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April 27, 2006

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SiliconValleySteve

I'm not surprised. People want to know what they don't know. Endless naval gazing only brings up common predjudices. Learning means moving beyond those. I got pulled into a Renew group once as a favor to some really nice people at my parish who were having a difficult time getting people to attend. It was one of the most boring evenings of my life. The only good thing (and it was a very good thing) was that it provided a place for some lonely isolated people in my parish to meet with others. They could easily been accomodated in a more serious program.

I don't understand the other opinion. Somebody please explain it.

Ellana Livermore

My mother's church did Koine Greek (Biblical Greek) as a trial. The class went on for 15 years and the original members (including my mother) managed to translate most of the NT.
Sometimes they would spend a week or two on a single verse, asking their Pastor (who had a Th.D in Theology) to give them background in history, Church history etc.

Looking forward to hearing you speak in Houston.

Ellen

This brings back so many bad memories for me.
When I got to high school, the caring and sharing was ALL the teaching I got. What I know beyond the basics, I've taught myself.
I would love to have some courses with real content for adults.

Cathleen

Good for her. And lucky for those in her parish who were able to take advantage of it. I'd love to learn Biblical Greek or brush up on my high school Latin...someday...*sigh*

Tiresome complaint alert: I love teaching RCIA and try hard to offer coherent, substantial content. The beauty of Catholic theology is the beauty of truth, and sharing that truth is a joy. Unfortunately, the RCIA director doesn't think the RCIA folks want "all that theology stuff"...they just need to know that Jesus loves them...it's all about the love. So, why don't we just give them a "Jesus Loves Me" bumper sticker and be done with it?

Pius

My guess would be that the reason there is so much caring and sharing is because it takes no real effort or knowledge to organize and conduct one of these sessions. A Greek study group would require a knowledgable instructor and some real effort on the part of the participants. What a great opportunity, though!

When I critique a lecture, article, book, or essay, my first request is--Tell me what I don't know or couldn't make up!

Rich Leonardi

One of my most fascinating conversations last year was with a learned priest, well-versed in Koine Greek. IIRC, he explained to me that "dwelt among us" in John 1 is really more like "pitched a tent among us," a direct reference by John to the tent which covered the tabernacle in Exodus. If that doesn't provide one with material for "sharing" or reflecting, what would?

Ken

Sounds like it could be interesting. The NT was originally written in Koine Greek (at most once-removed from Aramaic), so a class like that would give insight into the original language and the parts where Koine-Greek-to-Modern-English might have gotten shaky.

Sr Lorraine

A friend of ours and Scripture teacher, Celia Sirois, began to offer a Greek class as part of the adult education program for Boston a few years ago. I've attended myself, and it's still going on. It's a small group but very dedicated and made up of the most ordinary Catholics you could imagine: working moms, retired folks, and others who just want to know more about the faith.
At one point Celia invited Bishop Malone (now in Portland) to visit the class. She said he was amazed to see these ordinary people translating the Greek texts of the Gospel.

Anon

Ken, I thought some "Hebraisms" in the Synoptics suggest that one or more may have been originally written in Aramaic? Not that it matters hugely: take the Greek Septuagint of the OT: I've read that it's more reliable than later Hebrew texts...

Matthew

I believe that Claude Tresmontant has ably demonstrated that it is very, very likely that Matthew was first written in Hebrew before being translated into Greek. I found his book "The Gospel of Matthew" to be fascinating.

Ryan

I have struggled for months to find a place to learn Latin. As a catholic convert, I would love the opportunity to experience latin mass in all its fullness.

The only problem is that it looks like it'll cost me about $5000 at a local university. I'm sure Greek would carry about the same cost.

marianne

A few months ago, I read of a similar situation in a parish near Washington D.C. Latin was offered and it was a smash, standing room only hit. One of the students: Judge Robert Bork.

mulopwepaul

The problem with studying the text is that it requires an a priori understanding that the meaning of the text exists independently of what we might wish the meaning were.

This is bound to get some upset when they run aground on the hard fact that scripture does not support their current lifestyle.

PVO

Fr. Brian Stanley

Watch out! This language thing could spill over into the liturgy, and then you'll not only have faith-sharing catechists upset, but you'll have "vernacular only" liturgists clamoring for your head. In some parishes, I suspect that such a language class could only be conducted in the catacombs, for fear of persecution.

Sonetka

I would love, love, love a class like that.

*Sighs for what will probably never be*

John Gibson

The faith sharing thing is based in feelings, not in knowledge. This has been the problem with a majority of RCIA and Religious Education programs.

When I was an RCIA catechist (before I was removed by the pastor,) I was amazed at the number of totally ignorant Catholics we were producing. The prevailing feeling of the RCIA program was the "If you teach them what Catholicism really is then we will scare people away from the Church.)

