Recent Teaching Grammars for Biblical Hebrew: A Review and Critique -- By: Jennifer Noonan

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 43:0 (NA 2011)
Article: Recent Teaching Grammars for Biblical Hebrew: A Review and Critique
Author: Jennifer Noonan

Recent Teaching Grammars for Biblical Hebrew: A Review and Critique

Jennifer Noonan*


In just over a decade, at least twenty new grammars for Biblical Hebrew (BH) have appeared. Each textbook has something unique to add in its own right. However, when taken together as a group, these grammars provide us with a picture of both the positive trends and the shortcomings in the field of BH pedagogy. The purpose of this article is to review the textbooks that have been newly published in the last decade-and-a half,1 discuss what these textbooks tell us about the current trends in teaching for BH, and provide some suggestions for future improvement in the field.

Each textbook was analyzed and evaluated using the following categories as a guide: general description, grammatical information, pedagogical approach, student appeal, and teacher appeal. The results of this analysis then helped to identify some trends and patterns in recent BH pedagogy. Of these 20 textbooks, 13 target beginning students of BH, 2 include material suited for intermediate learners only, and 5 incorporate material that starts with beginners in mind and concludes well into the intermediate range of learning.2

General Description

While sages may advise us to not judge books by their covers, the basic physical description and cost of a book certainly add to one’s estimation of its value. The Hebrew textbooks reviewed for this article varied widely in their size and cost.3 The length of the 20 textbooks surveyed ranged from 85 pages (Vance [Ruth], 2003) to 565 pages (Ross, 2001), with an average of 346.29 pages. The cost of each text ranged from $17 (Vance [Ruth], 2003) to $226 (Vance, 2004),4 with an average price of $51.02.5

In addition to the basic lesson material (considered below in more detail), most textbooks also include other supplemental and reference material. The most common type of supplement is a set of self-standing paradigms (separate from the lessons themselves).6 The paradigms offered in these textbooks fall into one of three categories: paradigms depicting all nominal and verbal patterns (5 texts), all verbal patterns only (10), or a select/partial set of verbal patterns (3).7 Other common supplemental materials include: Hebrew-to-English glossary (17), English-to-Hebrew glossary (4), subject index (12...

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