Summary: A Reader's Hebrew Bible is an indispensable tool for learning to read biblical Hebrew. Seminarians and ministers will love this attractive and handy reader for use in the classroom and in personal study. There is no better Hebrew tool on the market for growing the beginner's skill in reading and meditating upon God's Torah.
Why A Hebrew Reader?
Seminary is not designed to teach you all you need to know about biblical Hebrew. Rather, seminary equips you with the tools necessary to begin the long journey of reading right to left, thinking in parallelisms, observing inclusio's, and following word plays throughout the three quarters of the Holy Scriptures known as the Old Testament. Seminary, then, is simply the beginning of a lifetime of reading and meditating upon the Tanakh "day and night" (Psa. 1).
Once you have begun the arduous journey you are then confronted at every point with a stiff either/or: Either regularly use and grow your Hebrew, or lose it. Inductive study (i.e. reading) is the only possible path for maintaining and growing your Hebrew. Learning a language means using a language. There are no shortcuts.
How, then, can the seminarian or minister navigate this either/or fork in the road? You guessed it ... by reading the Hebrew Bible!
"But wait!" You cry. "I've just about lost all my Hebrew skill! It's been years since I was flipping flashcards and parsing qal paradigms!" Or, perhaps you are staring at your next semester's class schedule pondering whether to start this Hebrew journey in the first place. Fret not on either account; The Reader's Hebrew Bible was written just for you. In the words of the editors:
A Reader's Hebrew Bible (RHB) is designed to facilitate the regular reading of the Scriptures in Hebrew and Aramaic. . . . We especially hope that ministers and former seminarians whose ability in Hebrew and Aramaic has deteriorated will find that RHB helps them recover their skill" (xii-xiii).
Whether you are just beginning the Hebrew journey or are seeking to "recover your skill," the RHB is a sure and steady guide for the trek.
Why This Hebrew Reader?
Amidst the slew of Hebrew Bibles on the market, why should you purchase Zondervan's Reader's Hebrew Bible? Consider the following:
A Singular Goal
Zondervan's RHB has one goal: to help you learn Biblical Hebrew by reading Biblical Hebrew. In a word, this is the only reader's Hebrew Bible on the market.
Other more technical, academic Hebrew Bibles (like BHS) have scholarly aims and thus include scholarly materials (i.e. a detailed text-critical apparatus, complicated multi-lingual scholarly introductions, etc.). Such scholarly tools are wonderful and needed. However, if your goal is to read Biblical Hebrew, to meditate upon the text as you prepare sermons, etc., you need a tool designed for reading.
RHB facilitates reading skills by helping readers overcome the most common obstacles, such as wading through lexicons to learn new vocabulary and marking hard-to-recognize proper nouns.
The Medium Matches the Goal
The physical features of the RHB match its design to facilitate reading and meditating upon the text. For example:
* The large font size facilitates easy reading, especially for students newly learning the Hebrew alphabet. (When I was taking my Hebrew classes I found the cheaper versions of BHS to have a very difficult-to-read, small font sizes. So, I ended up purchasing a large, expensive large-print BHS.)
* The relatively small size of the book (a tad slimmer and lighter than an average hardback study Bible) and its attractive Italian Duo-Tone(tm) binding make the RHB suitable to carry with you both to class and to church. (Contrast the somewhat unwieldy, heavy, large-print BHS hardcover. See the photo gallery below for visual comparisons.)
* Further regarding the weight, RHB is light enough that it does not break your wrists while you are holding it. (Again, contrast the weighty large-print BHS hardcover).
* The book medium (vs. a laptop with Bibleworks or Logos software) is more conducive to meditation and extended periods of reading. (And books don't require batteries or produce eye strain.)