Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew

About the major

In the Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew major, you will learn how to read the Bible, both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament, in a more informed and responsible way, exploring narrative, law, poetic, wisdom, prophetic and apocalyptic texts. Junior Biblical Studies units deal with the biblical text in English and teach the methods needed in order to understand what biblical books were trying to communicate in their ancient setting, the foundation of all further discussion about the message of these books. Senior units build on these skills with the English text and introduce you to the methods necessary to understand each distinctive type of biblical literature. As part of the major, you are encouraged to take courses in classical Hebrew that will enable you to translate and understand the scriptures in their original language. The language courses expose our students to the multiple levels of pre-Modern Hebrew, focusing on the Bible but also studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient inscriptions as well as the writings of the sages and medieval commentaries on the Bible. Students who choose to learn Classical Hebrew acquire skills for advanced research on the Bible required for postgraduate study. Whatever combination of units you choose, by the end of the major, you will have mastered skills for better understanding the biblical texts in their ancient historical, literary, and cultural context.

Requirements for completion

A major in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew requires 48 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level units
(ii) 18 credit points of 2000-level units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level Interdisciplinary Project units

A minor in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew requires 36 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level units
(ii) 18 credit points of 2000-level units
(iii) 6 credit points of 3000-level units

First year

The units available in first year are: BBCL1001 Reading Bible: Narrative, Law and Ritual, BBCL1002 Biblical Themes: Joshua to Kings, HBRW1111 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew 1 and HBRW1112 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew 2.
The introductory BBCL units teach the skills necessary to understand what the biblical texts were trying to communicate in their ancient context, and what literary techniques they used in narrative, law and ritual texts. This is the basic foundation for future academic study of the Bible and its message. The foundation HBRW units teach the skills necessary to translate Classical Hebrew texts. They are beginners’ level units which lay the groundwork of grammar and translation skills by working with Biblical texts of a relatively easy level, generally narrative.

Second year

The 2000 level units build on the basic methodological approach taught in the first year units, and cover other main types of biblical literature. The Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew major offers a unique opportunity for students to decide the focus of their study. They may decide, for example, to focus solely on the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament, or they may include units on the New Testament, or they may decide that they will pursue a Hebrew language focus. 2000 level units include BBCL2603 Destruction and Messianism in Prophecy, BBCL2607 Poetry in the Bible, BBCL2609 From Historical Jesus to Written Gospels, BBCL2610 The New Testament Literature, HBRW2623 Hebrew Classical 3, HBRW2625 Hebrew Classical 5, HBRW2631 Reading Hebrew 1, and HBRW2632 Reading Hebrew 2.

Third year

The 3000 level units introduce the students to complex problems in the field of Biblical Studies in BBCL3601 Daniel and Revelation as Apocalypses, and BBCL3602 Job, Proverbs and Other Biblical Wisdom, as well as advanced level study of the Classical Hebrew language in HBRW3601 Hebrew Classical Advanced 4, and HBRW3602 Hebrew Classical Advanced 6.

Honours

If you commenced your degree prior to 2018, admission to honours requires a major in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew with an average of 70% or above, normally including at least two Classical Hebrew units of study.

If you commenced your degree in 2018, admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew with an average of 70% or above, normally including at least two Classical Hebrew units of study. You will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major, prior to commencing honours.

A high proportion of students who major in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew continue to an honours year.

An example of a combination of units for honours would consist of BBCL2603, BBCL2607, BBCL3601, BBCL3602, HBRW2631 and HBRW2632.

The honours program allows students in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew to undertake advanced seminars on biblical compositions and themes, and write a research thesis on a topic of their choice.

Advanced coursework

The requirements for advanced coursework in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew are described in the degree resolutions for the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies.

24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2019.

Contact/further information

Website: sydney.edu.au/arts/hebrew_biblical_jewish_studies

For further information on the Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew major, contact:
Dr Gili Kugler at
A/Prof Ian Young at

Example pathways

Example pathway 1, Non-Language Focus:
First year:

BBCL1001 Reading Bible: Narrative, Law and Ritual and BBCL1002 Biblical Themes: Joshua to Kings

Second year:
BBCL2603 Destruction and Messianism in Prophecy and BBCL3601 Daniel and Revelation as Apocalypses [or: BBCL2607 Poetry in the Bible and BBCL3602 Job, Proverbs and Other Biblical Wisdom; these courses are offered in alternative years and can be taken in either order]. Plus BBCL2609 From Historical Jesus to Written Gospels and BBCL2610 The New Testament Literature, or HBRW 2631 and HBRW 2632 Reading Hebrew 1 and 2.

Third year:
BBCL2607 Poetry in the Bible and BBCL3602 Job, Proverbs and Other Biblical Wisdom [or: BBCL2603 Destruction and Messianism in Prophecy and BBCL3601 Daniel and Revelation as Apocalypses; these courses are offered in alternative years and can be taken in either order]

Example pathway 2, Language Focus:
First year:

HBRW 1111 and HBRW 1112 (Introduction to Biblical Hebrew 1 and 2)

Second year:
HBRW 2623 (Hebrew Classical 3) and HBRW 3601 (Hebrew Classical Advanced 4) [or: HBRW 2625 (Hebrew Classical 5) and HBRW 3602 (Hebrew Classical Advanced 6); these courses are offered in alternative years and can be taken in either order]. Plus two units from Biblical Studies (from BBCL 2603, 3601, 2607, 3602)

Third year:
HBRW 2625 (Hebrew Classical 5) and HBRW 3602 (Hebrew Classical Advanced 6) [or: HBRW 2623 (Hebrew Classical 3) and HBRW 3601 (Hebrew Classical Advanced 4); these courses are offered in alternative years and can be taken in either order]

Learning outcomes
  1. Demonstrate a confident and extensive knowledge of the major literary, historical, ideological and linguistic issues relating to the Bible and its world, and an indepth understanding of major ideas the biblical text communicates and the literary means by which they are communicated.
  2. Demonstrate, where appropriate, a knowledge of Classical Hebrew or other languages relevant to the study of the Bible, and an understanding of the script(s), grammar and other features of these languages.
  3. Translate and understand a variety of texts in Classical Hebrew, where appropriate. The Classical Hebrew texts are primarily from the Bible, but students will have the opportunity to study all the varieties of pre-Modern Hebrew, from the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls to that of ancient inscriptions, the Mishnah, and medieval commentators on the Bible.
  4. Demonstrate familiarity with the major theoretical, literary, historical and linguistic approaches in the fields of Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew.
  5. Use online resources and electronic databases, as tools to approach the Bible.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of Biblical texts in their ancient context.
  7. Construct and defend valid arguments employing a range of forms of evidence from the Biblical text alongside other literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence.
  8. Effectively apply knowledge of Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew to issues encountered in an interdisciplinary context.