Master of Arts in the Bible and the Ancient Near East

General

Programme Description

Why M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East?

  • Become a scholar of the Bible in a variety of contexts.
  • Gain a solid foundation in both Biblical and Modern Hebrew.
  • Soak up the culture and history of the biblical world in the sacred city of Jerusalem.

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Overview

Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS) offers a two-year M.A. program in the Bible and the Ancient Near East. This program focuses on contemporary Biblical studies (Hebrew scriptures) and provides grounding in both Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian, with the option to study Modern Hebrew at the beginner through advanced levels. As a student in this rigorous program, we will provide you with the necessary training for further academic study at the doctoral level. Alumni of the program have been admitted to top doctoral programs in the field. As one of HebrewU’s oldest and most established international degree programs, several alumni are now faculty members in universities around the world.

As a student in this program, you will study the Bible in its historical and archaeological context, the history and culture of the Ancient Near East, the Akkadian language, Biblical Hebrew, and the reception history (different ways that people have received and viewed these texts throughout history).

Curriculum

While pursuing your two-year M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, you will immerse yourself in the study of the Bible and related history and culture. Additionally, our program provides language instruction rigorous enough that you will develop the ability to read scholarly texts and more in Modern Hebrew.

Structure

The M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East program consists of required courses and electives taken over four consecutive semesters. The study of Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian is required. Modern Hebrew study is optional and strongly recommended. You have the option to study additional languages if desired (additional language courses do not count towards the 36 credits of the degree).

Credits

The M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East consists of 36 credits.

Language Requirements

Biblical Hebrew

Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is necessary for biblical scholarship. You will attain an advanced level of Biblical Hebrew by the end of the program.

As a new student, you are required to take a Biblical Hebrew placement exam as part of your application for admission to the program. You must place into the intermediate or advanced level of Biblical Hebrew. Beginner’s Biblical Hebrew is not offered within the M.A. program. If you have not already studied at least one year of Biblical Hebrew and do not place into the intermediate or advanced levels, you must attend the intensive elementary-level Biblical Hebrew summer course prior to your first year of the program.

Akkadian

The study of Akkadian is compulsory. The Akkadian language was the lingua franca of the Ancient Near East and is required for the study of the Bible in its cultural and literary environment.

You will study Akkadian for two academic years (4 semesters). You will start the beginner’s level (6 weekly hours per semester) during the first year of the program. During the second year of the program, you will complete the advanced level (two weekly hours per semester) which consists of the study and analysis of selected Akkadian inscriptions and texts.

Modern Hebrew

The study of Modern Hebrew is an optional and highly recommended component of the program. Modern Hebrew courses are offered from beginners (level Alef) through advanced (level Vav) levels during the autumn and spring semesters. Students who attain level Dalet or higher will be able to select from among the graduate courses taught in Hebrew in the Faculty of Humanities, in addition to the English-language graduate courses offered as part of your program. Modern Hebrew courses are ten hours per week. Each level can be completed in one semester, with the exception of level Alef which might take two sessions to complete.

If you have little or no knowledge of Modern Hebrew and you want to get a head start, you may enrol in the (Hebrew language training) prior to the start of the program, for an additional fee.

To enrol in Modern Hebrew, you will need to take an online placement exam which will determine your level of study.

Additional Languages

If interested, you may also choose to study other ancient languages to complement your studies. These languages are offered through the Faculty of Humanities and the language of instruction is Hebrew. Although language courses do not count towards the 36 credits of the degree, they are highly recommended.

Courses

Provided as an example only and subject to change:

First Year Requirements

  • Biblical Hebrew – Intermediate
  • Akkadian
  • Reading Courses in Biblical Texts
  • History and Culture of the Ancient Near East courses
  • Courses in reception history
  • Archaeology of the Biblical Period courses

Second Year Requirements

  • Biblical Hebrew – Advanced
  • Second-Year Akkadian
  • Reading Courses in Biblical Texts
  • Courses in reception history
  • History and Culture of the Ancient Near East courses
  • Archaeology of the Biblical Period courses

Seminar Papers

At least two of the papers you will submit will be seminar papers. Seminar papers are required for the degree but do not count towards the credit count.

