Welcome! I started this site in 2004 to help those who want to learn Biblical Hebrew. All the content is free and much of it is licensed with Creative Commons (see individual pages for details). I'd love to hear if this site has been useful to you. Feel free to email me at .
I have now added a donation button as well to help defray the monthly costs associated with teaching in virtual worlds. Give as you feel led, but please don’t feel obligated.
"Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your new bride through a veil." --Haim Nachman Bialik (Jewish Poet, 1873-1934)
HEBREW CLASS (this September)
I'm going to be teaching first year Biblical Hebrew for Briercrest this year. It will be an online class so people can enroll from anywhere with internet access. I, for one, will be logging on from Quebec. This is a 'for credit' course with tuition. Classes start this September and will be running Tuesday/Thursday for two semesters.
I'm particularly excited about this class because I'll be taking a new approach using a textbook that introduces Biblical Hebrew from the perspective of discourse analysis. This may sound scary but it's not, at least not the way I'm going to be teaching it. :) I'm a strong proponent of presenting potentially complex information in as straight forward a manner as possible.
Discourse analysis takes into account how we read passages of text (discourses), as opposed to only focusing on words and sentences. This is, after all, our ultimate goal whether we read for academic/literary or confessional/devotional purposes. Linguist Talmy Givón said that words have meaning, clauses (sentences) convey information, but it is discourses that have coherence [T. Givón, Syntax, vol. 1, (2001), p. 43.]. In other words, it's the discourse that carries the communication or message the writer/speaker wants the reader/listener to receive. It's the message of the text that we want and careful readers of the Hebrew Bible want to understand that message deeply. If we didn't, we'd read a translation, of which there are many good ones available.
In my MA thesis I looked at a particular aspect of discourse analysis, namely how participants are referenced in Biblical Hebrew narrative (see link above). More significantly, the last few years of leading our Tuesday morning online Hebrew reading group (see link below) has lead me to realize how valuable discourse analysis is for understanding OT/Hebrew Bible texts. Over our time together, especially in the last year, we've found ourselves increasingly moving beyond an analysis of just morphology (how individual words are formed) and syntax (how words work together to form sentences), to whole passage analysis and the payoff has been exciting as we see the passage afresh and discover legitimate insights that we hadn't seen before. More importantly, you come out of this sort of analysis with a greater confidence that you actually know what the author is trying to say. Just to give you a sense of what our study slides look like, here are a couple of examples from our sessions in
Here our approach has been pretty informal and intuitive. In the first year class, that I'll be starting in September, we'll look at discourse analysis more formally. There are actual rules of usage for Biblical Hebrew above the sentence level and knowing them will help us interpret individual sentences more accurately and examine how they relate to contribute to the flow of the passage. It will help lessen the need to make vague appeals to "the context" when deciding between interpretive options.
As a bit of a preview, the first year course will be organized around different discourse types or genres and we'll examine how each functions. For example, in Biblical Hebrew, how you tell a story about the past (historical narrative) is different from how you tell a story set in the future (predictive narrative). Likewise, how you describe a procedure that was done in the past (procedural discourse) is different from how you tell someone to do something in the present (instructional discourse) or how you try to influence someone's behavior (hortatory discourse or preaching). Each of these different discourse types use verb tenses or word order in a particular way, and knowing these patterns helps us interpret more precisely. Above all it should be a fun and productive way to learn Hebrew. At least I'm looking forward to it. :) In my estimation we may as well let our end goal (reading texts) shape how we begin our study, and therefore incorporate discourse rules from the start rather than trying to tack them on at the end if we ever get to them at all.
"Some Rights Reserved" Licensing
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