In this textbook, designed to teach students to read biblical Hebrew prose with competence by the end of a twosemester course, all Hebrew is taken directly from the Bible. Each of fiftyfive lessons is built around a biblical verse or segment that generates the grammatical concepts to be taught. The book also includes vocabulary lists, an extensive glossary, verb charts, and an index. A sixtyminute audio cassette to accompany the book is also available.
"This is a meticulously thought out textbook that makes great demands upon students; but the end result should be an unusually strong introductory knowledge of biblical Hebrew."—Newsletter of the Association for the Development of Religious Information Services (ADRIS Newsletter)
"The second edition of Biblical Hebrew is wonderful. I have incorporated the CDs into my classroom experience with astounding success and reception by the students. It is a great product."—H. Wayne Ballard, Jr., Carson-Newman College
This book "Biblical Hebrew" is much better than "Basics of Biblical Hebrew" and "Cambridge Introduction to Biblical Hebrew" for picking up the ability to read the Bible. It knows when to avoid giving too many technical details too fast, yet ironically it gets you reading whole sentences much faster than the other two books.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
No better beginning Biblical Hebrew grammar around!Sept. 8 2005
Reader of Job
- Published on Amazon.com
Having used Hoffer's first edition of this volume (with great success and abundant payoff), I was pleasantly surprised to encounter this second edition.
The new edition has been improved in almost every way possible (from layout, to design, to even the fonts). The largest improvements, though, come in the exceptional supplement (which exceeds many advanced, non-beginner grammars) and the CDs which accompany the book. The music is simply wonderful and ranges from little grammatical jingles to full blown covers of songs originally written by the man himself, King David (i.e. the Psalms).
As a whole, this edition is guaranteed to introduce you, in a logical and rigorous fashion, to almost everything you need to know about Biblical Hebrew. The biggest advantage to this book (over, let's say a Lambdin or a Kelley or Pratico [all of which I own]) is that it is heads and tails more pragmatic and useful. Lambdin, for instance, uses transliteration, which really is a huge crutch and in the long run hurts you (not to mention that Lambdin doesn't present his material in a particularly *practical* way...Kelley is the weakest of the bunch, in my opinion [mired in an extremely poor presention-scheme], and Pratico is not horrible, but simply is not as comprehensive as Hoffer's book).
Hoffer's book, on the other hand, presents everything in a *practical, logical* fashion: concepts and vocabulary are introduced as necessary. Within several weeks, you will be reading the story of the binding of Isaac...something the other texts wouldn't dare to do even after dozens of lessons. This book is focused on getting you to read the Biblical text, as quickly, and as thoroughly and critically as possible...the other books too often seem to lose sight of this fact, preferring instead to meander through lessons which seem to lack relevance to the everyone's reason for picking up a Biblical Hebrew grammar: reading the Bible. Every practice sentence/exercise comes from the Bible...everything you learn in this book is *useful*. Not only that, but Hoffer's knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and of Biblical Hebrew grammar is extraordinary...as is her love of the language, which is not only extraordinary, but felt on every page of the book.
Get this book if you're fascinated by the Hebrew Bible and want to read it as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Get this book if you have some familiarity with Biblical Hebrew, but want to master the language. Get this book just for the CDs!
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Excellent way to learn HebrewSept. 12 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
Having looked at, I believe, all of the major introductory Hebrew textbooks for speakers of English as I was trying to triangulate on the various issues involved in learning Biblical Hebrew, I found Prof. Hoffer's the easiest approach to learning the language. That's probably because the book is well-organized, clearly written, and--surprisingly enough for such a textbook--fun to read and even funny in places. (Perhaps I overestimate the importance of enjoying the process of learning a new language, but a consistent problem with the other introductory grammars is that their teaching style is so terribly dry and even obscure.)
