OFF TOPIC Modern Hebrew question

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at
Sat May 18 03:15:13 EDT 2002

When I was a student at Hebrew U, a popular joke had it that that German is the most important Semitic language, because you need it to learn all the other Semitic languages. Today, in order to be a serious student of Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages, you must know how to read the proliferous professional literature in Hebrew. How can one study Deuteronomistic literature without reading up on all Moshe Weinfeld has written? Can one do without Yair Zakovitch's studies on stylistic-literary phenomena in the Bible? 
Anyonje who doesn't think that Modern Hebrew is at least as important as German or English for the study of the Tanakh is obviously ignorant of Israeli scholarly work (and of Modern Hebrew).
However, I really don't see the need to conduct Hebrew Bible classes in Hebrew in the U.S., though making it an elective might be useful for improving students' reading proficiency in Modern Hebrew professional literature.
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
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