A Guide to Biblical Languages: Hebrew 1

OT 1B03

People like to talk about what the Bible means, sometimes even with reference to “the original Hebrew.” However, for readers and teachers of the Bible to access useful resources and make insightful observations about the meaning of a text without making regrettable errors, they need to understand how languages make meaning—and how Hebrew makes meaning. This course explores the world of human language: language theory and how it applies to understanding texts. It will also review English grammar—which many students were never taught—as a basis for understanding Hebrew grammar. This will enable students to be better prepared to engage with our main task: learning the basics of Hebrew, focusing on how the linguistic elements lead to meaningful and accurate interpretation. There will necessarily be some memorization of vocabulary and the three main paradigms, but this course will also significantly reduce the amount of memorization usually required in language learning, since the focus is on understanding and application


  • To identify major noun and verb grammatical categories in Hebrew
  • To understand how language makes meaning
  • To recognize the functions of language (interpersonal, experiential, and textual)
  • To critique word study methodology
  • To recognize some key vocabulary in biblical Hebrew
  • To recognize and reproduce elementary grammatical forms/paradigms in Hebrew


  • “To present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)
  • To be a mature interpreter of Scripture as taught by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:6–16)
  • While unmeasurable in the context of this course, to allow the Scripture to motivate, form, and transform our faith, worship, and Christian way of life


  • To describe the functions of the basic grammatical forms in Hebrew and use them in interpretation
  • To begin to read and translate Hebrew texts 3. To interpret the biblical text meaningfully without committing common mistake