In my experience the only persons who were not allowed to enter the Church during the Easter Vigil were the one's who's annulments hadn't gone through in time.

Catherine of Alexandria

In grad school we referred to groups, and later to group sharing, as "a pooling of ignorance."

Gerald Augustinus

Faith sharing - don't remind me. Our RCIA program wasn't bad, but it had a lot of the sticky gooey 70s feeeeeeeelings stuff in it, too. You got some knowledge out of it, but on a very, very basic level. Sister abhorred book learning. I always raised my hand to add things heh.

First session in RCIA we had to share our stories in small groups. Some people started crying, others were put off by this instant familiarity.

Lynn

I would LOVE a class in New Testament Greek!
But I'm not holding my breath...I even have an interlinear English/Greek New Testament and a book: "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek."
I would also be happy to see a class on Latin.

Lynn

Ryan, you might check with your local community college for classes in Latin. Ours offers evening classes in many areas (Latin included). Yhey are held in the evening and are very inexpensive.
I've discovered that the university's Jewish Student Center offers courses (also very inexpensive and open to anyone) in Hebrew.

Mary Jane

"Caring and sharing" RCIA almost kept me out of the Catholic church. And now it certainly makes me very cautious about any parish-based education and small group activities. Often, it seems that anyone, regardless of background or qualifications, who proposes a group gets a green light - as long as it doesn't appear to have too much substantive content.

Things for women, mysticism made easy, relationship repair - those are easily approved. In most parishes, Koine Greek (which I took years ago and have always been grateful for), Latin(well, we know where that might lead), and a rigorous review of Church history, using a good survey text with excerpts from original documents - those wouldn't stand a chance.

Mike Hayes

Can't we do both? One of the hallmarks of my retreat program is that we do just that. We provide something content based alongside the opportunity to share how the things we learn "matter" in our everyday lives.

I'd like to know how learning Greek effects people's committment to the gospel. What I expect is that most people will be smarmy know it alls who point out that they know the REAL meaning of the gospel and anyone who doesn't know Greek doesn't know crap. Then they will lord it over all of those who don't understand the gospel--including the clergy.

We need both things, people...not one or the other. Learn from the history of our church. If as many of you state--Vatican II went too far in being too touchy feely and not enough knowledge we can easily go too far the other way in response.

kat

Check out some of the Catholic homeschool providers such as Our Lady of Victory and Seton for good basic Latin courses. Latin Christiana is the most popular Latin program. We are starting Prima Latina with out 6 and 7 year olds this summer.

Todd

Fr Brian is wrong on at least one location. I've commented for years that Latin study belongs in grade school. It's not as relevant for Biblical study, being the first vernacular and all, but excellent in building vocabulary and teaching a pretty well constructed language form.

My Baptist aunt took courses offered at her church in New Testament Greek. I found it fascinating. If somebody stepped forward to teach Biblical languages in my parish, I'd snap them up in a heartbeat.

Amy's right on that point. People like learning.

Faith sharing has its place, too, but it's not the be-all and end-all of social interaction. It's not a replacement for the I-forgot-to-prepare-my-lecture syndrome. But people do need to be conversant enough in their faith--including the Bible--to apply Biblical examples and prayers to their own life. Context is key.

Rich Leonardi

We need both things, people...not one or the other. Learn from the history of our church. If as many of you state--Vatican II went too far in being too touchy feely and not enough knowledge we can easily go too far the other way in response.

It would be much easier to take you seriously if you didn't follow your call for "both" with a "crap"-filled dismissal of one.

As to the substance of the paragraph above, suffice it to say that given the current state of parish life, it would be damn-near impossible to "go too far the other way," that way being the one filled with rigid content.

Kevin Jones

"I'd like to know how learning Greek effects people's committment to the gospel. What I expect is that most people will be smarmy know it alls who point out that they know the REAL meaning of the gospel and anyone who doesn't know Greek doesn't know crap. Then they will lord it over all of those who don't understand the gospel--including the clergy."

Learning Greek, like learning anything else that is complex and foreign, presupposes the existence and exercise of humility. It's only a threat to liturgists who insist on mistranslating "leitourgia" as "the people's work."

A kind soul from the Creator Mundi art gallery tried to start a Latin class at my own parish. He got four middle-aged women and me, the Classics major. Events precluded him from proceeding with the class, and I now regret not taking over from him.

Chris S.

I too would jump at the chance to learn Biblical languages, or Latin. I'd imagine that Latin would be fairly easy to learn, already being bilingual (English and French).

At my parish (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland ME) a group of us just completed a complete reading and discussion of the Catechism. We met bi-weekly for an hour and a half for two years, and the group varied in size between 5 and 8 people.

