI underscored the
significance that Latin, and by inference classical studies, continues to hold, “Our Predecessors
have quite rightly considered knowledge of Latin of great importance for those who deal with
ecclesiastical and liberal studies to be able to make fully their own these disciplines’
tremendously rich teaching. Therefore, we urge those scholars zealously to endeavor that as
many as possible have access to this treasure and obtain the excellent knowledge that it has to
bestow.” (General Address of February 22, 2006)

Historically, classical studies, that is, learning Latin and Greek and reading, commenting
upon, editing, and transmitting a canon of traditional texts, was the mother and perpetual
handmaiden of other disciplines in the monastic schools of early Christendom, as well as in
medieval universities. It is fitting, therefore, that the mater atque ancilla studiorum continue to
form those who will dedicate their lives to the transmission and interpretation of Christian and

56

Classical literature, a patrimony that includes Homer and the Pentateuch, Aristotle and
Chrysostom, Cicero and Jerome.

In answer, then, to the wishes of recent Roman Pontiffs, the Classical and Early Christian
Studies program at Christendom College is designed to promote the study of Latin and Greek at
all levels, and Hebrew to a lesser extent, so as to read Sacred Scripture and the works of the
Fathers of the Church in their original languages, a worthy and ultimately necessary preparation
for those engaged in the defense of the Faith. To lack knowledge of Greek and Latin is, to
borrow the language of Veterum Sapientia, to risk losing the true, the positive, the noble, the
beautiful that past ages produced and that has been a part of the patrimony of Christendom. To
be unlettered in Latin or Greek impoverishes a Christian scholar, since the accident of what has
been translated would determine what he knows of our sacred or secular heritage.

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