Tag Archives: Aramaic

MEMRA 2018 Registration Open Now Until January 7

I’ve gotten a couple recent emails about whether MEMRA courses will be available in 2018. Some folks on the livestream asked about it as well. It was good timing, since I had it on my list of things to think about this weekend.

I’ve decided to open up a module for 2018. I don’t know if there will be a second one in the summer. Registration is available until January 7, 2018. The courses begin on January 15, 2018. As before, courses are 52 weeks and cost $120. You will not lose access to course videos after 52 weeks. Cost of the grammars we use is not included. They must be ordered via Amazon. Click here for registration and here for information on the courses, including the required textbooks.

MEMRA courses are on ancient languages via video. Students pace themselves through the units and ask me questions about content when they like via the course platform (Canvas). The content is taught via the grammar and video. Courses offered are:

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Beginning Biblical Greek
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic
  • Beginning Ugaritic

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Review of Passion Translation of Song of Songs (Solomon): “Truly Awful”

The first few sentences of this review of the Song of Songs (aka, the Song of Solomon) in the Passion Translation (the one that is enthusiastically promoted by NAR apostles) says it all:

This translation of the Song of Songs is truly awful. As a professor of biblical studies who works with the original languages, I can assure you that this translation does not reflect either the words or the meaning of Song of Songs, contrary to what it claims. It’s not that the translation is careless—rather, it’s eisegesis. It is imposing pre-conceived ideas onto the text and then claiming that the change is due to the translation strategy. It’s terrible!

I’m honestly stunned at how off the mark this translation is. It claims to be bringing out the real meaning of Song of Songs, but it’s really just thrusting someone’s own wishful ideas about it onto the readership. If you want to understand Song of Songs, then please, avoid this translation.

The review was written by George Athas, a scholar well known to us in Hebrew Bible and Semitics. He is Director of Postgraduate Studies at Moore Theological College and Lectures in Old Testament, Hebrew and Church History.

Ordinarily, this sort of review would have me in stitches. But I’m not laughing. As I’ve blogged previously, the Passion Translation is the work of Brian Simmons, who claimed that Jesus himself told him to produce it:

As I noted earlier, the description of Simmons from the translation’s own website doesn’t provide any indication that Simmons has the skills to produce a translation from the original texts. His credential is being a linguist, church planter, and Bible translator for the Paya-Kuna people of Panama (Simmons worked with New Tribes Bible Institute). Being someone who translates the Bible into a modern language (especially a language that doesn’t have a Bible translation) does not guarantee the translator knows Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. I know that because I know people who have translated the Bible into such languages (tribal) who don’t know any of the biblical languages. They use an English translation (or whatever their own first language is) and, perhaps, tools keyed to Strong’s numbers. The results are quite serviceable, so I’m not being critical of the method. I’m being critical of the deceptive marketing. The marketing for the Passion Translation suggests it’s a translation from the originals that is chock-full of insights heretofore neglected or missed. It isn’t, as Athas notes in his review.

Another misleading aspect to all this is the way Simmons’ credentials are promoted — to create the impression he’s an original languages expert and knows what he’s doing in translation. Simmons has a doctorate, but not in biblical languages. It’s in “apostolic leadership,” whatever that means. It’s from Wagner University, named after it’s founder C. Peter Wagner, a highly-influential figure in the NAR. Here are the core courses for this doctorate, from the Wagner University website:

  • Apostolic Leadership
  • Dominion Theology and Kingdom Mandate
  • Kingdom Finances and the Great Transfer of Wealth
  • New Church Planting and Governance
  • Marketplace Ministry and BAM Movement
  • Revival, Reformation and Societal Transformation
  • World Evangelism and Cross-Cultural Missions

Here are the electives:

  • Activating Your Five-Fold Destiny
  • Apostolic Centers
  • Activating the Apostolic
  • Growth Dynamics of New Apostolic Churches
  • Apostolic Breakthrough

Sounds positively grueling.

But more to the point, I haven’t found any evidence at all that Simmons has ever taken a Greek or Hebrew course. Maybe he has, but it’s not easy to find out. But as noted above, if you’re doing translation work in new tribes and their languages, you don’t need one. You just need a good primary language translation and a procedural knowledge of the grammar of that language, semantics, and of course the target language. I think it likely, especially after Athas’ comments, is that Simmons’ began with an English translation and then went about the task of reading his charismatic theology into the text. That’s even more likely given the way Simmons described his own knowledge of the biblical languages in an interview:

[Interviewer] Jonathan Welton: “When you started this project were you, had you already had training in Greek and Hebrew? Or was this something you had to jump into again?”

Brian Simmons: “I had minimal background in biblical languages, so yeah it was something, honestly, it was something the Lord has really helped me with.” (14:52)

Awesome. Let’s stop requiring biblical languages and just let the Lord teach them to us. This is a shameful attempt to justify not being prepared for the sacred task of handling the Scriptures. It’s Idiocracy come to the Church … or attributing eisegesis to the Spirit.

The interview includes a number of mis-guided statements about Aramaic and its use in translating books that weren’t originally in Aramaic. Simmons apparently makes use of Lamsa’s ENGLISH translation of the NT in Aramaic. As I have noted a number of times, there is no evidence that the NT was composed in Aramaic, and Lamsa’s translation itself has been brutally reviewed by a real expert. The Greek NT was eventually translated into Aramaic/Syriac (Peshitta). Simmons is apparently referencing that material (no doubt mediated through Lamsa and other tools — like the ones my company creates) — and then convincing the ignorant that he’s working with primary texts. This is deceptive and misleading. It’s sort of like the things I deal with when I confront ancient aliens theorists who say ancient texts refer to alien visitation (think Zecharia Sitchin). They make claims about primary texts, inserting their own ideas into those texts. It’s either incompetence or dishonesty. Neither has a place in the Body of Christ.