I also attend a Bible study there, which is quite orthodox. We do some "sharing" there, but not the overly touchy-feely kind. People relate real experiences and insights into living a devout spiritual life.

Coming up very soon will be a series of talks on the Early Church Fathers (for now, May - August). This will be put on by 3 members of the Catechism study group, after a lot of interest was generated by the copious footnotes citing the Fathres in the Catechism. I'll be one of the people leading it, and we hope to get a large turnout.

I can't imagine that this sort of things would have even been thinkable 10-15 years ago.

JP

When my wife introduced Latin into our children's homsechool cirriculumn last year, we braced for a big push back from our boys (11,9).As it turns out, it was immediatly thier favorite subjects and remains so today. Go figure.

Cornelius AMDG

St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, DC offered a few courses in Latin a few years ago (focusing on Latin in the liturgy), and the classes were packed.

Clare Krishan

Studying semitic languages also (Hebrew-Aramaic-Syriac) could be fruitful for the new evangelization - entering China from across the Mongolian steppe, Jesuits discovered a stone stele near the Daqin Pagoda monastery in Xian that featured Syriac characters beneath the Mandarin ones - their knowledge enabled them to discipher an early testament to Christian missionaries who had predated them by 1000 years - perhaps the source of those mediaval myths about Prester John that tickle our fantasies today! Here's a Chinese Catholic Youth Evangelization Group's list of activities:

http://eoc.dolf.org.hk/livingev/new_asiaev.htm

Compare and contrast to your parish's teenage youth program (and enjoy their gift shop -
eoc.dolf.org.hk/evgift/3kings.swf
eoc.dolf.org.hk/evgift/star.swf
eoc.dolf.org.hk/evgift/easter.swf
wee Flash movies for downloadable faithful fun or emailing sharing)

Awesome creativity and use of gifts ad majiorem Dei (coincidentally Macromedia's Flash isn't from Microsoft. Sorry for the sarcasm, but that's the problem as I see it: our kids "learn-to-earn" and neglect their creative potential given to them by their Creator)

Terry

"Learning Greek, like learning anything else that is complex and foreign, presupposes the existence and exercise of humility. It's only a threat to liturgists who insist on mistranslating "leitourgia" as 'the people's work."'

What does it really mean? I only ask because our parish mission was a fairly renowned priest in my archdiocese coming to give a lesson on the liturgy. That's how he defined it, which makes sense because he also stated Mass was a "big family meal." I don't remember "sacrifice" being mentioned, but I could be wrong. We also learned it's not the Body and Blood that saves us, but His death and resurrection, which seemed a bit odd to me. At the same mission, the individual leading the music made the comment that it should be a rule that every Catholic know the words to "Here I Am Lord," prior to us singing it.

Old Zhou

A few quick notes:

----
I studied and taught NT Greek in evangelical churches. Always big crowds. The problem was, however, that it is easy to say, "The Greek text is X; that translates as Y" without any understanding of the fact that, well, someone's opinion is that the Greek text is X. Actually, if you have 30 different ancient manuscripts, you probably have 30 different texts for every single page of the New Testament. Textual errors are inevitable. Some are simple, like typos in comments. Some are not. Some textual variants actually impact the meaning of the text. Some meaning impacts are not trivial and have theological impacts. So, you need to read the Greek text in the context of the Community (aka Church), and consider all the Patristic quotations, paraphrases and expositions.

Hey, how do you think I became Catholic?

-----

What I would really love to see in a parish, but don't have any hope, is this:

ADULT EDUCATION:
STUDY OF THE LITURGY IN LATIN
We will study the current liturgical texts in Latin, including selections from the Missale Romanum, Lectionarium, and Graduale Romanum and Liturgia Horarum. Advanced students will also be invited to study selections from older Latin liturgical texts such as the older Missale Romanum, Breviarium Romanum and Breviarum Monasticum.

Why do I think this will never happen?
Because then we will understand the difference between what we have going on in English liturgy and what is there in the books. And our heads might explode. Much safer to teach Greek, which has (almost) no connection to liturgy.

Flambeaux

Old Zhou,

I've often thought of teaching a course on that in my parish. Although I'd have to teach some of the parishoners a little Latin first.

Alas, I find myself without time while working and rearing children. FWIW, rest assured you're not the only one who'd enjoy something like that.

Bradamante

Hey, kids: free Latin tutorials are available at the National Archives UK website. Also, Tom Lehr (sp?) wrote a latin translation of the "Wizard of Oz" for something fun. Can't help at all with Greek, sorry.

Chris S.

