Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Classical Words

Tonight I had an experience I have NEVER had before in my life…I heard Latin spoken by second-year Latin students as they were being inducted into the high school’s chapter of the National Junior Classical League (the honor society for Latin). Their words had familiar piece parts, but mostly I had to refer to the notes to understand the oaths they were taking.

Just think back…the Latin words...words originated and spoken around the 1st BC…it is not generally spoken today. For a few moments somehow I felt connected to that century, imagining what their dialects would have sounded like in person. The young student voices I heard were lilting their vowels with Southern drawls as the microphone caused reverberation through the school auditorium.

Rememberances of their words kept popping up in my head after I got home, and I wanted to delve into it a little further…especially with this being HOLY WEEK! There were few references in the Bible directly about Latin, however, it is so appropriate what I found:

John 19:19-22
"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross.
It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.
Many of the Jews read this sign,for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek."

That notice would have looked something like the following:

Yeshua haNotzri, Melech haYehudim הגדר (Hebrew, God revealed Himself to man)
Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Latin, Roman Empire, representing authority)
Iesous ho Nazoraios ho basileus ton Ioudaion (Greek, world commerce, universality)

As I thought about these words...what they meant and represented...I became sad envisioning Christ the day he was crucified. He was king to man, authority over more than Rome—the entire universe, and His eternal throne was waiting for him in Heaven...yet he hung there...suffering ...bleeding...trying to breathe...thirsty...beaten... at moments feeling forsaken...finally dying for me and you.