Resources for Biblical, Theological, and Religious Studies maintained by Tyler F. Williams

Deductive Grammars

There are a number of excellent deductive teaching grammars for Classical Hebrew. I personally like Seow - especially for graduate students. Practico and Kelly are more accessible for undergrad students. Lambdin is, of course, the classic deductive Hebrew grammar, though I am not sure that its advantages would outweigh the pedagogical disadvantages if using it for an introductory course.

 

BHSA Grammar for Biblical Hebrew. Revised Edition.
C. L. Seow
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995.

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This grammar follows in the tradition of Lambdin (Seow was a student of Lambdin), and I think it is one of the better deductive grammars available. All the exercises come from the biblical text and the presentation of grammar is well-ordered and clear. It gets students into reading and translating the biblical text right away and includes six excursuses on topics such as the Masoretic reading markers, using BDB, Hebrew poetry, among others. Against more recent trends (e.g., see deClaissé-Walford's grammar below), students learn a basic transliteration method and are required to translate from English to Hebrew up to chapter twenty (of a total of thirty chapters). It is perhaps a bit advanced for an introductory grammar and some of the linguistic terminology may be daunting for students with no previous exposure to Hebrew or other ancient languages. As such, it would provide a better introduction for someone going on to take more Hebrew and who, for instance, wants to get into Bruce Waltke's Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax or other intermediate and advanced grammars.

There is a brand new handbook available for this textbook:

  • Jennifer S. Green, G. Brooke Lester, Joseph F. Scrivner, Handbook to A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005). This is much more than an answer key; it also includes reviews of the lessons and additional helps. Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com

Overall, I recommend this work as a first year teaching grammar for those who prefer a deductive approach (especially in a university or graduate school setting). It would also be suitable (with the Handbook) for self guided study for disciplined students.


 

BHSBiblical Hebrew: An Introductory Textbook
Nancy deClaissé-Walford
Chalice Press, 2002.

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This work is a very user-friendly, basic introduction to Classical Hebrew. It is geared towards presenting the bare essentials of biblical Hebrew so as to encourage students to continue to use it after they are finished the course. Its organization is systematic, with many helpful summaries and review sections. The biggest shortfall of this grammar is that it just doesn't do enough. There is no companion text available for this grammar, though an answer key is included as an appendix.

This work would be well suited for a three-credit Hebrew skills course with students who have no previous experience with ancient languages.

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BHSBeginning Biblical Hebrew
Mark David Futato
Eisenbrauns, 2003.

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This work is among the more recent teaching grammars published. It strives to maintain a balance between making the amount of information presented digestible, without sacrificing depth. While students (and instructors) will appreciate the short chapters, this grammar will need to be supplemented when students begin to use their Hebrew Bibles and dictionaries. There is no companion text available for this grammar.


 

BHSBiblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar
Page H. Kelley
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.

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This deductive grammar is straight-forward. It assumes students have no background in any second language or linguistics. Kelly wrote the grammar coming from a background of teaching Hebrew in Brazil. Grammar is presented in a logical order (pronunciation, nominals, strong verbs, weak verbs, etc.), which may not be the best pedagogically (students are not introduced to verbs until lesson 12). There are thirty-one packed full chapters; all translation exercises come from the biblical text.

There is a companion text available for this grammar:

  • Page Kelley, Terry L. Burden, and Timothy G. Crawford, A Handbook to Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994). This is an annotated answer key with additional helps and exercises. Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com

This work would be well suited for a first year course where students have no previous experience with ancient languages. It would also be suitable (with the Handbook) for self guided study for disciplined students.

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BHSAn Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
Thomas O. Lambdin
Prentice Hall, 1971.

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Lambdin deserves notice because of its scope and detail (and popularity -- but not price!). In contrast to Kittel, this work takes a deductive approach and emphasizes morphology. The latter fact, as well as its extensive use of transliteration, makes it difficult to use. Nevertheless, it is still a helpful resource.

There is a companion text available for this grammar:


 

BHSBasics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar
Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

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This grammar follows in the tradition of William Mounce's popular Basics of Biblical Greek textbook. It primarily follows a deductive approach and is organized logically (basics of Hebrew writing > nouns and nominals > verbs and Qal stem > derived stems). All of the exercises come from the biblical text and are found the Workbook -- which is essential to purchase if you are going to use this grammar. Each chapter includes a brief study of a devotional nature intended to encourage students as they progress through the text. This highlights the authors' intended audience: those training for Christian ministry.