Another fun exercise, which lets them do something they do anyway, like browsing the Internet, would be to have them translate articles from (or for) Vicipaedia:

http://la.wikipedia.org

ATP

Zhou wrote:
The problem was, however, that it is easy to say, "The Greek text is X; that translates as Y" without any understanding of the fact that, well, someone's opinion is that the Greek text is X. Actually, if you have 30 different ancient manuscripts, you probably have 30 different texts for every single page of the New Testament. Textual errors are inevitable. Some are simple, like typos in comments. Some are not. Some textual variants actually impact the meaning of the text. Some meaning impacts are not trivial and have theological impacts. So, you need to read the Greek text in the context of the Community (aka Church), and consider all the Patristic quotations, paraphrases and expositions.

That's something I've been thinking about - the fact that the definitions of words themselves will vary depending on one's perspective.

I'd love to learn Greek. And Hebrew. Just enough to occasionally whip out a "the Hebrew verb somehebrewverbinach has the connotation of dragonlike, which is why we see the Deuteronomists employ it in the context of Joshua somehebreverbinachating the Canaanites." That kind of thing. It's very interesting to me to contemplate why certain words were chosen and what those choices reflect about God's inspiration of the author.

Chris S. - very cool link! I have passed it along to our Latin teacher.

Anyone have a favorite "teach yourself NT Greek" book or program? Same for Hebrew?

Terry

Hi ATP,
I said the same on Rich's blog, but I seem to recall Dr. David Kubiak, a classics professor who sometimes posts here, suggesting to take classical Latin and Greek before the others. I wrote down his suggestion for the Greek, and am kicking myself because I misplaced it.

L.T.

To continue Zhou's point, I always cringe a little inside when I hear my evangelical friends talk or preach about the Greek meaning of NT texts. Such a naive understanding about the nature of theological language persists that I believe most of them take Greek classes as a way of (unwittingly) puffing themselves up with a false sense of magisterial authority. How can you translate Greek into any language without a prior theological framework? If you have so many textual variants of X, you're going to have exponentially more interpretions of X in translation. Only in context of the Church's Liturgy can Scripture make orthodox sense, hence Latin before Greek or Hebrew.

Rich Leonardi

Hey, kids: free Latin tutorials are available at the National Archives UK website.

It's based on a variant of "High" Latin used in the second millennium. You Latinists will know better than I whether that is a limitation.

Julia

Joy!
I sent Amy's post and this thread to a fellow lawyer who has a PhD in Theology and knows all the biblical languages. He's excited and wants to start a group to do John in Koine Greek. He misses teaching.

Thak you, thank you, thank you, Amy. I learn so much from checking in here every day.

Lynn: I'm wondering where you got your "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek"?

Elizabeth M

I had purchased a course on cd-rom on beginning Latin. Unfortunately that blankety-blank hurricane a few months back took it, and I can't remember the name of the company it was ordered from.
Finland had (or still has?) a fascination with Latin for some reason. Someone over there with a lot of time on his hands took the time to translate Elvis Presley songs into Latin. Would love to hear how "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog" was rendered...
And oh, I so wish a Koine Greek class could be offered down here...

Old Zhou

True story.

Last Sunday after liturgy at the monastery in Berkeley, my wife and I went to Crepevine on College Avenue for breakfast. (Confession: I was planning this during the homily. Don't ask me what I heard.) I had the Santa Fe crepe (filled with grilled chicken apple sausage with scrambled eggs, green onions, provolone & salsa fresca).

After brunch we walked across the street to look in the window of Pendragon Books and what did we see?

Walter Canis Inflatus.

Who says Latin is a dead language?

John J. Simmins

Anybody know of someone who would teach Greek or Latin in Southern MD?

Rich Leonardi

Zhou,

You are a treasure. I made the mistake of answering my phone right after I hit "Walter" link and giggled hysterically into the ear of my caller. Priceless.

Julia

Here's a bunch of relevant books at Amazon:


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/002-1980994-0872856?url=index%3Dstripbooks%3Arelevance-above&field-keywords=Teach+Yourself+New+Testament+Greek

c matt

We had a similar experience at our parish. Don't know how it happened, but someone decided to put on a program for basic "liturgical latin". Go over a few of the basics of Latin language pronunciation, sentence structure and some of the more common prayers. Ended up having a fantastic turnout - even the priest offering the class seemed somewhat surprised by the unexpectedly high level of interest.

Ryan

Thanks Lynn and everybody else who posted resources.

This is awesome. I thought I was the only freak who wanted to go back to the roots.

Donald R. McClarey

I love Latin, what little I know. Greek, on the other hand, due to laziness, will always remain Greek to me.

Kevin Jones

"What does it[leitourgia] really mean?"

The retired theologian-blogger Old Oligarch explained it here. It's good to remember that in the East it was always called "theia leitourgia," Divine Liturgy. Even a liturgist might admit that "divine people's work" sounds really weird.