One final point: I am not qualified to evaluate Biblical Hebrew accents, but I do find it surprising that one of the earlier reviewers (the only one who panned the book, and only on the basis of one alleged flaw) could simultaneously (a) be a self-acknowledged Hebrew neophyte, but also (b) feel certain of his/her exquisite ear for the language. I could possibly see either (a) or (b), but not both; something just doesn't fit in the personal facts he/she relates. All I know about the CDs is that the mnemonics are fun, and much of the singing is, believe it or not, beautiful.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Simply the BEST biblical Hebrew textbook out thereDec 20 2005
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As an undergraduate at a university that did not offer Biblical Hebrew, I used the first edition of this textbook to teach myself biblical Hebrew. What drew me to this book, after having examined the other well-known biblical Hebrew textbooks, was the fact that one immediately began reading actual biblical Hebrew - that is verses taken directly from the Hebrew Bible. I was able to complete this book, on my own, and then enter into a masters degree program in Hebrew Bible at an advanced level of competence in biblical Hebrew. Now as a PhD student in Hebrew Bible, I have used the second addition of this textbook from the other side of the desk, as a teacher, and have found it to be most effective
The strength of this textbook is its natural approach to language. Rather than having students spend the first several months of learning memorizing an endless quantity of abstract information, this text introduces a verse of Hebrew Bible, and than proceeds to take it apart, introducing all of the grammatical details necessary to understand that verse. Thus the student is actually reading and applying their beginning skills from the very first lesson. This is the natural way of learning a language! This does not mean that a student is free of memorizing paradigms, and rules - such work is simply part of learning a language, but these tedious tasks are put in context, and introduced at an appropriate point in learning.
The supplement to the textbook is a fine addition, giving a deeper examination of grammatical concepts, as the student is prepared to deal with them. The accompanying CD is beautifully done. The mnemonics are helpful and fun, but I confess that the best part of the CD's is the beautiful Torah readings and songs. My particular favorite is that of "Dodi li" from "Song of Songs," - sung so beautifully as to bring one to tears.
This is a fine textbook, and I highly recommend it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Marvelous Creative Approach to Language LearningSept. 8 2005
Senior Beginning Language Student
- Published on Amazon.com
With my background in attempting to learn various languages over the years (Latin, French, Spanish, Chinese) and helping those struggling with the vagaries of English, I find Victoria Hoffer's approach marvelously creative. This is the way language should be taught! Each lesson is based on a sentence from scripture with emphasis on teaching the most common forms first--which gives the student a sense of accomplishment early on. There are all sorts of memory helps, which in effect teach the student with no experience in Semitic languages how to discover correlations with English. (Seniors especially do better at relating than trying to memorize paradigms by repetition.) Her use of music is a big plus--whether humourous ditties on grammar or beautiful renditions of scripture in quite a range of musical styles. You will want to share the Songs CD with friends, even if they are not studying Hebrew. The course is a masterpiece, done with an amazing amount of love, humor and thoroughness, not to mention cooperation with talented friends. By all means, buy the set: Book, Supplement and CDs.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This Book is a Must-Buy for Many ReasonsSept. 7 2005
Lifelong Hebrew Student
- Published on Amazon.com
As a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible, I cannot praise this book highly enough. Rather than slogging through dry paradigms and elusive rules, Hoffer's readers will find her approach both comprehensive and creative. Taking lesson sentences directly from the Bible, as well as employing helpful (and sometimes humorous!) exercises, Hoffer rewards students' efforts by getting them involved in the biblical text as quickly (and as engagingly) as possible. The textbook "Supplement" allows serious students to hone their mastery of the language further, by addressing issues of syntax, idiom, usage, and linguistic history. The CDs offer helpful mnemonics which aid retention of grammatical principles, as well as hauntingly beautiful renditions of biblical chanting. This textbook brings the ancient language - and, more importantly - the ancient WORLD of the Bible, to life. Hoffer has demonstrated both competence - and chutzpah - in her one-of-a-kind approach to the daunting task of teaching Biblical Hebrew. Priced lower than many grammars, it is a must-buy. Make sure to get all three items (Textbook, Supplement, and CDs-answer key is available online for free) to take full advantage of all that Hoffer has to offer from her years of teaching, chanting, and cherishing the Bible.