University of Sydney Handbooks - 2013 Archive

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Hebrew (Classical)

Hebrew (Classical) is in the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC).

Classical Hebrew is best known as being the language of the Old Testament/Tanakh of the Bible. However, it is also well known as the language of the majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as other ancient sources such as inscriptions unearthed by archaeologists.

Program structure and content
The Classical Hebrew program at the University of Sydney offers a fascinating introduction to all varieties of ancient Hebrew in the biblical period through the reading of texts from all major sources. At all stages the prime focus is on the language of the Bible, but this is set in the broader context of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew inscriptions and Rabbinic Hebrew.

The junior units of study do not require a previous knowledge of the language, and are intended to give a firm grounding in the practical language skills on which all senior studies will be based. From the beginning, students will learn to read biblical texts, and by the end of the first year will have acquired the skills to translate biblical texts with the aid of a dictionary.

Students entering the department with HSC Hebrew should consult the department in regard to placement at an appropriate level.
At the senior level, students improve their language skills and broaden their knowledge of biblical and non-biblical texts and language. Classical Hebrew may be studied up to a fourth honours year.

Requirements for a major
Students who wish to major in Classical Hebrew must complete a minimum of 36 senior credit points, consisting of 24 senior credit points from HBRW2623, HBRW2624, HBRW2625 and HBRW2626, plus 12 further senior credit points from HBRW units (Classical) or from BBCL units.

Up to 12 credit points from approved cross-listable units of study may be cross-listed towards the Classical Hebrew major. For further information please see the table of cross-listed units on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences website.

Sample pathway
For students intending to major in Classical Hebrew, below is a sample program for the major.

  • First year: HBRW1111 Hebrew Classical B1 and HBRW1112 Hebrew Classical B2.
  • Second year: HBRW2623 Hebrew Classical 3 and HBRW2624 Hebrew Classical 4 (note that HBRW2625 and HBRW2626 may be studied before HBRW2623 and HBRW2624). Plus BBCL2603 Messianism in Biblical Prophetic Texts and BBCL2606 Apocalyptic in the Bible and Beyond or BBCL2607 Biblical Poetic Books and BBCL2608 Biblical Wisdom Literature.
  • Third year: HBRW2625 Hebrew Classical 5 and HBRW2626 Hebrew Classical 6.

There is a full exchange program with a number of universities, and students can spend a semester on exchange.

Intending honours students must obtain a credit average in their HBRW major and at least another 12 senior credit points (two units of study) from courses offered in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies. Honours students will undertake three seminars, and write a 15,000 word thesis.

Contacts/further information
Program website:

Course coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Young, Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies,
Room 621, Brennan MacCallum Building, A18
Phone +61 2 9351 6671

or contact the SLC office