Liam

"Real" caring and sharing is, of course, difficult work. The problem is when, as with so much in our culture, we substitute the ersatz for the real. Thus, I suggest we trim our criticism and mockery of caring and sharing a wee bit and focus on the falseness of the varieties in question.

I agree that biblical languages attract attention. Not just Latin and Greek, but Hebrew.


Old Zhou

From Liddel & Scott:

leitourgia:

leitourg-ia , hê, earlier Att. lêt- IG22.1140.14 (386 B.C.):--at Athens, and elsewhere (e.g. Siphnos, Isoc.19.36; Mitylene, Antipho 5.77),

A. public service performed by private citizens at their own expense, And.4.42, Lys.21.19, etc.; l. enkuklioi ordinary, i.e. annual, liturgies, D.20.21; leitourgiai metoikôn, opp. politikai, ib.18.

II. any public service or work, PHib. 1.78.4 (iii B.C.), etc.; ho epi tôn leitourgiôn tetagmenos, in an army, the officer who superintended the workmen, carpenters, etc., Plb.3.93.4; hoi epi tina l. apestalmenoi Id.10.16.5 : generally, military duty, UPZ15.25 (pl., ii B.C.).

2. generally, any service or function, hê prôtê phanera tois zôiois l. dia tou stomatos ousa Arist.PA650a9 , cf. 674b9, 20, IA 711b30; philikên tautên l. Luc.Salt.6 .

3. service, ministration, help, 2 Ep.Cor.9.12, Ep.Phil.2.30.

III. public service of the gods, hai pros tous theous l. Arist.Pol.1330a13 ; hai tôn theôn therapeiai kai l. D.S.1.21 , cf. UPZ17.17 (ii B.C.), PTeb.302.30 (i A.D.), etc.; the service or ministry of priests, LXX Nu.8.25, Ev.Luc.1.23.

leitourgos

leitourg-os , ho, ( [lêïtos, ergon] )

A. one who performed a leitourgia (q.v.), POxy.82.3 (iii A.D.), etc.; l. tôn [p. 1037] en paisi leitourgiôn CIG2881.13 , cf. 2882, 2886 (Branchidae).

II. public servant, hê stasis tôn l. [tou Salomônos] LXX 3 Ki.10.5; of workmen, carpenters, etc., oikodomoi kai l. PPetr.3p.139 (iii B.C.), cf. Plb.3.93.5; at Magnesia, an official of the gerousia, Inscr.Magn.116.17; = Lat.lictor, Plu.Rom.26: metaph., l. tês chreias mou ministering to my need, Ep.Phil.2.25.

2. private servant, LXX 2 Ki.13.18.

III. in religioussense, minister, [theou] ib.Ps.102(103).21, Ep.Rom.13.6, al.; tôn theôn D.H.2.22 , cf. 73; tôn hagiôn l. Ep.Hebr.8.2 ; theois litourgoi (sic) Rev.Et.Anc.32.5 (Athens, i B.C.); attendant at sacrifices, acolyte, IG3.1005, al.

IV. Astrol., leitourgoi, hoi, astral gods subordinate to the dekanoi, Iamb.Myst.9.2, Firm.2.4.4, Mart.Cap.2.200.

It is not the work of the people. It is the work for the people and God. Think of your local Public Works Department.

Brigid

Hey, why not throw in Aramaic, ya know, the tongue Jesus himself used?

I would love to learn to share in Aramaic.

Might make me want to even memorize the Sermon on the Mount.

But in what language?

Hmmmm.....

inhocsig

"Real" caring and sharing is, of course, difficult work."

Liam,

As Cher put it in Moonstruck - "Snap out of it!"

What's so difficult about that?

Caroline

Caring and sharing are not all that bad but rocking the boat turned me off the c and s sessions. I was a boat rocker. I asked questions for which no one had any ready answers. I shocked and frightened people. Sometimes I even started arguments. Questions can do that. I learned that in charity I had to dumb myself down for the sake of the priest who conducted the group as well as for the other participants. So I stay home and read books and use the internet. The great beauty of these com boxes on all the issues we discuss is that one can ask challenging questions and, while one must express oneself in a charitable way, no one has to dumb himself down so as not to offend so and so in the group who has never heard of such and such. Here we can share, care, and learn no matter what our educational levels or types of education. Thank you, Amy.

Caroline

Caring and sharing are not all that bad but rocking the boat turned me off the c and s sessions. I was a boat rocker. I asked questions for which no one had any ready answers. I shocked and frightened people. Sometimes I even started arguments. Questions can do that. I learned that in charity I had to dumb myself down for the sake of the priest who conducted the group as well as for the other participants. So I stay home and read books and use the internet. The great beauty of these com boxes on all the issues we discuss is that one can ask challenging questions and, while one must express oneself in a charitable way, no one has to dumb himself down so as not to offend so and so in the group who has never heard of such and such. Here we can share, care, and learn no matter what our educational levels or types of education. Thank you, Amy.

