Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar Hardcover – 14 Aug 2001
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From the Back Cover
Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammer takes the groundbreaking integrative approach of William Mounces 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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
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.
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.