These are answers to an online interview with Seumas Macdonald. 1. Randall, I wonder if you’d share a little about the environment and methods you were exposed to when first learning the biblical languages yourself? Before the biblical languages I was given traditional Latin and German high school training. The German was done as “grammar […]
From Elizabeth City, North Carolina’s The Daily Advance. “Two teachers chattered enthusiastically to each other in ancient Hebrew about a tree growing, which they demonstrated by setting increasingly large twigs in buckets in the center of their classroom. Students aptly responded to the teachers’ questions in the language some had only begun to learn two […]
I appreciated the title of a recent essay (June 9, 2014) by Seth Sanders on Religion Dispatches entitled, “Why the Argument Over Jesus’ Language is More Complicated and More Interesting Than Media Experts Have Claimed.” In fact, many of Sanders’ points that elucidated the complexity of the language situation in the first century resonated with […]
Semitic influence on an ancient Greek writing has been discussed widely in Biblical Studies and Pseudepigraphical texts. In general, it is quite difficult to go deeper and to differentiate between Hebrew influence and Aramaic influence on a particular Greek text. The new volume, Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley, edd., The Language Environment of First-century […]
A little story begins in Luke 4:40 after the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39): Δύνοντος δὲ τοῦ ἡλίου ἅπαντες ὅσοι εἶχον ἀσθενοῦντας νόσοις ποικίλοις ἤγαγον αὐτοὺς πρὸς αὐτόν· ὁ δὲ ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ αὐτῶν τὰς χεῖρας ἐπιτιθεὶς ἐθεράπευεν αὐτούς. While the sun was setting all as many as were having sick people with various diseases, […]
The Language Background and Literary Function of the Cry from the Cross Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
We are finally able to provide the published text of the article on the “cry of dereliction” from the Brill volume, The Language Environment of First Century Judaea, Randall Buth and R Steven Notley edd., (Brill, 2014, ISBN 9789004263406). The PDF of Randall Buth, “The Riddle of Jesus’ Cry from the Cross: the Meaning of […]
A rather lengthy article “Hebraisti in Ancient Texts: Does ἑβραϊστί Ever Mean ‘Aramaic’?” by Randall Buth and Chad Pierce has appeared in the Brill volume, The Language Environment of First Century Judaea, Randall Buth and R Steven Notley edd., (Brill, 2014, ISBN 9789004263406). The article looks at the meanings and claims about the meanings of […]
The Language Environment of First-Century Judaea, edited by Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley, (Brill, 2014, ISBN 9789004263406) has finally appeared. Here is a PDF of the table of contents and preliminary chapter “Introduction: Language Issues are Important for Gospel Studies” 9789004263406_01-Buth Intro May you enjoy the Volume.
While reading Philemon this morning I noticed what might be considered an inversion of Focus–Contextualizing Constituent (aka Topic) in the pre-verb area. The default order with two marked items, a CC and Focus, is normally from more topical to more salient, that is, first a CC then a Focus, followed by core template orders. Here […]
At SBL 2013 there was a session devoted to a description of the Greek perfect. Basically, there were three positions and they had been published previously. Stanley Porter argued that the perfect was a third aspect category in Greek with a meaning of “stative”. Buist Fanning argued that the perfect entailed a complete action with […]
While the need for Hebrew is self-evident for Jewish interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, it’s need is sometimes diminished within Chrisitan communities for the New Testament. The following little study shows how a close reading of the Hebrew Bible can raise useful questions for New Testament interpretation, too. In fact both Jewish and Christian communities […]
Genesis 22 is a common narrative text that is used in introductory biblical Hebrew courses. There are several points of syntax and narrative style in that passage that are often overlooked by both beginning-intermediate students and even by Hebrew grammarians. Consider Gen 22:3 ויקם וילך אל המקום אשר אמר לו האלהים and he […]
We’ve begun our Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop in Fresno. We will be posting photos on our Facebook page as well as updates during the workshop. For a video from the first day, here.
The biggest problem with calling the Hebrew verb “an aspect” is the English language. This problem also applies to any language that clearly differentiates aspect from tense, like most of the European languages including Greek. Unfortunately, because Hebrew is quite different from Greek or English, the verb is often described as an “aspect” system that […]
I just wanted to highlight that BLC has just updated its vision statement. Check it out here. Let us know what you think. We’d love to get your feedback.
