Book Reviews

Pocket Dictionary for the Study of Biblical Hebrew

Todd J. Murphy Downers Grove, IL 2003-10-21

Murphy defines and describes over two thousand terms, covering the areas of Hebrew grammar and syntax, linguistics, textual criticism, and Old Testament criticism in general. The dictionary is an ideal quick reference tool for students of elementary Hebrew, for it contains all the basic morphological terms that one encounters when studying first-year Hebrew grammar. More advanced students will find the dictionary helpful too, for it contains a wide array of syntactical terms.

A helpful feature of the dictionary is its cross-referencing to the standard grammars in the field, including Joüon-Muraoka, Waltke and O’Connor, Genesius, and the recently published reference grammar of Merwe, Naudé, and Kroeze. This enables one to access fuller discussions of the terms in question.

In recent years the field of linguistics has begun to intersect with the study of biblical Hebrew. An awareness of linguistics is becoming more and more important for both students and teachers of the language. Murphy has included many linguistic terms in the dictionary (e.g., actants, adnominal, allomorph, ambiguity, isomorphic, semantic pertinence, semiotic entities, speech-act theory, structuralism, suprasentential, surface structure).

There are a few minor editing flaws. For example the discussion of “free inversion” on page 75 makes reference to “fronting,” which is preceded by an asterisk. According to the book’s introduction (p. 13) the asterisk means that a separate entry is included for the word so marked. But when one looks up “fronting” on page 76, no definition appears; one is simply instructed to “see free inversion.”

No student or teacher of biblical Hebrew should be without this handy pocket dictionary. It should be noted that other pocket dictionaries are available in this series, including, among others, Arthur Patzia and Anthony Petrotta’s Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998), and Matthew DeMoss’s Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001).

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