Latin and Greek in India

D.H. Killingley D.H.Killingley at NEWCASTLE.AC.UK
Tue Feb 17 15:14:24 UTC 1998

Ramohun Roy is certainly relevant to the history of Indian interest in
Latin and Greek, though it is uncertain how much of them he knew himself.
Unfortunately, Joanna Kirkpatrick has picked up an exaggerated picture of
his scholarship. _The Precepts of Jesus_ (1820) does not itself show any
knowledge of Latin, Greek or Hebrew; it is merely a compilation from the
King James (1611) version of the Gospels. Greek and Hebrew appear in his
_Second Appeal to the Christian Public in Defence of the Precepts of
Jesus_ (1821) and his _Final Appeal..._ (1823). Even here, we should not
suppose that he thought up all his arguments from unaided first-hand
reading of the texts. The ground had been well trodden by Unitarian
scholars in the West.

        There is some material on this in my _Rammohun Roy in Hindu and
Christian Tradition_ (Newcastle upon Tyne, Grevatt and Grevatt, 1993),
but there is room for more research on Rammohun's place in the history of
Unitarian biblical scholarship.

        By the way, Rammohun's position as dewan was not in Calcutta.

Dr Dermot Killingley
Dept of Religious Studies
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU
Phone 0191 222 6730    Fax 0191 222 5185

On Sat, 14 Feb 1998, jkirk at wrote:

> This topic has jogged my interest and I am now pursuing my way slowly
> through some possible leads. Thus, I was reminded that Raja Ram Mohan
> Roy--having already learned Arabic and Sanskrit, (he "grew up" with
> Persian), some time after 1914 when he moved to Calcutta, studied and
> learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew, becoming quite proficient in the last
> two, such that he made extensive use of them in writing his PRECEPTS OF
> JESUS, The Guide to Peace and Happiness....Boston: Christian Register
> Office, 1828, see  Preface by Thomas Rees, Secretary to the Unitarian
> Society, p.iv.  This book was a polemic against Christian
> Trinitarianism.
> When he was appointed Dewan--collector of revenue-- in Calcutta, he also
> became adept in English, having begun the study of it some years
> earlier.
> Surely there were also other luminaries of the Renaisance who studied
> European classical languages?
> Nirad Chaudhuri often sprinkled his accounts with both Latin and French,
> but I haven't yet found out if he actually studied Latin, or if he
> simply used a phrasebook to create his sophisticated effects.
> Joanna Kirkpatrick

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