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Review: Basics of Biblical Hebrew, Third Edition

Zondervan Academic, 2019
Since its publication in 2001, Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt's celebrated Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar has enjoyed success as one of the leading introductory Hebrew grammars for colleges and seminaries. Contributing to its success is its combination of inductive and deductive approaches to learning complex nuances of Hebrew, coupled with its real examples from the Hebrew Bible (whereas other Hebrew texts often use made-up examples). Now in its third edition, BBH remains one of the most excellent introductions to learning biblical Hebrew.

New to this edition is an updated workbook with tear-out pages, three-hole punching, and frequent Hebrew reading sections to begin applying language skills to real passages of the Bible. This workbook is redesigned from previous editions in allowing more room for writing and denoting each chapter with its Hebrew number.

This edition also includes a new vocabulary list with an accompanying flashcard set keyed to the book. Each flashcard includes its chapter, definition, and frequency. Furthermore, the textbook contains a lexicon at the end of the book, which is useful for introductory students, reducing the need to purchase another ancillary resource.

Apart from major additions, some chapters have been rewritten or reorganized to better suit its pedagogical purpose. Sections at the end of each chapter are now called "Something You Should Know, Consider, or Memorize," providing extra information that pertains to the chapter's content. The book also includes a new layout, which is essentially just larger text and a new font for the headings. Nonetheless, these design changes make for an easier reading experience. Finally, rather than render the divine name as LORD, this edition changes it to "Yahweh," reflecting modern conventions. (This may be controversial to some but is possible to overlook.)

As a student of biblical Hebrew and a user of previous editions of BBH, I find this new revision to be exciting and useful. The changes of content are not necessarily necessary (in that they do not reflect advancements in Semitic language scholarship), yet the new design solves many issues which have been a source of complaint for many. In particular, this book is made of better materials and is significantly lighter than the previous edition. For these reasons, this book would be a welcome addition to incoming Hebrew students—not because it contains new information but because its presentation has been significantly improved.

Overall, the third edition of Basics of Biblical Hebrew asserts Zondervan's leadership in biblical language studies and will continue to serve as an all-in-one resource for introducing Hebrew. The grammar, workbook, cheat sheet, flashcards, and DVD compile the essentials for entering the amazing world of biblical languages.

(My thanks is given to Zondervan for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review.)

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