Book Reviews

Beginning Biblical Hebrew

Mark D. Futato Winona Lake, IN 2003-08-01

This grammar has much to commend it to both teachers and students. In many respects it compares favorably with the many new elementary grammars that have seen the light of day in recent years. The volume is appealing to the eye—the type, including the Hebrew font, is clear and readable, subheadings are clearly distinguished (in light blue print), and wide margins leave plenty of room for notes.

The grammar is divided into forty chapters that present the essentials of the language without burdening the student with a lot of secondary details that can be learned inductively once one begins reading in the Hebrew Bible. The material can be easily completed in a semester and a half, leaving plenty of time for reading in the Bible. Each chapter contains a presentation of new grammatical elements, followed by a list of ten new vocabulary words. A practice section surveys the new material, reviews previous lessons, provides translation exercises that synthesize the new material with prior lessons, and concludes with brief readings from the Old Testament. The translation exercises are programmed, with the Hebrew text and translations appearing in parallel columns, thus giving the student immediate feedback. The pedagogical strategy is well conceived and reflects sensitivity to the way students learn.

The grammar also contains paradigms, a Hebrew-English vocabulary list containing the four hundred words introduced in the forty lessons, and an answer key to the exercises. Though some may object to including the answers in the grammar, the author is to be thanked for doing so because such keys give students immediate feedback as they do the assignments and facilitate learning for those using the grammar outside a classroom setting.

Both the author and the publisher are to be applauded for making this fine grammar available. It deserves widespread use. 

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