Thesis

Non-research track without final thesis. Students who meet the requirements of the Faculty of the Humanities may request to extend their studies at the Hebrew University for an additional year in order to write a thesis. Interested students should contact the Division of Graduate Studies for more information.

Career

Graduates of the M.A.in the Bible and the Ancient Near East program have been admitted to top doctoral programs at leading institutions in the field of Bible studies. Institutions include but are not limited to the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University, and Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Graduates have gone on to secure teaching positions with institutions including but not limited to the University of Cambridge (teaching Biblical Hebrew), Brandeis University (teaching the Ancient Near East), Yale Divinity School (teaching Bible studies), the University of Pennsylvania (teaching the Hebrew Bible), and Shanghai International Studies University (teaches Ancient Near East).

Student Life

“Lecturers are experienced and also have a good sense of humor… You will find yourself motivated by the broad knowledge and passionate interpretations of your professors.” Qijin (Stephanie) Lee of China, M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East 

Eligibility

To be eligible for acceptance, you must have the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education recognized by HebrewU
  • Relevant background in Bible studies is an advantage
  • Minimum B average (85/100 or equivalent)
  • Demonstrated knowledge of English

In addition to your online application, you will be required to submit the following documents:

  • Academic Records: A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education with a B average (85/100 or equivalent) or above. Applicants must submit transcripts and diplomas from all prior academic degrees.*
  • Proof of English Proficiency: A TOEFL exam score of 89 or above, IELTS exam score of 7 or above, Amir exam score of 220 or above, or Amiram exam score of 120 or above. **
  • CV and Statement of Purpose
  • Two Academic Recommendations
  • Photocopy of your Passport ID page
  • Medical Form and Disclaimer Form (US citizens only)- both forms may be downloaded from the application website.
  • Modern Hebrew Proficiency Test: It is highly recommended that students in this program study Modern Hebrew. Six levels of Modern Hebrew are offered. Each Hebrew level takes one semester or Summer Ulpan session to complete, with the exception of level Aleph, which takes two semesters (the Jerusalem Ulpan and Winter Ulpan do not supply enough hours to complete a full Hebrew level). This means that students who do not have any prior knowledge of Hebrew and wish to attain the advanced level (level Vav) should plan to study seven semesters of Modern Hebrew. Such students will therefore not be able to attain level Vav in the four semesters of the MA program and should either enrol in three RIS Summer Ulpan sessions (the summer before the program begins, the summer in between the first and second year of the program, and the summer after the program) or extend their studies in the MA program beyond two academic years. Please note that Modern Hebrew courses during the autumn and spring semesters are included in the program tuition but the Summer Ulpan is not.
  • Biblical Hebrew Proficiency Test: students in this program must complete the advanced level of Biblical Hebrew by the end of their studies in the MA program. Students must place into either the intermediate or the advanced levels at the start of their studies. Students without a Biblical Hebrew background will be required to participate in an Elementary Biblical Hebrew summer course prior to the start of their MA studies, for an extra fee.

* Students who submit scanned copies of their academic records may be accepted to the program conditionally, pending submission of original academic records.

** If you have completed a degree at a university at which English is the sole language of instruction, or if you have completed a degree in English Language and Literature, you can request an exemption. You must submit documentation from your university verifying English as the language of instruction. The exemption is not automatic and is determined on a case-by-case basis.

The program offers

Scholarships: Students are eligible for a variety of scholarships as well as an early admissions discount. More information can be found on the Scholarships & Financial Aid page of our website. Applicants from the U.S.A. should refer to the Scholarships & Financial Aid for U.S. Citizens page.

Study tours: Tour-based courses are offered in the field of biblical archaeology.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is consistently ranked as the top university in Israel and among the top 100, worldwide. In addition, The University was ranked the top Israeli university and 201-20 ... Read More

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is consistently ranked as the top university in Israel and among the top 100, worldwide. In addition, The University was ranked the top Israeli university and 201-205 best out of the top 800 institutions in the 2016-17 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, published by the British magazine Times Higher Education. HUJI was the only Israeli university to place in the world’s top 200 universities in the rankings. Read Less