JCBT English Newsletter February 2021

NEWS of NEW BEGINNINGS: overcoming Corona by Zoom teaching!

Teaching sent from Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus, to the countries of the students of 2021.

“For Instruction will come out of Zion

and the Word of the  Lord

from Jerusalem”.

Isaiah 2:3

Dear friends and co-workers!

Greetings from Jerusalem on Feb. 21st, the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF MOTHER-TONGUE TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE. Greetings from the very city from which the message of God in the scriptures started spreading to the nations by speaking, writing and eventually by translating the scriptures. Yet the ‘instructions’, the Hebrew Bible, the source for our concepts on God and man, is lacking for many big and small language groups throughout the world. They need to get it translated accurately, richly and naturally to their own language.

How can this be done? Create a well-planned study program for mother tongue translators where they can study and delve into the Hebrew text while living, studying and experiencing the land where the scriptures were written. This is program was created 25 years ago in Jerusalem.

Time to Celebrate!

The year 2021 is the 25th year of the work of HBT/JCBT – an amazing story of success in impacting and blessing the work and life of 184 participants at the JCBT/Hebrew University semester program, the translators, teachers, consultants and consultants in training from 50 countries, 146 of them mother tongue translators. The grace of God has been abundant! We have received scores and scores of statements from our alumni about how the semester course in a home setting in the Judean Hills has affected them professionally, intellectually and spiritually.

Note: There is a tentative plan to celebrate the 25 year work on May 30-31, in Israel and/or by Webinar. 

The 2021 academic year started in an advanced way, by communicating through the air – by Zoom. It represents the times we live in and not only because of Corona.  It also represents a new era at JCBT when we welcomed the new academic director of the Hebrew study programs: Dr. Reinier de Blois. I (Mirja) held that position previously.  I am honored and thankful to pass the task along to Reinier de Blois, who is a world expert in Biblical Hebrew and loves and respects the Hebrew text of the Bible. Reinier de Blois is the director of Nida Institute for Biblical Research of the American Bible Society.
The Spring Semester

The semester was launched on January 28, at noon Israel time. The session was organized and conducted by two Nida Institute online experts, Michael Hemenway and Dan Fitzgerald, who reside in the USA. In Israel, joining these experts and the students were the Israeli Nida Institute representative, Yair Frank, as the academic training coordinatorAdam Focht as the semester coordinator and the two of us, Halvor and Mirja, the directors of JCBT.  CLICK HERE for a 2 minute video greeting from Halvor.

Once the session began, the faces of the 10 selected 2021 students started appearing on our computer screen one by one. This is the first time we saw them ‘live’, instead of only the passport photographs we had seen in their applications. We would much prefer to meet the students at the airport in Israel, than on the screen, although it was fascinating to hear online their personal introductions and the interesting backgrounds of these carefully chosen course participants. It was also the first time the participants could become familiar with the other students.  They spoke from some 6 different time zones in terms of Israel, from Philippines, South Korea (2), China, India (2), and from Cameroon, Congo, and England. Only Finland, directly to the north, has the same time as Israel.  All the participants are consultants or consultants-in training.


The first session: the Nida team, the JCBT staff and part of the 2021 students (no names for safety).
We welcomed the students to the new course and prayed for the Lord’s protection and help during the 5 month semester. The Nida Institute experts proceeded to give detailed and comprehensive instructions to the students on how the studies will be run by the Canvas learning management platform.

The very next day, January 29, began the Modern Hebrew immersion course of the Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School run by them on Zoom as well. It is an intensive 3-week course where the students learn to listen and speak as well as to read and write Hebrew; it eases the internalization of Biblical Hebrew, as some of the students have noted to us already.  In fact the vocabulary learned in this first course is the same as in Biblical Hebrew, since Modern Hebrew was built on Biblical Hebrew. Later, new words were created for modern times but they were based on biblical Hebrew root letters. This course is beamed by ‘air’ to all the participants of the course from Rothberg School at Mt Scopus, overlooking Jerusalem. This reminds us of Isaiah 2:3. “For Instruction will come out of Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem”, just as depicted in the picture above.

