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 [...]
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 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 [...]
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.
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
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.