Students of Hebrew and Greek have a chance to enhance their college degrees as well as their minds with the institution of new minors at Eastern New Mexico University this coming fall.
In addition to the existing minor in Greek, students can now minor in Hebrew or combine the two languages for a Biblical Languages minor, all through the Department of Religion.
The classes are open to the community, for credit or not.
The ancient Hebrew alphabet is technically not an alphabet. It is an “abjad,” meaning it contains symbols for consonant sounds but not vowel sounds. The modern Hebrew alphabet has symbols representing vowel sounds, but they aren’t in the form of letters.
Source: Eastern New Mexico University Department of Religion Chairwoman Shirley Rollinson
Religion department Chairwoman Shirley Rollinson, who also teaches Greek, said one student has already enrolled in the Biblical Languages minor.
“It’s only been offered a couple of weeks, but somebody has already grabbed the chance,” she said.
Rollinson doesn’t know how many students have signed up for the Hebrew minor, but she said she expected more people to enroll in the new minors in coming weeks.
Nita Howard, who teaches the Hebrew classes, said she had wanted to offer a Hebrew minor for a long time.
The new complex of classes allows any interested student to move beyond first- and second-year Hebrew, she said. The minors also let students to show on applications and resumes that they had a solid introduction into Hebrew and Greek, Howard said.
Rollinson said the new minors were possible because of the increasing amount of students incorporating the languages into their degree plans. Many of those students aren’t religion majors, but are taking the classes for personal enrichment, she said.
The university just added two advanced Hebrew classes in order to offer the minor.
Rollinson said studying other languages helps expand the mind and bring understanding of other cultures.
“If we know how some other group of people express things, we can understand them better,” she continued.
Howard believes anyone pursuing a religion major or minor or is interested in biblical studies should have some knowledge of the original languages to gain insight into the ancient cultures and the meanings of the text.
“It helps them understand the biblical area and time,” she said.
Howard said she has fewer than 10 students in her Hebrew classes and most are religion majors.
Rollinson said she has about a dozen beginning Greek students every semester, plus a few more in more advanced classes. More than half aren’t religion majors, she said.