16th July 2008
In the Hebrew Bible section I have now included Biblia Hebraica Quinta project. As most of my readers are probably aware, BHQ is the new critical edition of the Hebrew Bible that is being produced under the auspices of the United Bible Societies. It follows in the tradition of BHS and BHK before it, with some exceptions. One change in approach that I am not entirely in favour of is the new policy against conjectural emmendations (i.e., a proposed reading that does not have external textual support, but does have intrinsic probability). While I am not a big fan of conjectural emendations (although I have always found the plethora suggested by Driver to be at the very least entertaining), they have a place in the practice of textual criticism. There are some places in the Hebrew Bible where the MT doesn’t make sense and other texts do not help. This is when a good text critic will suggest an emendation. At any rate, there are currently three fascicles available:
- Biblia Hebraica Quinta, fasc. 18 – General Introduction and Megilloth (Gen. ed. Adrian Schenker et al.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2004). This was the first fascicle of BHQ available. The editors of the individual biblical books are Jan de Waard (Ruth), Piet B. Dirksen (Song of Songs/Canticles), Yohanan A. P. Goldman (Ecclesiastes/Qoheleth), Rolf Schäfer (Lamentations), and Magne Sæbø (Esther). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
- Biblia Hebraica Quinta, fasc. 20 – Ezra-Nehemiah (ed. David Marcus; Gen. ed. Adrian Schenker et al.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
- Biblia Hebraica Quinta, fasc. 5 – Deuteronomy (ed. Carmel McCarthy; Gen. ed. Adrian Schenker et al.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
Another new Hebrew Bible of sorts has just been published by Zondervan:
- A Reader’s Hebrew Bible (ed. A. Philip Brown II and Bryan W. Smith; Zondervan, 2008). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
This is a nice leather-bound version of the Hebrew Bible (based on Leningrad, minus the critical apparatus) with a variety of additional helps, including form-specific glosses of all Hebrew words occurring 100 times or less (twenty-five or less for Aramaic words). It also helpfully shades proper names that occur less than 100 times. I’m sure this last feature will save beginning students countless hours of frustration since they won’t be trying to parse a proper name. Looks great for the beginning student or anyone who is rusty with their Hebrew vocabulary.
I have reworked my discussion of Hebrew grammars, distinguishing between reading grammars and reference grammars and including a number of new resources.
Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible
A new series of reading guides to the Hebrew text that deserves highlighting is The Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible series. This series guides the reader through individual books of the Hebrew Bible (or significant sections thereof) underscoring its grammatical and syntactic features, typically with reference to modern linguistic approaches. There are currently three volumes available:
- Barry Bandstra, Genesis 1-11: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2008). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
- Duane A. Garrett, Amos: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2008). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
- W. Dennis Tucker, Jr., Jonah: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2006). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
Tucker‘s handbook on Jonah is perhaps the most accessible for students who have completed a year of biblical Hebrew. He includes a translation of the book of Jonah followed by clause-by-clause and word-by-word syntactic analysis. Tucker’s discourse analysis follows in the tradition of Rocine and Longacre. I would think this Handbook would be ideal for second year students who want to work through Jonah on their own, though I am almost considering using it near the end of my first year Hebrew class when we typically work through Jonah (I think it may be too much; it would probably be better to use it in a third semester class where the students have already translated Jonah in order to introduce discourse analysis).
Bandstra‘s volume on Genesis 1-11 takes a different and somewhat unique approach to the text — and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Bandstra introduces students to functional grammar through and in-depth analaysis of the opening chapters of Genesis. The 40-page introduction to functional grammar in and of itself is worth the book’s price. I had a chance to work through the manuscript prior to its publication and found the functional approach both intriguing and fruitful. I would recommend this work for more advanced students and scholars.
Williams’ Hebrew Syntax
Finally, one other grammar I want to highlight is John C. Beckman’s thorough revision and expansion of R.J. William’s Hebrew Syntax: An Outline.
- Ronald J. Williams; revised and expanded by John C. Beckman, Williams’ Hebrew Syntax (3rd ed.; University of Toronto Press, 2007) Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
This is a major revision and expansion of Williams’ Hebrew Syntax. While the new edition preserves the best of the second edition (at least based on my comparisons thus far), Beckman makes it far more useful for students and scholars alike. Students will like the interlinear translations of examples and everyone will benefit from the expanded definitions, improved organization, the cross references to other major grammars, and the new layout. Another useful resource connected with this grammar is a companion website that includes, among other things, a detailed outline (see HebrewSyntax.org). This edition marks a significant improvement that will ensure Williams’ Syntax remains a valuable grammar for years to come.
I encourage you to take a look at my updated “Mastering Biblical Hebrew” page and let me know of any errors or omissions.