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Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar Hardcover – 14 Aug 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Har/Cdr edition (14 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310237602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310237600
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,226,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammer takes the groundbreaking integrative approach of William Mounce’s widely used Basics of Biblical Greek and applies it to learning and teaching biblical Hebrew. This book makes learning Hebrew a natural process and shows from the very beginning how understanding Hebrew helps in understanding the Old Testament.

Features of Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar

Combines the best of inductive and deductive approaches.
Field-tested at a number of colleges and seminaries.
Uses actual examples from the Hebrew Old Testament rather than "made-up" illustrations.
Emphasizes the structural pattern of the Hebrew language rather than rote memorization, resulting in a simple, enjoyable, and effective learning process.
Typestyle highlights particles added to nouns and verbs for easy recognition of new forms.
Includes a CD-ROM featuring the full answer key to the accompanying workbook; and full-color, printable charts and diagnostics. Includes Acrobat Reader. (Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME, NT4 and MacOS 8.1 or later.) With an Internet connection, you can also access additional resources including FlashWorks(TM), a fun and effective vocabulary-drilling program from Teknia Language Tools.
Section of appendices and study aids is clearly marked for fast reference.

A separate workbook is also available.

About the Author

Gary D. Pratico (Th.D., Harvard Divinity School) is professor of Old Testament and director of the Hebrew Language program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.;Miles Van Pelt is completing his doctorate in Old Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is assistant professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi.

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When I first learned Hebrew, some years ago now, I used two different textbooks (Harper and Eaton). I now teach introductory Biblical Hebrew and for several years used the classic text by Weingreen. The advantages of Weingreen are its comprehensiveness, conciseness and copious exercises. But it also has some serious pedagogical weaknesses, as is only to be expected in a book last revised in 1959. For example, important concepts are sometimes explained too briefly and others not at all. I thought I would try a new approach and use Basics of Biblical Hebrew. I am glad I did. The book's emphasis on `diagnostics', rather than on rote learning of paradigms, might not appeal to purists. But the point is it works. By the end of one year of study the students had a much firmer grasp of the language and could explain verbal forms with greater confidence than I had experienced before. Without exception every student in the class, of whatever ability, rated the book as excellent. When I taught an advanced class to students who had used another textbook at introductory level, several bought Basics of Biblical Hebrew to clarify points only partly mastered before. All agreed that the book is a model of clarity. The accompanying workbook gives numerous graded exercises. The accompanying CD could be more user-friendly. But it's not essential. The textbook and workbook stand by themselves. For teachers, however, the numerous overheads on the CD are a tremendous help for teaching a group in class. If you're not of an evangelical disposition, some of the exegetical observations at the end of chapters might irritate you - but these can be skipped over entirely. So, the CD aside, this is a five star textbook.
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I began teaching myself Biblical Hebrew (BH) about six years ago using Weingreen which I think is excellent in a number of ways. Now, however, I'm at a theological college and I went through Pratico and Van Pelt in my first year. Where Weingreen is very concise, Pratico is comparably long-winded. But it is clear.

The logic of the layout is very good and helps you to grasp the whole system of BH grammar. I've tried to think of better ways of doing it, but this one makes the most sense to me. For example, the verb system is laid out as Qal perfect strong forms, then weak forms, then Imperfect strong, then imperfect weak, and onto Niphal through the system to Hithpael in this way.

The examples they use are from the Bible which is good because they get you straight into the text, but challenging because they may contain elements you have not yet been introduced to. Perhaps a mix would have been better.

Meeper's review seems a little silly, to be honest. It's no use comparing having learnt a European language with study like this. Studying a dead language has unique difficulties; you can't go to the place and have an immersive learning experience and attempt conversations in it even in the classroom. You're stuck with a large text and a culture which you can only read about. The only way in to a good, working knowledge of this kind of language is doing the hard work of learning grammar and syntax and being 'academic' about it. There simply isn't another way to gain facility in this language.

Other reviews have criticised the little sections at the end of chapters which offer comments on certain words or texts. One even declared them unevangelical! I cannot understand why he/she would say this. I found most of them very interesting and even devotional.
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If you are like me, and don't like lots of technical terms but want translations of what various persons etc in the noun, adverb, verb etc tables actually mean in English (of which there are very few), I am sorry to say this is not for you. I bought this and the workbook for a distance learning course and found them less than helpful. The CD that comes with it isn't that easy or intuitive to use either. In fact I haven't even used the workbook or CD that goes with it, and I really don't like the book at all, and avoid using it where possible to do my studies. If you like the sort of academic approach to languages with lots of linguistic terms that is rather cerebral rather than practical and down to earth, it might be ok for you. However if you are a person who say has learnt one European language, likes the current more practical learning style prevelant these days, and doesn't like the rather academic 1950 style of learning with copious linguistic jargonese, then don't bother with this book. It probably better for university students who are not distant learning rather than if you are trying to learn on your own, but even then I am not sure about it. In my opinion there are far better easier to understand and practical books out there to help you learn Hebrew.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews
84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From someone who has used this book a lot. 17 May 2006
By Will Riddle - Published on
There are two basic approaches to language study. Deductive and Inductive. Most, like this one are deductive, and for ancient languages that has the additional implication of meaning no speaking or auditory learning.

