How to Teach Yourself Hebrew from Scratch: Part III

Part I. Part II.

Vocabulary and Reference materials

Learning vocabulary-  On the plus side, there’s only 8,446 distinct vocabulary words in the Hebrew Bible, and many of those come from shared roots, such as MeLeK “king,” MaLKah, “queen,” maMLeKah “kingdom,” MaLaK “to reign as royalty,” etc. (Roots are much more important and prominent in Semitic languages than in English.) By comparison, there are estimated to be “a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED” according to this webpage. Continue reading “How to Teach Yourself Hebrew from Scratch: Part III”

Santa and His Asherah

This is a hilarious spoof, care of Bible Review and William Propp of UCSD. Kevin Barney’s recent Dialogue article reminded me of it, and since it’s the season… enjoy, but do not take seriously!

By William H.C. Propp Bible Review, 14:6 (December 1998)
The ancient Near Eastern roots of American Yuletide customs are manifold and fascinating. I will concentrate here on just two major points: that the Christmas tree was originally a symbol of the Canaanite goddess Asherah and that Santa Claus is an avatar of Asherah’s consort, the high god ‘El, who is equivalent to the Israelite Yahweh. I will conclude by showing that the customs of Christmas were brought to America by the Canaanites themselves.
The coniferous Christmas tree, whether real or stylized (made of metal or plastic), is customarily hung with bright votive offerings: tinsel, metallic globes, colored lights, etc. Small figurines of humans and animals may also adorn the shrub. The custom of decorating a Christmas tree is very old, as shown by a second-century C.E. description of Syrian practice:

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Applying to Graduate Programs, (part iv): Language Study

Language study is unavoidable in these fields. I once heard Jerome Murphy O’Connor state that every Biblical scholar needed to know at least what he called the “seven basic languages- English, French, German, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic.” How should an undergrad choose his/her courses to prepare for graduate study in Religious/Biblical/ANE programs? Continue reading “Applying to Graduate Programs, (part iv): Language Study”

The Best Course of Action at This Point

For the last 6 hours, I’ve been hopping amongst websites and blogs, tracking, reading, thinking, questioning, arguing, posting.

It’s divisive.

I’d say this election season is potentially the most divisive among LDS I’ve ever seen, and I see that as a wholly negative thing. Emotions are charged, deep-seated opinions and positions are expressed against those whom we once considered allies and fellow-citizens in the Gospel.

And so, as the discussions rage, I will step away. Log off. Take some time to do something else. Go for a walk. Pray. Make some pancakes. Get some exercise. count my blessings. Anything other than what I’ve been doing.

And I hope that when I return, “normalcy” will be slightly better then it has been.

Guest post- Ugaritic and the LDS temple

This is a guest post from The Monk, of Mormon Monastery, a repository of sorts for temple-related bibliography and a LDS Temple FAQ/essays.

I have a favorite passage from Ugaritic literature. (Nitsav has written briefly on Ugaritic before. See that post if you need a primer.) I’m just geeky enough that I’d like a nice alphabetic cuneiform scroll* of it framed on my wall. Though everyone has heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, few know the Ugaritic texts which are ironically far more important for understanding the Old Testament.

Below is my translation and brief commentary regarding this passage, which comes from the Ba’lu** epic, one of the lengthier texts from Ugarit. It consists of a message from Ba’lu, in highly repetitive poetic parallelism. I tried to arrange it to bring this out, but the formatting keeps disappearing.

Continue reading “Guest post- Ugaritic and the LDS temple”