Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Readings in Hebrew: Biblical Poetry

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Oriental Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit offers an introduction to biblical poetry through the reading of selected psalms in Hebrew. Lectures will explore both the art of biblical poetry and the historical-cultural context of specific texts. In addition to introducing students to one of the most important literary forms in the Hebrew Bible, this study-unit trains students in the grammar of Hebrew poetry as well as methods of reading and interpretation, while also strengthening their grasp of Hebrew idiom.

Study-unit Aims:

- To offer an introduction to ancient Hebrew poetry and its key literary features;
- To expose students to the grammar and artistry of biblical poetry;
- To train students to read and interpret biblical poetry, and to use a wide range of reading and interpretative strategies, such as literary, philological, and historical-critical approaches.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Relate salient details regarding biblical poetry and its literary characteristics;
- Read, translate, and analyze biblical poetry, such as the psalms;
- Appraise biblical poetry as literature while also assessing its significance for historical purposes and the understanding of ancient Hebrew/Jewish thought and beliefs;
- Distinguish and describe the grammar and syntax of biblical poetry.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Read and translate ancient Hebrew poetry;
- Apply literary, philological, and historical-critical methods to the reading of biblical and other ancient Hebrew poetry;
- Use biblical poetic texts to reconstruct the socio-cultural, historical, and ideological contexts in which they were produced and read.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

General Introductions to Biblical Poetry:

Alter, R. 2011 The Art of Biblical Poetry. Revised and updated. New York: Basic Books.

Dobbs, Allsopp F. W. 2015 On Biblical Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fokkelman, J. P. 2001 Reading Biblical Poetry: An Introductory Guide. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press.

Kugel, J. L. 1998 The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and its History. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Petersen, D. L. and Richards, K. H. 1992 Interpreting Hebrew Poetry. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress.

Watson, W. G. E. 2001 Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to its Techniques. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

General Introductions to the Psalms/Psalter:

Crenshaw, J. L. 2001 The Psalms: An Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Day, J. 1990 Psalms. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Hunter, A. G. 1999 Psalms. London: Routledge.

Hunter, A. G. 2008 An Introduction to the Psalms. London: T & T Clark.

Some Commentaries on the Psalms:

Allen, L. C. 2002 Psalms 101-50 (WBC 21). Revised edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Craigie, P. C. 2004 Psalms 1-50 (WBC 19). 2nd edn. with 2004 supplement by M. E. Tate. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Dahood, M. 1965 Psalms I: 1-50: Introduction, Translation, and Notes (AB 16). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dahood, M. 1968 Psalms II: 51-100: Introduction, Translation, and Notes (AB 17). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dahood, M. 1970 Psalms III: 101-150: Introduction, Translation, and Notes (AB 17A). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hossfeld, F. L. and Zenger, E. 2005 Psalms 2: A Commentary on Psalms 51-100 (Hermeneia). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Hossfeld, F. L. and Zenger, E. 2011 Psalms 3: A Commentary on Psalms 101-150 (Hermeneia). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Tate, M. E. 1990 Psalms 51-100 (WBC 20), Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Joüon, P., and Muraoka, T. 2006 A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. Revised English edition. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

Lambdin, T. O. 1976 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew. London: Darton, Longman, and Todd Ltd.

Waltke, B. K. and O'Connor, M. 1990 An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

Weingreen, J. 1959 A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wilhelm, G. 2006 Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar. Edited and enlarged by E. Kautzch. Translated by A. E. Cowley. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.


Brown, F., Driver, S. R., and Briggs, C. A. 1906 The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson Publishers (a 2003 reprint of the 1906 edition with corrections of the errors and misprints in that edition).

Koehler, L. and Baumgartner, W. 2001 The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Translated and edited under the supervision of M. E. J. Richardson. Leiden: Brill.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite: Knowledge of biblical Hebrew

Pre-requisite Study-units: NES1002, NES1003


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
2 Assignments Yes 50%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Dennis Mizzi

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.