Latin Reading of a Classic Text
De Doctrina Christiana, usually translated as On Christian Teaching, was written by Augustine of Hippo at the beginning of the 5th century AD, and has been a classic text on reading the Scriptures ever since. In this course, we will be reading this book in a blended format consisting of both guided readings by the teacher and student translation.
Why should you read De Doctrina? Because for 1500 years it has been a major voice in the conversation about the nature of signs, how Christians should relate to the natural world, and how the Scriptures are to be read.
Why read it in Latin? Because learning Latin well requires building up a certain amount of text under your belt. There is no shortcut that can sidestep the need to read lots of sentences in the language. This text features an accessible Latin that nevertheless makes use of the best elements of Latin style, and so provides the student with an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of grammar as it is deployed by the best authors and to grow their reading ability. Reading a single text also allows you to practice reading in context.
Who's it for? Anyone who wants to improve their Latin. This course is open to adults and advanced high school students who have finished the usual course of Latin grammar and are looking to grow in their ability to interpret and translate.
What will class be like? The first 30 minutes of class will feature guided reading, during which I will take you through sections of the text showing you how the sentences mean. Then there will be 30 minutes of student reading. We will finish with 30 more minutes of guided reading.
How much of the text will we read? It is my hope to get through, at minimum, the prologue and book one. You will not be required to prepare passages ahead of time.
Can I take the course but not be called on to translate? Students who participate in the translation portion will get the most out of the course. However, you may choose to just listen and soak up as much as you can (and you are still encouraged to ask questions when you don't understand something!).
Wednesdays, 5:00-6:30 pm CT (daylight savings will be observed)
September 6 - November 22
Junius Johnson is one of the best professors I have ever encountered. He is deeply knowledgeable and qualified, but also uses humor and a sense of play to foster a collaborative and engaging learning environment — all while pushing his students to do and be their best. He equipped me with the essential skills of nuanced Latin translation, and perhaps just as importantly instilled in me a love for the language and appreciation for its historical development and contexts. More than a decade after studying with him, I continue to benefit from Professor Johnson’s instruction and in fact am currently translating a ninth-century text for publication.
With humor, intelligent discussion, and deep insights, Junius Johnson gives you more than an overview or introduction to Latin, he inspires you to keep learning hard things while giving you a vision and much fuller picture of Latin.
Junius has such a robust understanding of the language, and his passion is contagious. His approach invites parents, educators, and students to re-imagine how they think about Latin, moving from merely transactional to experiential. He’s also not afraid to address many of the “why” questions that all too often go unanswered. Highly recommend!
Simply put, Junius Johnson is the best Latin teacher I have ever experienced in my many years of supervising education. He is a true scholar of the Latin language from the classical period to the neo-Latin present; he has success teaching every age and skill level. Junius is compassionate with those who are less gifted than he, but still manages to stretch his students in a friendly and inviting manner. I wholeheartedly recommend him to you as your teacher. Trust me, the encounter will be memorable.