Leading Authority on Greek Language
and Education Comes to Chicago

Author and Scholar George Babiniotis
Speaks at St. John's

By Maria A. Karamitosos
The Greek Star

Chicago - Leading Authority on Greek Language and Education George Babiniotis, spoke at St. John the Baptist Church in Des Plaines, on October 7. Babiniotis, author of most mainstream Greek education textbooks, presented a thought­provoking message, while discussing his thesis, "Hellenism and Christianity: A Common Course or a Contradiction?" Babiniotis is a Professor of Linguists, President of the Greek Foundation for Culture, and is also the President of the University of Athens.

Babiniotis posed the question as a rhetorical one-are Hellenism and Christianity closely related, and if so, how do they work together? He spoke eloquently regarding the history of the language, discussing the effects of the Byzantine Empire, in recognizing Christianity as the official religion. He also mentioned the impact of the Three Hierarchs: they were Greek and educated in Greek, so study of Christianity and further development was therefore done by Greeks, through the Greek language. He also noted that without the philosophers and their world views, none of this might have been possible. He identified how the church has played a significant role in keeping the language alive, citing examples such as the Kryfa Skoleia, (Secret Schools), and as the place where most people hear and learn Greek today.

The professor explained how Christianity has enriched the language, giving newer and even more solidified meanings to words. For the new religion, they took words from Greek and gave them new meaning, for example, they've employed ousia, meaning "substance," for the Holy Trinity doctrine. The concept of pnevma, meaning "sprit," takes on a new meaning as well. Originally meaning, "wind" or "breath," it now takes on the strong- meaning of intellect. And ultimately, taking the word, kathiyitis, meaning, "guide," to the level of "the prevailing guide to faith, to truth, that is God himself. "

He discussed how Hellenism and Christianity worked together and are nearly impossible to separate. He stated that there are three key items that identify a Greek: they have Greek roots, they speak the Greek language and they are Orthodox Christians.

He concluded his discussion with a quote from Patrokosmas, a great Modern Greek Father, who in these words, defined the essence of the attitude of Christians to the Greek language: "Have your children learn Greek, because our Church is in Greek and our Nation is Greek. If you do not study Greek, my brothers, you cannot understand what our church teaches. It is better for you, my brothers, to have a Greek school in your village, than - say- a fountain or a river."

The event was presented by the Pythagoras Greek School of the Church of St. John the Baptist, in cooperation with Hellenic Heartbeat.

(Posting date 2 November 2006)

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