A Latin Crash Course at Davenant House

This report was written by William Hugh Scott, a Master’s student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, who attended this year’s DLI Summer Residential Course.

On May 22 The Davenant Trust opened the doors of the Laureldale Cabin to host the inaugural offering of “Residential Intensive Introduction to Theological Latin.” This was a one week intensive that served as an immersive experience, for learners of all levels, to begin a journey of reading, speaking, and composing Latin.

This initial group of students were a diverse bunch. Nick and Kyle are brothers from Wisconsin, though Nick is currently in Louisville preparing to start his studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Alyssa, a Latin teacher at a Classical Christian School, drove in from Ohio. Christian, a PhD student, arrived from Virginia. Angelia and Bill are both students at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Charlotte campus.

Our fearless leader for the week was Professor Michael Spangler, with some assistance from one of his advanced Latin students, Michael Grasso. Professor Spangler is incredibly passionate about Latin and made the week a wonderful experience for all there. We began each day opening Scripture followed by a prayer and/or a hymn/creed recited in… you guessed it… Latin. He did a wonderful job of encouraging all of us of the vast amount of materials at our disposal once we had successfully learned the language. He was a fantastic encouragement through the whole week, as was his assistant.

The meals were wonderful times of serving as teams took turns cooking and cleaning the kitchen for the group. Mealtimes also enabled Professor Spangler with the opportunity to have creative exercises that assisted in our learning of Latin.

The Laureldale Cabin was the perfect location to partake in the week intensive of learning Latin. The location is stunning and secluded. Our evenings and breaks between lectures were used to take in the beauty from the porches or stretch our legs down the walking path. We felt just removed enough from society to have a time of limited distractions so to fully immerse ourselves into the language.

The week was spent working through the first part of Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina. At first glance flipping through the text, it can be slightly overwhelming. Thankfully after an explanation of Orberg’s method, it was a pleasure to work through the first eight chapters of the text. This text, the psalms and creeds recited multiple times a day during the week and acting out scenes from Orbrerg’s Colloquia Personarum enabled an atmosphere where we successfully began to learn Latin.

The beauty of the location and the beauty of a rich language with such a wonderful history in the life of the Church made for a wonderful week of building relationships with brothers and learning another way to interact with our brothers and sisters from ages ago. It was an amazing learning experience and hopefully one that will allow scores of others to experience the joy of learning Latin that this initial group of six were able to enjoy.


Click here to learn more about the Davenant Latin Institute.