Theological German


The course will provide a systematic introduction to German grammar to enable comprehension of German research in the areas of Bible and theology. Exercises will be provided with the focused goal of learning to read academic German. The course will not include conversational German nor is there an expectation of memorized vocabulary. There is an expectation that the student will know all basic syntagms and be able to analyse, comprehend, and accurately translate German at a complex syntactical level, such as is used in scholarly journals and texts. There are no minimal requirements of knowledge of German to enter the course, but some familiarity with German will assist in maintaining the pace of the course.

The student will be able to pass a German reading exam for the purposes of the Ph.D. program upon completion of the course. Passing the exam will qualify the student for the modern language requirement of their respective Ph.D. programs at McMaster Divinity College.

Students must be prepared to dedicate themselves to learning German during these seven weeks. Learning to read German in seven weeks is a major undertaking. It takes hours of practice to successfully pass a German reading exam.


  • German use of cases and word order
  • German tense and voice forms and their function (functions are not identical to English)
  • German use of subjunctives and imperatives (these are different than in English)
  • German use of commas to indicate clause relations


  • Awareness of the impact of German theological and biblical research
  • Appreciation of German culture and linguistic expressions
  • Enjoyment of reading German. Frisch begonnen ist halb gewonnen! (A fresh start is half the victory.)


  • Develop German bibliographic research as a resource to use regularly
  • Read current German research in areas of particular interest
  • Read German for enjoyment, including German novels or newspapers