This is short notice, but if you can make it out to Jerusalem in less than two weeks’ time, you’ll enjoy the privilege of attending BHLaP 2018 (that acronym stands for Biblical Hebrew Linguistics and Philology).* The event, convened by Edit Doron and Robert Holmstedt, will feature 18 scholars from around Israel, and a half dozen from Canada. [Read more…]
A New Cave, an Old Controversy: Dramatic New Discovery in Israel will Re-Ignite Debates
The last Dead Sea Scrolls cave, linked to the ruins on the marl shelf at the mouth of Wadi Qumran, was discovered in 1956, bringing the total number of caves to eleven — eleven caves containing the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, ceramic jars, and a number of other artifacts. [Read more…]
Learning the biblical languages can be very discouraging and frustrating. Studies and experience have shown that this is the most difficult aspect of theological training for students over the centuries. Many theologians have come to believe that a proper understanding and mastery of the biblical languages is what makes one “thick” theologically.
Just like learning any new language, learning the biblical languages can be on the one hand frustrating and discouraging, but on the other hand exciting and rewarding. There are no fast and hard rules on learning Greek and Hebrew. This is because individual motivation for learning differ significantly. Below are some general tips I have found helpful in learning the languages:
Commit your study in Prayer: I have found that constantly committing my studies in prayer very helpful. There are times I feel very discouraged that I don’t want to go any further. At such times, believe you me when I pray I usually receive comfort and courage to keep on.
Develop a Positive Attitude Toward Learning: One of the reasons why students easily become discouraged about learning Greek and Hebrew is because they have developed a negative attitude toward the languages. Some of it may be as a result of what they have been told by their friends and senior colleagues prior to taking the course, while the other part may be because of their personal experience with the course. But I believe that for one to be successful in learning the languages, one has to first and foremost believe that it is doable. Such a positive attitude will keep you going during difficult times.
Master Your Vocabulary: One of the keys to mastering Greek and Hebrew is to be determined to master your vocabulary. In my own opinion, a mastery of the vocabulary is the number one advantage to learning the languages.
Rehearse Constantly: You cannot be successful in learning either Greek or Hebrew if you do not develop a habit of constant practice. As it has been observed by many, it is much easier to forget the language than it is learning it. So to be on top of “your game”, you have to rehearse constantly.
Apply Wisdom in Using your Time: One of the common mistakes students make in learning the biblical languages is the temptation to spend many hours at a stretch doing the same thing. From my experience, however, the learning becomes simpler and more exciting when one spends few hours over and over again than long stretches of hours.
By Seth Kajang Bature. Seth is a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, PA.
This post is by Josh Westbury, a scholar-in-residence at Faithlife.
In addition to being a Hall of Fame baseball player, Yogi Berra is perhaps remembered most for his pithy witticisms, affectionately known as “Yogi-isms”. These short sayings often strike a humorous tone by playing on obvious contradictions or redundancies. A couple of my personal favorites are: “Sometimes you can observe a lot just by watching,” and “It’s deja-vu, all over again.” These two Yogi-isms are funny because they break one of the basic rules of language: avoid redundancy.
As children we naturally learn to avoid redundancy when speaking or writing—for the simple reason that redundancy can make it hard for people (our “addressees”) to process what we are trying to say. But, as Yogi has taught us, when used intentionally, redundancy can have a powerful and even comic effect. In fact, when we pay close attention, we find that we use redundancy more often than we might expect.
The one-meaning fallacy assumes that every Greek or Hebrew word has only one meaning. Basic translation theory tells us that this is not the case. However, even if you’re aware of this fallacy, you may be using resources that are steering you in the wrong direction.
In this segment from Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos 6, Johnny Cisneros shows you how the one-meaning fallacy can sneak up on you when using Strong’s numbers and how you can avoid it by using additional lexicons. He walks you through each step, using the word kosmos in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15 as an example.
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By Mikel Del Rosario.
Have you ever felt like the more you study the Biblical Languages, the more Greek and Hebrew you seem to forget?
I felt that way, too, when I was first starting out. Today, I’ve completed my fourth semester of Greek and I’m currently in my fourth semester of Hebrew at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Along the way, I discovered something that helped my Greek and Hebrew to stick.In this post, I’ll share five simple ways to use your senses in order to learn Biblical Greek and Hebrew. How can you better use your eyes, ears, mouth, hands and even your nose to make these languages stick?
First, let’s consider the faculty of sight. I’ve found that creating concrete pictures I can see to help me remember things like Greek case endings and Hebrew pronominal suffixes.When I was first starting out in Greek, I memorized all the indicative endings in the order they appeared in Mounce’s text. But when it came to translation, I found that I had to rattle almost all of them all off in my mind before I could parse a 1st Person Singular Pluperfect Active Indicative verb. So I decided to associate the endings with pictures.
For example, the ending κης reminds me of a briefcase. As long as I can remember that the Pluperfect tense appears with an augment and reduplication, I know it’s a second person singular ending because I put the picture in a specific place beside a triangle like this:
You can come up with other pictures for the rest and fill them in. I’ve found this memory device allows me to more easily access Greek endings in my mind without having to mentally go through the entire indicative chart before being able to parse quickly and translate more easily. In Hebrew, the same strategy helped me learn pronominal suffixes. If you’re interested in learning more about this system, a good resource is Biblical Hebrew Made Easy by Blair Kasfeldt.
Second, let’s think about using sound. For most people, music and hearing things over and over again makes information stick. For example, few people sat down and memorized the first verse of Amazing Grace. They learn the lyrics through repetition and music. I know I’m primarily an auditory learner because I remember what I hear in class more than what I read in a book–and I still know all the lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby” from when I was in 7th grade!
