Hebrew 1: Introduction

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 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.

This course will appeal to two types of students:

  1. Those who want to begin the process of learning biblical languages, especially those who plan on doing more advanced learning. Subsequent courses will teach the intelligent use of Hebrew resources as well as a more detailed knowledge of the language and application to the biblical text.
  2. Those who do not plan to study biblical languages in depth (or those who are not sure whether they do) but want to understand how languages work, how to move from one language to another, and how to interpret the biblical text responsibly.

Knowing

  • To know the major grammatical categories in English and Hebrew
  • To understand how language makes meaning(s)
  • To understand the functions of language such as the interpersonal, experiential, and textual
  • To understand what constitutes a legitimate “word study”
  • To recognize and understand key biblical vocabulary in Hebrew
  • To begin to learn the grammatical forms/paradigms in Hebrew

Being

  • “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)
  • To allow the Scripture to motivate, form, and transform our faith, worship, and Christian way of life

Doing

  • To describe how choices in language affect the meaning of the biblical text
  • To describe the functions of the basic grammatical forms in Hebrew and use them in interpretation
  • To begin to read and translate Hebrew texts
  • To interpret the biblical text meaningfully without committing common mistakes