 

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The Myth of an Aramaic Original New Testament

I get questions about whether the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Some really aren’t questions; they are (I presume) well-meaning people trying to inform me of the “fact” of Aramaic primacy. In light of those sorts of emails, it was nice to come across a well-written summary of why this is a myth (by a professional Aramaic translator no less) It is an even-handed discussion that goes beyond the way I try to disabuse people of the myth in a shorter, less elegant way.

I would only add that this discussion makes zero sense for the two-thirds of the New Testament written to Gentile churches. It’s really about gospel originals (and Luke must then be excluded). And there are no (as in zero) manuscripts of the New Testament that compete with the earliest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament for chronological primacy, either. Aramaic New Testaments from antiquity are all translations made a couple centuries or so after the New Testament was written in Greek.

I periodically am asked about the Lamsa translation of the Bible, which is an attempt to produce an English translation on the basis of Aramaic (Syriac) manuscripts, there is a review here. It speaks for itself (Lamsa’s translation wasn’t exactly hailed by Aramaic specialists).

 

 

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Registration for MEMRA Module 2 for 2017 Now Open

I just posted the new module registration page for the second module of MEMRA’s 2017 language courses. In case you are not familiar with my MEMRA site, here is an explanation from the landing page:

MEMRA courses provide academic content at a level similar to what would be experienced in a college or seminary course. Students are expected to put sufficient time into coursework. Dr. Heiser has created hundreds of videos to guide students in learning to read / translate each language. Students work through grammar, vocabulary, and exercises aided by these videos according to a 52-week schedule. Dr. Heiser answers student questions via posts inside the Classroom or by email.

This second (and last) module for 2017 offers courses in:

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Beginning Biblical Greek
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic
  • Beginning Ugaritic

Each course is $120 for the entire year. Students are not eliminated from the classroom site after the year is over. Textbooks are sold separately on Amazon. Textbook requirements can be found in the course descriptions.

To register for a course, click here. Registration stays open until July 3. Courses begin on July 17.

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Geek Out on Ancient Language Study for Christmas!

If you’ve wanted to learn biblical Greek or Hebrew (or maybe something even more adventurous, like biblical Aramaic or Ugaritic), now is the time. The end of registration for the first 2017 module of MEMRA (midnight, December 25) is fast approaching. These are lengthy video courses (broken down over the course of a full year) that allow you to complete a full first-year course at your own pace.

For something a lot quicker (a couple of hours), check out the video course, How to Study the Bible with Word Studies at Bible Word Nerd.

 

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Registration for MEMRA 2017 Module 1 Now Open

Registration for MEMRA ancient language courses is now open. Please bookmark the registration page. There is plenty of time to register, as registration ends on Christmas day.

MEMRA ancient languages modules are 52 weeks (one year) in duration, beginning at the start date for the module (January 2, 2017) indicated below. Courses are subject to cancellation if there is insufficient enrollment. In such cases, tuition will be fully refunded. Once a course begins there are no refunds. See the COURSES page for course descriptions and required textbooks.

Courses are $120 for the year. Textbooks are NOT included in the cost of the course.

Courses being offered are:

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Beginning Biblical Greek
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic
  • Beginning Ugaritic

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2nd MEMRA Module for 2016 – Registration Now Open

The second module for my ancient language courses (MEMRA) is now available for registration.  Here are the relevant details:

Courses Offered

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Beginning Biblical Greek
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic
  • Beginning Ugaritic

Course descriptions can be found here.  Each course has a textbook requirement not covered by the course cost. Textbooks must be ordered on Amazon or otherwise obtained by students.  The videos follow the textbook.

Registration ends June 21. After registration ends paying students will receive email instructions about accessing the course videos

Module begins July 5

Courses are 52 weeks long, though paying students retain access as long as they need it.


2nd MEMRA Module for 2016 – Registration Now Open was first posted on May 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm.
©2016 “Dr. Michael S. Heiser“. Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at webmaster@postmortaldesign.com

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2nd MEMRA Module for 2016 – Registration Now Open

The second module for my ancient language courses (MEMRA) is now available for registration.  Here are the relevant details:

Courses Offered

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Beginning Biblical Greek
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic
  • Beginning Ugaritic

Course descriptions can be found here.  Each course has a textbook requirement not covered by the course cost. Textbooks must be ordered on Amazon or otherwise obtained by students.  The videos follow the textbook.

Registration ends June 21. After registration ends paying students will receive email instructions about accessing the course videos

Module begins July 5

Courses are 52 weeks long, though paying students retain access as long as they need it.


2nd MEMRA Module for 2016 – Registration Now Open was first posted on May 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm.
©2016 “Dr. Michael S. Heiser“. Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at webmaster@postmortaldesign.com

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2nd MEMRA Module for 2016 – Registration Now Open

The second module for my ancient language courses (MEMRA) is now available for registration.  Here are the relevant details:

Courses Offered

  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Beginning Biblical Greek
  • Beginning Biblical Aramaic
  • Beginning Ugaritic

Course descriptions can be found here.  Each course has a textbook requirement not covered by the course cost. Textbooks must be ordered on Amazon or otherwise obtained by students.  The videos follow the textbook.

Registration ends June 21. After registration ends paying students will receive email instructions about accessing the course videos

Module begins July 5

Courses are 52 weeks long, though paying students retain access as long as they need it.


2nd MEMRA Module for 2016 – Registration Now Open was first posted on May 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm.
©2016 “Dr. Michael S. Heiser“. Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at webmaster@postmortaldesign.com

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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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