For me, writing songs to help me remember Greek paradigms and principal parts works well. I’ve been amazed at how creating audio interlinears have helped me come close to memorizing the entire books of Jonah and Ruth! I recommend you check out Sing and Learn New Testament Greek by Kenneth Berding and this audio interlinear of Jonah on YouTube as examples of what you can create on your own.
Third, reinforce the auditory aspect of learning by verbalizing it. This has really worked for me. Sing these songs in the shower. Recite the Scriptures along with your audio interlinear. Try it on your own without your audio interlinear. You’ll soon find yourself coming close to memorizing the inspired text as a latent function of studying the biblical languages.
Fourth, reinforce all of this further by writing Greek and Hebrew. Write out the vocabulary words and Scripture passages you are studying. Beyond this, certain nouns lend themselves to tactile learning. Hold some change in your hand, feel the coins and say “argurion” or “kesef.” Look at the coins and name them again. For me, combining the senses of sight, sound, and touch makes the meaning of vocabulary words extra sticky.
The last sense to consider is our sense of smell. Honestly, I’m not sure how to use my sense of smell in order to learn Greek or Hebrew. But this article seems incomplete without at least mentioning one small way to do this: Find a vocabulary word that was to do with something you eat or drink and think of these words while smelling, touching and eating it. For example, think ὕδωρ “hudor” or מָ֫יִם “mayim” while drinking a glass of water.
There’s no need to feel like the things you’re studying are seeping out of your mind as you progress in your study of Greek and Hebrew. I’ve found these five simple ways to incorporate my eyes, ears, mouth, hands and even my nose in studying the Biblical languages can help the information to stick. Try it and see how these practices might help you, too!
By Mikel Del Rosario. Mikel is an apologetics speaker and adjunct professor of Christian Apologetics at William Jessup University. He is also a Cultural Engagement assistant at Dallas Theological Seminary where he is pursuing a Master of Theology (Th.M.). Follow Mikel on Facebook, Twitter and read his blog at ApologeticsGuy.com.
In my mind, the primary reason we attend seminary is so that we can learn how to handle God’s Word appropriately. Of course there are many other benefits to seminary that go beyond that, but I believe that this is what makes seminary unique. There are lots of places to learn some of the more ‘practical’ things, but ultimately it gets down to God’s Word.
To do that most seminaries will force you to learn the original languages. There are many good reasons to do this. Luther wrote ‘let us zealously hold on to the languages’ in one great article. Erasmus described reading from the Latin Vulgate as ‘drinking from a muddy puddle’ while reading the New Testament in Greek was like drinking from a ‘pure fountain.’ Of course, most of us give mental assent to the truths of this, but the fact is that we have some very good English translations and if we use them properly we can get to the same place, right?
After all, Greek and Hebrew are a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to study paradigms. It is exhausting to translate even a familiar passage of Scripture as we go through our grammars and lexicons for reference. Despite the best efforts of Bill Mounce, there really is no fun way to learn vocabulary. All these things just take mental elbow grease.
What I’ve noticed is that most students get through the languages and then pretty much discard them. They gave lip-service to the value in learning them, but clearly they did not see the point. If they had they would have stuck with them.
My exhortation to you is to keep up with your languages. Like with physical fitness it is much easier to maintain than to get it back once you’ve lost it. There are very good reader’s editions of Greek and Hebrew that will get you past the drudgery of obscure vocabulary and keep you in the text. Commit to spending a little bit of time each day. Even 5-10 minutes will do if that is all you have.
I have a few personal motivations to do this. One is that I worked very hard in Greek and Hebrew classes and I don’t want to just throw all that time away. I have talked to countless men in ministry who remembered taking Greek and Hebrew, but cannot use any of it today. I don’t want to be one of those guys.
Another is that I see the value in it. I would not go so far as to say that it is vital to keep up with the languages, but it is definitely very valuable. As a practical matter, diagramming a passage from Paul often gives you the points of your sermon right from the text. Remembering how the languages work will sometimes help you make decisions about the meaning of difficult passages too. Some things just don’t translate perfectly into English.
But for me, perhaps one of the most compelling reasons is to recognize just how blessed I am. There are pastors around the world who don’t even have a Bible, let alone a seminary education. They would love to have just a complete Bible in their native language, let alone one of the many excellent study Bibles that are available to me today. We have a plethora of resources at our fingertips. Our seminary educations give us outstanding preparation for ministry. Throwing such a key part of that education away is akin to the millionaire who lights his cigars with $100 bills. Why waste something so valuable?
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As you may or may not know, I recently completed a 2 week intensive for Hebrew 1.
Today I got my grades and was very pleased with my B+.
The grade however got me to thinking… do all seminaries have the same grading scale? My B+ was a 91-93… I remember in undergrad (oh, so long ago) that 90-100 was an A… Not anymore…
So, here is my seminary’s grading scale. Is this what everyone else uses?
|A||97 – 100|
|A-||94 – 96|
|B+||91 – 93|
|B||88 – 90|
|B-||86 – 87|
|C+||83 – 85|
|C||80 – 82|
|C-||78 – 79|
|D+||75 – 77|
|D||72 – 74|
|D-||70 – 71|
At dinner I was explaining to Little Man that I was learning Hebrew and that Hebrew has a alphabet (he has learned the English alphabet so I was trying to bridge that connection).
So, I got out my Hebrew alphabet sheet and we went through the letter with him repeating after me. After we went through one time Just a Gal grabbed the sheet and asked Little Man what each letter was… he really enjoyed it and each time would look to me for the answer. However, about half way through Just a Gal asked, “and what is this letter?” to which Little Man answered, “Lamma.” Sure enough it was “Lamed.” He gets mad points for being that close on the second time through with no help. I’m such a proud papa!