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Biblical Hebrew: Language and texts

Level 5 - DT2002-03

This module will enable students to develop both a thorough grounding in the Biblical Hebrew language and the necessary knowledge to perform translations, analysis and exegesis of the Hebrew Bible in its original language. 

The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is a key text in the study of Divinity and a deep understanding of this text is crucial for historical, theological, and narrative analysis. As the text is composed almost completely in Biblical Hebrew, knowledge of this ancient language is a vital tool for developing that deep understanding.

Topics covered

Main topics of the module include:

  • The Hebrew alphabet, vocalisation, syllabification and tone, the definite article, the conjunction waw (units 1-4)
  • Nouns (gender and number); Verb conjugations: qal qatal, yiqtol, wayyiqtol (5-8)
  • Adjectives, demonstratives, the construct chain (formation and use) (9-13)
  • Possessive suffixes, personal pronouns, suffixes on prepositions, cardinal numbers (14-18)
  • Verb conjugations: qal weqatal, active participle, volitives, infinitives construct and absolute (19-23)
  • The qal passive participle, stative verbs, ordinal numbers, object suffixes on verbs (24-27)
  • Verbal stems: the nifal, hifil, hofal (27-29)
  • Verbal stems: the piel, pual, hitpael (30-32)
  • Weak roots: I/II/III-guttural, III-alef, III-he, I-alef (33-36)
  • Weak roots: I-n, I-y/w, hollow, geminate; minor stems (37-40)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be expected to be able to: 

Knowledge and understanding 

  • Recall common Biblical Hebrew words, roots, and forms;
  • Read and translate original texts in Biblical Hebrew, with the aid of a dictionary.

Intellectual and cognitive skills 

  • Conjugate strong and weak verbal roots in all verbal stems;
  • Parse Biblical Hebrew words and analyse their morphology;
  • Analyse common Biblical Hebrew syntactical structures.

Practical and transferable skills 

  • Memorise words and patterns;
  • Be prepared to perform exegesis of Biblical texts with reference to the original language.

Assessment

A 3-hour unseen written examination (100%).