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