Jon W

Can't we do both? One of the hallmarks of my retreat program is that we do just that. We provide something content based alongside the opportunity to share how the things we learn "matter" in our everyday lives.

Heh, heh, heh. This is how you get a class like that done, people: You just say, very sweetly, "Oh, I think it'd be wonderful if we could have both! We could invite people to look at things from a whole new perspective; gain some knowledge from the church's past experience that can help us in our march to the future! Anyone will be welcome and we will have something for all!"

It works especially well if you know how to gush.

Then offer to do the thing yourself. As long as you throw in terms like "inclusive" and "different perspectives" and "future", and remember to abuse the pre-Vatican church for its Pharisaism or anything else you can think of (and there was some useful Pharisaism), then they won't realize you actually want to do something substantive. It feels a little dishonest, but oh, so right.

JTII

If anyone above who expressed a desire to learn Greek or Latin lives in the Philadelphia area, may I suggest the International Institute of Culture - http://www.iiculture.org/lg_institute.asp

It is a wonderful educational and research center that promotes traditional Catholic culture with classes, performances, lectures, etc.

It is near St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

SouthCoast

"The problem was, however, that it is easy to say, "The Greek text is X; that translates as Y" without any understanding of the fact that, well, someone's opinion is that the Greek text is X. Actually, if you have 30 different ancient manuscripts, you probably have 30 different texts for every single page of the New Testament. "

Fortunately, in my parish, we all read our texts in English. Ergo, there is never any dispute over what the passages mean.

*snicker*

nancy c.

Chris S: lucky you! I suggested the Early Fathers for a course at my parish. There would be a good turnout if they realized how exciting it is to see baptism, Holy Communion, Penance etc. written about by Catholics living 1,800 years ago. Quotations should be slipped into the bulletins to build interest.
Another thing: if we were more conversant with the Early Fathers, we'd know gnostics were scorned as heretics and even the so- called "Gospel of Judas" was eviscerated as foolish trash way back then. Speaking of "foolish trash", the best antidote to Dan Brown is the Early Fathers.

Jane M

A Latin class like those described above was given in the Arlington Diocese (maybe someone mentioned it at the very beginning?) and the lady who gave that class was named Marian Smedburg. She is going to "publish" a book based on the class which was the Latin of the liturgy with grammar helps etc. I put her name out so you can keep it in mind if the book makes it out the door...... Her Latin students (homeschoolers for the most part) regularly win national contests or whatever they are for Latin students.

Bede

For those who want to learn Latin without being able to find a class, an option is the Latin Study group online: http://www.ravendays.org/latin/lists/listindex.html. There are various groups at various levels working through different Latin textbooks or, for the more advanced, Latin texts. There's plenty of opportunity to focus on Ecclesiastical Latin, with one of the groups having just started working through Collins' Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin, and more advanced groups working through the Vulgate, Augustine's Confessions and medieval Latin. You buy the text, work through the lessons at home, and send in the exercises weekly which are then collated and emailed back to you so that you can compare with others in the group to see where you went wrong. It's free, though of course you have to get hold of a copy of the textbook elsewhere.

amywelborn

Brigid - then get yourself over to a Maronite Rite or Chaldean Rite Catholic Church.

If you're serious, that is.

Jamie

My first college Greek class used this book, which starts with the beginning of the gospel of John. It takes you through the first six chapters in 38 lessons, and teaches quite a bit of Greek on the way. I don't know how difficult it would be as a self-study project (and you would miss the insights our professor passed along, like the "dwelt among us"/tabernacle connection mentioned above), but if you're interested it might be a good place to start.

alkali

Recommendations for interested students:

Latin: Wheelock's Latin. The gold standard. Lots of supporting workbooks, etc., available for self study.

Greek: Crosby & Schaeffer's Introduction To Greek. 80+ years old and suitable for self study. Get the Reader's Greek New Testament when you are ready to read. NT Greek is slightly simpler than the classical Greek taught in Crosby, but Crosby is a very good book and there's no harm in working from it.

If you have any trouble with anything in any of these books there is lots of help available online.

Fr. Brian Stanley

It's funny, but when I typed my earlier comment and made reference to liturgists, I wondered, "How long will it take Todd to take issue with whatever I wrote?" So I'm wrong on "one location." What does that mean? Where is that one location? I don't remember being specific -- I wrote, "In some parishes...."

