Great Hearts Latin Teacher Featured for Inspiring Work

Great Hearts Academies August 12, 2022

Joshua AnthonyThere is a traditional proverb that states, “Experience is the best teacher.” This statement rang true for a Great Hearts teacher who was recently interviewed by The Foothills Focus for his work this summer applying his expert knowledge of an ancient language.

Joshua Anthony graduated in May 2020 from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in Theology and Classics, concentrating in Latin, and has conducted research in literature, philosophy, theology, and early childhood pedagogy from antiquity through the Renaissance.  He has been teaching Latin at Great Hearts Anthem for 2 years.

He was contacted by his former research advisor to translate a 71-page prayer book associated with St. Hildegard von Bingen. “This book is from the 12th century. It was written by hand in this really beautiful medieval handwriting and has got lots of abbreviations,” he explained. “So, the first step is just transcribing and getting the medieval writing into digital text in Latin, with all the abbreviations unpacked and expanded. Then, the second part is to translate it into English.”

He described some of the “abbreviations” as a couple random letters with squiggles around them.  This work required attention to detail as well as a deep understanding of the language.

Mr. Anthony began studying Latin during his sophomore year in high school. He began his self-taught Latin studies to gain a deeper understanding of French, which he began studying in 8th grade.  He said his passion for language aided him in deciphering the humanity behind the handwriting.

St. Hildegard von Bingen was a medieval German abbess and mystic.  Before her death in 1179, she composed works of music, drama, medicine, and theology.  It was very uncommon for a woman to write about theology and, in fact, mostly discouraged.  A saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church, St. Hildegard is also held to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.

He drew satisfaction in this work through connecting with the humanity of the author.  “There was a warmth to her text,” he said.  “It was an encounter with the private language of her soul.  Her humanity came through her Latin more so than it would have in any other language.  It was a really beautiful text to read.”

Mr. Anthony has personified the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty for his scholars.  The experience has left him with a renewed passion for language that he hopes to pass along. “With Latin, more so than any other language just because it has been so continuously used for thousands of years, you get this profound stretch of history that’s opened up.  You can learn a lot in terms of information, understanding and perspective, but for me, the fact that you can encounter someone’s humanity like this, across the centuries, is so heartfelt, personal and interesting.”

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