All Davenant Latin courses are now offered as part of our enhanced and expanded Davenant Hall theological education program. Please browse Davenant Hall for our latest and upcoming language offerings.

Equipping the Church to Go Back to the Sources

The history of Christendom is a history of translation. Beginning with the reversal of Babel at Pentecost, the Church has always been a people committed to bringing the Word to every tongue, without abandoning the Jewish commitment to transmitting and studying the very letters of the sacred text. Translation movements have driven almost every major development in the history of Western Christendom, as the Church has turned back again and again to the languages of Scripture and the Church’s past in order to make them speak anew.

The 12th century translation movement in Western Christendom gave birth to the intellectual flourishing of scholasticism, and when this had grown stale, a new wave of linguistic energies inundated Europe in the 14th and 15th century. The resulting Renaissance and Reformation were driven by the motto, “ad fontes”—”back to the sources”—which meant first and foremost the linguistic sources of Christian faith and classical knowledge: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

Today, lulled into complacency by the seeming wealth of English-language resources and Bible study tools, the Western church has lost its love of language. Our seminaries settle for rudimentary competency in Greek and Hebrew, and neglect Latin altogether; and our colleges barely even try. But all around us, the tools for renewal are ready to hand—startling advances in second-language acquisition paedagogy, amazing developments in language-learning software, and rapidly-growing digital resources for studying ancient tongues and texts.


In the world of language pedagogy, there are many schools of thought, many methods and evangelists for those methods, and even more opinions about the single best approach. Our approach here at Davenant begins from one simple principle: gather together the best from the best. Thus, along with many of the best pedagogues, we want to break from certain 19th German grammar methods of approaching ancient languages and explore grammar the way the Greeks or Romans did. Instead of approaching a foreign language as something just to be read with our eyes, we want to incorporate the body into learning a language. In all the languages we teach, we want our students to read the language (aloud!); we want them to hear it with their ears; we want them to write it with their hands. This is how any child learns a language best and, as it happens, it works with adults, too. This wisdom vanished among classical and biblical studies programs; but go to France to learn French, and this is how you are taught; go to Israel to learn Biblical Hebrew, and this is the method. Moreover, this approach turns the drudgery of language decryption into the enjoyment of owning the full potential of a language from the very outset of a beginner's course.

Behind all of our methods and decisions, the aim of Davenant Hall is to equip our students to experience and master a fully-fledged language, not merely a set of grammar rules and lexicon entries—and to have a blast doing it! We are excited to offer this not only to our growing number of students but also within our growing number of languages.

Another practice which we have found both enjoyable and beneficial to students is the so-called "flipped classroom" approach to homework and class time. In our courses, the student at home studies a series of videos and articles explaining the essentials of the grammar, aided by a vocabulary builder; in class, the instructor fields questions, leads the students through writing exercises, and has the time to focus on the finer points of grammar, usage, and vocabulary. In essence, the students do ‘homework’ with the instructor, where they receive immediate correction and explanations in the live classroom, making time with the instructor more valuable to the students.