While Hebrew and Greek may be the languages of the Scriptures, Latin was for seventeen centuries the language of the Western Church, and many of its greatest treasures—not merely of the Church Fathers and medieval theologians, but of the Protestant Reformers and their heirs—still lie locked up in this forgotten tongue. We hope to change that.
What is it?
The Davenant Latin Institute aims to equip today’s seminarians, graduate students, and teachers with the competency to unearth these treasures, reading them in the original and perhaps even translating them for others to enjoy. We will be offering a program of online courses, both introductory and advanced, equipping students with basic Latin reading competence and, for those that desire, the skills they need to engage with and translate some of the most difficult early modern theological texts.
“The Davenant Latin Institute offers students of theology an excellent programme of introductory and advanced-level instruction in the Latin tongue. With a view to optimum utility, this programme is systematically constructed to provide students of the Reformation and early-modern philosophy and history with an indispensable scholarly proficiency.”
—W. J. Torrance Kirby, Prof. of Ecclesiastical History and Director of the Centre for Research on Religion, McGill University
“The Davenant Latin Institute provides a comprehensive program for every student hoping to gain competency in the Latin tongue. After dabbling with other Latin-learning resources, I discovered this program, and I could not be more pleased. . . . The instructor was exceptionally gifted at explaining the material with clarity, finesse and patience. My longing for access into the Reformation and Post-Reformation Latin corpus is finally becoming a reality. I am encouraged by the prospects of augmenting this skill set in the remaining courses. If you are looking for enriched soil to grow your Latin, look no further. I highly recommend Davenant as the best resource available for Latin students.”
—Rev. Robert McCurley, Pastor, Greenville Presbyterian Church
“The Davenant Latin Institute is just what I have been looking for. An opportunity to improve my Latin, and to do so with a concentration on early modern texts. The combination of videos which work through key Latin texts, videos featuring excellent lectures on historical and theological and philosophical background, and real-time class meetings via modern technology, has been excellent. My Latin is improving, and I look forward to continuing to improve my Latin and to engage central theological texts.”
—Dr. Bradley G. Green, Associate Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition, Union University
For more testimonials, see here.
Who is it for?
The program is for anyone who wants to learn to read theological Latin, whether graduate students pursuing research, seminarians or pastors wanting to broaden their reading of the church’s tradition or prepare for specialized research, or teachers or professors who recognize their need to read Latin to teach most effectively in their vocations. Our program seeks to fill an important gap, focusing neither strictly on classical Latin or so-called ecclesiastical Latin, but recognizing that anyone who wants to read broadly in the Christian theological tradition, especially in the early modern period, needs to be familiar with both. Using our courses, a dedicated student can progress from zero Latin knowledge right through to advanced translation proficiency over the course of two years. Since nearly all courses are offered online, anyone anywhere can enroll, and we have already had students from six continents and dozens of institutions.
And if you’re not sure what level you’re at, or how much time you can devote, or you just want to be able to build your own schedule, look into our one-on-one Tutorials option.
Do I need to be a graduate student or seminarian to participate?
No, in fact, you do not need to currently belong to an academic institution at all. Pastors, teachers, and independent scholars are welcome as well, although most of our students are currently enrolled at graduate students or seminaries.
I'm not sure which level my current Latin ability is at. Which course should I enroll in?
No problem. We have four placement exams, which can help us and you determine if you are ready for the Intro Part II, the Intermediate Part I, Intermediate Part II, or Advanced levels. If you’re interested in enrolling but aren’t sure, make your best guess in selecting your course, and then we’ll invite you to take the appropriate placement exam, after which we can re-assess if necessary.
Is there a drop/add date?
We will not normally be allowing students to join one of the classes after the registration deadlines for each course. Students needing to drop a class will be eligible to receive a 60% refund if they drop within the first three weeks of a semester-long course or first week of an intensive course. Students dropping out of a tutorial course may do so at any time and will be refunded $25 for each tutorial unit not yet completed.
How do the live classes work?
All of our live classes use the state-of-the-art videoconferencing software, WebEx, which should work reliably for you as long as you have access to an average-speed internet connection. Recordings of each class, and any “whiteboards” used, will be saved for students who were unable to make a particular class meeting.
Does it matter what time zone I am in?
It is important that you be in a position to participate in most of the live classes in order to discuss the lessons and your work with your professor and classmate. It is our goal to schedule live class times that will fit within normal waking hours for all enrolled students, wherever they live on the globe, though obviously the times will be more convenient for some than others. We will determine the scheduled class times around the registration deadline for each course, depending on the available times indicated by all enrolling students. If the resulting time does not work for you, you will have the option of switching to a self-paced or tutorial approach.
Will I receive credit toward my degree?
Yes, you can. The decision about exactly what credit to award rests with your particular degree-granting institution, however, we currently have credit-recognition agreements in place with three institutions:
- Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (graduate-level)
- The Greystone Institute (graduate-level)
- New Saint Andrews College (undergraduate-level)
You can enroll as a part-time student at any of these institutions to receive credit which you can then transfer back to your home institution. We are in the process of hammering out similar agreements with other institutions. Also, you may request case-by-case credit recognition from your own institution and we would be happy to correspond with your academic officer to help make this possible. We have designed these courses so as to meet accreditation standards for graduate-level theological education, but we are not ourselves a degree-granting institution, and each institution makes its own decisions about if and when to award credits for courses offered by third parties.
What can I do to best prepare in advance for the classes?
Draft syllabi, along with recommendations from our instructors, will be sent out well in advance to all enrolled students.
How Does it All Fit Together?
We have three basic levels of course—Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. The Intro and Intermediate levels are designed to take two semesters each (though we do offer Intensive Intro courses over the summer that condense this into two four-week modules, and also low-intensity Intermediate Readings courses). After completing the Intro courses, you can expect to have a good grasp of Latin grammar and vocabulary, though you will still be a bit unsteady on your feet when encountering actual Latin texts in the wild. After completing two full semesters of Intermediate courses, where you are exposed to extended readings from a wide range of theological texts, you will feel comfortable reading and translating most texts—albeit slowly. At this point we offer a range of one-semester Advanced courses, depending on demand, which give you an opportunity to really dig into more difficult texts from a given period in different genres, mastering the thought-world and Latin style of the period so you can translate faithfully.
We also have custom-designed Tutorials for any level of ability.