On January 3rd, a review of BLC’s “Living Koine Greek Introduction Part One” was posted on the blog “Priceless Eternity.” While the reviewer is anonymous, the blog “is run by a college student… currently aiming for a major in Pre-Seminary Bible and also Mathematics,” and I am assuming that the same college student wrote the […]
I first met Peter at SBL’s annual meeting in 1997. A true friendship was formed that has covered the past fifteen years but has now been sadly cut short. Peter was interested in seeing students study Greek and Hebrew without going through a second or third language to their mothertongue. I was interested in seeing […]
Just a quick note to inform our BLC friends that Peter Burton, Randall Buth’s friend, colleague, and supporter of BLC, passed away peacefully on Thursday night (4 October 2012) of complications associated with ALS with which he had just recently been diagnosed. Peter’s enthusiasm for the biblical languages and seeing them taught using Communicative Language […]
Listen to and Read the Hebrew New Testament. Recorded and produced by the Bible Society in Israel.
An article by Randall Buth Introduction The basic premise of this paper is as follows: a generative-functional approach to the Biblical Hebrew (BH) nominal (or verbless) clause provides a simple, adequate, linguistic framework. It explains the discontinuities in the data and is able to unite and explain the Lists and ad hoc rules of many […]
The BLC/FPU workshops are providing the field of New Testament studies with a unique opportunities for professors of Koine Greek. The community and environment created at these workshops is literally the only place where the field can experience what spoken fluency in Koine Greek may offer to the field. As such, the testimonies of the professors present should not be dismissed off hand.
This is a guest blog by Paul Nitz on Learning Another Language Through Actions , expanded 7th edition, by James J. Asher, Originator of the Total Physical Response known worldwide as TPR. Paul teaches Greek in Malawi and will be attending the Fresno BLC workshop this summer. Comments are welcomed: I had been looking for […]
Students at our ulpans often ask about the relationship between speaking a language and scholarship. The question arises because most in the related academic fields do not currently advocate or practice speaking the language (and we are all greatful for the generations of scholarship in both Biblical Studies and Classics), yet we at BLC and […]
I’ve been reading about reading again. A quote from a national report on literacy research caught my eye and seemed appropriate for general discussion on a blog. “It is not enough to teach language-minority students reading skills alone. Extensive oral English development must be incorporated into successful literacy instruction. The most promising instructional practices for […]
Bar Koseba (Bar Kochba) and Modern Hebrew Today: Speaking a Language as a Window into an Ancient Language
Many processes in a language are basic to the human species and can provide insight into speakers of the past. Today when we speak Hebrew fast it is common to ask something like “ra’ita ’ta-nehag?” or more Tel-Avivian “raita ’ta-naag?” Did you see the driver? ראית את הנהג? The marker “et” את is swallowed up […]
A group of sixteen facilitators and participants recently gathered in Jerusalem (Dec 28, 2011-Jan 6, 2012) to speak Koine Greek, while reading select New Testament texts associated with Jesus in Jerusalem and visiting the ancient sites connected with those narratives. The group gathered in Jerusalem’s Old City for over 50 immersion Koine Greek hours, interacting […]
This past SBL conference, a short video clip was shown (a second time – it was first presented at the SBL conference in Atlanta the previous year) as to how it is possible to introduce the ו”ו ההיפוך (conversive waw, narrative waw, etc.) concept to a class using TPR. Since there have been requests for […]
I’ve been reading Frank Smith, Understanding Reading, A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Reading and Learning to Read, fifth edition, Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,1994. It is nice to be reading a fifth edition. That says that there has been some previous usefulness and that the author/publisher is trying to keep up. More germane to the […]
At the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in San Francisco, CA, Brian Schultz presented a paper on “First Steps to get Started in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT).” In his paper, he presented three options as to how instructors of biblical languages can begin incorporating some aspects of CLT into their curriculum.
As a result of the BLC’s Koine Greek immersion programs, and especially the Workshop for Instructors this past summer in Fresno, CA, there has been growing interest in a song written and composed by BLC’s Sharon Alley. See for example this thread on the b-greek list. Here is an original recording of the song sung […]
A couple quick anecdotes. Last year I interviewed a few of my students to get their thoughts about my biblical Hebrew course taught using Communicative Language Teaching. The one student had the following comment: Learning Hebrew has been easier, so far as to say that I don’t translate it. Like when I was learning French, […]
A while back I wrote my own report on what transpired at this past summer’s Greek Workshop held in August 2011 in Fresno, CA. I don’t know how I missed it until now, but a couple weeks ago Fresno Pacific University posted its own independent account of the workshop. Wayne Steffen (editor of FPU’s […]
Last week I had to give a talk to my colleagues, the faculty of the School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences at Fresno Pacific University. I chose to speak on the importance of teaching the biblical languages and why I teach biblical Hebrew differently than the traditional way. In order to help me, I […]
Frank Smith, one of the foremost psycholingists of our day, has spent much of his time studying the psychology and mechanics of reading. For those of us involved in the instruction of biblical languages, where our stated goal is that our students be able to read the Bible fluently, his research is most relevant. I just finished reading a collection of his essays entitled “Unspeakable Acts, Unnatural Practices”. Based on the research he shares in those essays, I suggest at least four ways instructors of biblical languages can adapt their teaching to help their students learn to read more efficiently.
