Stop Reading Greek and Latin

Benjamin Rush, Letter to Ashbel Green [May 22, 1807]

“No more Latin should be learned in these schools than is necessary to translate that language into English, and no more Greek than is necessary to read the Greek Testament. One half or two-thirds of the time now misspent in learning more of those two languages should be employed in learning Hebrew and in studying Jewish antiquities. Eastern customs. Eastern geography, ecclesiastical and natural history, and astronomy, all of which are calculated to discover the meaning and establish the truth of many parts of the Scriptures. No one of the Latin nor Greek poets nor historians should be read in these schools, by which means a pious ignorance will be preserved of the crimes of heathen gods and men related not only without censure but often with praise. “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them after that they be destroyed before thee, and that thou inquire not after their gods saying how did these nations serve their gods?” Deuteronomy xii. 30. All that is necessary to be known of the heathen mythology and of the crimes of men may be learned from the Bible, where they are recorded probably only for the sake of showing their immutable and necessary connection with the righteous vengeance of Heaven. Nor should moral philosophy be taught in these schools. It is in its present form, according to Mr. Edwards’ account of it, ‘infidelity systematized.'”

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3 thoughts on “Stop Reading Greek and Latin

  1. Reminds me of Caliph Umar’s (possibly apocryphal) judgement on the sacking of the Library at Alexandria: “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if they are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.”

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