Advanced Biblical Hebrew I*
Dr. John C. Reeves
Office hours: T 5:00-6:00; R 2:30-3:30; or by appointment
*This specific course requires as its minimum prerequisite: (1) the successful completion at UNC Charlotte of ‘Introduction to Biblical Hebrew I’ and ‘II’; or (2) an equivalent sequence of introductory biblical Hebrew courses at another institution of higher learning; i.e., amounting to two semesters, three quarters, or one year; or (3) the verbal permission of the instructor.
A critical reading and translation of biblical, non-biblical, and postbiblical Hebrew prose and poetic texts. We will concentrate during the fall semester on (1) the Book of Isaiah; and (2) Numbers 19-36, with occasional attention given (where relevant) to alternative intrabiblical (or even extrabiblical) renditions of the assigned readings (e.g., from Exodus, Kings, or Chronicles), pertinent material in the early versions (primarily Targum, but also Septuagint and Peshitta), Qumran and medieval manuscripts, rabbinic midrash, and the medieval commentaries (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, et al.).
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (ed. K. Elliger, et al.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1977), or later reprints of this edition. Alternatively, one may use the relevant portions of the Miqra’ot gedolot or just about any other Hebrew language edition (e.g., Koren; Kittel; Letteris) provided there is no western translation adjacent or in near proximity to the Masoretic Text.
F. Brown, S. R. Driver, & C. A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1907). Numerous reprints.
Recommended purchases: Moreover, you will also find on the bookstore shelves two recommended titles for optional purchase which are useful tools for improving your grasp of biblical Hebrew grammar and vocabulary:
W. Gesenius, E. Kautzsch, and A. E. Cowley, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (2d ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910). Numerous reprints. This is the standard English-language reference grammar for biblical Hebrew. If you intend to be a student of biblical Hebrew philology, you will need to own and frequently study this book.
George M. Landes, Building Your Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001).
Supplementary readings and/or exercises will be assigned or distributed by the instructor as needed.
a. Diligent attendance and preparation. Almost perfect attendance is an essential requirement for this course. Each class session builds upon the knowledge gained and skills acquired during previous meetings. Moreover, oral recitation and group study/discussion comprises practically the entirety of every class session. The instructor’s assessment of one’s attendance, class preparation, oral recitation, and verbal contribution to class discussions constitutes 100% of the final course grade for undergraduates; 80% of that grade for post-baccalaureates and graduates.
b. Seminar papers (Graduates and post-baccalaureates only!). Almost every week during a portion of the class period, students will orally expound and collectively discuss the content of at least one secondary article or essay that has been previously assigned by the instructor. Individual students may be asked to initiate and guide our discussions. The readings will come from the bibliography of articles provided below. In addition to their oral contributions, graduate and post-baccalaureate students will prepare and submit a written seminar paper that concisely summarizes and critiques the major points of each assigned article or essay. Maximum length of the seminar paper will be two (2) pages. The instructor’s assessment of the seminar papers accounts for the final 20% of the course grade for graduate and post-baccalaureate students.
c. Final class. A required final class for all enrolled students will be held on the date and at the time officially mandated for the final examination for this course by the UNC Charlotte administration. Further details regarding the class will be provided later in the semester.
d. Each student is responsible for all lectures, readings, class discussions, assignments, and announcements, whether or not he/she is present when they occur.
a. The grading scale used in this course is as follows:
91-95+ A = demonstrable mastery of material; can creatively synthesize
81-90 B = some demonstrable proficiency in control of material & analysis
71-80 C = satisfactory performance of assignments; little or no analysis
61-70 D = inadequate and/or faulty understanding of material
0-60 F = unacceptable work
Moreover, a 0-70 evaluation for graduate students = U.
b. One of the requirements of this course is to complete the work of the course on time. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for late work—an illness or other emergency. ‘Emergency,’ however, does not include your social involvements, travel plans, job schedule, disk and/or printer failures, the state of your love life, your obligations to other courses, or general malaise over the state of the world. The world has been in a mess as long as anyone can remember, and most of the world’s work is done by people whose lives are a mass of futility and discontent. If you haven’t learned yet, you had better learn now to work under the conditions of the world as it is. Therefore:
1) All assignments are due at their announced dates and times. In other words (and please note well!), there will be NO MAKEUP OPPORTUNITIES scheduled. All missed assignments (these include weekly oral recitations!) will be averaged as a 0 in the computation of the course grade. No exceptions will be considered or granted.
2) For accounting purposes, letter grades bear the following values: A=95; A-=92; B=85; C+=78; C=75; D=65; F,U=30. Seminar papers are assessed according to the following formulae: √+ = A; √ = B; √- = U. An untyped seminar paper automatically receives the grade U, as do those typed submissions which violate the required parameters or which the instructor deems physically unacceptable and/or grammatically incomprehensible.
