Biblical Hebrew Made Easy
At University I was challenged by the constant falling outs between varieties of Christian, indeed between Christians, Jews and Muslims too. Often biblical interpretation and Bible version were cited in defence of a stance. I became frustrated by this and studied Hebrew, Greek and Arabic, in order to read Tanach, New Testament and Koran in their original languages. Needless to say I found answers to many of my questions and created many more I’d never been looking for.
I had a Hebrew tutor for 2 years, was a guinea pig on Rev John Dobson’s course and spent years collecting Hebrew grammars going back 500 years to 1519 in order to study the language. It was beautiful and enriching, Hebrew words were packed full of meaning, poetry, philosophy and life-affirming attitudes. I fell in love with Hebrew more than religion, with life more than belief.
Over time I tried to condense what I had learned into a course called “Biblical Hebrew made easy” for budding Hebrew students. Designed to appeal to all ages and abilities, it attracted students on 5 continents, aged from 8 to 80.
I spent several years writing a weekly column on Hebrew word meanings and still find them fascinating. I’ve been invited by a publisher to write a book on it – but that’s still a work in progress.
After University I began studies on a Theology degree and also did summer school in Arabic. Along with 15 years of travelling to the Middle East mainly Israel, Jordan and Egypt, a course in Archaeology and extensive further reading I become fascinated with ancient ideas about body, mind and soul, and looked into a PhD in that area. It wasn’t long though before I ended up teaching the material rather than studying it. I ended up teaching Biblical Studies with particular reference to Hebrew and Judaism for a number of years.
Many years on, and despite being agnostic about many things now, I still find the ancient world and its wisdom fascinating. I’ve looked extensively into ancient attitudes to gender and sexuality and can come up with no substantive evidence to justify the homophobic dogma of some churches. Jesus said more about wealth and social justice than he did about sexuality – well actually he said virtually nothing about the latter and a lot about the former.
In biblical times they were well aware of intersex people, known then as hermaphrodites, and also of androgynous expression. Same-sex love was known across all cultures.
The best thing I got out of the Bible was both its simplest and most profound statement: “Love your neighbour as yourself” it occurs first in the very same passage as that supposedly condemning certain types of same-sex activity, yet which is it that is latched onto by some groups?
Like many things in my life I’ve learned to take the best out of my experiences, including religion, and slot it into my ongoing and overall evolution and holistic outlook on life.