The Catholic University of America

Course Descriptions

Semitics (SEM) Graduate Courses

To view the complete schedule of courses for
each semester, go to Cardinal Station.

SEM 501: Research Methods in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures

1.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 503: History of the Christian Near East

3.00 Credits

Survey of the origins and development of Christianity in Syro-Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Persia down to the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE). Special attention to church-state relations both before and after Constantine, to the development of monasticism, and to evidence drawn from the indigenous literatures, especially Coptic and Syriac.

SEM 505: History of Christians in the Islamic Near East

3.00 Credits

A survey of the history and literature of the Christian communities in the world of Islam, beginning with the Christians in the world in which Islam was born, to the irruption of the military forces of the Latin west into the area in the eleventh century. Highlights the authors and their works who responded to the religious challenge of Islam in Syriac and Arabic. Islam has been in dialogue with Christianity from its inception; the lectures and readings follow this dialogue, on both sides, from the beginning in the seventh century to the experience of the Crusades.

SEM 507: Near Eastern Archeology I

3.00 Credits

This survey of major aspects of Near Eastern archeology is offered at the Johns Hopkins University.

SEM 508: Dead Sea Scrolls

3.00 Credits

Deals with the Dead Sea Scrolls and related discoveries, including their contents and their historical, religious, and archeological context. Analyzes their relevance to interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, the story of their discovery, and ongoing controversies about their significance and meaning. The sources will be read in translation.

SEM 509: Near Eastern Archaeology II

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 511: Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

3.00 Credits

Fundamentals of phonology, morphology, and syntax of Classical Biblical Hebrew, followed by simple readings in Biblical Hebrew prose.

SEM 512: Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

3.00 Credits

Fundamentals of phonology, morphology, and syntax of Classical Biblical Hebrew, followed by simple readings in Biblical Hebrew prose.

SEM 521: Introduction to Aramaic

3.00 Credits

Introduction to Targumic Aramaic; an intensive introduction to the grammar of Targums Onkelos and Jonathan, as exemplified in manuscripts with genuine Babylonian pointing. Some attention is given to the place of the dialect in relation to other Aramaic dialects; the grammar is reinforced with selected readings.

SEM 522: Introduction to Aramaic

3.00 Credits

Introduction to Targumic Aramaic; an intensive introduction to the grammar of Targums Onkelos and Jonathan, as exemplified in manuscripts with genuine Babylonian pointing. Some attention is given to the place of the dialect in relation to other Aramaic dialects; the grammar is reinforced with selected readings.

SEM 531: Introduction to Syriac I

3.00 Credits

Introduction to the phonology, morphology, and syntax of literary Syriac, followed by the reading and analysis of texts.

SEM 532: Introduction to Syriac II

3.00 Credits

Introduction to the phonology, morphology, and syntax of literary Syriac, followed by the reading and analysis of texts.

SEM 533: Basic Syriac

3.00 Credits

The fundamentals of literary Syriac phonology, morphology, and syntax, offered in an intensive format during summer school.

SEM 541: Introduction to Arabic

4.00 Credits

Elementary grammar and syntax of the classical Arabic of the Quran and of early Islamic literature. Emphasis on mastery of the verb forms and noun types.

SEM 542: Introduction to Arabic

4.00 Credits

Elementary grammar and syntax of the classical Arabic of the Quran and of early Islamic literature. Emphasis on mastery of the verb forms and noun types.

SEM 543: Basic Arabic

5.00 Credits

This introduction to the Arabic language is offered at the Johns Hopkins University.

SEM 545: Arabic Literature I

3.00 Credits

This course in reading Arabic Literature is designed for students with native or near-native fluency in Arabic. The selections to be read will include both literary prose (adab) and poetry. The course will not be a survey of medieval literature but will seek to sample major types of literature. Consent of the department is required.

SEM 546: Arabic Literature II

3.00 Credits

This course in reading Arabic Literature is designed for students with native or near-native fluency in Arabic. The selections to be read will include both literary prose (adab) and poetry. The course will not be a survey of medieval literature but will seek to sample major types of literature. Consent of the department is required.

SEM 547: Arabic Literature in Translation

3.00 Credits

This course provides an introduction to Arabic literature, from pre-Islamic to modern times. Genres covered include prose, poetry, novels, short stories, folklore, drama and religious tracts. The selection of texts is meant to present a profile of the social, intellectual, religions and cultural aspects of the Arabic literary heritage.

SEM 551: Introduction to Classical Ethiopic

3.00 Credits

Fundamentals of phonology, morphology, syntax, and the writing system of Classical Ethiopic, followed by selected readings.

