Mandy and I are finally through midterms, as she has already mentioned.

Overall, I’m not too displeased. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked on my Theology of the Pentateuch midterm. It is only 20% of the final grade though. The final is 70%, so I should still be able to manage an A or A- in the course. The final will consist of three essay questions and I tend to do better with essay questions than with multiple choice, which is the sole type of question that was on the midterm.

I, like Mandy, feel much more confident about the midterm in Aramaic than I thought I would. Eric‘s advice paid off, and I know I nailed the vocab and paradigms. I also know I did decent on translation and parsing, though I made a few mistakes (stupid Afel imperative). I’m anxious to get back the midterm and see exactly how well I did. Again, the final is worth a larger chunk of the pie, so if I didn’t do as well as I hope I can study hard and pull things up a bit with the final, which will lack any paradigms and consist of translation from Ezra, Daniel, and the Targum and Papyri we’ll be translating later in the semester.

So, midterms are finished, and I’m happy for that. I have my second Greek exam next Wednesday, so this weekend will be devoted to studying for that, in addition to making a serious dent in my semlink course work.

Why some people hate Hebrew

Aramaic Paradigms

The above is a picture of the paradigms I am supposed to have memorized by Monday for the midterm. Now, these are Aramaic paradigms…for the strong verb, as opposed to Hebrew. 26 of them, in total. In Greek II, I’m only required to know around 10. I am finally realizing how utterly frustrated people become when learning Hebrew. There is no reason in heaven or on earth to require the memorization of all of these paradigms. Dr. Stuart, my Aramaic prof, feels that if you don’t know the paradigms you’ll never be able to score above a C+ in a language course. Odd, considering I managed an A last semester in Intermediate Hebrew Grammar with him, but that’s besides the point.

Relatedly, many of you will remember how I was panicking about Aramaic before. That is no longer the case, as I’ve taken Eric’s advice. I’m feeling more confident every day with vocab and parsing. The paradigms still worry me, and I know that’s where I’m going to lose a ton of points, but I’m hoping he gives us the standard Pe’al and Pa’el paradigms, as opposed to the others, which I don’t know nearly as well (I can parse any verb in those other stems, mind you, I just can’t reproduce the paradigm). Mandy and I have decided that an Aramaic version of Bonnie is needed.

Aramaic Panic

Ok, so I’m taking Aramaic this semester. I really enjoy learning languages. I enjoy studying the Bible. It’ll look good on my transcript when I go on for PhD work (the issue of a youth pastor having a PhD in Hebrew Bible is not one that I wish to get into at present…I’m the oldest child in my family, I’m used to blazing new trails). It also, if I manage an A or A+ in the course, opens the door to taking both Targumic Aramaic and Syriac as a directed study. So, those would both be awesome.

Now, on to the topic of this post. I am, in no small way, panicking. Let me explain what our first week of work included in this class:

  • 143 Vocabulary words (some are exact Hebrew cognates, so no big deal. Others aren’t hard if you sorta know the Bible (ie, bar for “son”…but even then there are probably around 90 words that don’t fall into that category)
  • 8 Paradigms (Personal pronouns, absolute and construct nouns, Peal strong verb perfect, imperfect, imperative, participle, passive participle and infinitive.
  • We were responsible to read ahead in the textbook (A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic by Alger Johns), and do the exercises for material we had not yet covered in class.
  • There were 50 of these exercises, which wasn’t a horrible number as they are fairly simple sentences.
  • Of those chapters in the textbook we were supposed to work through, there were 5.

This is, according to the syllabus, what I can expect for the first half of the semester. I’m not complaining, this is, after all, graduate school. I am panicking! We are making our way through the entire grammar in about five weeks. Which, my instinct is, wouldn’t be bad–if we were actually covering the lessons in class and then doing the exercises, etc. However, we are supposed to just read the chapter, understand enough to do the exercises, and then show up in class–which is spent going over the exercises and having the entire class ask questions that waste time because they’re overly simple but we don’t know them because we were never actually taught the material. Beyond that, if I have 8 paradigms to memorize every week, aside from being a horrible way to learn a language, it means that I am going to be responsible for at least 40 paradigms on the mid-term. Now, we won’t have to reproduce all 40. But since Dr. Stuart refuses to tell us which ones will be on the mid-term we will have to know all 40. Add to this trying to learn and retain ~100 vocab words a week, and I’m just freaking out. Do people actually learn languages like this?

Now that I’ve vented my frustrations and panicked ravings enough to get on with life I’m going to return to the insurmountable number of vocab words and paradigms I have to learn. Because I’m already behind.