Some people might think being called wrong by Todd is a compliment. :)

thomps

I would love to have the opportunity to study Greek and Latin, but like some other posters here it would cost me an arm and a leg and I'd have to commute to a school at least an hour away from where I live. Also my crazy work schedule would interfere as well. I agree with Amy's remark about people liking the "practical" aspect of it. Also, we are so used to mainsteam media and culture treating the general American public as idiots who only have a taste for the salacious and are only interested in the lowest common denominator in subject material, that we normally don't even think about offering something intellectually stimulating and challenging. I think people like to be challenged and stimulated. A lot of folks are not that into formal education, but that doesn't mean that they are stupid or don't have a desire to learn new things, especially if it's in a subject area that they are interested in or which has a direct bearing on their life or belief system - such as learning New Testament Greek or ecclesial(sp?) Latin. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now but I do want to point out that us Americans are smarter and more interesting then the purveyors of mindless entertainment and sound bites give us credit for, or for that matter that we give ourselves credit for.

scotch meg

Re learning Greek and Latin... there are too many homeschooling resources to count, but the one I use for my son's Latin is called "Latin's Not So Tough" and the same company puts out "Andrew, Teach Me Greek". These are books for the faint at heart; they work for a normal 10 yo boy (i.e., low concentration levels on any day the sun shines) AND they cover the material in way satisfactory to a mom with good English, OK French, mediocre German, and deplorable Russian.

Dina Swift

"Fr Brian is wrong on at least one location"


How can he be "wrong" when what he said was "In SOME [emphasis supplied] parishes, I suspect that such a language class could only be conducted in the catacombs"?

Nonsense sometimes ensues from your over-eagerness to score points.

rcesq

This may be off-topic but the combined knowledge of ancient texts on display here makes me think I might get some informative answers:

Who was Barabbas and who were the two crucified with Christ? Thieves, criminals, murderers, bandits, insurrectionists, rebels or revolutionaries? What do the original texts say?

This Holy Week the favored description in my parish was revolutionaries, which makes the crowd's crying for Barabbas less heinous because Jesus was considered a revolutionary too. It becomes then a choice of one political system over another, and not a choice between the innocent and the guilty.

alkali

thomps writes:

I would love to have the opportunity to study Greek and Latin, but like some other posters here it would cost me an arm and a leg and I'd have to commute to a school at least an hour away from where I live.

You should think seriously about self-study. The books are very cheap and widely available. Study of Latin or ancient Greek is in large part about working out grammar problems; it's not unlike working out a crossword puzzle or a Sudoku. If you get stumped there's lots of help available online.

rcesq writes:

Who was Barabbas and who were the two crucified with Christ? Thieves, criminals, murderers, bandits, insurrectionists, rebels or revolutionaries? What do the original texts say?

Mt 27:16 (KJV:) "And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas."

The Greek word used in this verse -- desmios -- means someone who is bound or in chains, i.e., a captive or prisoner.

Mt 27:38 (KJV): "Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left."

The Greek word used in this verse -- leistes -- generally means a robber or pirate.

The upshot is you shouldn't expect that language study will immediately reveal all sorts of hidden things in the text; the KJV and other good translations are pretty literal and transparent.

Brigid

Oh, Amy, thanks for the response -- and a good snarky one at that!

I am totally serious about learning Aramaic. I believe learing Jesus' tongue would be far more important for "sharing" about the Sermon on the Mount than any Latin or Greek course could ever offer. To know the tongue of Jesus better would be wonderful!

In fact (should I go on, Amy? are you serious with your remark?)...

I attended Church with the Chaldeans in Dearborn, MI during the US's first "War" in Iraq done by Father Bush. It was a packed crowd and I happily received communion with them. It was an honor, actually, because I could really feel their pain as they actually prayerd for families who were there in Sadam's army. (BTW, sermon was in English...)

I think of that experience often and pray that those who do understand the tongue of Jesus might actually receive more respect from our country's leadership.

Shlomo!

Brigid

Some pretty useful information at Wikipedia on those Chaldeans:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaldean

(BTW, church in Southfield, MI, not Dearborn. I've never been good at separating out all those Detroit suburbs...)

Again, Shlomo!

mulopwepaul

The existing Aramaic scriptures are translations from koine Greek, not preceding "originals." Studying Aramaic scripture means studying back-translations into the language Jesus spoke, not, except accidentally, studying the words Jesus actually spoke.

St. Matthew may have originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic, but no solid evidence exists of this.

PVO

Brigid

Thank you, mulopwepaul. My point excatly.

Similar to studying Latin translations, yes?

Let's hear it for the study of Hebrew and Greek scripture texts (and a little Aramaic? just a little of Jesus' tonuge?) in Catholic parish adult ed. classes.

But Latin texts? Perhaps to understand the history of our liturgy and to appreciate where we've been and where we're going and, and...

[I speak heresy here in St. Blog's. I know, I know...]