SEM 552: Introduction to Classical Ethiopic

3.00 Credits

Fundamentals of phonology, morphology, syntax, and the writing system of Classical Ethiopic, followed by selected readings.

SEM 592: Directed Readings

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 611: Biblical Hebrew Prose I

3.00 Credits

Rapid reading in Biblical Hebrew prose, usually from the Pentateuch and/or historical books of the Old Testament. Readings supplemented by systematic presentations on Hebrew grammar, such as verbal syntax and patterns of derivational morphology. Prerequisites: 511 and 512 or equivalent.

SEM 612: Biblical Hebrew Prose II

3.00 Credits

Rapid reading in Biblical Hebrew prose, usually from the Pentateuch and/or historical books of the Old Testament. Readings supplemented by systematic presentations on Hebrew grammar, such as verbal syntax and patterns of derivational morphology. Prerequisites: 511 and 512 or equivalent.

SEM 613: Mishnaic Hebrew

3.00 Credits

This course provides an introduction to Tannaitic Hebrew, the language of the earliest strata of the Mishnah, primarily through a reading of the tractate Avot. Prerequisites: 611 and 612 or equivalent.

SEM 622: Biblical Aramaic

3.00 Credits

Close reading of the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament, with attention to philology, syntax, and textual criticism. Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Biblical Hebrew. May not be used for Aramaic core credit.

SEM 631: Syriac Literature

3.00 Credits

Reading of selected texts in the several scripts and genres of Syriac literature, with a view to consolidating the student's mastery of the written language. Prerequisites: 531 or 532 or equivalent.

SEM 632: Syriac Literature

3.00 Credits

Reading of selected texts in the several scripts and genres of Syriac literature, with a view to consolidating the student's mastery of the written language. Prerequisites: 531 or 532 or equivalent.

SEM 641: Readings: Islamic and Christian Arabic

3.00 Credits

For students with a basic knowledge of Arabic; consists of reading selected texts in Arabic from the early Islamic period, written by Muslims or Christians. Special attention to Christian/Muslim relations and dialogue. Prerequisites: 541 and 542 or equivalent.

SEM 642: Readings: Islamic and Christian Arabic

3.00 Credits

For students with a basic knowledge of Arabic; consists of reading selected texts in Arabic from the early Islamic period, written by Muslims or Christians. Special attention to Christian/Muslim relations and dialogue. Prerequisites: 541 and 542 or equivalent.

SEM 651: Readings in Classical Ethiopic

3.00 Credits

This course presupposes a basic knowledge of Classical Ethiopic and involves readings from both historical and religious texts.

SEM 652: Readings in Classical Ethiopic

3.00 Credits

This course presupposes a basic knowledge of Classical Ethiopic and involves readings from both historical and religious texts.

SEM 661: Introduction to Akkadian

3.00 Credits

Introduction to Akkadian (the language of the Assyrians and Babylonians). Fundamentals of Old Babylonian grammar and the cuneiform writing system, with reading exercises in Old Babylonian texts.

SEM 662: Introduction to Akkadian

3.00 Credits

Introduction to Akkadian (the language of the Assyrians and Babylonians). Fundamentals of Old Babylonian grammar and the cuneiform writing system, with reading exercises in Old Babylonian texts.

SEM 671: Middle Egyptian

3.00 Credits

An introduction to the second-millennium phase of the language of ancient Egypt and to its writing system. Offered in association with the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

SEM 672: Middle Egyptian

3.00 Credits

An introduction to the second-millennium phase of the language of ancient Egypt and to its writing system. Offered in association with the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

SEM 673: Middle Egyptian Texts

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 674: Old Egyptian

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 675: History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt I

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 676: History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt II

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 681: Introduction to Coptic Studies

3.00 Credits

The fundamentals of Sahidic phonology, morphology, and syntax, followed by the reading and analysis of texts. Prerequisite: Basic Greek.

SEM 682: Introduction to Coptic Studies

3.00 Credits

The fundamentals of Sahidic phonology, morphology, and syntax, followed by the reading and analysis of texts. Prerequisite: Basic Greek.

SEM 683: Basic Coptic

3.00 Credits

The fundamentals of Sahidic Coptic phonology, morphology, and syntax, offered in an intensive format during summer school. Prerequisite: Basic Greek.

SEM 684: Readings in Coptic

2.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 694: Independent Study

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 698A: Master's Comprehensive Examination (w/Classes)

0 Credits

no description available

SEM 698B: Master's Comprehensive Examination (w/o Classes)

0 Credits

Enrollment in this course bills at the equivalent of one credit hour.

