Biblical Hebrew is the language in which most books of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) are written, alongside Aramaic. It is also found in inscriptions and manuscripts, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hebrew ceased to be spoken in late antiquity but continued to be written until it was revived as a spoken language (nineteenth century).
Studying Biblical Hebrew is essential to a critical study of the Bible. Many features of the language cannot be rendered in translation, such as puns and ambiguous expressions. As foundations to many Western cultures, biblical texts offer a deeper understanding of literary, artistic, religious, and philosophical traditions. In Biblical Hebrew, you will cover the following topics:
- learn the Hebrew alphabet,
- read Biblical Hebrew texts aloud,
- learn Hebrew vocabulary and grammar,
- learn idiomatic Biblical Hebrew expressions,
- gain an insider's view on how ancient Hebrew speakers conceived human experience,
- compare translations of the Bible to the Hebrew text,
- translate simple (HEB 131) to difficult (HEB 232) Biblical Hebrew texts,
- be acquainted with the main manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible,
- read ancient manuscripts in Hebrew (HEB 232).
In addition to Biblical Hebrew courses, you can explore related topics in the following courses:
- "Literary Readings of the Hebrew Bible" (HEB 316),
- "Judaism and the Beginnings of Christianity" (HEB 411),
- "Hebrew Bible" (REL 315).
Studying Biblical Hebrew can prepare you for virtually any job. Learning an ancient language, especially one that is so intimately connected with Western cultures, gives insights and critical skills that will inform any profession. Our students come from all disciplines,
- from psychology to
- engineering to
- business, etc.
Biblical Hebrew at ASU is a four-semester curriculum (with levels 3 and 4 repeatable for credit). It is among the possible requirements for the
- Minor/Certificate in Jewish Studies
- and for the Certificate in Medieval/Renaissance Studies.
- It is also a possible concentration for the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Jewish Studies).
Successful completion of the curriculum satisfies ASU’s second language requirement. While these programs listed incorporate studies in Biblical Hebrew, you can add this credential to anything you might be studying! Contact our advisors to find out how you can make it happen!
Solis Diaboli (“Devils of the Sun”) is ASU’s Classics club. Anyone interested in any aspect of the classical world is welcome to join. The club schedules a number of fun activities each year, such as classical movie nights, “meet the professor” get-togethers, and a homecoming costume contest including ASU’s only historically accurate togas.
Eta Sigma Phi
Eta Sigma Phi, the Classics Honors Society, takes its members from students who have succeeded in Greek and Latin language study. ASU’s chapter initiates new members each spring. The club supports Classics events at ASU and provides an avenue for students to submit papers to an annual national conference.
Apples + Archaeology
Apples and Archaeology is an outreach program of the Central Arizona chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America. They send archaeologists and other scholars of antiquity to K–12 classrooms in the Phoenix area for special presentations about the ancient world.
The Fall Forum brings high school Latin students from across Arizona to the ASU Tempe campus for a day of presentations, activities, and contests about the ancient Mediterranean world. It usually occurs in October or November. Send an email to Almira Poudrier if you’d like to participate.
“I enrolled in the first semester of Biblical Hebrew simply […] to increase my understanding of the Bible. While I indeed received the basic understanding I wanted, I had not expected that the process would be so much fun! It was a thrilling experience to begin translating texts so quickly, and in my case, it became addicting. Add to this the infectious enthusiasm of the instructors for the language, and I simply had to keep enrolling each semester.”