Jul 26, 2019 David Lang

Memorizing Hebrew with the Dynamic Interlinear

The reason we call Accordance’s interlinear feature the Dynamic Interlinear is that it is flexible enough to be used in all sorts of ways.

 

 

You can create a standard interlinear with English words under the original Greek and Hebrew. You can create a reverse interlinear which displays Greek or Hebrew under the English. You can create an all English interlinear comparing every key-numbered Bible text you own. You can use the MT-LXX Interlinear database to create an interlinear with the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint. Or, as I discovered the other day, you can use the Dynamic Interlinear to help your family memorize verses in Hebrew!

In our family devotions, we will generally read through a passage of Scripture. I use Airplay with an AppleTV to project Accordance onto our TV so everyone can see the Bible text. Once we’re done reading, we’ll spend a few minutes working on memory verses. When we’re first learning them, I display them on the TV as a kind of crutch that we can look to for help. Once we’ve got a passage down, I no longer bother displaying it. We just recite it together and help one another if someone gets stuck. Our ten-year-old, Josiah, usually memorizes passages much faster than his parents and older siblings, so he’s typically the one helping the rest of us.

Josiah’s new Sunday School teacher recently started doing Scripture memory as part of the class, so we’ve just shifted our Scripture memory efforts to the verses she is assigning. This week was Genesis 1:1, which we’ve never actively memorized, but which we had all passively memorized from reading and hearing so often.

Since our English memory work was already done, I decided it would be fun to have my family memorize the verse in Hebrew, something I had done when I took my first Hebrew class in college. Of course, at that time I had been in the process of learning to read the letters and understand the grammar, so memorizing Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew was reinforcing what I was learning. It is a much harder task to memorize a sequence of foreign sounds with no matrix for understanding them.

As I taught my family to recite the verse in Hebrew, we tried a variety of strategies. I would say a few words and have them repeat them, but they struggled to get the pronunciation down. They did better when we started reciting each Hebrew word followed by its English translation, yet even then, I noticed that Josiah, who is usually a perfect mimic, was mispronouncing certain words.

If only I could engage their eyes as well as their ears to help them get it. I could use Accordance to display the Hebrew text, but that wouldn’t help them at all! Then it hit me: I could use Accordance’s Dynamic interlinear to show them the transliteration of the words into English. I very quickly added Word Transliteration and an English translation to give them something they could look at while they repeated the Hebrew words I was teaching them. As soon as I did that, the mispronunciations stopped and they immediately picked it up. It was really quite remarkable how much of a difference showing the transliteration made, and after going over it for the past few days, they are now reciting Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew completely from memory.

HebrewMemory

Of course, I don’t expect that my family will be memorizing much more of the Bible in Hebrew; we just did this for fun. Yet the fact that we decided to do this on a whim helps to illustrate the value of Accordance’s flexible interface. I didn’t have any clear pedagogical approach in mind when I set out to teach my family Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew. We just dove in, and when I realized I needed to show them the Hebrew words in a way they could actually read, Accordance enabled me to do it with a few mouse clicks.

That’s actually pretty emblematic of how I use Accordance every day. I use Accordance to prepare my Sunday School lessons, but often when I’m teaching, I think of things to show my class or am asked questions which I didn’t plan for ahead of time. With Accordance, I can pull up a relevant map or image or biblical passage on the fly, and look like I spent much more time in preparation than I actually did!

I could give countless other examples, but you get the idea. Accordance’s flexible interface—of which the Dynamic Interlinear is just one small part—lets me go wherever my studies or teaching opportunities take me, even if that’s all the way back to bereshith!

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