If You Must Wheelock…

…then make sure to get this book as well: Ecclesiastical, Medieval and Neo-Latin Sentences Designed to Accompany ‘Wheelock’s Latin’ by Richard Upsher Smith, Jr., Ph.D.

It really is a nice book: sentences and selections are arranged according to each chapter of Wheelock’s Latin, going along with the pace of the textbook’s difficulty and introduction of vocabulary. So it’s as if the Sententiae Antiquae at the end of each chapter in the Wheelock textbook were presented not in Classical Latin, but in Church Latin!

I like this book a lot, because it has a broad array of interesting sources very relevant to Church Latinists, lots of practice reading from the Divine Office, the Vulgate, as well as Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas (and many more!) towards the end. There’s poetry and prose here, theology, history, liturgy, Scripture…the works!

Delving into the chapters, readings are seen to be presented with the utmost care. Vocabulary words in the sentences that were not previously seen in the Wheelock lessons are immediately glossed below each of the sentences. Helpfully, the author has rated each sentence/passage in level of difficulty, on a five-point scale from I=Introductory Level to A=Advanced. All of this streamlines students’ efforts to focus well on the reading.

After the Wheelock lessons’ corresponding 40 chapters here, there are some larger advanced passages in a section called Loci Immutati, mirroring what the textbook has. Then there are two Appendices and three Indices. Appendix I summarizes some of the differences of Ecclesiastical Latin from Classical Latin. Appendix II gives a one-sentence (!) bio of each of the writers featured in the passages. Indices give page numbers for Scripture passages (I), Church documents (II), and the assorted Other Authors (III).

Of course I recommend this book for all who are working through Wheelock’s Latin, but I imagine it will also be fairly useful to all high-school students, college students, and adults who are learning Latin the first time by the Grammar-Translation method, particularly if they are using a Classical Latin base text and want a Church Latin supplement.

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By the way: Using Wheelock’s Latin isn’t all bad! Frederick Wheelock was one of the star proteges of Edward Kennard Rand (American Classicist and Medievalist, about whom, see more at bottom of this post). It is organized well, and grammar topics are presented sparely and cleanly. If you need something that doesn’t move as fast as Wheelock but is a similar style, perhaps Henle or The New Missal Latin 1 & 2.

2 thoughts on “If You Must Wheelock…

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  1. Thank you for all this great information. I followed the link to the 1941 Missal latin text. Is only vol. 1 available? And is there an answer key floating about somewhere that you know of?

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    1. I’ve only found Vol. 1. As soon as Vol. 2 is available I will link to it! And there is no answer key, as far as I know. Let me know if you ever find one!

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