Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators:

The Home for Bible Translators since 1995

Intensive Semester Program for Translators

Semester Program








 “Studying the Language and the Land of the Bible”


This semester program – the flagship of academic 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 Language of the Hebrew Bible

Four Classes (21 credits)


1. Introduction to Hebrew as a Living Language  (Winter Ulpan until mid-February)


The student is challenged to begin learning Hebrew as a living language by developing both spoken and written language skills. Along with traditional approaches, this intensive course is enhanced by innovative study methods, including audio and video learning tutorials in a University language laboratory setting. Internalization of Hebrew vocabulary and grammar is encouraged through hearing, speaking, reading and writing Hebrew. This immersion approach leads to long-term retention of vocabulary and verb forms.

Hebrew University Instructors

Class Hours: 100     Credits: 5

2. Biblical Hebrew Ulpan – Second Level  (mid Feb—May)

The instructor, Eyal Nahum, is an experienced Hebrew teacher. Having taught Modern Hebrew at Rothberg for a number of years Eyal developed his own materials for teaching Biblical Hebrew using a similar methodology to that of the Modern Hebrew Ulpan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. combined with other modern techniques for full-immersion language teaching (e.g. TPR, Storytelling, etc.).

Eyal has been teaching Biblical Hebrew for 6 years using this method. Classroom instruction and interaction is conducted in Biblical Hebrew. This allows students to internalize the language supporting their memory and analytical skills in the language, exploiting the four major language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. The book to be used in the course (“מבראשית”) was written by Eyal Nahum and is the fruit of many years of teaching Biblical Hebrew as a foreign language (to be published in 2018).

“I have learned that there is a sharp dichotomy between analytical learning, i.e., memorizing barrels-full 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.

Instructor: Eyal Nahum is a native Israeli with a MA degree in linguistics.

Class Hours: 120   Credits: 6

3. Extensive Readings in the Hebrew Bible and Discourse Analysis

This course will be taught in two parts.

Part one will be taught by taught by two Hebrew university trained Ph.D level scholars. The goal of the course is to teach the students how to work through a new Hebrew text so that they can fully understand its original meaning. This process then provides the source meaning which the mother-tongue translator puts into the receptor language.

Part two will be taught by Dr. Noah Lee, a senior Bible translation consultant. Dr. Lee will increasingly introduce discourse analysis related issues in the text, teaching how to identify and interpret the discourse structure of Hebrew texts. He will also focus on challenging points of text in order to teach methods of exegesis and principles of Bible translation  

Instructors:   Two Hebrew University trained Ph.D level scholars and Dr. Noah Lee

Class Hours: 120     Credits: 6


4. Biblical Hebrew Poetry – A Workshop  (in 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.

This practical course aims to give students an increasing appreciation of how Hebrew poetry works and to help them develop their skills in unfolding the layers of meaning embedded in the artistry of many Biblical poetical texts.

A main emphasis will be on determining the meaning of units of text from within their own various kinds of context. They will learn to discover the Biblical world of the authors and their original audiences in order to read the texts through their eyes. Classes will demonstrate how to analyze and synthesize a variety of biblical poems and students will practice applying these principles and procedures to several assigned poetical texts.

Instructor:  Murray Salisbury, internationally recognized biblical Hebrew poetry expert

Class Hours: 60             Credits: 4

In addition to these four courses:

  1. Modern Hebrew Classes will continue from February 22 to May 31 for 4 hours a week (without credit), assisting students to internalize the Hebrew language and more easily comprehend and memorize vocabulary. 
  2. Additional Practice with Hebrew speakers who will at times be present for evening meals to provide students an opportunity to dialogue and listen to Hebrew.
  3. Personal Assistance during set times each week when Adam Van Goor (MA in Biblical Exegesis from Wheaton College and BA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) will be available to help students with questions about their Hebrew studies.

The Context of Hebrew Scripture

 Historical Geography and Cultural Backgrounds: Text in Context 

(Mid-February through May)

Since the land serves as a visual experiential dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, this course is a learning experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world! 

40 hours of classroom lectures are organized under three main topics:

  • geographical regions,
  • historical periods, and
  • cultural issues.

The 18 field trips enable translators

  • to experience the sites of Biblical events,
  • to see archaeological evidence of life in Biblical times, 
  • to observe flora and fauna of the Land.

The Hebrew Bible readings on location help translators to understand biblical text more accurately.

JCBT Instructors: Dr. Halvor Ronning and Brian Kvasnica, Ph.D. candidate Heb. Univ. 

Class Hours: 40 classroom hours + 18 days of field trips        Credits: 6


Additional Information 

Certificate in the Translation of the Hebrew Bible 

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

Expertise of Present and Former Instructors 

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

Prerequisites for Acceptance

  • Candidate must successfully complete an exam, indicating adequate knowledge of first year Biblical Hebrew vocabulary and grammar.
  • Preferences 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

Downloadable PDF Forms

  • Semester Program Application form is found here.   (Note:To be able to fill the form on your computer, please open it using Adobe Acrobat instead of web browser.)
  •  A print-friendly PDF document of the Semester Program is available here.
  • Costs for the Semester Program are discussed here.


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