OFF TOPIC Modern Hebrew question

Jim West jwest at
Thu May 16 12:39:28 EDT 2002

At 12:21 PM 5/16/02 -0400, you wrote:

>A distinguished professor at Hebrew U once made the comment that 
>the whole field suffers for lack of fluent control of the language(s).

we would all agree.  however- now we must decide which languages one needs
fluent control of to do biblical studies.  1) biblical hebrew; 2) LXX greek;
3) koine.  perhaps as well one should certainly be familiar with aramaic and
classical greek.  but, pray do tell, why is it necessary to read modern
hebrew to be a student of the bible?  i am extraordinarily curious as to how
reading modern hebrew or for that matter any modern language at ALL will
help one read documents well over 2000 years old.  if so- how so?  and which
modern languages must we have control of in order to meet whatever
requirements are set for us in the field of biblical studies?  and who are
these people setting the linguistic requirements anyway?  is it an
individual? a committee? when did this committee meet?  where?  for how
long?  where are the minutes of their meeting so we can examine them and see
their reasons for their choices?

in short- to suggest that if one does not read modern hebrew- or control it
(whatever that is supposed to mean) then one isnt a good scholar of ancient
texts is a gross misstatement and falsity.  one can be a profoundly good
exegete and not have any inkling of modern hebrew.

>It's hard for a school to require something at a PhD level that would 
>naturally have been expected in the first two-three years of a first

what do you mean *naturally expected*?  are you implying that nature itself
teaches us that we should have mastery of modern hebrew before we can be
competent in exegesis?  where exactly does nature teach us this lesson????

i await your articulate response.




Jim West, ThD
Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies
Quartz Hill School of Theology

Biblical Studies Resources

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