So What is it that we do?

Concise Summary of the training programs

of the Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators

The vision and work of JCBT, from its beginning in 1995, is based on the necessity of equipping mother tongue Bible translators with the tools and information that are essential to the task of conveying the message of the Hebrew Bible to their own people.


The basic four components of the studies offered at JCBT are as follows.

  1. ONE SEMESTER PROGRAM of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem

(5 months and 7 days).

(prerequisite: successfully complete exam equivalent to one year of biblical Hebrew vocabulary and grammar).

  1. Hebrew language: Spoken Hebrew, Living Biblical Hebrew by modified immersion, Readings and Grammar, as well as textual studies in separate courses in Discourse Analysis and Hebrew Poetry (by senior Bible translation consultants).

Details: Spoken Hebrew – 100 academic hours; Living Biblical Hebrew by modified immersion method – 120 ac. hours; Readings and grammar of Biblical Hebrew – 75 ac. hours; Discourse Analysis – 45 ac. hours; Biblical Hebrew Poetry – 60 ac. hours. Total: 400 ac. hours of Hebrew. Credits – 23

  •  Land of the Bible as the visual and factual context of the Biblical text via comprehensive, translation focused, 18 days of study tours (by JCBT guides) in the land, along with 40 ac. hours of lectures in pertinent subject matters (by JCBT staff and visiting lecturers). Details: The course requires reports, short paper and a final test. Credits: 6

Successful completion of the semester program: a certificate of participation and 29 transferable Hebrew University credits.

Achieved: The translator is able to speak rudimentary modern Hebrew and read and understand Biblical Hebrew narrative texts with ease and able, with tools, to tackle poetic texts of the Hebrew Bible in Prophets, Psalms and Proverbs.

  1. LAND OF THE BIBLE SHORT TERM COURSES – in service of consultants and translators

JCBT has pioneered the realization of role of CONTEXT of Scripture in understanding the finer details of the message. It is common knowledge that the context of the target language has been a primary focus in previous years. The time has come to balance these two contexts by increasing emphasis on the context of the source text to achieve a fuller and more factual understanding of the original text.

Since 2010 JCBT has provided a new unique service to translators, consultants and leaders. The need is great as indicated by the level of interest in Bible translation circles. Some 6 – 10 short term courses are now being offered every year so that more than 400 participants have attended. Many Bible translation agencies have sponsored these programs, such as Seed Company, D.O.O.R., and UBS. In fact, UBS signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016 that they will send 4-5 groups every year – translators, consultants and CEOs from around the world. This has required instruction in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. JCBT itself has sponsored one such course in Chinese.

Description of a short term program:

The short term program is usually 14 days, including arrival and departure. It consists of introductory lectures followed by intensive days of touring of biblical locations while the guide focuses on facts and characteristics relevant for a Bible translator. Often the features of the land of the Bible may be even radically different from the home countries of the translators. A tour like this serves to prevent misunderstandings, and in fact adds rich additional resources such as many museums and archeological excavations which are available in the land where the scriptures were written. Subject matters include topography, climate, seasons, animals, plants and agriculture, but also economic, social, religious, cultural and military settings as well as the historical aspects of the biblical backgrounds.


JCBT is committed to training Deaf translators and consultants in the Land of the Bible. 

As part of this goal, JCBT has already hosted three study tours for Deaf Bible translators. In September 2019, JCBT will host another study tour for Deaf participants from Deaf Missions, APSDA, and GSLT. 

JCBT has also been involved in establishing a translation project of the Hebrew Bible into Israeli Sign Language. This translation project will not only benefit the local Deaf community, but the translation will also serve as a source text for other sign language Bible translations – since no sign language has a translation of the Hebrew Bible. The involvement of Israeli Deaf in the translation project will also enrich their ability to contribute to the education of other Deaf translators coming to JCBT for training.


NT 2 OT course: Biblical Hebrew course by modified immersion method for New Testament consultants (offered annually in August).

Special advanced study seminars on the poetical texts of the Hebrew Bible:

One book at the time: the book of Psalms (by Dr. Ernst Wendland and Dr. Lynell Zogbo) –3 week course (Oct. 28 – Nov. 16, 2018).

Poetical texts of the prophets – 3 week course (Oct. 26 – Nov.13, 2019)

by Dr. Ernst Wendland and Dr. Lynell Zogbo.

The book of Proverbs – 3 week course (Oct. – Nov. 2020) by Murray Salisbury.


JCBT is founded because of the urgent need for TRAINING of BIBLE TRANSLATORS with a solid base for understanding and translating the Hebrew text to a mother tongue. JCBT offers a short and efficient study program for providing the textual and contextual tools needed for understanding and communicating the Biblical message. Our slogan is “study the language of the Bible in the Land of the Bible”.

Summary submitted by Dr. Halvor Ronning and Mirja Ronning, directors of JCBT.


Updated: January 8, 2019 — 8:04 pm