Biblical Hebrew

//Biblical Hebrew

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

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 [...]

By | July 17th, 2014|Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew alive, Uncategorized|0 Comments

More on Why Jesus was a Hebrew speaker

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 [...]

Differentiating Hebrew and Aramaic Backgrounds in Greek writings

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 [...]

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

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 [...]

So what, in fact, does ἑβραϊστί mean?

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 [...]

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

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 [...]

Faith that Grows, Genesis 15v6

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 [...]

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

  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 Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop July 2013 in Fresno

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.

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

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 [...]

Randall Buth on Peter Burton

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 [...]

Word Order in the Verbless Clause: A Generative Functional Approach

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 [...]

By | September 29th, 2012|Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew verb, Blog|0 Comments

On Speaking and Scholarship

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 [...]

Literacy development linked to oral development. Hmmm-?

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 [...]

TPR – Introducing the waw-hahippux

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 [...]

The Need for Some Speed in order to Read

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 [...]

Language is Communication

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, [...]

Mini Quiz: Biblical or Modern Hebrew

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 [...]

לַעֲשׂוֹת as “to do” and “to make”

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 [...]

Fluency and reading comprehension

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.

Why study biblical languages?

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 [...]