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Biblical Hebrew as a Living Language

Biblical Hebrew Training for Bible Translation Consultants (BTC)

SH BTC 101

Course Description:
This course takes experienced Bible Translation Consultants or CiTs with no or little knowledge of Biblical Hebrew to a level that allows one to start thinking in Hebrew at an advanced beginner level.  (Also, to take those who have a head-knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and help internalize Biblical Hebrew and turn head-knowledge to a working-knowledge.) The course utilizes a living language methodology which is communicative and participatory. This approach allows basic reading processes–such as parsing, lexical, morphological and syntactic analysis–to become more second-nature, and thus allows the consultant to better check translations against the original Hebrew text.

One cannot sign up for the BTC Hebrew course unless one is a Bible Translation consultant with Wycliffe, UBS or another Bible Translation organization, but everyone is welcome to take the another JS Hebrew class, taught with the same style and rigor.

Course Coordinator: Jochanan Löwenstein
Instructors: H4N instructors

This course is specifically designed to use a communicative language acquisition methodology. Biblical Hebrew will be taught primarily in the language itself. The course will equip the student with reading and writing fluency, as well as a basic Biblical Hebrew vocabulary. This approach to Hebrew study as a communicative language enables a deeper connection to the biblical text. A Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) – that blends the work TPR, Storytelling and the Ulpan methods — will be used to teach Biblical Hebrew primarily in the language itself, both in listening and video homework and in the online classroom.

Schedule and Venue:
The course meets live for one one and a half hour session a week (on Wednesday) for 40 sessions, starting September 28th 2022 through July 12th 2023. The sessions will be recorded and made available in the days following the classes for those who cannot make the live sessions.

  • Wednesdays: 9:00-10:30 AM Eastern Time (4:00-5:30 PM Jerusalem Time)

Course Expectations:

  1. Attendance of the live sessions: Minimum 80% but 100% is ideal. Internal-only videos can be used to review and make-up sessions, but participation in the live-sessions is key.
  2. Homework: For every 1.5 hours of live Hebrew teaching, the consultant should expect 3+ hours of additional work during the week.
Course Materials:
  1. Exercises and texts developed by H4N Staff.
  2. Texts from the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh).
  3. Hebrew song sheets (based upon Biblical Hebrew texts)
  4. Various online materials.
  5. Weekly assignments and materials will be posted on the course website.

Learning Outcomes
After completing this course successfully, the student should be able to:

  1. Know (in Hebrew!) basic regions, cities, and land features of the Hebrew Bible that provide crucial tacit information for the reader of the Tanakh.
  2. Know the most common Biblical Hebrew vocabulary in various forms (both singular and plural, and absolute and construct forms for nouns and the the five most common binyanim)
  3. Read more fluently (with less outside help) basic Pentateuchal narrative as well as from books like Ruth or Jonah.
  4. Articulate simple stories, ask comprehension questions, and discuss basic ideas of the Biblical text, all in spoken Biblical Hebrew.
  5. Describe simple events in the present and past tenses.
  6. Listen to narrative Biblical texts with basic comprehension.
  7. Know several verses from the Hebrew Bible from memory (e.g. Shema and a Psalm) and know a few common Hebrew blessings.
  8. Learn Hebrew Worship Songs to help facilitate memory and enjoyment.
  9. Quickly recognize and identify basic linguistic structures including noun and adjective endings, verb stems, conjugations, parts of speech, types of clauses and linguistic features.
  10. Begin to learn how to type Hebrew using the standard Israeli keyboard including vowel pointing.
  11. The consultant should reach a level of reading fluency that allows them to be less dependent on pop-over glosses, grammars, lexicons, and translations, and thus to be better equipped to work directly from the original.
  12. Learning to speak, read and write Biblical Hebrew, while becoming familiar with basic vocabulary, and learning to recognize morphology and syntactic forms and structures.
  13. The course seeks to internalize the Biblical Hebrew language so that reading the Hebrew Bible becomes more enjoyable, efficient, and exegetically rewarding.
  • Good internet connection and a computer or device (with updated operating system).
  • 80% Attendance (students must notify the instructors in advance if they know they’re going to miss a session, and make up for every missed session by watching the recording and submitting the in-class exercises by the next session).
  • Completion of all homework assignments (occasional late submissions will be accepted but it’s expected to complete the homework on time to keep up with the pace of the class).
Examination: – to assess one’s comprehension of the course material there will be:
  • Periodic quizzes graded assignments
  • Midterm and Final exams, including oral examination.

Grading components:

  • Active Participation
  • Weekly Homework assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Exams


Abbreviated Course Content *:

  • Biblical Texts
    1. Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
    2. Dialogues on Abraham and Lot (Gen 13)
    3. Aaronic blessing
    4. Psalm 121
    5. Psalm 117
    6. Psalm 86 (select verses)
    7. Deuteronomy 4 (select verses)
    8. Deuteronomy 28 (select verse)
    9. Proverbs 17 (select verse)
    10. And additional verses from select chapters
  • Storytelling themes and TPR
    1. Interpersonal Relationships
    2. Walking and Way
    3. Grain and Fields
    4. Kings, Queens and Kingdoms
    5. Sacrifices
    6. Land of Israel
    7. Commandments
    8. Spacial Relationships
    9. Prayers and Thanksgiving
  • Grammar
    1. The alphabet
    2. Vowels
    3. Pronouns
    4. Definite Article
    5. Conjunctions
    6. Genders
    7. Singular and plural
    8. Possessive suffixes
    9. The Participle
    10. Existential Clauses
    11. Possessive Sentences
    12. Prepositions
    13. Preposition inflection
    14. Interrogatives
    15. The Adjective
    16. Cardinal Numbers
    17. Construct Phrases
    18. Introduction to the verb system

* The instructors may change the presentation order and subjects taught in the course based upon a number of variables.

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*Jerusalem Seminary (JS) courses are engagingly academic and taught by experts in their field living in Israel. While JS’ courses are not externally accredited, they can be taken for internal JS credit. Any internal JS credit will accrue and at a later time would hopefully, through articulation agreements and accreditation bodies, receive official accreditation; a process that JS has begun.

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