It seems to me that this kind of jugement can be approached from several angles:cjareck wrote:My teacher was teaching a Classical one and advocated strongly for that saying that it is the "purest and the best".
1) Classical Latin, whether narrowly (1st c. BC) or broadly defined (1st c. BC-2nd c. AD), was written by native speakers. As such, it is indeed a more legitimate model than what Medieval authors have produced
2) at the same time, this raises the question, why are Classicists so unwilling to deal with authors like Minucius Felix or Lactantius, who were native speakers and wrote in very good Classical Latin?
3) As long as we're comparing native speakers, what does "purest and best" even really mean? Is Shakespeare's English purer and better than Wordsworth's? Where do we draw the line between an author being objectively better than another and simple personal preference?
So, in the end, it seems to me that the "purest Latin" argument doesn't really explain the disdain Classicists have for anything written after 150 AD. I would be inclined to explain this by the fact that Classicists' main interest lies in Pagan Rome, so Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Lactantius, Jerome or Augustine are of no interest to them, regardless of their Latin style. This is of course perfectly fine, nobody can or has to be interested in everything. But then, you don't get to play the "best Latin" card if your criteria for what constitutes the "best Latin" are mostly cultural/historical rather than linguistic.