The average person has a certain level of familiarity with the process of learning a foreign language through studies that may have occurred during either their high school, college or graduate school years. The basic drill of learning the alphabet, vocabulary, parsing verbs, etc. should still feel somewhat familiar. If you were on any kind of a ministry of theology track and your experience is anything like mine, you may have found that learning New Testament Greek was one thing, but Biblical Hebrew took things to a whole new level of difficulty. That added level of challenge is precisely why a book like English Grammar to Ace Biblical Hebrew will be a great help in getting your studies off on the right foot. This companion volume to Lamerson's English Grammar to Ace New Testament Greek (Zondervan, 2004) will introduce you to the English grammar concepts that are necessary for the study of Biblical Hebrew. While it would seem logical that graduate level or seminary students should not have a need for a refresher in English grammar, that just does not match up with what Dr. Van Pelt has seen in his Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek classes over the years. In fact, he has noticed a growing trend amongst his students where their struggle with concepts of English grammar directly impedes their ability to learn Biblical languages. That is precisely why he has written this book.
It's hard to imagine there might be more than one way to read such a small book, but Dr. Van Pelt suggests three possible ways to approach reading this
* Read the book in order, completing the exercises before beginning your work in a Hebrew grammar.
* Work through nominal material in chapters 1-7 and then work through the nominal material in a Hebrew grammar, finally completing the verbal material in chapters 8-14 in preparation for studying the Hebrew verbal system.
* Each chapter contains references to specific chapters in Basics of Biblical Hebrew (Zondervan, 2001, 2007), allowing you to work through this book in conjunction with Basics of Biblical Hebrew, topic by topic.
Van Pelt also offers some excellent study suggestions that will aid your learning of Biblical Hebrew and many other languages and topics:
1. Find a study group!
2. Study regularly!
3. Study early!
I must admit that I especially found numbers 3, 4, and 5 difficult during my college years.
With only 112 pages, this book is a quick read. On average I was able to complete each chapter and the related exercises in under thirty minutes. Van Pelt's writing style is engaging and filled with humor, making the text readable and interesting. I especially liked the exercises at the end of each chapter. These will especially be good for new students as the exercises will get them comfortable with the types of exercises they will perform as they work through most Hebrew grammars. Another important thing to note as you are working through each chapter, there is a helpful glossary of terms at back of book. This will be invaluable, especially if words like abjad, dipthong and gerund just don't ring a bell.
This book is designed with a very wide audience in mind. It will be useful as introductory material for first year Hebrew students. Second semester or
returning Second year Hebrew students who didn't do any Hebrew over the summer or who are struggling with some of the basic grammatical concepts will benefit from this text. Also, Pastors, laymen and others who are well past their college and seminary days, but want to begin rekindling their Hebrew skills will find it useful too. I highly recommend this book and give it an overall rating of 5 stars.
Miles V. Van Pelt (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Alan Belcher Associate Professor of Old Testament and academic dean at Reformed
Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. He is the coauthor of the bestselling Basics of Biblical Hebrew (Zondervan, 2001, 2007), as well as a
number of other resources on Biblical Hebrew. Miles and his wife, Laurie, have four children.
This book was provided by the kind folks at Zondervan Academic for review.