In my last post, I posted a video clip of one of my class sessions for beginning biblical Hebrew. One of the accusations sometimes leveled at us who try to teach using Communicative Language Teaching is that we are not using/teaching biblical Hebrew but modern Hebrew. While it is true that “slip-ups” are possible, generally […]
The video clip below is from the first year Hebrew class I am teaching at Fresno Pacific University. It is from the 8th class period of 50 mns each (if one counts the first class period in which all I did was hand out syllabi and explain the dynamics of the class). The point of […]
Daniel Streett, whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last year at SBL, has recently written a series of blog posts on the state of Greek studies in the academy. It is not pretty. To wet your appetite I will only mention a test he did with about 30 Greek profs […]
From August 3-11, the Biblical Language Center (BLC), in association with Fresno Pacific University, led a fluency workshop for instructors of New Testament Greek in Fresno, California. The effort to renew the speaking of New Testament Greek was the first of its kind in North America. To ensure the highest quality possible, the workshop was led […]
A common objection to the communicative approach to teaching biblical languages is: “All we are aiming at is being able to read, not speak, the language.” However, Frank Smith in his book “Reading without Nonsense” suggests that in order to truly read fluently, one has to depend less on deciphering the printed matter, and more on a background of already acquired knowledge. Though he does not highlight fluency as part of that body of “already acquired knowledge,” it is presupposed throughout (indeed, it is unlikely that a non-fluent English speaker would be reading his work in the first place). It would seem, therefore, that without fluency, it is impossible to read effectively for meaning.
I’ve recently (re)read an article sent to me this past summer entitled “Preparing Latin Teachers for Second Language Acquisition,” pp. 184-191 in Teaching Classical Languages (Spring 2010) by Robert Patrick, PhD. This online peer-reviewed journal can be found here, and the article in question here. While the BLC does not at this point provide resources […]
Question: I want to read the Hebrew Bible//Greek New Testament. Why is there so much listening in the BLC courses if the purpose of learning Hebrew//Greek is only for reading? Answer: Lots of listening and speaking will make you a significantly better reader of a new language. There are several reasons for using extensive listening […]
First Things, published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an inter-religious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society, just posted an article entitled “Why study biblical languages?” In the post, the author Nicholas Frankovich highlights the difference between savoir and […]
Studies in psychology continue to demonstrate that the study and knowledge of multiple languages helps stave off Alzheimer and other cognitive disorders. And the more languages the better. So since BLC is all about learning languages, that would mean that our materials and courses can help you stay younger longer!
Last year in the Greek immersion workshop in Galilee we were able to view some inscriptions in situ. The inscriptions are fun to read and provide a good learning experience. They can even be viewed over the internet. I’ve uploaded a picture of a text. Can you read any pieces of it? What can we […]
Biblical languages are usually taught using a Grammar-Translation approach, where one learns grammar rules and vocabulary in order to translate a text into one’s mother tongue. The Biblical Language Center, however, purposely avoids GT in favor of the principles of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Here are 10 reasons why.
Student motivation to learn and desire to invest even more time learning biblical Hebrew does not seem to be a problem for these students using the “Living Biblical Hebrew” curriculum. They planned a biblical Hebrew week-end retreat.
