The 13th Century Devotional Classic
On February 2, 1257, a brilliant young theologian from Italy who went by the name of Bonaventure was elected to lead the Franciscan order, which was not yet quite 50 years old. Seeking clarity for this new mission, he traveled to Mount Alverna, where Francis had received his final vision, the one that also granted him the stigmata. Bonaventure did not have a vision there, but reflecting on the founder's vision, he conceived of a way to use that vision to ground a devotional ascent to the love of God that anyone could follow. The result was his most famous book, the Itinerarium, usually called in English The Journey of the Mind to God.
In this course, we will be reading this book in its entirety in Latin in a blended format consisting of both guided readings by the teacher and student translation.
Why read this book 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.
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)
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.