Biblical Hebrew I
Dr. John C. Reeves
Office hours: WF 2:00-3:00; or by appointment
Quid ibi laboris insumpserim, quid sustinuerim difficultatis, quotiens desperaverim quotiensque cessaverim et contentione discendi rursus inceperim … et gratias ago domino, quod de amaro semine litterarum dulces fructus capio. When englished: ‘What efforts I spent on that task (i.e., learning Hebrew), what difficulties I had to face, how often I despaired, how often I gave up and then in my eagerness to learn began again … I thank the Lord that from a bitter seed of learning I am now plucking sweet fruits!’ — Jerome, Epistula 125.12.
This course is the first half of an introduction to biblical Hebrew which encompasses two consecutive semesters of study. We will master the ‘aleph-bet,’ build vocabulary, and learn the rudiments of classical Hebrew grammar. During the second half of the semester, we will begin reading and translating some simple narrative and verse selections drawn from Bible itself.
Jacob Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (2d ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959).
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (ed. K. Elliger, et al.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1977).
Supplementary readings and/or exercises will be assigned or distributed by the instructor as needed.
a. Diligent attendance. 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 comprises a significant portion of almost every class session; if you are not present to recite or otherwise participate, a value of 0 for this portion of your grade is the inevitable result. The instructor’s assessment of one’s attendance, class preparation, daily written homework exercises, and oral recitation will constitute 40% of the final course grade.
b. Frequent quizzes and exams. In order to reinforce the knowledge gained both inside and outside the classroom, students should anticipate a high number of quizzes and examinations, all of which will be progressively cumulative in nature. Some of these may not be announced in advance. Hence one should prepare for every class meeting as if a test were assigned for that day. The instructor’s assessment of one’s performance on quizzes and exams will constitute 40% of the final course grade.
c. Final examination. A final examination will be held on the date and at the time officially mandated for this course by the UNC Charlotte administration (presently scheduled for Wednesday, December 14 at 11:00-1:30). Further details regarding the final examination will be provided later in the semester. The final examination accounts for 20% of the final course grade.
d. Each student is responsible for all lectures, class discussions, assignments, and announcements, whether or not he/she is present when they occur. N.B.: there will be no class on Wednesday, October 12 (Yom Kippur).
a. The grading scale used in this course is as follows:
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 examinations will take place only upon their announced dates and times. In other words (and please note well!), there will be NO MAKEUP EXAMS scheduled. This of course includes unannounced ‘pop-quizzes.’ All missed exams, quizzes, and homework assignments are tallied as a 0 in the computation of the course grade. No exceptions will be considered or granted.
2) Written homework exercises* will be collected in class prior to our collective consideration of them; no exercises will be accepted at any time after their collection. Those assignments for which a roman font is used must be typed and double-spaced; apart from assignments requiring Hebrew print or script, no handwritten exercises will be accepted. Should you need to refer to your written work during recitation (which I would recommend), be sure to make yourself a second copy before class. Written homework exercises are assessed according to the following formulae: √+ = A- (roughly 5 or fewer errors); √ = C+ (roughly 6-20 errors); √- = D (more than 20 errors and/or incomplete work).
3) For accounting purposes, letter grades bear the following values: A=95; A-=92; B=85; C+=78; C=75; D=65; F=30.
4) Attendance at class meetings will be monitored by the instructor. Please note that the instructor does not distinguish ‘excused’ from ‘unexcused’ absences. Unsanctioned late arrivals and early departures will be tallied as absences and graded accordingly. Seven (7) or more absences over the span of the semester will generate an automatic F for the 40% of your course grade that is dependent upon attendance and class participation.
c. 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.
*Almost every class meeting will conclude with the assignment of readings and written homework drawn usually from Weingreen. Unless stated otherwise, such written assignments fall due at the next class meeting.
Recommendations for Success in the Study of Biblical Hebrew
1. Strive to spend at least 30 minutes per day (including weekends and holidays) studying and reviewing grammatical rules, paradigms, and vocabulary. Once these have been reasonably mastered, spend that same time (every day!) simply reading aloud portions of Weingreen’s exercises or passages from a biblical text.
2. The best way to learn and review vocabulary is to use homemade or pre-printed ‘flashcards.’
3. Form a study-group with two or three of your classmates in order to practice vocalization and reading skills.
4. DO NOT MISS CLASS!