3) Since your diligent physical participation is critical for the success of this course, attendance at class meetings will be monitored by the instructor. One absence is regrettable; two absences are the limit of tolerability. Three (3) or more absences will result in an automatic F for the course. Please note that the instructor does not distinguish ‘excused’ from ‘unexcused’ absences. Unsanctioned late arrivals and early departures will be tallied as absences.
4) Policy regarding Audits: the instructor expects auditors (whether formally enrolled as such or not) to meet the same attendance, preparation, and oral participation standards as those students who are taking the course for credit. The instructor does not expect auditors to prepare and submit any written assignments.
c. The Cuneiform Studies Laboratory (located in Macy 216) houses a number of lexical and grammatical aids (both print and electronic) for the close study of biblical and postbiblical Hebrew. Please consult with the instructor for access to this learning resource and the regulations regarding its use.
d. Assistance and solicitation of criticism is your right as a member of the class. It is not a privilege to be granted or withheld. Do not hesitate to request it nor wait too late in the course for it to be of help.
Hebrew Language and Lore Bibliography
David H. Aaron, “Judaism’s Holy Language,” in Approaches to Ancient Judaism, New Series: Volume Sixteen (ed. Jacob Neusner; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 49-107.
David Goodblatt, “Constructing Jewish Nationalism: The Hebrew Language,” in his Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 49-70.
J. A. Emerton, “The Problem of Vernacular Hebrew in the First Century A.D. and the Language of Jesus,” Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 24 (1973): 1-23.
Jehoshua M. Grintz, “Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the Last Days of the Second Temple,” Journal of Biblical Literature (= JBL) 79 (1960): 32-47.
Avi Hurvitz, “The Historical Quest for Ancient Israel and the Linguistic Evidence of the Hebrew Bible: Some Methodological Observations,” Vetus Testamentum 47 (1997): 301-15.
Paul Kahle, “The Masoretic Text of the Bible and the Pronunciation of Hebrew,” Journal of Jewish Studies (= JJS) 7 (1956): 133-53.
Chaim Rabin, “The Historical Background of Qumran Hebrew,” Scripta Hierosolymitana 4 (1958): 144-61.
Milka Rubin, “The Language of Creation or the Primordial Language: A Case of Cultural Polemics in Antiquity,” JJS 49 (1998): 306-33.
William M. Schniedewind, “Qumran Hebrew as an Antilanguage,” JBL 118 (1999): 235-52.
Seth Schwartz, “Language, Power and Identity in Ancient Palestine,” Past and Present 148 (1995): 3-47.
David Stern, “The First Jewish Books and the Early History of Jewish Reading,” Jewish Quarterly Review 98 (2008): 163-202.
Emanuel Tov, “Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts from the Judaean Desert: Their Contribution to Textual Criticism,” JJS 39 (1988): 5-37.
Edward Ullendorff, “Is Biblical Hebrew a Language?” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 34 (1971): 241-55.
Steve Weitzman, “Why did the Qumran Community Write in Hebrew?” Journal of the American Oriental Society 119 (1999): 35-45.
Some Supplemental Bibliography for Assessing the Books of Isaiah and Numbers (not all of which are necessarily available in Atkins Library)
Photos of 1QIsaa can be accessed here.
Reliable modern historical-critical commentaries on Isaiah and Numbers are:
Klaus Baltzer, Deutero-Isaiah: A Commentary on Isaiah 40-55 (trans. Margaret Kohl; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001).
Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible 19; New York: Doubleday, 2000).
______, Isaiah 40-55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible 19A; New York: Doubleday, 2002).
______, Isaiah 56-66: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible 19B; New York: Doubleday, 2003).
John Goldingay and David Payne, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Isaiah 40-55 (2 vols.; London & New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006).
George Buchanan Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Numbers (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1903).
______, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, I-XXXIX (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912).
Otto Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12: A Commentary (trans. John Bowden; 2d ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983).
______, Isaiah 13-39: A Commentary (trans. R. A. Wilson; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974).
Rolf P. Knierim and George W. Coats, Numbers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).
Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 1-20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible 4; New York: Doubleday, 1993).
______, Numbers 21-36: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible 4A; New York: Doubleday, 2000).
Jacob Licht, Perush ‘al sefer Ba-midbar (3 vols.; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1984-95).
Jacob Milgrom, Numbers: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation (JPS Torah Commentary; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990).
Martin Noth, Numbers: A Commentary (trans. James D. Martin; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968).
Marvin A. Sweeney, Isaiah 1-39: With an Introduction to Prophetic Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).
Hans Wildberger, Isaiah: A Commentary (trans. Thomas H. Trapp; 2 vols.; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991- ).
H. G. M. Williamson, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Isaiah 1-27 (3 vols.; London & New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006).