Students learn the basics of Aramaic grammar and translate the Aramaic sections of Scripture in Daniel and Ezra as well as selections from ancient inscriptions, Elephantine papyri and Targums.
Students acquire the ability to read a significant portion of the Old Testament in its original language. Through the reading of select texts from Elephantine students gain insight into the practice of Judaism in the fifth century BCE. Reading Aramaic translations and interpretations of the Hebrew Bible in various Targums provide a glimpse into ancient Jewish interpretations of the Bible.
Aramaic was the lingua franca in the ancient Near East for more than two millennia. During the Babylonian exile of the Jews, which began in the early sixth century BCE, the language spoken by the Jews started to change from Hebrew to Aramaic. Therefore, some of the texts from the Old Testament, such as in Daniel and Ezra, are written in Aramaic. Reading Aramaic texts of Jews in ancient Elephantine and later Aramaic translations and clarifications of the Hebrew Bible in the Targums provide important insights into ancient Jewish life and interpretation.
The Old Testament contains more than two hundred and fifty verses in Aramaic. Mastering the language enables students to read a sizable part of the Old Testament in its original language.
The course focuses the redemptive mission of God in and through the lives of Daniel and Ezra.
Students are sensitised to the complexities of intercultural communication and conflict through the reading of key Aramaic texts in Daniel and Ezra as well as selected texts from the Jewish community in Elephantine.
The topic of intercultural contact is central to the books of Daniel and Ezra as well as selected texts from ancient Elephantine.
Through the reading of texts in Daniel and Ezra the course teaches students to be sensitive in their treatment of people of other races and ethnicities.
The course encourages students to reflect upon the impact of their own lives and testimony when engaging with people of other cultures.