BLC Blog

What happened at BLC’s 2014 Summer Hebrew Course in North Carolina at Mid-Atlantic University

17 July 2014

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 […]

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More on Why Jesus was a Hebrew speaker

20 June 2014

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 […]

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Differentiating Hebrew and Aramaic Backgrounds in Greek writings

05 May 2014

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 […]

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Did Jesus Heal the Sick before or after the Sabbath Had Ended? (Luke 4:40; Mark 1:32; Matt. 8:16)

28 April 2014

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, […]

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The Language Background and Literary Function of the Cry from the Cross Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34

17 April 2014

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 […]

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So what, in fact, does ἑβραϊστί mean?

17 April 2014

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 […]

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New Volume on First Century Language in Land of Israel

17 April 2014

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.

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Word Order, Focus-CC (Contextualizing Constituent, Topic) Inversion, Enclitics in Greek

16 December 2013

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 […]

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Getting the Right Handles on the Greek Perfect

29 November 2013

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 […]

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Faith that Grows, Genesis 15v6

24 October 2013

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 […]

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Relevance Theory and the Problem of Tense-Aspect in Biblical Hebrew

15 September 2013

  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 […]

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We’ve Begun Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop July 2013 in Fresno

10 July 2013

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.

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What is wrong with calling the Hebrew verb “an aspect”?

27 May 2013

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 […]

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New Vision Statement

21 January 2013

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.

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A review of “Living Koine Greek Introduction Part One”

10 January 2013

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 […]

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Randall Buth on Peter Burton

23 October 2012

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 […]

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Peter Burton

10 October 2012

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 […]

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Listen to and Read the Hebrew New Testament

30 September 2012

Listen to and Read the Hebrew New Testament.  Recorded and produced by the Bible Society in Israel.                

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Word Order in the Verbless Clause: A Generative Functional Approach

29 September 2012

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 […]

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Why fluency workshops?

22 August 2012

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.

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2012 Koine Greek Fluency Workshop

09 August 2012

2012 Koine Greek Fluency Workshop

It’s hard to believe that already a week has gone by since the end of BLC’s second Koine Greek Fluency Workshop.  For those of us involved in the planning and/or the instruction, it was obviously a very busy time for us.  I won’t recap all that took place, as a detailed summary has already been […]

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Eureka! I found a new approach to Greek.

29 April 2012

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 […]

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On Speaking and Scholarship

16 March 2012

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 […]

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Literacy development linked to oral development. Hmmm-?

12 March 2012

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 […]

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Bar Koseba (Bar Kochba) and Modern Hebrew Today: Speaking a Language as a Window into an Ancient Language

02 March 2012

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 […]

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What Happened at “Jesus in Jerusalem”, Koine Greek Immersion Workshop (2012)

28 January 2012

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 […]

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TPR – Introducing the waw-hahippux

14 December 2011

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 […]

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The Need for Some Speed in order to Read

08 December 2011

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 […]

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First Steps in CLT

06 December 2011

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.

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Soma Song

09 November 2011

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 […]

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Language is Communication

07 November 2011

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, […]

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Another Report on the Greek Workshop

04 November 2011

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 […]

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Contrasting methodologies

30 October 2011

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 […]

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Reading in context

09 October 2011

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.

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Mini Quiz: Biblical or Modern Hebrew

30 September 2011

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 […]

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לַעֲשׂוֹת as “to do” and “to make”

22 September 2011

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 […]

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Daniel Streett on the state of Greek studies

16 September 2011

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 […]

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What Happened at the Greek Instructors Fluency Workshop in Fresno, Aug 2011

16 September 2011

What Happened at the Greek Instructors Fluency Workshop in Fresno, Aug 2011

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 […]

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Fluency and reading comprehension

14 September 2011

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.

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Teaching biblical languages for all learning styles

15 August 2011

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 […]

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Listening for reading

02 August 2011

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 […]

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Why study biblical languages?

20 July 2011

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 […]

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Staving off old age with BLC

09 July 2011

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!

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Learning from Greek Inscriptions in Tiberias

09 June 2011

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 […]

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10 Reasons for using “Communicative Language Teaching”

09 March 2011

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.

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Student-initiated biblical Hebrew week-end

24 February 2011

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.

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Why am I speaking to you in Greek?

12 November 2010

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 […]

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On the history of Hebrew YIQTOL and the Hebrew verb

22 August 2010

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 […]

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Biblical Hebrew at Fresno Pacific University

14 April 2010

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: […]

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Reading and discussing John 2 in Cana – all in Koine Greek

06 April 2010

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 […]

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BLC’s “Jesus in the Galilee”

04 April 2010

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 […]

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The Theme of Egypt for the Believer: Personal Participation in God’s Redemptive Acts

15 March 2010

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 […]

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Pre-release preview of BLC’s MP4 Companion

27 February 2010

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 […]

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The Hebrew Language Academy on lamed-yud pi“el: גִלִּיתִי and גִלֵּיתִי

28 January 2010

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 […]

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Galilee Greek Immersion April 2010

09 June 2009

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 […]

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Art and a message

17 May 2009

How does this picture make one feel about listening to the gospel and letters of John in Greek?

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The Irony of Samaria: Σαμαρεια / Σαμαρειτης in the Greek NT

26 September 2008

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 […]

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When do corrections need to be made with language learners? When does Erasmian pronunciation cross the line and need to be corrected?

25 April 2008

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. […]

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Textual Criticism and Synoptics, the Case of ευθυς

02 April 2008

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 […]

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Intensive Koine Greek, spoken immersion summer session

17 February 2008

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 […]

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Arabic and Aspect and Tense

10 February 2008

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 […]

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Teaching a “dead” vs a “live” language

08 February 2008

[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, […]

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Psalm 16:2: טוֹבָתִי בַּל עָלֶיךָ

06 February 2008

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 […]

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Hebrew a "dead" language?

30 January 2008

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 […]

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What’s with Christians and Hebrew in Israel?

22 January 2008

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 […]

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Are We Serious About the Languages of the Bible: A Greek Parable

22 January 2008

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 […]

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