Thursday, March 10, 2005


Ed Cook relays Dave@GracePages's request for a recommendation for a grammar of biblical Hebrew. I can't be of much help, because I've never found one I really liked. I've used Lamdin and Seow long ago. Both are excellent grammars, but they overwhelm a beginner with too much information. Currently I use Martin's revision of Davidson's Introductory Hebrew Grammar. It's fine for the first semester. The level is right for first-year students, the explanations are generally good, and the exercises are helpful. The problem is that it crams all the derived stems, regular and irregular, into three chapters in the last fifth of the book, which again can overwhelm the students unless those chapters are stretched out quite a bit with supplemental material. I see that a number of people are recommending Kittel, Hoffer, and Wright. It seems to be out of print in the U.K., but maybe I should have a look at it anyhow.

Joe Cathey calls for a new chrestomathy of Hebrew and even suggests my name as a possible author. Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I have far too many other projects in progress right now. Also, I have to say I'm skeptical whether there's a market for a chrestomathy of biblical Hebrew. With BHS readily available, it's just too easy for a lecturer to assign passages straight from it, creating a personalized chrestomathy on the fly so to speak. There is also a good chapter by chapter listing of less frequently used biblical Hebrew vocabularly in Armstrong, Busby, and Carr's A Reader's Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament , so rapid reading of any part of the Bible is easy to assign too. It's true that sometimes annotations of difficult passages would be helpful, but such issues are often covered in class and I'm not sure that that annotations alone would create a sufficient market. Not that I'd be sorry to be proved wrong.

If instead you were to think of a chrestomathy involving (vocalized?) Qumran, Bar Kokba, and rabbinic Hebrew alongside biblical Hebrew, you might be able to demonstrate a greater need, but I think the market would be smaller too.

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