Scholar Christophe Rico points to online dic­tio­naries, apps, and data­bases as the cause of the new Renais­sance. Alexis Nester | Col­legian

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.