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HEB800 Hebrew Exegesis II


I took this class as a LiveCast in the Winter semester of 2015. Twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I was at my computer in Quebec and was beamed into Caronport by Google Hangouts.  Another MABLE student was also e-commuting to the class.

I was excited by the number, though.  There were perhaps a dozen college students in the class.  Back when I was in college, Hebrew was a vastly undiscovered secret, and there were only five of us by the time we hit Exegesis II (3 Seminary students, and two of us college guys)

Preparation and prerequisites

I already took this class in the summer of 2004, but the MABLE degree requires taking it twice, so the first one counted as advanced standing.  The passages change each time, so it’s always new material.  This semester was passages from Jeremiah, Proverbs and Psalms.

To make sure I was up to speed, I spent several months in 2014 reviewing vocabulary, and rereading some of my textbooks from college (I read Introducing Biblical Hebrew by Allen Ross and A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew: Second Edition by Jouon and Muraoka -cover to cover).  I didn’t attempt to learn any new vocabulary, but got back to where I had left off in college.

During the Fall semester of 2014, I got my hands on the syllabus for the current Hebrew Exegesis I class, and quietly followed along, translating everything at the same rate as the syllabus.

While I was on campus for the Leadership and Management Foundations class, I sat in on the Hebrew class (they met at lunch time), and was able to participate with the translations I had been working on.

Also while on campus, I went to the library to look at commentaries, since we had to choose between a couple of options, and I wanted to make an informed decision.  There was also one new book in the Hebrew Exegesis I syllabus, which I managed to acquire in the bookstore: A Simplified Guide to Bhs: Critical Apparatus, Masora, Accents, Unusual Letters & Other Markings.  This book had been really hard to find online for a decent price, so I was glad for the campus textbook store for this one!  It’s only 70 pages, but is a handy little resource.

There were other assumed books that I already had: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia ( BHS ):, Brown – Driver – Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon, and the Students Vocabulary for Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic

Work Load:

Intense, but not too bad.  I was glad it was the only class I was taking that semester.  The work load was manageable, but you had to stay on top of it.  I felt well prepared and confident throughout the class.

Secondary reading: 10%

We had to read all of Williams Hebrew Syntax, while making notes. The notes boiled down to making a quick reference guide for yourself (like if you see a genitive, your cheat sheet has a quick list of all the uses of the genitive).  I actually got the Kindle version of the book, since it was cheaper, but found I was at a slight disadvantage whenever the book was used in class, since the professor would always refer to page numbers.  I survived, though.  We had to have Williams read by the end of January.

While translating passages, we also had to read from a commentary on the same passage, so we had to get a commentary on Jeremiah, which I now have tucked into my digital library somewhere.

As well, it was recommended we get commentaries on Proverbs and Psalms, but not required. Students on campus could simply go the library and read the copies they had on reserve.  I didn’t have that option.  I already had a Psalms commentary from my Psalms class (not the same one in the syllabus, but the reading report was due before we even got to the Psalms passages, so Psalms commentaries were entirely optional.  I had time, so I read them anyway). I decided to buy the Proverbs commentaries by Bruce Waltke.
The Book Of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15

The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 15-31

Waltke’s commentaries cost more (still cheaper than moving to campus for a semester, although I’m not sure I like his covers), but I liked his theology better than the Fox commentaries, which were the other options.

Quizes (10%)

There was a vocabulary quiz every week, working through the lists in Larry Mitchel’s book mentioned above.  I had actually just finished relearning all that before the semester started, so I found the vocab tests easy.  At the end of the semester, I was regretting not challenging myself to learn more anyway.  Too late, now.

Online Review (10%)

We had to keep a log, spending 15 minutes three times a week on animatedhebrew.com.  What was fun about this was that the website is maintained by Charles Grebe, who was the intern for my original Hebrew professor back in college.  Back then, he was just starting to toy with the idea of digital Hebrew lessons.  I started at the beginning of the lessons, and some members of my family learned a bit of Hebrew as well.  (Who needs TV?  Apparently it’s a big event when Daddy is watching Hebrew videos).

Notebook/Homework Assignments (40%)

The professor handed out a 90 page course pack during Hebrew Exegesis I, and the students continued using it in this class.  He emailed me a digital copy.  So while the students on campus were writing out their work by hand, then handing in their notebooks each week (which meant they couldn’t do any more for a day or two until they got it back),

I printed off pages, wrote all over them, scanned them, and emailed the scan (which meant I never experienced not having access to the course pack).  This was the bulk of the homework.  I would translate through a passage, answer exegetical questions from the notebook, and then read the commentary section to go with the passage.  Twice a week.  Since class was on Mondays and Wednesdays, it was a short turn around for Wednesday’s class, so I often did the work for both between Thursday and Saturday.

1500-1800 word Exegetical paper (15%)

This assignment wasn’t too bad.  I turned my attention to it once I was done the Williams textbook, and was able to write it well in advance of the due date.  I wrote on Jeremiah 33:19-26, waxing eloquent about the “Covenant of the Day”.  I sent a draft to the teacher before getting into polished editing, and it turned out there was a specific format the professor wanted us to follow, which I missed from last semester.  Good thing I asked!  I actually had to reformat the entire project (which sounds worse than it was).  I kept both versions of the paper.  I found that it was difficult to find many journal articles on my passage.  Perhaps there’s still plenty of scholarship that can be done on Jeremiah.

Final Exam (15%)

This was open book on a couple passages from the semester.  We had to translate, parse, and make exegetical comments.


Other comments

During the semester, I tried to listen to Hebrew at least once a day, using free mp3 files from Mechon-Mamre.  I downloaded the chapters for the passages we were working on in class.  Sometimes I followed along in my Hebrew Bible, sometimes I just listened.  I usually found time to squeeze this in while making a meal for the family.  I found this helpful, as the passages we were working on were constantly in my mind.  I was confident at the final exam.




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