JCBT 2020 Semester Program Announcement

CALL for applicants to the course for translators of the Hebrew Bible.

Rothberg International School, Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem.

Registration is now open for a five-month intensive 2020 Semester Course designed for Mother-tongue Bible Translators and Consultants-in-Training. This JCBT course is offered in conjunction with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rothberg International School, Mt. Scopus.

Upon successful completion of the course, the participants get a Hebrew University accredited certificate in translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Language of Instruction:  English
Program Schedule: February 4 to June 30, 2020
Application Deadline: September 1, 2019

Overview of the studies:  

A. The Hebrew Language (415 hrs of Hebrew)

The goal of this program is to enable a mother-tongue translator or consultant-in-training to be able to read, listen, speak and write Hebrew and gain sufficient proficiency in both vocabulary, grammar and discourse of Biblical Hebrew, in order to translate narrative texts naturally and with confidence into the mother tongue. Additionally, the course familiarizes the student with the features of BH poetry and ensures enhanced understanding of the relevant translation issues in the poetic texts.

B. The Land of the Bible (120 hrs) as the context of the Biblical text.

The JCBT program excels in introducing the context of the text by systematic study trips throughout the land of the Bible with the Biblical text in hand. The trips provide the translator more accurate and more vivid understanding of the text from personal experience of the many illustrations, similes, metaphors and images rooted in the topography, climate, agriculture, seasons and culture of the original context.  This is “Context Criticism” in action.

Students overlooking the Elah Valley – David and Goliath.


  • Working knowledge of English
  • Mother tongue translator Or Consultant in training (exceptions possible). 
  • University or seminary studies
  • Part of a Bible translation project
  • Recommendation by a consultant and a pastor
  • 48 years or younger (exceptions possible)

Acceptance to the program depends upon submission of application papers and upon passing a two-hour JCBT test in intermediate level Biblical Hebrew (Passing grade: 80%).

Deadline for application – inc. test: Sept 1st, 2020

The test requires:

  1. Parsing of the regular strong verb as well as some verbs belonging to the irregular weak verbs. The parsing relates to knowledge of the seven paradigms of the verb.
  • Knowledge of the 450 words which occur most frequently in the BH vocabulary.
  • Knowledge of prepositions and pronouns (including noun and verbal prefixes and suffixes).
  • Translation of short unseen texts: narrative, legal and prophetic.

Note: In order to assess your level of Hebrew, we are ready to send a preliminary test to be taken under supervision. This will allow us to evaluate how best to advise you about different methods of study in order to reach the level needed to succeed in passing the demanding entrance exam.

The semester program 2020:


a. Hebrew is taught as a living language in two ways:
1) The study program begins in the university language school, “Ulpan”. The emphasis is on the basics in listening, speaking, reading and writing Modern Hebrew (100 hrs).
[Over 80% of the first 1000 words learned in Modern Hebrew come directly from Biblical Hebrew.]
Continuation in spoken Hebrew during the semester will be practiced in the dormitory setting.
2) The main course of the semester is the Modified Living Biblical Hebrew course (120 hrs) developed by an Israeli linguist, Eyal Nahum.  “Students will be expected to interact, read and write in BH, the only accepted means of communication in class, as we believe that living and experiencing the language is the key to deeply understand it”.

A Student in JCBT library.

This new method has been proven successful and efficient in various academic settings. It excels in combining the speaking of Biblical Hebrew in class with the integrating of grammar usage both in speech and in the text.

b. Biblical Hebrew Readings and Grammar (90 hrs) 
The course includes extensive reading of texts while studying the advanced points of BH grammar. The finer points of the Masoretic text, such as accent marks, will also be taught. The course will be offered by a Hebrew University professor.

c. Discourse Analysis of Biblical Hebrew (45 hrs)
This course concentrates on the finer points of text analysis of the Hebrew Bible. The aim is to help the translators identify stylistic features in the source text, determine their function, and find ways of expressing equivalent meaning in the receptor language. The course is taught by a senior Bible Translation Consultant.

     d. Biblical Hebrew Poetic Text (60 hrs)
This practical course aims to give students an increasing appreciation of how Hebrew poetry works and to help them develop skills in unfolding the layers of meaning embedded in the artistry of many Biblical poetical texts in psalms, the prophets, and wisdom literature. The instructor will demonstrate how to analyze and synthesize a variety of biblical poems, and students will practice applying these principles and procedures to numerous poetical texts. The course is taught by a senior Bible Translation Consultant.

Students Studying Biblical Agriculture.

2. TEXT IN CONTEXT: Historical, Geographical, and Cultural Settings of the Hebrew Bible (120 hrs)

Lectures (45 hrs) are organized under three main topics: geographical regions, historical periods, and cultural issues. 18 field trips enable the translator to experience the sites of Biblical events, to see archaeological evidence of life in Biblical times, as well as to observe flora and fauna of the Land. In fact, the land becomes as a visual experiential dictionary of Biblical Hebrew terms. The Hebrew Bible readings on location enable the translator to understand the biblical text more accurately and more vividly.

JCBT Land Instructors:  Dr. Halvor Ronning; Brian (Baruch) Kvasnica, MA; Ronit Maoz, MA, and other instructors and visiting lecturers. 

This course is a learning experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world!


The translator’s point of view

The study program teaches language from a translator’s point of view and it utilizes study of the land to give the translator ability to detect the more vivid and accurate meanings of the Biblical text.

  • Language and land are taught mostly by specialists with translation issues in mind.
  • The course is intensive, short, economical, efficient and motivational.
  • Students are provided a home away from home so that attention can be focused almost exclusively on the studies.
The Log Home, JCBT home for the Semester Students.

How to Apply: 

The application form is available here and is to be filled out on the computer and emailed back to us. First, download the form to your computer and then fill it out using any PDF reader! Type your name for the signature.

Note: Program adjustments may be made.

Updated: March 28, 2019 — 1:20 pm