The text comes with CD-ROM with a complete answer key, additional materials, as well as access to a computer flashcard vocabulary software. There is also a companion website (http://basicsofbiblicalhebrew.com). If that isn't enough, there are a number of additional resources available for use with this grammar:

  • Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Workbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001). This contains the exercises for the textbook. Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
  • Miles V. Van Pelt, Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary Cards (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004). Contains 1000 cards keyed to four Hebrew grammars (Pratico and Van Pelt, Futato, Ross, and Seow).Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
  • Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003). Discusses Hebrew word formation; lists all words occurring ten times or more in the Hebrew Bible in descending order of frequency according to their primary roots. Also includes an unusual and difficult word list. Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com

Pratico and Van Pelt are to be commended for producing a grammar that is user-friendly and is supported by so many additional resources. This work is ideal for those wanting a deductive teaching grammar that is not as technical as Seow and geared for Christian students. As such, it would be well suited for Christian colleges and seminaries. It would also be suitable (with the Workbook) for self guided study for disciplined students.

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BHSIntroducing Biblical Hebrew
Allen P. Ross
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

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This deductive grammar has a long pre-history, being used for years in typescript format. The lessons are presented in a logical order with clear and detailed descriptions. There is no companion text available.

 


 

BHSIntroduction to Classical Hebrew
Donald R. Vance
Brill, 2004.

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This grammar is akin to Lambdin in its depth and clarity. Twenty-eight chapters in all, after the basics, it covers nominals, then verbs, and ends with an assortment of topics, including a number of chapters on syntax. It is solidly deductive in that students are not exposed to an actual Classical Hebrew text until chapter 10. There are exercises included after each chapter, and students begin translating passages from the Hebrew Bible in chapter 17 (the last translation assignment is actually Lachish Letter 4). It ends with a number of very helpfully laid-out paradigms and vocabulary lists. There are many things I appreciate about this grammar, though I can't help but think if deClaissé-Walford doesn't do enough, then Vance does too much.

This work would be well-suited for an introductory Hebrew class in a university or graduate school context due to its depth on a number of issues. (Note that I included a link to the paperback version of this grammar; the hardcover is listed for $160 USD, which is prohibitive for textbook adoption).

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Other Resources

There are a number of other excellent resources for beginning students:

 

BHSGrammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Hebrew: Learning Biblical Hebrew Grammatical Concepts through English Grammar
Gary A. Long
Hendrickson, 2002.

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While more of a supplement than a grammar, this work by Long deserves mention as a useful introduction to grammatical concepts. Here is an excerpt from my review of Long's Grammatical Concepts 101 from the Toronto Journal of Theology:

In sum, I found Long’s work to be an insightful and well-presented introduction to basic (and advanced) grammatical concepts. Whether or not instructors will want to recommend or require introductory students to purchase this work is another matter.  Some parts would be excellent for introductory courses, while others may be more useful for intermediate classes.  In addition, if you use a teaching grammar that employs terminology and concepts similar to Long’s approach, then parts of this work could be quite helpful – especially if well-integrated into your course. If, however, you employ a textbook that varies considerably from Long’s presentation, then it could cause undo confusion for beginning students. In such cases, it would be better used as a resource for instructors, who could then adapt its presentation to their own context. Finally, I would recommend this work for students who have completed introductory Classical Hebrew and desire more background in topics such as tense and aspect, semantics, and discourse analysis, before delving into the world of Hebrew reference grammars


 

BHSThe Cambridge Biblical Hebrew Workbook: Introductory Level
Nava Bergman
Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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This Workbook is intended to be used together with an introductory Biblical Hebrew textbook. There are many features of this book that are quite appealing, such as its application of modern language acquisition techniques to make learning biblical Hebrew "an active and inspiring process." This book is actually only one component of an introductory Hebrew "study-kit" written in Swedish that includes this workbook, a textbook, and an audio-CD package with word lists, exercises, texts and biblical songs. It's too bad that the other components were also not made available in English. The primary problem I see with trying to use this resource with another grammar is that the terminology, explanations, and exercises would almost certainly differ on many points with any other introductory grammar, which would only cause more confusion for your students. There is no companion text available for this work.


 

Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Cards
Raymond B. Dillard
Visual Education Association, 1981.

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Vocabulary cards are almost an essential for beginning students. While you can make your own, these premade cards are very helpful. (You may want to check out the cards made by Van Pelt noted above, as they are keyed to the some of the more recent grammars.)

 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 05 July 2009 13:59