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THEL210 Introductory Biblical Hebrew B OR THEL207 Biblical Hebrew B

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, language seminars and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve individual reading of texts, preparation for class, revising grammatical paradigms and increasingly complex vocabulary, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment. 

Unit rationale, description and aim

Building on the foundation of Biblical Hebrew A and B, and in conjunction with Hebrew C, this unit introduces Biblical Hebrew texts from a variety of genres and forms (e.g., poetry) and of increasing linguistic complexity. These texts include a range from simple to complex poetic texts found both embedded in prose narratives and as components of “poetic books” such as the Book of Psalms. The emphasis will be on reading Biblical Hebrew in its literary, social and historical contexts, while the unit also enables students to engage with scholarly discussions of the poetic techniques, theological concepts, compositional history and historical background of the biblical books on the basis of detailed original language study of texts. 

Sources for ancient Hebrew outside the Bible are limited. Therefore, deep acquaintance with the various modes of discourse in Biblical Hebrew is essential to understand the meaning of the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. This unit studies how the language of poetic expression presents key social and theological concepts in Ancient Israel e.g., praise of God. This unit aims, therefore, to equip students to read complex Hebrew texts, while acquiring tools to understand the meaning of those compositions in their social, theological and historical contexts.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Identify the distinctive characteristics and techniques of poetic texts in Hebrew
LO2Apply understanding of Hebrew grammar, syntax and vocabulary to the interpretation of complex texts in their literary, theological and historical contexts
LO3Analyze linguistic expressions from multiple poetic sources and use them to describe the techniques and message of poetic compositions in the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament


Topics will include:

  • Intermediate level Hebrew grammar;
  • Translation of texts across a range of different poetic genres;
  • The literary and theological message of the texts studied;
  • The techniques of poetic expression in Hebrew;
  • The semantics of the expression of key theological concepts in the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament, such as the kingship of God.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit is normally offered in Online Scheduled mode. Students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes through highly interactive language learning and textual analysis. Students are asked to critically reflect, analyse, and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then apply what they have learned. Collaborative and peer learning is also emphasized. 

These face-to-face activities enable students to acquire and assimilate knowledge of the language, literary techniques, major theological concepts, and historical background of the Bible, particularly through modern interpretative approaches, through the presence and articulation of the lecturer and tutors. Students will be guided to develop the academic skills needed for intermediate level study of the biblical text in its original language. Students will be provided with opportunities for the development of practical skills in applying linguistic knowledge to complex research problems, as well as technologies and strategies needed for successful academic research on the Bible, including one or more of the following: flexible learning, academic writing, and academic honesty. 

THEL212 emphasises students as active, adult learners. Students are recognised as adult learners who engage best when what they are learning is relevant to them and gives them the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. In many ways, the student is the one who drives the learning forward. Active participation in this unit is essential and is at the core of its learning strategy. Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop critical thinking and reflection skills. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve an overall grade of Pass (50% or higher).

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.

The unit’s main focus is on establishing skills in translation across a range of genres while also developing students’ capacity to use developed linguistic skills to interpret texts in context. 

The first assessment task examines how well students can understand and translate complex Hebrew grammatical forms. It thus enables assessment of students’ ability to demonstrate knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. 

The second assessment task asks students to research and evaluate data from primary sources and their interpretation in secondary sources. It assesses the students’ ability to apply increasingly complex linguistic skills to the analysis of research problems in the biblical text.

The third assessment task examines translation ability, i.e., the ability to apply knowledge of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary to the interpretation of the texts, and the students’ ability to analyse significant features of texts across a range of genres and forms.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Weekly quizzes: Require students to demonstrate their understanding of Hebrew grammatical and textual phenomena.



Research task: Requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills by researching and evaluating primary and secondary sources relating to problems regarding the historical, theological and textual background of selected passages from the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Textual analysis: Requires students to demonstrate and apply linguistic and textual evaluation skills to the analysis of selected passages from the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

George Athas and Ian Young, Elementary Biblical Hebrew, 5th ed. (Sydney: Ancient Vessel Press, 2016).

William P. Brown (ed), The Oxford Handbook of the Psalms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). 

F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, On Biblical Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Samuel T. S. Goh, The Basics of Hebrew Poetry: Theory and Practice (Eugene: Cascade, 2017). 

Paul Joüon, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, translated and revised by T. Muraoka, Subsidia Biblica 27, 2nd ed. (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2006). 

Michael Wade Martin, “Does Ancient Hebrew Poetry Have Meter?” Journal of Biblical Literature 140 (2021): 503–29. 

Jacqueline Vayntrub, Beyond Orality: Biblical Poetry on its Own Terms (London: Routledge, 2019). 

Bruce K. Waltke, and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990). 

Ian Young, “Starting at the Beginning with Archaic Biblical Hebrew,” Hebrew Studies 58 (2017): 99–118.

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