Tag Archives: Ancient Languages

Registration for MEMRA 2016, Module 1, Now Open

The first MEMRA module will begin January 11, 2016. Registration is now open.

Four courses are being offered:

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew (140+ videos)
  • Beginning Biblical Greek (130+ videos)
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic (140+ videos)
  • Beginning Ugaritic (50+ videos)

See the Course Descriptions for the required textbook for each course.

Each course is plotted out over 52 weeks. Students work through the videos and the required textbook on their own, at their own pace. Some go faster than the units are laid out; others go slower. (You won’t lose access to the videos after the 52 week mark). Courses are delivered via a CANVAS environment and interact with me with questions or comments via CANVAS discussions or email.

Each 52-week course is $120.

Registration for the first  MEMRA module of 2016  will end right after Christmas (Dec 27, 2015), two weeks before the module begins.  The two week interval is designed for students to get acclimated to the classroom environment and to make sure textbooks are in hand.  During the two-week interval students will receive instructions on how to access the classroom.


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Hand Drawing Cuneiform

I found this blog this morning via Twitter. It’s a new one, and begins with how to use Adobe Illustrator to trace out cuneiform tablets. I don’t have Illustrator, but if anyone in the graphic arts community knows of a similar (free) online tool for tracing like this, I’d appreciate it. I know it’s clunky with a mouse, but I might just be able to use something like this in a future MEMRA hieroglyphics course. I think it would help students learn to draw the glyphs.


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Were the Gospels Originally Written in Aramaic or Hebrew?

I’m often asked this question, so it was nice to come across this paper by Jan Joosten online.

Joosten Aramaic or Hebrew behind_the_Gospels

Joosten is an excellent scholar in Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, and Hebrew. This is a worthwhile (and sane) introduction to the issue.

Readers will note that eventually Joosten gets to Matthew 1:23, where Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14. He makes the point that to Hebrew or Aramaic readers, the term almah would have been ambiguous (i.e., they wouldn’t have thought of virgin). That’s overstated. On lexical grounds, it has merit, but it’s a fact of the OT that almah — due to its interchange with betulah, the more precise word for virgin, and the culture, an almah could be conceived of as a virgin. Here’s a short popular essay I wrote on the subject, posted here some time ago.

At any rate, Joosten doesn’t bring up Matt. 1:25. Two verses after his quotation of Isa 7:14, Matthew makes the comment that Joseph didn’t “know” Mary until after Jesus was born. If the gospels had been written in Hebrew or Aramaic, that’s an idiom that would have been completely understood by an audience speaking either language as a denial of sexual intercourse between Joseph and Mary, far more readily than Greek speakers.

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