When I used this book in my first year Hebrew class, I found it very confusing. First, it has a tendency to give you lots of unusual cases and details which only rarely occur. Second, it does not "connect the dots" between various things which are similar such as pronominal suffixes for nouns versus verbs. Third, it presents the paradigms for these things in different orders. Sometimes it starts with 3ms, and sometimes with 1ms. This makes it very difficult to remember things!

Now that I am using it for review, I like it a bit better. It does clearly show every aspect of the language. I can easily turn to a certain place and get all of the relevant grammar information. I know enough to connect the dots more for myself, so that is less upsetting. So I guess I'm saying that this book makes a great reference, but a challenging introductory grammar. As a caveat, people who are very detail oriented like many linguists often are, may find the detail in this book actually helps them. I am a big picture person, and it frustrated me, but my friend who is detail oriented loved the book.

When reviewing Hebrew this year, I got Learn Biblical Hebrew by John Dobson. It made a nice complement to Practico. Dobson is exactly the opposite. He has you jump right in. You listen to a CD which I find extremely helpful, and you read passages out of the bible which you do not even fully understand grammitically. This is closer to how we normally learn language. Regardless of what book you use to learn Hebrew, if you are auditory like me, Dobson is worth the money just for the CD. I easily learned male and female suffixes when hearing them, for example. However, Dobson is weak on the paradigms, and without them you'll find yourself very confused.

So I don't think Pratico or Dobson are really a good starting point. After looking at a number of different options, I've concluded that A Modern Grammar for Classical Hebrew by Duane Garrett is the best available for the student. He really breaks it down and diagrams things in a way that is geared for the student more than the scholar.
105 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Weingreen, but definitely not Mounce 25 Nov. 2004
By Nathan Eady - Published on
This is a pretty good introductory grammar, as others have

pointed out, but I just want to give a word of caution to any

who may be expecting it to be as good as the equivalent Greek

introductory grammar from the same series: it's not.

BBHG is ostensibly patterned after BBGG, Mounce's excellent

Greek grammar, but Pratico and Van Pelt are not Mounce, and

it shows. There are similarities in the format, such as the

inclusion of an Exegetical Insight section in each chapter and

the separation of some material as Advanced Information, but

beneath the surface there are differences. Mounce makes Greek

as easy as a language can be, but BBHG does not do quite the

same thing for Hebrew -- and I don't believe it's just because

the language is more difficult. (Quite the contrary; there are

fewer cognates in the vocabulary, and the writing system is

more dissimilar from the Latin alphabet we use with English,

but the actual grammar in Hebrew is from a student's perspective

much less tricky and involved than the Greek, IMO, especially

in the beginning chapters dealing with the noun system.)

I feel that I should go into detail here, and I will to some

degree, but overall I think that it is mostly a matter of care

and polish. Mounce includes many more footnotes (even if the

ones about cognates are discounted, since Hebrew has fewer of

those to note), and these offer useful explanatory material,

insight that is sometimes wanting in BBHG. *FREQUENTLY* in

the vocabulary sections Pratico and Van Pelt include a word

that is spelled identically to another word included in a

previous chapter, without making any note of this or explaining

it in any way; granted, Hebrew has more instances of this than

Greek, but it is also true that Mounce in such cases was more

careful -- in some cases presenting both words at the same

time, or at least making a footnote, so that the student was

made aware of the issue. Even when the words were not quite

identical, but differed by accent marks, Mounce includes a

list of such similar words to give the student a heads-up.

This is a small thing, but it makes it much easier for the

student to learn. Using BBHG, I frequently find that vocab

flashcards that I keep getting wrong turn out to have the same

word as another flashcard with a different meaning, and then I

have to hunt down both flashcards together and combine them or

make notes on the back about the other one; only after I have

done this can I finally really learn those words properly.

This is unnecessary pain for the student and does not help

the learning process at all.

The accompanying workbook is similarly less polished. The

exercises in the workbook with Mounce to a large degree are

smooth and only require knowledge of material that has been

studied in chapters up to that point, giving the student the

meanings of any words that have not yet been studied. BBHG

does not make any real attempt to do this. Students must

continually flip back and forth though a lexicon to complete

the exercises, which is tiresome and does little to aid the

learning process. Worse, in a handful of cases the exercises

require knowledge that the student cannot reasonably be

expected to know -- for example, requiring the student in

some cases to translate words from English to Hebrew when the

word in question has not yet been studied -- but the lexicon

is only ordered by Hebrew and is not searchable by the English.

