Posts Tagged ‘courses’

Rachel’s Hebrew Class 2012/13

October 1, 2012

Rachel Montagu has kindly sent some details of her Biblical Hebrew course for 2012-13.  This stands in place of the course she used to teach at Birkbeck.

Rachel’s courses work in the classic fashion: each student in turn reads a verse aloud and then translates it, with input from the teacher as necessary. She also provides some background and interpretation from traditional Jewish teaching.

The emphasis is certainly on understanding the text rather than grammar as such. There have been perhaps an average of seven or so students coming to lessons. The level things are taken at tends to depend on who the students are.

In principle, students should have covered the material in the First Hebrew Primer from Eks before starting this class. If you know the qal conjugation (perfect and imperfect) pretty well for verbs with three strong roots (the ‘regular’ ones if you like) and have some idea about hiphil and niphal and verbs with weak roots, that will probably do.

If you want to know more, you can email Rachel;  or feel free to email me if you’re feeling shy.  I’ve also shared just about everything I know about studying Biblical Hebrew with the world here.

Dear all

This year we will be meeting on Wednesdays, starting this week Wednesday 3rd October I hope.

Can I suggest we meet 6.45-8.45 this week and discuss during break whetherwe want to move it slightly later or earlier or whether that suits us all.

The West Central Synagogue and Liberal Judaism are still kindly offeringus hospitality at

The Montagu Centre
21 Maple Street
London W1T 4BE

This is near to Warren St and Gt Portland St tube stations and just off the Tottenham Court Rd.

If you’re interested in this, you can email her directly.  Or if you’re feeling shy you can email me instead.  The schedule is as given below.

Hebrew Class Outline 2012-3

Joshua – Entering the Land

3rd October Deut. 34:9, Joshua 1:1-18

10th October Joshua 2:1-24

17th October Joshua 3:1-17, 4:1-5

24th October Joshua 4:6-14, 5:1-15

[31st October no class – half term

7th November Joshua 6:1-27

Isaac and Rebecca: Never Mind the Romance, What about the Marriage?

14th November Genesis 24:15-40

21st November Genesis 24:41-67

28th November Genesis 25:20-28, 26:1-12, 34-35

5th December Genesis 27:1-18, 42-46, 28:1-5

Samuel v. Chronicles: David & Solomon: Succession, Wisdom & the Queen of Sheba

12th December I Kings 1:1-24

[Christmas Holiday]

9th January 1 Kings 1:25-53,

16th January I Kings 2:1-12, 1 Chron 22:1-10

23rd January 1 Chron. 22:11-19, 23:1, 28:1-10

30th January I Chron.28:11-21, 29:1-10

6th February I Chron. 29:11-30

13th February I Kings 3:1-20

[20th February half term]

27th February I Kings 3:21-28, 2 Chron 9:1-12

Isaiah – Comfort and Challenge

6th March Isaiah 40:1-20

13th March Isaiah 40:21-31, 41:8-18

20th March Isaiah 41:19-29, 42:1-11

[Passover-Easter holiday]

17th April Isaiah 42:12-25, 43:1-11

24th April Isaiah 43:25-8, 44:1-8, 21-28, 45:1-7

Does Age Bring Happiness?

1st May Ecclesiastes 1:1-18, 2:1-6

24th April Ecclesiastes 2:7-26

1st May Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

8th May Ecclesiastes 4:6, 5:1-19

[15th May – no class – Shavuot]

22nd May Ecclesiastes 7:1-25

[29th May – no class – half term]

5th June Ecclesiastes 7:26-29, 8:15, 9:1-18

12th June Ecclesiastes 11:1-10, 12:1-14


19th June 2 Samuel 22:1-30

26th June 2 Samuel 22:31-50, 1 Chron. 16:7-17

3rd July I Chron. 16:18-37, 46:1-12

10th July Class Choice of Psalms

17th July Class Choice of Psalms

Texts for Advanced Greek at Madingley Hall in 2013

August 10, 2012

Apollo and Python

Madingley have written as follows:

There are four Reading Greek weekends planned for the following dates:
15 – 17 February 2013
24 – 26 May 2013
13 – 15 September 2013
29 November – 1 December 2013
Details of the texts to be studied during each weekend are shown belo

