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BA Latin and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Biblical Hebrew Texts II

Unit code RELT30380
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Religions & Theology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course is designed to make you fully capable of translating and grammatically (and to some extent exegetically) analysing any portion from the Hebrew Bible independently. Starting from the biblical text you will use dictionaries and grammars to translate and comment on a number of selected passages. In total we will read about ten chapters from the Hebrew Bible together, a combination of texts chosen from the Torah, Prophets and Writings. Depending on the personal interest of the students we might also read a few selected passages from a rabbinic source, such as Mishnah Avot (the “Chapters of the Fathers”). By the end of the course, you will have acquired a deep knowledge of Biblical Hebrew syntax and grammar and be able to appreciate the issues involved in translating and interpreting an ancient text, and to assess varied text-traditions. This course unit is only open to students who have successfully completed an appropriate beginners’ course in Hebrew.


  • To translate and comment on selected passages of the Hebrew Bible 
  • To deepen your knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammar acquired in the previous year 
  • To appreciate the issues involved in translating and interpreting an ancient text
  • To assess varied text-traditions

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, you will be able to:


Translation and close analysis of (1) on average ten chapters from the Hebrew Bible, including texts from the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, (2) occasionally: some selected passages from rabbinic literature, such as Mishnah Avot (the “Chapters of the Fathers”). The selected passages differ each year.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be 22 weeks of 2 hour intensive translation workshops (i.e. 44 hours in total over the full academic year). You will be expected to attend all classes and to participate fully by being prepared to translate, explain grammatical forms and syntactical constructions and analyse the critical apparatus of notes of the BHS in class. Preparation of the summatively assessed annotated translation and exam will be guided by formal advice by the course convenor.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a deep knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammar and syntax
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the value of interpreting primary sources in their original language

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate your ability to analyse an ancient text grammatically and exegetically.
  • Manage your own academic development, including reflecting on progress and taking appropriate action.

Practical skills

  • Offer your own translation of and make critical comments on the passages studied
  • Engage with the textual footnotes in the prescribed edition of the Hebrew Bible (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia)

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Manage time and resources
  • Engage in critical discussion
  • Understand the value of learning languages to access a different culture
  • Understand better the value of increasing one’s historical awareness
  • Communicate clearly in written and oral forms
  • Demonstrate an enhanced aptitude for independent work
  • Demonstrate an enhanced aptitude for self-motivation
  • Demonstrate a broad interest in language, history and culture

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Annotated translation


3,000 words




2 hours



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback on a continuous basis


Written feedback on annotated translation


Written feedback on exam


Additional one-to-one feedback available (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)



Recommended reading

Recommended early consultation:

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, originally published between 1967 and 1977 and now available in several formats. (Purchase recommended)

F. Brown, S.R. Driver and C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament or “BDB” for short. (Purchase recommended)

Lily Kahn, The Routledge Introductory Course in Biblical Hebrew, London: Routledge, 2014. (Purchase recommended)

M.H. Segal, A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927.

J. Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.

Thomas Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1974.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 44
Independent study hours
Independent study 156

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Holly Morse Unit coordinator

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