The Modern Greek Language -- By: James R. Boise

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 017:67 (Jul 1860)
Article: The Modern Greek Language
Author: James R. Boise

The Modern Greek Language

Prof. James R. Boise

The researches of philologists have, within a few years, taken a much wider range than formerly. The mere mechanism of the two most cultivated languages of antiquity, however important this may be, is no longer the sole, or even the chief object of study with the classical scholar of the present day. The nations who spoke those languages, in all their wonderful history, as they progressed from barbarism to the foremost place in ancient civilization, and their connection with all contemporary nations are now a prominent object of study.

We would by no means disparage the nice but limited scholarship of a former age, when eminent men spent a life-time in the investigation of the minute test points in the Greek metres; just as a celebrated astronomer of this country has spent years (no doubt profitably) in correcting an error of one-tenth of a second in the predicted place of an asteroid which is invisible to the naked eye.1 These minute investigations are a necessary part of all sciences, whose grand and benign results would otherwise be unattainable.

But we deem it unfortunate for any one to become so far absorbed in the separate details of a science as to forget its outlines and application. So we think the philologists of the present day have acted wisely in entering into a wider field of investigation; in making the languages of Greece and Rome, not the chief end of our studies, but rather the ushers to introduce us to the most cultivated people of antiquity. But in devoting increased attention to the history and archaeology of the Greeks and Romans, we have been led quite naturally to inquire what were their affinities, not only to each other, but also to the contemporary and antecedent nations of the earth. The carrying out of this inquiry has added a new and important department to modern science: one which promises not less interest than the wonderful discoveries of modern times in the world of matter. Ethnology as now studied, founded on the comparison of different languages, rests on a surer basis than ever before, and promises results of the highest scientific value. If the material world, in its wonderful history, excites the deepest interest in the minds of scholars, much more may the races of intelligent and immortal beings, who have lived on the earth — in whom the Creator of all worlds has shown so deep an interest — demand our attentive study.

It is natural that, in searching out the affinities of the Latin and Greek languages with the other known languages of antiquity, increased attention should be given to the development and history of these tongues themselves. A...

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