Last fall, the medical school of Saint Joseph University of Beirut offered, for the first time, a course in a subject not usually associated with the study of medicine: an introduction to written Phoenician, an ancient Semitic language from a region that includes the modern state of Lebanon.This article explains the background of this surprising course of study for a medical school. It seems that medical students have to take electives too in order for them to be well rounded individuals. Ancient Phoenician is an unusual elective, but it makes some sense in Lebanon. The Lebanese are interested in the ancient Phoenicians. People like to learn about the history and ancient culture and language of their country. More power to them.
“The first semester has been a real success,” said Maroun Khreich, the professor teaching the course, “and registration has opened for the spring semester.” He said that 35 people enrolled for the first semester, among them medical students, professors and alumni.
Offering the course was the personal initiative of Roland Tomb, dean of the medical school and a man with wide interests: he is a specialist in dermatology but also has a doctorate in philosophy and ethics, and has studied theology and ancient languages.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.