25th August 2006
I will be teaching Introduction to Classical Hebrew again this year. I have almost ten years experience teaching Hebrew and I can say that I still love teaching it! For my introductory course am going to use Kittel’s text, which is now in its second edition:
While I have a number of issues with this text, including the fact that the second edition is only a negligible improvement over the first (if even that), I still find it the best for introducing undergrads to the language of the Hebrew Bible. I like its inductive approach, though I do augment it with a series of more deductive handouts to give students the “big picture” before the text actually provides it. I have developed a number of resources for teaching introductory Hebrew with Kittel and most of them are available on my “Resources for Kittel” page. I also have a discussion of introductory Hebrew grammars available here.
In regards to Classical Hebrew grammars, Joe Cathay has a good blog post where he surveys some Hebrew grammars. I pretty much agree with Joe, though I have never found LaSor that helpful. I’m also not sure that when it comes to grammars there are only “basic” and “advanced.” While there is some truth to the notion that learning Hebrew is an “either/or” proposition, I see an important role for intermediate grammars.
Intermediate grammars are helpful for students to make the jump from the basic understanding of the language gained in a one-year introductory course to being able to understand the discussions in GKC, JoÃ¼on and Muraoka, or Waltke & O’Connor. There are two different types of intermediate grammars: those that focus on developing reading ability with some attention to matters of morphology and syntax (I would put Ben Zvi’s grammar in this category); and those that provide a summary discussion of the advanced grammars (I would put Arnold and Choi, Williams, and van der Merwe in this category). While the taxonomy of “introductory – intermediate – advanced” may not be ideal, I still prefer it to Joe’s (too) two broad categories of “basic – advanced.”
You can see my discussion of intermediate and advanced Hebrew grammars on my “Annotated Bibliography for Mastering Biblical Hebrew” page.
Finally, Michael Bird over at Euangelion posted on teaching resources. In regards to Hebrew one article (among many) that I found quite helpful in my thinking about how to teach Classical Hebrew is an article by David W. Baker called “Studying the Original Texts: Effective Learning and Teaching of Biblical Hebrew” in Make the Old Testament Live: From Curriculum to Classroom, edited by and (Eerdmans, 1998; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
All my online Biblical Hebrew resources may be found here.