Delta A Team Rocket Hebrew SEALS Force 5 in Black, P.I.

Biblical Hebrew is an elective for my students, and of those who take it at all, most work it into their last year of study. In recent years, though, I have had an unusually high percentage of second-year students, and even first-year folk, learning Hebrew.

This means that they can bring their mad skillz into the advanced-level Bible courses they take later in their course of study. These are English-language courses—that is, there is not a Hebrew prereq—but the professors can be really good about finding ways for these few Hebrew-reading students to stretch their fledgling wings.

This term, my former and current Hebrew students have infiltrated courses in Jonah/Ruth, in Job, and in Judges. Like sleeper agents, they move among their classmates unseen. Like yeast, they quietly transform the unleavened dough of the English-language exegesis course. They are behind the system; beyond it: the Black Ops of biblical interpretation. They are everywhere and nowhere, ubiquitous and invisible, getting into place and preparing to blow your mind.

It’s kind of cool, is my point. Anybody else teaching biblical languages as an elective? Do your students normally get the opportunity to use it while still in their degree program?

[Delta A Team Rocket Hebrew SEALS Force 5 in Black, P.I. was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/02/09. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

2 Responses

  1. After my year of Hebrew in Lester’s boot camp I took a semester in a simple readings class, and I am now in the elective class on Ruth/Jonah. I am already feeling the joy of using my Hebrew skill to blow the minds of my peers and prof. And the prof encouraged me to do my presentation on the daunting 4th chapter of Ruth to really test and push my abilities. Before long I will be as notorious as the Hebrew Hammer.

  2. Here at HU Jerusalem, it’s tough. Everyone is a Hebrew Ninja. If you want to be top dog around here, you have to master Akkadian, Aramaic and Ugaritic jitsu as well (Egyptian, Hittite and Amharic recommended). Then again, it’s a grad program.

    I was lucky enough to have four semesters of Biblical Hebrew in my undergrad. Myself and my classmates certainly did use it as often as we could in our courses. However, I also have experienced that some teachers don’t really like having students that know enough of the biblical languages to contest their readings.

    But that was Belgium. Here in Jerusalem, all of the teachers are beasts in semitic languages. The only thing that gives me any edge these days is my ability to read the LXX.

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