Shalom!

David W.

Actually, if you have 30 different ancient manuscripts, you probably have 30 different texts for every single page of the New Testament. Textual errors are inevitable. Some are simple, like typos in comments. Some are not. Some textual variants actually impact the meaning of the text. Some meaning impacts are not trivial and have theological impacts. So, you need to read the Greek text in the context of the Community (aka Church), and consider all the Patristic quotations, paraphrases and expositions.

This is not an accurate portrayal of number of variants in the thousands of manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts. The amazing thing about the existing manuscripts of the New Testament is the almost universal agreement on the text. The number of substantial variants is close to 50. And few of these have any tremendous impact upon a matter of faith or doctrine. The vast majority of the thousands of variants that are cited are easily handled. They can include missing letters or reversing word order. Textual criticism is the friend of New Testament scholarship and it has shown that we can be fairly confident of the texts we have being accurate representations of the originals.

That being said, what is touched upon is very true. Scripture still needs to be interpreted from the heart of the Church. However, this is simply the same problem that we all have. In this case it is Scripture. In other cases, it is the teaching of the Church. The effects of Orginal Sin lead us to intepret things as we see fit. In all cases, we need to recognize that pitfall and take steps to keep ourselves within the obedience of faith. As another commenter noted, you cannot let understanding the Greek text lead to pride. Again, this is just the same problem with any type of knowledge. It can be used for good or for ill.

I appreciate this post and all of the comments because it has led me to seriously consider heading up such a class on Koine Greek.

mulopwepaul

I would score study of Hebrew over study of Aramaic, but one serves as a useful introduction to the other, so both are useful.

PVO

Old Zhou

Dear David W.,

I'm just curious, how much time have you spent studying photographs or transcriptions of actual, individual NT mansuscripts rather than nice collations such as the Nestle-Aland text?

If you do this, you will very soon realize that the "Critical Apparatus" of nice "Greek NT texts" is a high level abstraction which masks the myriad differences in actual manuscripts which the textual editors deemed "insignificant."

Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4, Example 5, Example 6, Example 7.

Which is not to disagree with the conclusion that, taken as a whole, the Greek NT text is relatively stable, and, further, that this is the work of the Holy Spirit and the Church.

But actual, individual manuscripts show great variation. Just imagine what would happen if you asked 5000 people, of varying degrees of fluency with Greek, of varying theological perspectives, to copy the NT text? I can guarantee you that you will end up with 5000 distinct texts. And, if a single page has, say 40 lines of text with 50 characters per line (they did not use spaces for a long time), if you have 5000 people copy a sequence of 2000 characters, you will find a lot of textual variants among the 5000 copies.

The point is that "THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT" as a definite, fixed text, does not exist. It is an abstraction based on well-intentioned efforts to collate thousands of manuscripts and fragments, no two of which are the same in every detail.

But it is a wonderful fantasy for some who think that this, finally, is THE TEXT of Christianity.

Alas, it is, really, no better or worse that Jerome's Vulgate (which, by the way, was the first thing Gutenberg printed).

It is meaningless to propose "THE TEXT" apart from the community, the Church.

Susan Peterson

Someone asked for Greek in Southern Maryland.

Is Annapolis southern Maryland?

All of the students at ST. John's College study Greek for two years, and all of the teachers teach it (if they don't know it when they come there, they go to class with the freshman and study until they can teach it.) So surely someone from there would be willing to work with you. You could put an ad on the coffee shop bulletin board..beginning Greek instructor wanted.

The phone number of the college is 410 263 2371. Maybe the switchboard would send you to student employment. After you got as far as a student could take you, you could probably find a tutor(what they call professors there) to teach you.

Susan Peterson

alkali

Old Zhou writes, apropos of David W.:

Which is not to disagree with the conclusion that, taken as a whole, the Greek NT text is relatively stable ...

Agreed. Consider the following sentences:

1. I had lunch with Bob near the fountain.
2. I ate lunch near the fountain with Bob.
3. Bob and I had lunch by the fountain.
(... etc.)

You can probably generate a couple dozen versions of that sentence that have precious little if any difference in meaning. There is a ton of that kind of manuscript variation in the NT, probably even more than other ancient texts if only because there are more manuscripts. Of all that variation, a very small fraction could be said to have any kind of significance.

... Which is not to deprecate the work of the scholars who spend a lot of time working through those issues, it's just to say that no one should be concerned that the academics are really suppressing the One True Version of St. Matthew in which Jesus tells Mary Magdalene, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" and leaves for Charleston. What you see in the NT is pretty much what you get, textually speaking.

Old Zhou

Dear alkalai,

Don't forget the Gnostic variant:

5302. I had lunch with Sponge Bob in the fountain.

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