15 – 17 February
Homer, Odyssey 10 [ed. Stanford 1-12, Bristol Classical Press, £20]; both groups.
24 – 26 May
Homeric Hymn to Apollo [in Three Homeric Hymns, ed. Richardson, CUP green-and-yellow, £20.99] + possibly some unseen translation of the Aphrodite hymn.
Thucydides 4.1-41 [ed. Cress & Wordsworth, CUP £13.95]
13 – 15 September
Sophocles, Antigone 1-680 [ed.Griffith, CUP green-and-yellow £21.99 or ed. Brown, Aris & Phillips £18 or ed. Jebb, Bristol Classical Press £18]
Herodotus, selections from Book 1, 1-52 [ed. Sleeman, Bristol Classical Press, £16.99]
29 November – 1 December
Sophocles, Antigone 681-1353 [as above]
Herodotus 53 -94 [as above]

SACE Ancient Worlds Summer School

August 8, 2012

Animated discussion at break-time

The first week of the SACE Ancient Worlds Summer School included language courses in Sanskrit (which was a bit disorganised) and Akkadian (which was excellent), or alternatively lectures based on current research in Egyptology.

We were surprised to see that the potentially 20 sessions for the two languages were reduced to 17, two of the missing ones being taken up with a ‘visit’ to a museum that was closed–so there was a handling session instead.  The schedule is shown in the picture below:

In another location, the masses showed their opinion of student hall catering:

We do Akkadian in 7 hours

August 4, 2012

So this is how we did Akkadian in seven hours:

Session 1: Hammurabi (1792 BC –1750 BC) consolidated Babylonian power.  His laws are good reading for beginners since they follow a set structure.  The nominal sentence with -ma, verb statives, independent pronoun.

Session 2:  Expressing possession with the particle ša, pronominal suffixes, the construct state.  Some exercises.  We also write cuneiform on clay tablets using extra-large matches somewhere around here.

Session 3:  Some books on Akkadian and Ancient Mesopotamia.  Triconsonantal roots.  Adjectives and nouns.

Session 4:  The G stem of strong verbs.  Subj-Obj-Ind Obj-Verb.

Session 5: The G D  Š and N stems.  Weak verbs (verbs with a weak stem consonant).

Session 6:  We translate some of the Laws of Hammurabi, like the following:

šumma awīlum īn mār awīlim uhtappid īnšu uhappadū

if a man the eye of the son of a man has blinded his eye they will blind

Session 7: We read some cuneiform Laws of Hammurabi from clay tablets kindly manufactured by Hannah for this very purpose.

Commentary:  That was excellent!  We were well impressed at how our tutor Hannah Johnson had prepared a great variety of materials and used a variety of approaches in putting the subject across, along with being very nice about it all.  It turned out to be the first time she had taught Akkadian, so we felt especially honoured.

Most of the material used can be found on the Internet here.

What did we do in 10 hours of Sanskrit in Liverpool?

August 2, 2012

It remains far away!

That’s a good question.

The short answer would be that we got a commentary to the first four chapters of  Coulson’s Complete Teach Yourself Sanskrit, with the idea that we could then proceed under our own steam.  As our instructor pointed out, Coulson’s book really presupposes a reader who already knows their Latin and/or Greek, thus giving them the basic structure, and merely needs to have the peculiarities of Sanskrit pointed out.  As someone else pointed out, another feature of Coulson is that the rather small format means that the paradigms aren’t set out in nice large reassuring tables but are instead rather difficult to comprehend.

The approach also involved bringing into play the material in the appendices at the back of the book, rather than just the text at the front.

So here’s the content of the sessions (each of which occupied one hour).  There were seven in the group and at least in the instructor’s opinion we didn’t need any explanation of the traditional terminology of ‘grammar’.

Session 1:  Position of Sanskrit as ancient Indo-European language.  Not used for everyday purposes.  Ignore devanagari script.

Session 2:  Present indicative active of thematic verbs.  Vowel gradation (guna, vrdhhi).

Session 3:   To be (asmi/bhu) pres ind act.  Pres ind act of gam and stha.  Sandhi and use of sandhi grid.

Session 4:  Paradigm of nouns in -a: nom, acc, instr, dat, abl, gen, loc, voc; singular, plural and dual.  (Something seems to have happened to the duals of phala and kanya.)

For our homework, we did Exercise 2b from Coulson in the Roman transliteration version.  That was quite feasible, though required a definite effort.

Session 5:  First and second person personal pronouns (again without the dual, but in all the cases).

Session 6:  Imperfect of asma.  Compounds.  Some applications of sandhi.

Session 7:  Declension of adjectives (in -a).

Session 8:  Past participles.  Use of these in place of finite verbs as characteristic of Sanskrit.

Our homework was (the romanised version of) Exercise 3b from Coulson.  Only one person had sufficient morale to apply the time-honoured procedure of writing out all the questions and then underneath them the answers from the back of the book.

