Each of the five renaissances in human history have been defined by characteristics of a return to old sources, the discovery of a new technology, the renewal of ancient languages, and the concept of a classic author. And some think we are headed toward a sixth, one scholar argued at a public lecture on campus.
Christophe Rico is a professor of general linguistics, semantics, Greek linguistics, the Greek New Testament, and the theory of translation and pedagogy of ancient languages at the “Ecole biblique et archeologique francaise de Jerusalem” in Israel. He is the dean and head of the ancient philology program of the Polis, the Jerusalem Institute of Language and Humanities. Polis, a group of about 3,000 scholars located in Jerusalem, promotes a “renewed interest in all that has happened” in the past.
Rico proposed the question of whether or not global society is moving toward a sixth Renaissance, and compared what people are experiencing globally to the five Renaissances of history.
Rico said that “in the five Renaissances on which most everyone agrees, the question is to ask ourselves if we are heading toward a sixth Renaissance.”
Though there are many defining characteristics of a Renaissance, one of the defining moments is technological innovation. For example, Greek glossaries and commentaries marked the first renaissance, from the third to second century B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt. These texts grew to become the famous Library of Alexandria.
Rico provided evidence that pointed to the beginning of another Renaissance.
In 1985, Catholic Priest and latinest Reginald Foster founded the Aestiva Romae Latinitas, a group that became the “torchbearers of new renaissance movement” in the United States. In 1996, a group of Latin-speaking professors started the Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum, a group of professors and students who promote learning Latin. And a group of Latin-speaking scholars in Jerusalem founded the Polis Institute in 2011.
Rico said that, today, there are nearly 3,000 people across the globe who speak Latin.
Further, the use of online dictionaries, apps, and online databases for information constitute one key technological advancement that Rico says might signify the onset of a sixth renaissance.
“When I was a student, there was nothing of that,” Rico said. “I went to a small school in Marseille, and there was only a small group who would speak Latin, and they were all old. The people who speak Greek and Latin today are all very young.”
Rico said that when he attends Latin-speaking events, the average age of the Latin speakers is 25 years old.
Though the quantity of interest in studying ancient texts and language during the 16th-century Renaissance is much greater than today, Rico said the quality of interest and the technological advancement seen today is comparable.