1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Decent, yet at times incomplete grammar, 4 Jun. 2012
This introduction to Biblical Hebrew is a well-written and decently structured guide perfect for self-study of a highly interesting language. Its lesson structure makes the grammar accessible and presents it in a good, well-structured way, and (unlike many lesson-styled grammars) maintains a consistent noun - verb - syntax layout which makes it a decent 'reference grammar' as well. After working through this grammar I was able to 'read' Biblical Hebrew, yet I wasn't able to 'understand' it. For example: I understood the meaning of words and sentences and was able to read the Bible, yet I could not specify why specific verb forms or nouns/prepositions/etc. used vowel A instead of vowel B. For these matters I either had to speculate, or consult another, better grammar, Grammaire de l'Hébreu Biblique, by P. Joüon, which is however not useful for learning the language because of its structure.
The same goes for syntax, an always quite difficult matter when one tries to understand more complicated sentences (like subordinate clauses). Though the book presents this matter quite straightforward, the syntax is however not as straightforward in the Hebrew Bible. For more complicated structures I had the consult the aforementioned alternative grammar. Also bear in mind that several grammatical constructions (waw-consecutive is considered as preterite though this is far too simplified, since this only applies when the consecutive is used on an imperfect, but can also occur on a perfect, which is ignored by the grammar) are not specified in this grammar.
The paradigms, though clear, present several problems. First of all, the grammar (and its paradigms in particular) uses a first person - second person - third person structure, unlike the normal way of presenting the third person first like is common in Semitic linguistics. Secondly, the vowels of several words in the paradigms are incorrect.
All in all the most important is that I succeeded in mastering the language through use of this book and the aforementioned book by Joüon. I can recommend it because of its clear and well-structured lay-out, yet for dutch speakers I recommend Lettinga's grammar, which is more complete, uses a similar lesson-structure, has more complete and correct paradigms, and is also used in University to educate Biblical Hebrew to new students.