Department of Classics and Biblical Languages

What does the Department of Classics and Biblical Languages Study?

  • Classics – Study of the languages, literature, history, and archeology of the Ancient Greek and Roman world.
  • Biblical Languages – Study of biblical Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek
  • Second Temple Judaism & Early Christianity – Study of Judaism between 300 BC and 200 AD and of Christianity through the end of the second century.

Why are Classics and Biblical Languages Together?

The New Testament was written by Jews in the language of Greeks to a world ruled by the Romans. Studying Classics broadly can therefore provide valuable insights into the context of Christianity and the Bible.

What Counts as a Classical or Biblical Language?

Within the field of Classics, the “classical languages” are primarily the languages of Classical Greek (especially Ionic and Attic Greek) and Classical Latin (the language of the Romans).

“Biblical languages” are, in the strictest sense, the languages in which the Bible was originally written, before being translated into other languages. These languages include: Hebrew (most of the Old Testament), Koine Greek (the New Testament), and Aramaic (significant portions of Daniel and Ezra, as well as smatterings elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments; also the language spoken by many Jews of Jesus’ day).

What is the Difference Between Koine and Classical Greek?

You will see that we offer both Classical and Koine Greek. What is the difference?

Short answer: not much.

Longer answer: Classical Greek is the Greek spoken and written by native Greeks during the time of Plato and Aristotle (400s BC). When Alexander the Great conquered the eastern Mediterranean world (late 300s BC), he took the Greek culture and language with him. Greek became the primary language of business, politics, and conversation, even among people whose native language was something else. The Greek spoken by these non-native speakers was a more simplified version of the Greek. This form of Greek is called Koine, which simply means “common.” The writers of the New Testament wrote in Koine Greek in order to allow for their works to be read by the greatest number of people possible.  So learning Koine Greek allows for quick and easy access to the New Testament. Learning Classical Greek includes Koine Greek but also expands to include information necessary to enable students to read Plato and other Greek writers.

What Degrees Can I pursue?

Currently, HBU offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Biblical Languages, Master of Arts (MA) in Classics and Early Christianity, a  Major (BA) in Biblical Languages, a Minor in Biblical Languages, a Major (BA) in Classics, a Minor in Classics, and a Minor in Latin.

We also offer a Post-Bacc in Classics, as well as a Certificate in Greek. The Post-Bacc is designed for graduates who seek further credits in Latin, whether for professional enrichment or in preparation for graduate work. Classes are available both remotely (online-synchronous) and in residence.

Note that post-baccalaureate and graduate students who wish to take synchronous classes remotely should apply as “residential” students, regardless of established place of residence. To apply as a remote-synchronous student, go here and click on “graduate,” under the heading “Application for On-Campus Programs.”

Why HBU?

Our Classics & Biblical Languages faculty are very strong teachers who strive to help you not just learn the languages, but also to understand the world in which they originated. The goal is not merely academic but rather to help you develop as a whole person and to prepare you for your chosen vocation. Many of our graduates pursue careers in teaching or further degrees in law, education, medicine, creative writing and business.

Where Can I Go From HBU’s Programs?

Many of our students have gone on to engage in master’s and doctoral graduate work at top Classics and/or Biblical Studies programs, including programs at Cambridge University, Rice University, Baylor University, and Yale University, in order to pursue careers in teaching and research. Many also go on to become pastors, missionaries, Bible translators, language instructors, worship leaders, and ministers in churches and schools throughout the world.

Further Information

For more information, please contact Dr. Timothy Brookins.
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