by Miles V. Van Pelt
I’m not sure why I chose to review this book. Perhaps it was because my grasp of biblical Hebrew is poor, and I felt like I needed help. Maybe it was because I thought I might fit the target audience – those who have had some Hebrew but need to review the basics. Perhaps it was because I am absolutely convinced of the need for exegesis from the original languages, while at the same time my little grey cells seem to be happier when chewing on theology, philosophy, or history than when studying languages. So let me be clear right up front. I don’t review this book as a Hebrew expert, a Hebrew teacher, or even as a good Hebrew reader. I review it as a pastor who stumbles and bumbles along in Hebrew with the assistance of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible, and needs all the help I can get!
An overview of the book
What you see with Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide is exactly what you get. It is a condensation of Basics of Biblical Hebrew (2nd ed.) by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt. In a pocket-sized format, it packs in an overview of basic phonology, the nominal system, and the verbal system, as well as two appendices consisting of verbal paradigms, charts and a Hebrew-English lexicon.
It is admirably clear, both in layout and content. In fact, for those learning Hebrew, consulting this little work might provide refreshing re-orientation when the avalanche of details begins to feel overwhelming. It can be reassuring to realize that what you have to learn is not infinite; the basics can all fit between the covers of this little book. The text is clear and readable, not squished, and throughout the book, the examples and charts color-code the salient feature under discussion in red.
I believe this book will be most helpful for those who are actively studying the language, particularly second-year Hebrew students. Yet it can also serve as an aid to those of us whose formal language training is in the past but who have an ongoing desire or responsibility to teach the Word. Read more about Book Review - Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide