In Response to: The Color of Classics

The article on contemporary classics departments (“The Color of Classics,” October issue) was fascinating. At Princeton I majored in history, but had what could be considered a “minor” in classics. As one who has taught Western Civ to college freshmen for almost 15 years and church history (ancient and medieval, Reformation and modern) at the theological level for more than 25 years, I found it interesting that one of the rebranding possibilities for the classics department is “ancient Mediterranean studies.” Left out from the traditional Greco-Roman focus is not only potential African and Asian influences, but that other primary influence on European and early American institutions and culture: the Judeo-Christian biblical strand. That biblical influence can scarcely be a basis for “white supremacy” since Jesus himself and the writers of most of the New Testament (including the apostles Peter, John, Matthew, and Paul) and of the Old Testament were Middle-Eastern Jews, and one of the main purveyors of this ancient civilization to the later world and the present, Augustine of Hippo, was born a 4th-century North African.

William S. Barker ’56
Columbia, Mo.