At SBL in the Applied Linguistics section I will be giving a lecture on the advantages of speaking Greek, for those who spend a significant part of their time working with ancient Greek literature of the post Alexander period. The lecture will be twenty minutes and primarily in English. Five and one-half minutes will be […]
I read an interesting article this weekend by Alexander Andrason, “The Panchronic YIQTOL: Functionally Consistent and Cognitively Plausible.” 62 pages. It is rather top-heavy with metalanguage from Cognitive Linguistics so I will try to summarize and interact with the main points, plusses and minuses, in language that gets halfway back to common English, including some […]
Wayne Steffen, editor-in-chief of Pacific Magazine, wrote an article for the March 2010 volume about my Biblical Hebrew course here at Fresno Pacific University. It has recently been put on FPU’s website. He begins his article by describing language learning by immersion: “REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A BABY? Probably not, so here’s what happened: […]
On day two of BLC’s “With Jesus in the Galilee” we went to the historical site of Cana. Most people think of an Arab village just outside Nazareth, Kfar Cana, as the location of where the miracle took place. However, Kfar Cana was “introduced” in the Byzantine period so as to allow pilgrims walking from […]
At a guest house in the modern town of Migdal, overlooking ancient Migdal on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, about twenty individuals have come together for ten days of intensive Koine Greek. We are attempting to do something that has rarely, if ever, been done in modern times: speak only Koine Greek from […]
Matthew 2:15 “I called my son out of Egypt” is often read at Christmas time. It is sometimes puzzling because it comes from Hoshea 11:1 where it refers to the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt. However, it reflects an important spiritual principle that relates to the coming Passover season. In the passover […]
Here at Fresno Pacific University, I have been working together with a team of student workers at developing an MP4 Companion to BLC’s Living Biblical Hebrew – Introduction Part 1. It is almost finished, and we hope to have it available soon. In the meantime, I thought it would be nice to give you a […]
Yesterday, 27 Jan 2010, the Hebrew Language Academy confirmed that alternative 1st and 2nd person suffix tense (‘past’) forms of pi“el lamed-yud roots will be officially acceptable in modern Hebrew. גִלֵּיתִי will be acceptable, and apparently even גִלֵּיתָ. The reason for the confirmation and acceptance is that forms with both [i] and [e] occur in […]
Greek inscription at Hippos One of many inscriptions in Sephoris synagogue. Notice spelling of και. Overlooking ‘parable bay’, a nice place to preach from a boat Imagine breakfast to bed overlooking the Lake of Genneseret, all in Koine Greek. Reading the gospels, discussing them in Koine Greek, some fluency pedagogy, and visits to sites around […]
How does this picture make one feel about listening to the gospel and letters of John in Greek?
The following is a little long for a note, but hopefully fun.There are several ironies in the spelling of Σαμαρεια/Σαμαρια in our Greek texts. Readers of United Bible Societies Greek text and the Nestle Aland text will be familiar with the following spellings: Σαμάρεια (the place), andΣαμαρίτης (a person of the place, male)Σαμαρῖτις (a person […]
When do corrections need to be made with language learners? When does Erasmian pronunciation cross the line and need to be corrected?
When do corrections need to be made with language learners? When does Erasmian pronunciation cross the line and need to be corrected? Children need a stress-free environment for play and learning. Parents correct their children’s speech, but not everything all at once and most of the time most any understandable utterance is accepted and praised. […]
On the importance of textual criticism in synoptic studies: the case of ευθυς. I have always viewed ευθυς as a nice marker of Matthew’s use of Mark. [For the record, I am confident that both were composed in Greek. What of the Hebrew tradition in Papias? I see the Hebrew Matthew of Papias as refering […]
The Biblical Language Center, at Qibbutz Tzuba, just west of Jerusalem is offering its second annual, immersion Greek SXOLH this summer 2008. Two teachers in class teach in Koiné Greek, 90%+ of the time. Outside languages (e.g. English, Hebrew) are restricted to 10% within the classroom. From the beginning students start to play in the […]
In a discussion on another blog, www.AncientHebrewPoetry.typepad.com , John Hobbins asked me about tense and aspect in Arabic, with an implicit question on its relevance to biblical Hebrew tense-aspect, “Does [Östen] Dahl represent a consensus point of view when he interprets the classical Arabic verbal system as at root aspectual? Or is there a continuing […]
[Excerpts from an email exchange between Randall Buth and others on whether a “dead” language, Greek in the discussion below, can ever be taught as a “live” language.] > I think that what is happening is that there is a clear distinction between> learning, reading and speaking a language that is NOT DEAD and learning, […]
This is a translation question from a student for Dr. Buth: Dear Dr. Buth, Last night i was reading Psalm 16 and struggled with some difficultverses. I would like to seek your opinion on verse two: אָמַרְתְּ לַיהוָה אֲדֹנָי אָתָּה טוֹבָתִי, בַּל-עָלֶיךָ A straightforward reading seems strange and doesn’t make sense: my welfare is not […]
In a recent blog, James Davila gave a good response to some more sub-par journalism that has plagued the field of Biblical Studies as of late. The journalism implied that Hebrew was almost non-existant for 2000 years! While Jim gave a good answer citing all of the Hebrew that was produced from 200 CE to […]
BY RANDALL BUTH The land of Israel offers new opportunities and can change Christian expectations for Hebrew learning. Literature is a weave of culture and language. Christian academic programs need to ensure a high level of Hebrew at the end of the day. An investment of six months or more should actively build toward internalization […]
BY RANDALL BUTH This is a parable written in Koine Greek, challenging Christian students to use common sense when setting goals of biblical language learning. What level would be honoring to our scriptures? Ἆρά γε τιμῶμεν τὰς ἡμῶν γραφάς; παραβολή, τίνι ὁμοιοῦται ὁ λόγος; ·ἄνθρωπός τις ἀπὸ τῶν Ἰνδωνησίων ἦν σόφος τοῦ Κωρᾶν,ἀποδημήσας δὲ εἰς […]