In March the Nida team will take over and make sure the courses taught by our experts will be taught successfully to these far away participants by the Canvas learning management program: Living Biblical Hebrew by Eyal Nahum (21 February – thru April), Texts and Semantics by Dr Reinier de Blois (March), and Discourse Analysis by Dr. Lenart de Regt (April). In May we hope the students can come to Israel to become familiar with the land where the scriptures were written and where the facts and the imagery of the text can become alive and clear. The course is on the Historical Geography, Archeology, and Cultural Background of the Bible. The course provides the CONTEXT of the Biblical TEXT by extensive touring throughout the land with the Hebrew Bible in-hand. The students experience and study the land while they walk, see, hear, touch and smell the land. It is followed (in June) by an intensive course on Biblical Hebrew Poetry, while yet in the land. It is taught by our well experienced scholars and friends Drs Ernst Wendland and Lynell Zogbo (they invented and taught the One Book at the Time courses on Psalms and Micah). It is a course where the participants can delve into the Psalms with the benefit of what was studied earlier from the experts in Biblical Hebrew Semantics, Discourse Analysis and during the intensive Land of the Bible course.

The Vision of JCBT:

JCBT hopes to equip the Consultants and Consultants in Training, who are studying at JCBT, with knowledge, information and insights that will enable them to advise and direct mother tongue translation teams with respect for both the TEXT and the CONTEXT of the Hebrew Bible. By supporting the training of consultants, we support the achievement of reliable and meaningful translations. The consultants are the ones who travel to meet the translation teams in the villages, note the progress of the project and its quality, provide advice and information, and eventually approve the translation for publication. Each of the participants of 2021 have number of translation projects they are serving.

Fall 2021: a New Course in French for Bible Consultants and Consultants-in-training
From the beginning of its existence, JCBT has committed itself to provide courses for French-speaking translators and consultants. We are especially gratified to be able to offer a new course for French speaking consultants and consultants-in-training in the Fall of 2021. Our co-worker and lecturer, Dr. Lynell Zogbo, who often teaches Hebrew poetical texts for us, is putting together an intensive 5-week course on two aspects of Hebrew discourse: narration and poetry, as they are exhibited in two Old Testament books, Jonah & Psalms. This course is to be co-taught with our former alumnus and coworker, Dr. Samy Tioye. Students who have never before been to the Land will also benefit from seeing sites firsthand. It is well-known that French-speaking Africa has less access to Bible commentaries, translations helps, and training than Anglophone Africa. Please pray for Drs Zogbo and Tioye as they select students who will most benefit from this course, for their course preparation, and for a safe and inspiring course at the log-home in Israel. Click here to read more details about this special course for French speakers. For more information and to apply, please contact (in French): Mr. Franck, with a copy to Yair

HOW can you be part of this worldwide effort ? 

  1. Commit to pray for the students of 2021 as they concentrate on studying by Zoom from their life situations in Philippines, South Korea (2), China, India (2) Finland, Congo, Cameroon, and England.
  2. Commit to pray for Corona to subside in the world to allow the JCBT course on the Land of the Bible to become reality in May.
  3. Pray for the French course; for Drs Zogbo and Tioye as they select students who will most benefit from this course, for their course preparation, and for a safe and inspiring course at the Log Home in Israel.
  4. Consider supporting JCBT, which works to provide trained consultants who could ensure quality translations to new nations.

CLICK HERE for information how to contribute.

Short-Term Courses planned for 2021

  1. Seed Company / SIL Course; 11 – 24 April  ( tentative)
  2. Seed Company Translators; 25 May – 7 June (tentative)
  3. IBT Russian Translators; 4 – 16 July
  4. Seed Company. “NT 2 OT” Hebrew Training ;  1 –28 August.
  5. SIL French Course; 10 – 23 August
  6. Open Consultants Course; 1-14 Sept 20. Open to consultants.

We greet you with blessings from Jerusalem and with deep thankfulness for your interest, your vision, your prayers and your essential involvement with JCBT,   


Halvor and Mirja Ronning and staff

For additional information about JCBT, visit our website here.

Copyright © 2021 Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators, All rights reserved.

JCBT Office Phones and Email:
Tel: +972-2-579-0201
Fax: +972-2-533-3793

Additional Contact Info:
Training coordinator – Yair Frank (
Semester coordinator- Adam Focht (
Short courses land of Bible courses. Brian (Baruch) Kvasnica (

JCBT Office Mailing Address
Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators
PO Box 40258
Mevasseret Zion, 9140102

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