Section 9:  Our instructor went through the homework.

Session 10:  Our instructor went through the first few (17) lines from the Tale of Nala from the Mahabharata, identifying the words and parsing them.

As for texts for further study, our tutor mentioned Ramopakhyana – The Story of Rama in the Mahabharata by Peter Scharf, together with  The Sanskrit Language by Maurer and Fields and A Sanskrit Grammar by Manfred Mayrhofer.

Conclusion:  That was all rather disorganised.  We were disappointed to see the ‘four contact hours per day’ become 10 contact hours over 3 days, with Wednesday afternoon a half-holiday.  But it was useful to be told which were the more and less important parts of Coulson and how much attention (not) to pay to learning the rules of sandhi in detail.

Madingley Hall Greek Texts 2012

November 1, 2011

Picture of Lucian

Here are the Greek texts presently planned for Madingley weekend courses in 2012 (more details here).

17 – 19 February
Homer, Iliad 23.229-end (897). Ed. Willcock, Books 13-24 (Bristol Classical Press, £20.00)

18 – 20 May
Hesiod, Theogony 1-232; Works and Days 1-307 [‘Essential Hesiod’, ed CJ Rowe, BCP £10.99 or Hesiod, Oxford Classical Texts £17.00 or Hesiod Loeb £15.95]
Lucian, selection ed Hopkinson (Cambridge green-and-yellow, £17.99); students to prepare 3: The Ignorant Book-Collector; 4: Praise of the Fly; and 5: Sigma vs Tau

14 – 16 September
Lysias, 1. ‘On the murder of Eratosthenes’ and 7. ‘On the olive-stump’ [in Lysias, Select Speeches ed. C Carey, CUP green-and-yellow £19.99]
Aristophanes, Lysistrata, ed Sommerstein (Aris & Phillips, £18.00) 1-657

23 – 25 November
Lysias, 3. ‘Against Simon’ and 14. ‘Against Alcibiades’ [same edition]
Aristophanes 658-end (1321)

John Taylor has also kindly sent me details of the texts for New Testament Greek, as follows:

Texts are:

three OT choice snippets – Genesis 18: 1-15, Ezekiel 37: 1-14, Isaiah 53: 1-12

I Maccabees chapter 2

John chapters 1 – 3

Colossians chapters 1 – 4.

New Testament Greek at Madingley Hall, 4-6 February 2011

July 30, 2010

Madingley Hall

I have received from the tutor John Taylor the following suggestions for texts for next February’s NT Greek at Madingley Hall:

Psalms 22 and 137 (=LXX 21 and 136) [40 verses]
I Maccabees ch 1 [64 verses]
Luke chs 13-15 [101 verses]
I Peter chs 1-5 [105 verses]

In this context, it’s probably a good thing that the Hebrew original of Maccabees has disappeared–that will stop people from worrying about what the text really said, which is often a cause of concern when reading the Septuagint.

If you’re interested in the course, I’m sure it will be fine to email John Taylor with queries about the course content.   Or you can also consult my posting on the 2010 course here.

Biblical Hebrew (and Introduction to Judaism) in Ealing

July 30, 2010

Ealing Abbey

Here, with corrected dates, is some information I have received from Ann-Marie Ryan at the Benedictine Study and Arts Centre.

I have sorted dates and times with Rabbi Rachel Montagu for the following two courses ‘Introduction to Judaism’ and ‘Introduction to Biblical Hebrew’, to be run at the Benedictine Study and Arts Centre, Autumn Term 2010.  Dates and times as follows:

1. Introduction to Judaism (10 weeks)
Thursdays: 10.30am-12.30pm 7 October to 16 December (not 28 Oct.)
Course Fee: £100

2. Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (10 weeks)
Thursdays: 01.30pm-03.30pm 7 October to 16 December (not 28 Oct.)
Course Fee: £100

The BSAC website appears to be in a state of flux at the moment, but it is possible to email Ann-Marie.

Greek Lyric Poetry Madingley Hall 28-30 May

May 30, 2010

This course was based on Campbell’s Greek Lyric Poetry (shown above);  since I had owned the book for 28 years without making any use of it I thought I would give the course a try.  In the event, there were eight of us (of whom three were still working for a living) under the direction of Tony Verity.  We had six 90-minute sessions of read-translate-discuss and one evening lecture from a visiting lecturer (Dr Renaud Gagné). And we also had one modern Greek poem in honour of our Modern Greek course member, who had come all the way from Modern Greece to be with us (and visit her son in London).

