A brief history of the alf—entirely in Latin, of course—is found on their website. It began rather promisingly in Rome in 1966 with an Omnium gentium ac nationum Conventum Latinis litteris linguaeque fovendis,a Conference of All Peoples and Nations for the Promotion of Latin Language and Literature. Several important people gave their support to the conference and were made members of the society honoris causa, including Giuseppe Saragat, the President of Italy, Aldo Moro and Giulio Andreotti, both future prime ministers, and his Eminence Antonio Cardinal Bacci, the Latin secretary to the pope. More than five hundred people attended that conference, from forty-one nations, including Cuba, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco, Mexico, and the Soviet Union. After this successful conference, the Academy was officially formed as a subdivision of the Italian government’s Istituto Nazionale di Studi Romani.
At the time of the alf’s founding, the use of Latin as a vehicle for scholarly work was uncommon but not implausible. The Roman Catholic Church had been conducting its theology, scripture, and canon law studies entirely in Latin for centuries, and had just concluded an ecumenical council (Vatican II) entirely in Latin. The Church had run the Italian school system for decades, and Italian scholars in particular had heard Latin their entire lives. An international body needed a common language, and it made sense that scholarship pertaining to Latin be written in Latin, especially by scholars in Morocco or Thailand. To conduct business in English or Russian—the dominant languages of the day—was tantamount to making a political statement the alf did not intend to make (the second alf conference, in 1970, was held on the other side of the Iron Curtain, in Bucharest). But cultural conditions changed very quickly. During the 1970s, Latin was in retreat everywhere in the world. The year 1977 witnessed what might have been the alf’s most intriguing moment: a lavish conference staged by the Senegalese president (and passionate defender of Latin), Leopold Sedar Senghor, in Dakar. But the number of scholars who could create competent academic work in Latin was shrinking by the year. When Pietro Romanelli, the first alfpresident, died in 1981, his successor Luigi de Nardis thought speaking Latin was a dead-end. Decades of infighting and uncertainty and decay followed. After much handwringing, the use of Latin was preserved at alf events, but the Istituto Nazionale di Studi Romani cut the alf loose. Funding dried up. Members argued over alfstatutes such as conditions for membership and whether or not there could be a non-Italian in the role of president. A conference given in 1989 in East Berlin had almost no participants.
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Astonishingly, despite being copied four centuries after the last reference to his Gospel commentary, this manuscript seemed to preserve the original form of Fortunatianus’ groundbreaking work.
Such a discovery is of considerable significance to our understanding of the development of Latin biblical interpretation, which went on to play such an important part in the development of Western thought and literature. In this substantial commentary, Fortunatianus is reliant on even earlier writings which formed the link between Greek and Latin Christianity.
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BE ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
estote autem factores verbi et non auditores tantum fallentes vosmet ipsos quia si quis auditor est verbi et non factor hic conparabitur viro consideranti vultum nativitatis suae in speculo consideravit enim se et abiit et statim oblitus est qualis fuerit qui autem perspexerit in lege perfecta libertatis et permanserit non auditor obliviosus factus sed factor operis hic beatus in facto suo erit si quis autem putat se religiosum esse non refrenans linguam suam sed seducens cor suum huius vana est religio religio munda et inmaculata apud Deum et Patrem haec est visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum inmaculatum se custodire ab hoc saeculo
This sounds like an interesting opportunity. Glad to see that the Catholic church is committed to keeping Latin alive. I had the pleasure of attending a service in Rome which followed the Traditional Latin Mass. While glad that the Bible was translated to the masses, there is still a beauty in keeping with the traditions of old.