Master of Arts in Biblical History and Geography

One of the only master’s programs in the world focused on understanding the physical setting of the land of the Bible. Through classroom and on-site lectures, BHG students learn how rocks, soils, and land formations influenced life and thought in the biblical world.

Biblical History and Geography

About the Program

What You Will Learn

The M.A. in Biblical History and Geography is designed to provide our graduates with a core understanding of the historical and physical realities of the land of the Bible, while allowing the flexibility necessary for individual students to pursue their own interests within the field. By learning how to identify and analyse relevant points of data, our students become proficient in “reading” the land, becoming better exegetes of ancient texts in the process.

By carefully choosing elective courses, our students are able to plan programs of study that emphasize history, geography, and archaeology during either the Old or New Testament periods.

Unique Opportunities at JUC

Students enrolled in the M.A. in Biblical History and Geography have ample opportunity to draw upon the rich resources of Jerusalem and the lands of the Bible. By studying under leading Jewish and Christian scholars in Jerusalem, our students are exposed to the current flow of scholarly discussions and keep abreast of recent discoveries in the field.

Numerous field studies provide our students with a first-hand understanding of the geographical and historical issues that underlie the ancient—and modern—histories of the lands of the Bible. By participating in archaeological surveys and excavations, students are exposed to ancient material cultures and the methodology of fieldwork.

Students enrolled in the degree program may also become involved with local cultures such as the Palestinian, Bedouin, and Druze communities, which in significant ways continue to reflect the lifestyles, ways of thinking, interrelationships, and ethnic movements of biblical times.

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The Details

Course Requirements

The M.A. degree in Biblical History and Geography includes 48 semester credit hours of course work as outlined below. The degree is designed to be completed within two calendar years, although students choosing to pursue the thesis track are given an additional year to complete all of the work for the degree. Students for whom English is not their native language are expected to be able to finish the degree in three years if taking the non-thesis track, and four years if pursuing the thesis track.

Archaeology: 6 hours

  • Biblical Archaeology I—Old Testament Period (3)
  • Biblical Archaeology II—Persian through Byzantine Periods (3)

Geography: 7 hours

  • Physical Settings of the Bible (4)
  • Regional Explorations in Historical Geography (3)

History: 9 hours

  • History of Ancient Israel (3)
  • History of the Second Temple Period (3)
  • Cultural Background of the Bible (3)

Biblical Languages: 11 hours

  • Biblical Hebrew I (4)
  • Biblical Hebrew II (4)
  • Readings in Biblical Hebrew Narrative (3)

Context Courses: 9 hours from the following:

  • Archaeology of Jerusalem I (3)
  • Archaeology of Jerusalem II (3)
  • Sources from Mesopotamia related to the Land of Israel (3)
  • Seminar in Historical Geography (3)
  • Post-biblical Hebrew: Second Temple Period (3)
  • Readings in Historical and Geographical Texts (3)
  • Readings in Poetic Texts (3)
  • Comparative Semitics (3)
  • Introduction to Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (3)
  • Northwest Semitic Dialects (3)
  • Intertestamental Literature (3)
  • The Parables of Jesus and Rabbinic Meshalim (3)
  • Text Studies in Classic Rabbinic Literature for
    Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity (3)
  • Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (3)
  • Guided Research in Archaeology (3)
  • Guided Research in History (3)
  • Guided Research in Geography (3)

Thesis-track degree: 6 hours

  • Guided Research on Thesis Topic (2)
  • Thesis Writing (4)

Non-Thesis-track degree: 6 hours of additional context courses

Bible Content Examinations

  • Old Testament Bible Content Examination
  • New Testament Bible Content Examination

Comprehensive - Integrative Examinations

  • Biblical History and Geography Examination
  • Biblical Hebrew Examination

Proficiency Examination in Modern Hebrew or Arabic (optional)

Total Credit Hours: 48

Double M.A.

JUC offers double M.A. programs for students who choose to study for an additional year and are accepted into a second M.A. program. Students may share up to half (24) the credits between the following three M.A. programs: Biblical History and Geography, Hebrew and Cognate Languages, and Hebraic Roots of Christianity.

Thesis Track

M.A. students may choose to write a thesis as part of their degree program. Once a topic of interest is chosen, the student will work with two faculty members to develop a thesis proposal, then research and write the thesis. The process of writing a thesis not only allows the student to engage a topic in depth, but also to learn methods of research and writing that allow the student to pursue further academic work.

Sample Thesis Titles

The Alliance of Jehoshaphat of Judah and Ahab of Israel: A Geopolitical Analysis

The Fortification System in the Land of Israel in the Iron Age IIA

Exploring the Continuity Between the Pharisees and the Tanaaim

2 Chron. 11:5b-10a: A Case Study in the Application of the Disciplines of Historical Geography

A Study of Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Glass in Jerusalem from Excavated Sites: Understanding Local Production and the Economic Status of the Population from the Time of the Hasmoneans to Hadrian

The 'Black' Juglets in Iron Age I Palestine: A Collation of Finds and an Analysis of Typology, Chronology, Technology, and Distribution

How Much Does It Cost?

Studying at JUC is affordable. Learn about the program costs and our financial aid options.

Ready to Learn More?

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