Those of us who were still working for a living did feel that there was slightly too much general discussion and slightly too little engagement with the specific texts.  I think the most popular items were the longer fragments of Sappho and also a folk-song that was nice and simple.

The participants in the other Advanced Greek course, who had been studying ‘Everyday Greek’ in the form of letters excavated from the Oxyrhynchus rubbish tip were certainly well content.  I think that both of these (letters and lyrics) were deviations from what is normally done on these courses, and the letters were the more successful.

And here with great pedantry is what we covered:

Greek Lyric Poetry ed. David Campbell. Bristol Classical Press

Archilochus 1, 2, 6,7 , 22, 25,60, 66, 103, 104, 112, [if time, 196A]

Tyrtaeus 9

Semonides 1

Alcman 26

Mimnermus 1,2

Solon 5, 10, 13,24

Sappho 1, 2, 31, 47, 94[1-17], 96, 105a, 105c, 130, Fr.Adesp. 976

Alcaeus 326,332,346,347,357, 333

lbycus 286,287

Anacreon 348, 358, 359, 360, 395,413,417

Xenophanes 2,10, 13, 18

Theognis 39-68, 237-54

Hipponax Frag.Adesp.

Simonides 581, 83d, 92d, 99d, 121d, 135d, 122d

Carm. Pop. 848

Scolia 884, 887, 893, 894

Here, italics mean that we didn’t actually cover it; conversely bold means we covered it even though it wasn’t on the original list.

And here’s Η ξανθούλα (by Dionysios Solomos, regarded as the first poet of modern Greece):

Την είδα την ξανθούλα,
την είδα ‘ψες αργά
που εμπήκε στη βαρκούλα
να πάει στην ξενιτιά.

Εφούσκωνε τ’ αέρι
λευκότατα πανιά
ωσάν το περιστέρι
που απλώνει τα φτερά.

Εστέκονταν οι φίλοι
με λύπη με χαρά
κι αυτή με το μαντίλι
τους αποχαιρετά.

Και το χαιρετισμό της
εστάθηκα να ειδώ,
ως που η πολλή μακρότης
μου το ‘κρυψε κι αυτό.

Σ’ ολίγο, σ’ ολιγάκι
δεν ήξερα να πω
αν έβλεπα πανάκι
ή του πελάγου αφρό.

Και αφού πανί, μαντίλι
εχάθη στο νερό
εδάκρυσαν οι φίλοι
εδάκρυσα κ’ εγώ.

Δεν κλαίγω για τη βαρκούλα
δεν κλαίγω τα πανιά
μόν’ κλαίγω την Ξανθούλα
που πάει στην ξενιτιά.

Δεν κλαίγω τη βαρκούλα
με τα λευκά πανιά
μόν’ κλαίγω την Ξανθούλα
με τα ξανθά μαλλιά.

(Performances here.)

New Testament Greek Madingley Hall 12-14 February

February 15, 2010


Picture of Madingley Hall--it's outside Cambridge


This course took place over the weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime.  There were 7 teaching sessions of 90 minutes each: one on Saturday evening, four on Saturday and two on Sunday.  Six of these sessions consisted of the students in turn reading two or three verses aloud and translating them, while in the after-dinner talk on Saturday the lecturer gave a talk on ‘Acts and the Classical World’.

To give some specifics:  there were 17 students in the group–the age deistribution can be inferred from the class photo below.  Our tutor was Dr John Taylor, compiler of New Testament Greek:  A Reader, who took great care to make sure that nobody should feel embarrassed or humiliated because of not knowing something or making a mistake.  We covered Mark chapters 14-16, Acts chapters 12-14, Isaiah chapter 40 and Wisdom of Solomon chapter 3 (these last two being from the Septuagint and the Apocrypha rather than the NT of course).  There was a rough quota of 50 verses per session, and we finished bang on the end of the last session.

Participants were very enthusiastic about the course (and about Madingley Hall in general) and several had already been on many previous years’ editions of the same course.


Class picture from Mair's Facebook page

Class photo from Mair's Facebook page


At one meal, I had an interesting chat with a woman who had been coming to Madingley to teach Latin for 27 years.  She felt that the facilities had improved markedly over that time, while the actual Latin teaching had been more cyclical–to start off with, it had been people who had done Latin in the past and now wanted to revive it, then Beginners and Improvers had been introduced, and finally these had died off in response to last year’s increase in prices, so it was back to people reading texts.

The course will very probably run again next February, and you can see details of all Madingley Hall courses here.

There’s a general overview of what I know about provision for studying NT Greek here.