Unfolding Proverbs: Translation and Context

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Unfolding Proverbs: Translation and Context

SH HEB 404 3 credits

Course Instructor and Meeting Time:
Instructor: Murray Salisbury. The course will comprise of 11 intensive sessions starting on September 13, 2021 according to the following schedule*. All lessons will take place between the hours 1130 – 1500 Eastern Time (1830 – 2200 Israel time). 

Session # Date Time
1 Monday, September 13 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
2 Sunday, September 19 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
3 Wednesday, September 22 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
4 Sunday, September 26 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
5 Wednesday, September 29 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
6 Monday, October 4 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
7 Wednesday, October 6 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
8 Monday, October 11 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
9 Wednesday, October 13 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
10 Wednesday, October 20 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
11 Monday October 25 1130 - 1500 Eastern Time (1830 - 2200 Israel time)
* Lectures will be recorded and made available within a few days for those who can not make the live sessions.

Course Prerequisite:
Students are required to have proficiency in reading Biblical Hebrew and in understanding spoken and written English. The course will be taught in English.

Course Description:
This is a practical course with emphasis on skill development, especially the skill of unfolding the various layers of meaning embedded in the artistry of biblical poems and proverbs. It aims to give students an increasing appreciation of how Hebrew meshalim work- and, to some extent, how Hebrew poetry works also.

The goal is to equip participants with tools of exegesis, or poetry analysis, and of proverb analysis to help them make informed decisions about the meaning of the more difficult proverbs and wisdom poems in the Book of Proverbs. That is, we aim to give the knowledge and skills needed to choose the most likely interpretation from among the multiple alternatives found in translations and commentaries. To achieve this end goal, we will start with easier texts to practice the skills for using these tools appropriately.

Much of what the participants will learn can be taken away and applied to many other poetic books and sections in the Scriptures. However, they will also learn about the specific nature of proverbs. What is a proverb? What is a mashal? In what ways are they different from each other? How do proverbs and meshalim generate their persuasive power to change outward behaviour as well as attitudes and values of the heart?

Participants will study the Hebrew text of selected proverbs and longer wisdom poems in conjunction with discussions about their poetic features and the likely functions of these features. Where appropriate, they will learn how to find background information about the cultural, geographical, and historical contexts. Students will learn to explore the biblical world of the authors and their original audiences in order to read Herbrew poems from within their own various kinds of context.

Another focus will be the book’s many translation challenges, especially that of producing translations that sound like proverbs in the target language. A good quality translation of this book involves not only clear and accurate content, but also a style that is concise, crafted, and compelling.

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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 is beginning.

Ratings and Reviews

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What's your experience? We'd love to know!
Posted 2 years ago
Excellent introduction to Hebrew poetry in Proverbs

I appreciated the clarity of the teaching, the opportunity to better understand the poetic forms used in proverbs in Hebrew, and the insights of other classmates. I am looking forward to putting what I have learned to use in further study in Proverbs and in working with Bible translation teams in central Africa.

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Shoshi Kvasnica
Posted 2 years ago

I was so excited to take this course, and gained so much from it! Murray Salisbury has much insight and years of experience translating and overseeing translations of the book of Proverbs into various languages. His expert knowledge of Hebrew allowed him to teach us how to understand, explore and interpret the various proverbs. I highly recommend this course for those proficient in Bib. Hebrew.

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