This course introduces students to Literary Arabic (also known as Modern Standard Arabic), providing a solid foundation in its grammar, syntax, and vocabulary along with exercises for reading and listening comprehension as well as composition. Grammatical topics covered include: Simple and complex Arabic sentences, regular verbs in the past/perfect and future/imperfect, negation, cardinal numbers, and the genetive.
Arabic has a rich vocabulary and complex grammar, and it is esteemed as such by Arabic speakers and Muslims. The latter group in particular believes that this complexity is related to its status as the holy language of Islamic texts, but Christian Arabs, too, treasure the language for its beauty and poetry. Mastery of this system will thus not only gain you access to a new cultural world, it will earn you respect in the eyes of future dialogue partners. This course will provide you with the first steps in this direction by teaching you in a thorough and systematic manner the basics of Arabic grammar and vocabulary.
Literary Arabic is the lingua franca of the Arab world, the official language of 26 states and 1 disputed territory, and the holy language of the Islamic faith. Although there is a plethora of spoken Arabic dialects, literary Arabic is the only form that is written and read and it is the standard form used for public communication, whether in academia, art, politics, journalism, or religion - in short, in almost any context outside of private conversation. Facility in this language gains the student access to the literature and culture of the Middle East and Muslim world, helping them broaden their own horizons and better communicate their faith in this particular context. Given the high esteem in which this difficult language is held by all Arabic speakers - whether Muslims or not - facility in it also grants the student respect and an open ear from future dialogue partners.
Anyone who engages with Arabic speakers on the basis of the Bible must know Literary Arabic, for it is the language of all Arabic Bible translations as well as the literature that interprets and applies the Bible in all media, whether written, video, or visual. A further advantage for the Bible reader is that both the language and culture of the Arab world shares many similarities to the cultural background of both Testaments and the languages of the Old Testament (Hebrew and Aramaic) in particular. Biblical scholars have found that immersing themselves in the world of Arabic has helped them engage more deeply with the Biblical texts.
As the only form of the written language and as the language of education, Literary Arabic is necessary for learning and discussing the Bible and theology. Even in private discussion in a local Arabic dialect, Literary Arabic automatically flows into the conversation when topics turn to God and the big questions in life. Whether we agree with this or not, there is a cultural consensus that only Literary Arabic is most adequate to deal with religious truths. It permeates sermons, public prayers, and outreach. Finally, given the revered status of the language, a facility in it - even at a basic level - with garner the student respect and an open ear. As such, a Christian called to witness in the Arabic speaking world, either alongside other Arab Christians or in direct relationship with Muslims, has much to gain from knowing Literary Arabic.
Language and context are interwoven because languages serve communication in specific contexts. In addition to studying grammar, students read and listen to texts from a variety of contexts (politics, tourism, religion, history, economics, etc.).
Language and culture are interwoven. Immersion in the language opens students up to a new cultural world that remains partially inaccessible without it; as students interact with that world, their grasp of the language deepens. This in turn enriches the Biblical and theological study, as students learn to hear God's voice through culturally diverse human voices.
With the knowledge acquired in this course, students have a foundation for interacting with the world of Arabic literature and media and for communicating basic concepts in the target language.
"A different language is a different vision of life" (F. Fellini); "You can never understand one language until you understand at least two" (G. Willans); "Change your language and you change your thoughts" (K. Albrecht); "Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language" (F. Smith) Students are assessed using online grammar, composition, listening, and writing exercises.