SEM 702: Ancient Israel in its Near Eastern Context

3.00 Credits

A continuation of 501. Begins during the power vacuum following the collapse of the Bronze Age empires. Devoted both to the succession of later empires (Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman) and to the fate of biblical Israel and its descendant tradition Judaism among these empires. Considers the notion of the Axial Age. Extends through the Second Jewish Revolt of 135 and the desolation of Jerusalem.

SEM 703: History of the Christian Near East

3.00 Credits

Survey of the origins and development of Christianity in Syro-Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Persia down to the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE). Special attention to church-state relations both before and after Constantine, to the development of monasticism, and to evidence drawn from the indigenous literatures, especially Coptic and Syriac.

SEM 705: History of Christians in the Islamic Near East

3.00 Credits

A survey of the history and literature of the Christian communities in the world of Islam, beginning with the Christians in the world in which Islam was born and extending to the irruption of the military forces of the Latin West into the area in the eleventh century. The course highlights the works of authors who responded to the religious challenge of Islam in Syriac and Arabic. Islam has been in dialogue with Christianity from its inception. The lectures and readings follow this dialogue, on both sides, from the beginning in the seventh century to the experience of the Crusades.

SEM 706: Northwest Semitic Inscriptions

3.00 Credits

Iron Age inscriptional material from Syria-Palestine, focusing usually on Old Aramaic, Phoenician, ancient Hebrew, Canaanite inscriptions, or some combination thereof. This course introduces students to epigraphic, philological, and historical issues and methods. Prerequisite: basic knowledge of Hebrew.

SEM 707: Ugaritic Grammar and Texts

3.00 Credits

Introduction to Ugaritic grammar on the basis of historical Hebrew grammar and comparative Semitic philology. Reading of selected mythological and prose texts. Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of Hebrew and at least one fully inflected Semitic language (Akkadian or Arabic).

SEM 708: Ugaritic Grammar and Texts

3.00 Credits

Introduction to Ugaritic grammar on the basis of historical Hebrew grammar and comparative Semitic philology. Reading of selected mythological and prose texts. Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of Hebrew and at least one fully inflected Semitic language (Akkadian or Arabic).

SEM 709: Comparative Semitic Grammar

3.00 Credits

An introduction to Semitic phonlogy, morphology, and syntax in the light of historical and comparative linguistics. A basic knowledge of two or Semitic languages, one of them fully inflected, is presupposed.

SEM 710: Comparative Semitic Grammar

3.00 Credits

An introduction to Semitic phonology, morphology, and syntax in the light of historical and comparative linguistics. Knowledge of two or more Semitic languages, one of them fully inflected, is presupposed.

SEM 711: Biblical Hebrew Poetry I

3.00 Credits

Close reading of poetry from the prophetic or poetic books of the Old Testament, with attention to philology, syntax, textual criticism, and prosody. Prerequisites: 611 and 612 or permission of chair; basic knowledge of Greek.

SEM 712: Biblical Hebrew Poetry II

3.00 Credits

Close reading of poetry from the prophetic or poetic books of the Old Testament, with attention to philology, syntax, textual criticism, and prosody. Prerequisites: 611 and 612 or permission of chair; basic knowledge of Greek.

SEM 713: Intertestamental Hebrew (Qumran)

3.00 Credits

Readings in the prose and poetry in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Prerequisites: 611 and 612 or Permission of Instructor.

SEM 715: Textual Criticism of the Old Testament

3.00 Credits

Introduction to the ancient witnesses and text-critical principles for restoring the text of the Old Testament. Special reference to Septuagint problems. Prerequisites: 611 and 612 or permission of chair; basic knowledge of Greek.

SEM 716: Textual Criticism of the Old Testament

3.00 Credits

Introduction to the ancient witnesses and text-critical principles for restoring the text of the Old Testament. Special reference to Septuagint problems. Prerequisites: 611 and 612 or permission of chair; basic knowledge of Greek.

SEM 717: Seminar in Biblical Hebrew

3.00 Credits

Studies in the structure and history of Hebrew, chiefly of the biblical period.

SEM 718: Seminar in Biblical Hebrew

3.00 Credits

Studies in the structure and history of Hebrew, chiefly of the biblical period.

SEM 719: Historical Hebrew Grammar

3.00 Credits

A review of aspects of the development of ancient Hebrew.

SEM 721: Qumran Aramaic

3.00 Credits

Readings in the Aramaic texts from Qumran, such as the Prayer of Nabonidus, the Genesis Apocryphon, Targum of Job, Enochic literature. Prerequisites: 521 or 531 or Permission of Instructor.

