Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators:

The Home for Bible Translators since 1995

Semester Program


For translators, consultants-in-training and consultants

Semester Program: January 23 to June 23, 2017

 “Studying the Language and the Land of the Bible”


seme1This semester program – the flagship of seme2academic studies through JCBT — has been offered in conjunction with the Hebrew University since 1995. Instruction is currently either in English or French (Spanish is being considered for the future.)

This advanced academic course equips translators to work from the Bible’s original OT Hebrew Text (source language) so they may provide a more natural and accurate translation into their own mother-tongue (target language).





The student is challenged to master Hebrew as a living language by developing both spoken and written language skills.  This intensive course is enhanced by innovative study tools, such as computer and audio and video cassette learning tools in the University language laboratory as well as traditional study procedures.  Internalization of Hebrew vocabulary and grammar is enhanced when using all learning modalities—hearing, speaking, reading, and writing—and long-term retention of vocabulary and verb forms is significantly increased.  This intensive course is taught at the university prior to the Spring Semester.
Hebrew University Instructors                                      Class Hours: 100 – Academic Credits: 5




JCBT instructors will use their proven skills in teaching Hebrew with the immersion method. Living Hebrew will be spoken using the words and phrases which occur frequently in Biblical Hebrew.
The student is challenged to continue to master Hebrew as a living language by further developing reading and writing and speaking skills. Helpful software programs are available.

“I have learned that there is a sharp dichotomy between analytical learning, i.e., memorizing barrelsful of important facts and practical learning, i.e., being competent in communication.” Rachelle Wenger, graduate of JCBT, consultant to national translators in West Africa

“My ability to read, analyze, and teach the language and literature of the Bible is largely a result of linguistic fluency acquired in the study of the modern tongue.”  Dr. Aaron Hornkohl, graduate of JCBT, now lecturer in Hebrew at Cambridge University.

JCBT Instructors                                                             Class Hours: 120 –  Credits: 5 


BIBLICAL HEBREW – SECOND LEVEL              (mid Feb—May)


Biblical Hebrew grammar, syntax, and vocabulary are taught using both inductive and deductive methods. At first, grammar will be taught inductively through extensive readings of Biblical narrative texts. The reading improves ease and fluency of understanding. Secondly, a deductive summary of grammatical rules is to be given as reinforcement.
Relevant computer assisted study tools will also be introduced. The latest Bible computer programs and broadband internet studies are available.  
Instructor: Hebrew University Professor                     Class Hours: 90 – Academic Credits: 6


Tutorials in Biblical Hebrew:
The staff of JCBT will provide two hours of tutorials each week with an emphasis on developing reading skills. Additionally, selected topics related to special details of the Masoretic Text will be introduced – such as the accent marks, marginal notes and the language of the Dead Sea Scrolls.


BIBLICAL HEBREW – DISCOURSE ANALYSIS                           (May)


This course concentrates on the finer points in the structure of the paragraph and verse levels of the Hebrew text. The foregrounding and backgrounding devices of Biblical Hebrew are studied. The aim is to help the translators develop the skill of locating linguistic devices used in Hebrew and then to assist them in finding the equivalent devices in the target language that more clearly reflect the biblical meaning.
Instructor: Internationally experienced Bible translation consultant – from abroad.
                                                                                   Class Hours: 30 – Academic Credits: 2


BIBLICAL HEBREW – WORKSHOP in the Psalms and the Prophets (BH POETRY)                  (June)

100_1827Nearly two thirds of the biblical text is composed of difficult poetically styled messages. The main focus of the course will be on determining the meaning of specific texts from within their own various kinds of dramatic poetical styles.

Classes will demonstrate how to analyze and synthesize a variety of biblical poems. Students will practice applying these principles and procedures to specific assigned passages.


Field trips will illuminate life settings, images and figures of speech – using the land of the Bible as our classroom. Students will discover the Biblical world of the authors and their original audiences in order to read the poems with greater understanding of the original intentions.
Instructor: Internationally recognized Biblical Hebrew poetry expert, Murray Salisbury
                                                                                          Class Hours: 60 – Academic Credits: 4



– the pioneering vision of JCBT since 1995.


BIBLICAL HEBREW: TEXT IN CONTEXT                   (mid Feb—May)


The distinctive character of JCBT is the unique study program designed specifically for Bible translators to be taught in the Land with Bible in hand. As the original context of the Biblical text, the Land, its features, its varied climate, its fields and roadways, becomes a dramatic visual and experiential dictionary of the words and metaphors of the text.


The Land as the classroom:


The extensive field trips enable the translator to experience the reality of the sites of Biblical events, to see the archeological evidences of life in Biblical times, as well as to observe the plants and animals – so powerfully embedded in biblical similes and metaphors. The Hebrew Bible is read on location in Hebrew (and English) to enable the translator to understand the Biblical text more accurately.

The classroom lectures include the three main topics: geographical regions, historical periods, and cultural issues. Experts are invited for specialized topics like coins or calendars.
This course is a learning experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.

Instructors: Dr. Halvor Ronning, Brian Kvasnica & Inge Verschoor.
                                         18 days of field study trips and 40 hours of lectures – Academic Credits: 6




1.    Hebrew – 400 hours
2.    Study of the Context of the Text: 40 hours lectures and 18 days study trips.
3.    Total credits: 28 credits (22 Hebrew + 6 Study of the Context)
The details of the JCBT program are subject to change.


CERTIFICATE in Translation of the Hebrew Bible:

cUpon completion of this program, a Certificate in the Translation of the Hebrew Bible is granted by the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  A transcript is sent to the student. The credits are transferable to universities abroad.

Click here to see the high level of professionalism and experience of our instructors over the years.


PREREQUISITES for the Study Program:

1.    Successful completion of an exam indicating introductory knowledge of first year Biblical Hebrew vocabulary and grammar.
2.    Matters of preference for acceptance of candidates:
•    Mother-tongue translator
•    Member of a Bible translation project
•    Recommended by a translation supervisor and a pastor.
•    University education experience
•    Under 46 years of age


Application form is found here. To be able to fill the form in computer, please open it using Adobe Acrobat instead of web browser!


Note for students with families: There is an opportunity to visit home during the two week Passover vacation (April 4th – April 18th).




Print-friendly PDF presentation of this course is available here!



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