The wisdom of past centuries is tied to languages. The history of the church universal is a history of diverse languages brought together, often becoming enmeshed with each other, and shaping the philosophy and theology, liturgy and commerce, politics and poetry of many traditions. The cry of “Ad fontes” has always been a call to return to the languages – not just the literature – which preserve our most seminal and sacred texts.
What is it?
Hebrew and the Jewish traditions which preserved it throughout the millenia are at the fountainhead of theology. The Apostles returned to the poetry and prophecy when defending the gospel; the martyr Stephen drew from the narratives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with these words, Christ rebuked Satan. During the 15th and 16th centuries, many Reformers dedicated their attention to the study of Hebrew. With Beza working with the Greek, Junius worked from the Hebrew for the new Latin Bible that would become the standard for the Reformers. Munster and others founded chairs of Hebrew studies. Tremellius translated the gospel of Matthew into Hebrew. As philologists, scholars, and theologians, these and other Reformers in many ways shaped the way that theologians after them would interact with and attend to the language of Moses.
We are happy to offer a range of courses in Hebrew to our growing community of Davenant students, pastors, scholars, and friends.
Calling all Hebrew Students!
Of all the theological languages, many students find Hebrew the most daunting. A different alphabet, different pronunciation, different grammar, and so many small dots! So, after the first year of grammar, perhaps a few readings, and many rules to memorize, students find that reading the Biblical text is exhausting and discouraging.
We want to bring students from deciphering and decoding to reading and writing in Hebrew.
As for all those small dots – we will show our students that they are not necessary for reading. While they sometimes clarify ambiguities, they more often act as a distraction from the task of reading. We will slowly and carefully show students through the course of the year to read unvocalized Hebrew with confidence.
Do I need to be a graduate student or seminarian to participate?
No, in fact, you do not need to currently belong to an academic institution at all. Pastors, teachers, and independent scholars are welcome as well, although most of our students are currently enrolled at graduate students or seminaries.
I'm not sure which level my current Hebrew ability is at. Which course should I enroll in?
No problem. We have placement exams, which can help us and you determine if you are ready for Introduction to Hebrew Prose. If you’re interested in enrolling but aren’t sure, make your best guess in selecting the course, and then we’ll invite you to take the appropriate placement exam, after which we can re-assess if necessary.
Is there a drop/add date?
We will not normally be allowing students to join one of the classes after the registration deadlines for each course. Students needing to drop a class will be eligible to receive a 60% refund if they drop within the first three weeks of a semester-long course or first week of an intensive course. Students dropping out of a tutorial course may do so at any time and will be refunded $25 for each tutorial unit not yet completed.
How do the live classes work?
All of our live classes use the state-of-the-art videoconferencing software, WebEx, which should work reliably for you as long as you have access to an average-speed internet connection. Recordings of each class, and any “whiteboards” used, will be saved for students who were unable to make a particular class meeting.
Does it matter what time zone I am in?
It is important that you be in a position to participate in most of the live classes in order to discuss the lessons and your work with your professor and classmate. It is our goal to schedule live class times that will fit within normal waking hours for all enrolled students, wherever they live on the globe, though obviously the times will be more convenient for some than others. We will determine the scheduled class times around the registration deadline for each course, depending on the available times indicated by all enrolling students. If the resulting time does not work for you, you will have the option of switching to a self-paced or tutorial approach.
Will I receive credit toward my degree?
Yes, you can. The decision about exactly what credit to award rests with your particular degree-granting institution, however, we currently have credit-recognition agreements in place with three institutions:
- Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (graduate-level)
- The Greystone Institute (graduate-level)
- New Saint Andrews College (undergraduate-level)
You can enroll as a part-time student at any of these institutions to receive credit which you can then transfer back to your home institution. We are in the process of hammering out similar agreements with other institutions. Also, you may request case-by-case credit recognition from your own institution and we would be happy to correspond with your academic officer to help make this possible. We have designed these courses so as to meet accreditation standards for graduate-level theological education, but we are not ourselves a degree-granting institution, and each institution makes its own decisions about if and when to award credits for courses offered by third parties.
What can I do to best prepare in advance for the classes?
Draft syllabi, along with recommendations from our instructors, will be sent out well in advance to all enrolled students.
How Does it All Fit Together?
We have three basic levels of courses—Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. The Intro and Intermediate levels are designed to take two semesters each. After completing the Intro courses, you can expect to have a good grasp of Hebrew grammar and vocabulary, though you will still be a bit unsteady on your feet when encountering actual Hebrew texts in the wild. After completing two full semesters of Intermediate courses, where you are exposed to extended readings from a wide range of theological texts, you will feel comfortable reading and translating most texts—albeit slowly. At this point we offer a range of one-semester Advanced courses, depending on demand, which give you an opportunity to really dig into more difficult texts from a given period in different genres, mastering the thought-world and Hebrew style of the period so you can translate faithfully.