SEM 722: Qumran Aramaic

3.00 Credits

Readings in the Aramaic texts from Qumran, such as the Prayer of Nabonidus, the Genesis Apocryphon, Targum of Job, Enochic literature. Prerequisites: 521 or 531 or Permission of Instructor.

SEM 723: Aramaic Dialects I

3.00 Credits

Readings in Official or Old Aramaic texts. Prerequisites: 521 or 531 or Permission of Instructor.

SEM 724: Aramaic Dialects

3.00 Credits

Readings in Official or Old Aramaic texts. Prerequisites: 521 or 531 or Permission of Instructor.

SEM 725: Semitic Background of the New Testament

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 731: Seminar in Syriac Patristics

3.00 Credits

For the advanced student in Syriac; concentrates on an important work in Syriac literature, often a work of Ephraem the Syrian, with a view to studying it thoroughly through translation, literary analysis, and a review of its leading ideas, in the wider context of early Christian thought. Prerequisites: 631 and 632 or equivalent.

SEM 732: Seminar in Syriac Patristics

3.00 Credits

For the advanced student in Syriac; concentrates on an important work in Syriac literature, often a work of Ephraem the Syrian, with a view to studying it thoroughly through translation, literary analysis, and a review of its leading ideas, in the wider context of early Christian thought. Prerequisites: 631 and 632 or equivalent.

SEM 733: Editing Texts: Christian Near East

3.00 Credits

Introduction to the practice and theory of editing texts written in languages of the Christian Near East, with a focus on Syriac and Arabic. Other languages, including Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Georgian, may also be considered depending on student interest. Prerequisite: knowledge of Syriac or Arabic or consent of instructor.

SEM 741: Seminar in Arabic

3.00 Credits

Advanced readings of texts related to Christianity and Islam.

SEM 742: Seminar in Arabic

3.00 Credits

Advanced readings of texts related to Christianity and Islam.

SEM 743: Readings in Garshuni

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 761: Reading of Akkadian Texts

3.00 Credits

Reading of selected texts in Akkadian, chosen both to increase students' grasp of the language (and the culture it represents) and to contribute to the students' research interests in the larger context of the ancient Near East, Semitics, and literature. Texts may represent in one semester a single period or type of text (e.g., Late Bronze Age or literary texts) and in the other, a series of explorations of different text groups. Prerequisites: 661 and 662 or equivalent.

SEM 762: Reading of Akkadian Texts

3.00 Credits

Reading of selected texts in Akkadian, chosen both to increase students grasp of the language (and the culture it represents) and to contribute to the students research interests in the larger context of the ancient Near East, Semitics, and literature. Texts may represent in one semester a single period or type of text (e.g., Late Bronze Age or literary texts) and in the other, a series of explorations of different text groups. Prerequisites: 661 and 662 or equivalent.

SEM 763: Akkadian Economic, Legal, and Administrative Texts

3.00 Credits

Seminar Readings in a specific group of Akkadian texts from the third to first millennium. Offered in association with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

SEM 764: Akkadian Economic, Legal and Administrative Texts

3.00 Credits

Seminar Readings in a specific group of Akkadian texts from the third to first millennium. Offered in association with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

SEM 781: Readings in Coptic

3.00 Credits

Reading of selected texts in Sahidic and other dialects with the introduction of more complex syntactic questions. Prerequisites: 681 and 682 or equivalent.

SEM 782: Readings in Coptic

3.00 Credits

Reading of selected texts in Sahidic and other dialects with the introduction of more complex syntactic questions. Prerequisites: 681 and 682 or equivalent.

SEM 783: Coptic Seminar

3.00 Credits

Studies special topics dealing with Christian Egypt as illustrated by texts that are extant in Coptic. Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Coptic.

SEM 784: Coptic Seminar

3.00 Credits

Studies special topics dealing with Christian Egypt as illustrated by texts that are extant in Coptic. Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Coptic.

SEM 785: Studies in Coptic Epigraphy

3.00 Credits

A consideration of the units of writing, i.e., the ostracon, the papyrus, the scroll, and the book, in the context of early Christian Egypt. Includes both reading and study of printed sources as well as use of the CUA collection of manuscripts. Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Coptic.

SEM 792: Directed Readings

1.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 807: Basic Old Georgian

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 808: Readings in Old Georgian

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 993: Directed Research

3.00 Credits

no description available

SEM 996: Doctoral Dissertation Research

0 Credits

This course bills at the equivalent of one credit hour.

SEM 998A: Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (w/Classes)

0 Credits

no description available

SEM 998B: Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (w/o Classes)

0 Credits

Enrollment in this course bills at the equivalent of one credit hour.