Category Archives: Professional meetings

How do you say “Fresno” in Hebrew?

Sign with a question mark and the word “information” in Hebrew, Arabic, and EnglishThe Biblical Language Center’s first (annual?) Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop begins tomorrow in Fresno, California.

Teaching Hebrew in Hebrew at the rate of natural speech offers advantages in efficiency, attainment levels, and broader student success throughout the various stages of language learning. This workshop is designed to help Hebrew teachers bridge the gap between traditional Biblical Hebrew training and immersion methodologies.

Second Language Acquisition studies have shown that speaking a language is a catalyst for truly internalizing a language. In addition to maximizing internalization, the workshop will also work on skills necessary for effectively applying Communicative Language Teaching methods to the classroom. The workshop will be run “immersion” style, with the entire day, 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM, including lunch, taking place in Biblical Hebrew.

If any Higgaion readers are attending the workshop, then I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow evening!

As for the titular question, Fresno is the Spanish name for the ash tree, which in (Modern) Hebrew is מֵילָה. But I’m guessing that a Californian speaking Hebrew would still probably just call the city פְרֶסְנוֹ.


Searching the scriptures (without Google’s help)

Bible+-by-Olive-Tree-app-iconMost of my students nowadays carry around tiny computers that afford them almost instant access to practically limitless information. Many of us now use Google (or similar search engines) as our starting point in any quest for existing data. Skill and good judgment in accessing and using data have outstripped memorization of data as core competencies for modern life. However, defaulting to Google or Wikipedia searches to find material within the Bible can actually distance users from the Bible, by placing the biblical text itself behind a nearly limitless wall of secondary sources. To help my students better appreciate the value of enaging primary sources and to help them develop more sophisticated searching habits, I switched a year or so ago to requiring students to use digital, searchable Bibes in my introductory courses. I’ll share some of my experiences using Olive Tree’s Bible Study App (a.k.a. BibleReader or Bible+) to teach this type of “searching the scriptures” at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Baltimore this November. I don’t yet know the specific schedule, but I’ll make this presentation in one of the sessions put on by the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies unit.


Leadership changes in the SBL-PCR

Society of Biblical Literature logoSix years ago, Mignon Jacobs of Fuller Theological Seminary accepted the role of Regional Coordinator for the Society of Biblical Literature Pacific Coast Region when Claremont’s Tammi Schneider was term-limited out of that position. Now Mignon has reached the end of a fine six-year run as Regional Coordinator—the maximum allowed by SBL rules—so the mantle now falls to her hand-picked successor. You guessed it: that would be me.

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Handling handouts at connected conferences

Empty pocketsWhile at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature this past weekend, I attended several sessions in which presenters brought handouts — but not enough of them. In fact, I think I only attended one session in which the handouts didn’t run short, and that session met in a relatively small room on Tuesday morning.

At the same time, I observed a good half to three-quarters of the attendees using smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

Given the relatively high level of connectivity at the Annual Meeting, presenters can very easily overcome the too-few-handouts problem by placing PDF copies online. Presenters who don’t manage their own dedicated webspaces can easily store their handouts online using Dropbox or similar services. URL shorteners like,, and can keep the addresses short and convenient. You could even print a QR code on a few business cards or index cards and pass them around to help users quickly grab your handout.

If you’ve gone to the trouble to make a handout, go to the trouble to make sure your audience gets to see it.