(Specific examples of this include "young man" in the exercises

for chapter eight and "righteousness" in the exercise for

chapter ten.)

I chalk these differences up to this: when Mounce wrote his

grammar and workbook, he was working from materials he had been

using in his own Greek classes for years, and many of these

problems had been worked out already before the first edition

was published. This shows, and BBGG is without reservation

the best textbook (let alone grammar textbook) that I have

ever used. Pratico & Van Pelt's BBHG does not live up to that


Lest this review be all negative, I should note that despite

such problems, the BBHG is overall a pretty decent grammar,

and I'm giving it four stars. It is much easier to follow

than Weingreen, for example, and in general is pretty easy

to learn from. There may or may not be a better introductory

Hebrew grammar; I have only seriously looked at a couple of

others, and they were significantly worse. Weingreen, for

example, may be useful as an additional grammar, but for the

beginning student I cannot recommend it by itself. I can

recommend the BBHG, though -- despite its shortcomings, you

can learn the language from it, and the process is relatively

painless, aside from the obvious need to study quite a lot,

as will always be the case with learning a language.

So, buy this book, but don't expect the kind of near perfection

that you found in Mounce -- at least, not in the first edition.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New and Improved Ancient Language 21 Jun. 2002
By Chris Van Allsburg - Published on
When I saw Basics of Biblical Hebrew sitting on the shelf at the local Christian bookstore, I jumped with tingling excitement. I was used to the classic (and reliable) Weingreen, which was not conducive to amiable learning, to say the least. I noticed that the new grammar by Pratico and Van Pelt was fashioned after the style of Mounces' Basics of Biblical Greek, and after perusing its pages, I knew this was a must have. First, the Hebrew font is very easy on the eye, and the highlighted particles and vowel changes in the verb paradigms make the differences in verbal forms easy to recognize and commit to memory. Secondly, the margins on the pages are neat and orderly, which make for friendly reading. Thirdly, the exegetical notes at the end of each chapter draw excellent applications of knowing the original languages. And this important, for not a few seminary students have wondered in frustration whether or not if "it's really worth it." But Pratico and Van Pelt have shown students of the Bible that it really is worth the effort, and they make it easier than their predecessors have. Some additional bonuses for example, are the number and size of the chapters. With thirty-six in all, students of Hebrew should be able to get through most if not all of the book within one school year, working through an average of one chapter per week. The chapters are reasonably sized and not too laborious. In addition, the table of contents sets forth the layout of the grammar simply and understandably as it goes systematically through all of the parts of speech, following through with a concise, detailed account of the different verb forms from the Qal to the Hithpael. Review sections at the end of the chapters give excellent summaries and the vocabulary lists are not too lengthy but retain an adequacy that is appropriate. With the addition of the CD-Rom and Workbook, this grammar should be the hallmark for all seminaries and Bible institutions for years to come. One point of concern my Hebrew professor explained to me after I excitedly told him about the new grammar was if it would take the student through all of the necessary components of biblical Hebrew in one year--and that he was going to have to study it further before making the switch. However, I think Basics of Biblical Hebrew does take the beginner through the necessary components of the language in a timely fashion, while encouraging and enabling the student for further studies. After showing the book to some of my fellow students, a number of them who had all but given up on Hebrew because of the rather difficult Weingreen told me they were planning on purchasing Basics of Biblical Hebrew because of its readability, exegetical notes and overall easiness on the eye. This is an excellent grammar, and I am grateful for the hard work of Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a Freshmen Linguistics student 3 Feb. 2003
By CJ Fairchild - Published on
I've studied several languages since high school, and this is by far the best of all the books I've used. It does an excellent job of introducing the Hebrew language at a rate that can be used in a class or as self-study. The grammar charts on the cd were handy for study and review. The flashcard program was helpful in demonstrating proper pronounciation for the vocab terms, though I wish it had included the alphabet (an audio file of whih is avaliable on the BBH website).
I would suggest this to anyone with an interest in Hebrew language or culture, though I would also suggest coupling this with some modern Hebrew, as the spoken language is just as important as the written.
***Personal Study Tip***
Complex languages like Hebrew and Greek can be really frustrating when you spend a lot of time learning the very basics. Once you have the alphabet and vowel system down, augment your studies with sections from later in the book. While you probably do not want to make a full study of the Qal stem at the same time as nouns, being able to compose simple phrases and sentences really helps to gain a sense of the language and it makes you feel as if you've done something useful.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jewish Review of Basics of Biblical Hebrew 27 Mar. 2002
By Alan Tischler - Published on
This is a great book for beginners or for those like me who speak fluent Israeli Hebrew and want to brush up on grammatical points particular to Biblical Hebrew. Everything about the grammar book, supplementary workbook, CD-ROM and website is first-rate. Lots of care have gone into the designing and manufacturing of this set of Biblical Hebrew materials. It has a parallel brother in the Zondervan Basics of Biblical Greek.
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