View Full Version : Recommended Basic Hebrew Grammar Text??

Thomas Dolhanty
08-13-2007, 01:16 PM
Now that I am developing some comfort and facilty with NT Greek (I carefully avoid the e=expertise word!), I am toying with the idea of putting my toe in the Hebrew pool.

I used Mounce's book for Greek, and found it (with the workbook which was essential for stand-alone learners) to be well thought out and enormously helpful.
The basic Hebrew book I've been looking at is "Basics of Biblical Hebrew: Grammar" by Gary D. Pratico - but I have no idea whether this is a good choice or not. Any advice or suggestions on a Beginners Hebrew Grammar Text (+Workbook) by the BW gurus of OT Hebrew?
I'm not sure I'll do more than get more than my toes wet in Hebrew, since I still have lots of work to do in Greek, but I know that, at the stage of choosing a text, it is very very helpful to hear from those who have gone before.
In His Service, Tom D.

Ben Spackman
08-13-2007, 03:10 PM
I've taught out of Pratico once. It wasn't right for us, but it and the workbook would be good for self-study.
I don't have anything better to recommend for self-study, but a good place to start reading is Judges.

08-13-2007, 03:39 PM
Grain/Brick/Quarry of Salt Disclaimer: I'm not a guru, nor have I taught any class, but I do continue to work at this language stuff in a self-study way. Here's what I can share from my limited experience ...

For self-study, I've liked Pratico (http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?</p><p>item_no=270201&netp_id=466770&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW). Anyone who seeks to cut down on the amount of memorization [Mounce-like] by teaching Diagnostic Patterns is a friend. I like all the study aides they they continue to put out.

Also for self-study, Ross (http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?</p><p>item_no=1021472&netp_id=169416&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW) is brilliant a putting complex things [especially when just starting-out] in clear, precise, simple terms. (I found Kelly (http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=0598&event=CF) to be similar.)

I haven't looked at John Parson's (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Online_Store/Books/books.html), but he isn't sloppy at anythying. Give Hebrew4Christians.com a looksee. Great place to get your "toes wet" while learning Greek.

For simplicity reasons, I do like the electronic books you can get with BW7 modules. Besides Futato another will be added soon. Check out the homepage for Weingreen (http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=54224&event=CF).


Thomas Dolhanty
08-13-2007, 04:24 PM
I'm very grateful for the gurus and teachers, and also for the learners willing to share their own experience!! Together it makes for complete advice.

I have more time than money (much more!), have retired early to do just these studies in the Word of God, and I am a very focused and self-disciplined learner. Thus self-study works well for me - at least in the early stages. Thus, I couldn't agree more about Mounce and his contribution - and all those like him.

Of course, the more one develops some competence, the more one wants to communicate with those who know as much or more - and there are points where a word from the teacher can save a lot of time and frustration!!

Being brand new to BW, I must admit that part of what edges me on toward Hebrew is the sophistication and the power of BW7. It removes so much of the tedium from the old way of learning.

Thanks for the advice. I feel confident now to order a copy of Practico, and will also get Ross and follow up on the other suggestions.

In His Service,
Tom D.

Michael Hanel
08-13-2007, 05:40 PM
I learned Hebrew in a classroom, not on my own. The textbook we used was Andrew Bartelt's Fundamental Biblical Hebrew (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0758605285/sr=8-1/qid=1187040466/ref=olp_product_details/105-2682866-0152446?ie=UTF8&qid=1187040466&sr=8-1&seller=). The advantage of it would be that you can go on to iTunes (or via http://itunes.csl.edu/) and download audio/video files of the class being taught and follow along in a mock-class environment rather than doing it alone.

08-13-2007, 07:15 PM
Now that I am developing some comfort and facilty with NT Greek (I carefully avoid the e=expertise word!), I am toying with the idea of putting my toe in the Hebrew pool.

If you want a user-intensive participation approach, one that will probably have you reading the Hebrew Tanach very quickly (much more quickly than pure grammars), you might try either Learning Biblical Hebrew by John Dobson, or Biblical Hebrew by Kittel, Hoffer, Wright.

08-14-2007, 08:22 AM
This could prove useful, just discovered it this morning.

Found it on the BBH site (http://www.basicsofbiblicalhebrew.com/About%20Us.htm). There's a link on the left for an "Online Hebrew Course."

Biblical Hebrew From a Distance (http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/hebrew.php)

Thomas Dolhanty
08-14-2007, 10:55 AM
This could prove useful, just discovered it this morning.

Found it on the BBH site (http://www.basicsofbiblicalhebrew.com/About%20Us.htm). There's a link on the left for an "Online Hebrew Course."

Biblical Hebrew From a Distance (http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/hebrew.php)

This does, indeed, look interesting, SC! I have already ordered Pratico's book, and workbook, along with Ross's text, and so I will follow up on this one with a phone call. I'm especially interested to find out about the credit/non-credit relationship. The price, for example is very modest on the non-credit. I am interested in the credit cost.

I spent my professional years as a university Registrar up here in the North country, and, over the years, I came to see the university operating more and more as an industry rather than as a house of wisdom - knowledge as a commodity. 'We will sell you x units of knowledge for y $'s'.

As I see the growing number of interesting and imaginative solutions being offered via the internet and other technologies I am most encouraged. Without question the knowledge monopoly of the post WWII higher education empire is being challenged - as many had predicted.

My one hesitation is this uneasy sense that I'm moving from "putting my toes in the Hebrew pool" to "last one in can't say YODA" :D

In His Service,
Tom D.

08-14-2007, 02:46 PM
My one hesitation is this uneasy sense that I'm moving from "putting my toes in the Hebrew pool" to "last one in can't say YODA" :DGood job. I say "Go For It!"

On last thing, you may find listening to the Hebrew Bible very helpful in your studies. Here's a site where you can: Hebrew Scriptures in MP3 (http://www.aoal.org/hebrew_audiobible.htm)

Ears are like kids, they love it when you let them help-out.

David Kummerow
11-16-2007, 12:14 AM
Hi Tom,

I just saw your post.

I've taught from Ross for just over two years and it has been a love-hate relationship to say the least. Anyway, you can see my review here: http://www.see-j.net/Default.aspx?tabid=130

Part of the problem is the entrenchment through exercises of many inaccuracies (a lot of grammars have this problem, so it is not isolated to Ross). A grammar that presents for the most part actual biblical Hebrew text is to be much preferred in my opinion. Here is a good textbook with good pedagogy which I would like to recommend:


Currently free, so it's worth a look at that price!

Personally, I disagree regarding the grammaticalisation of verbal aspect, but then very few introductory textbooks really get this right apart from the one available from this site:


I'm still yet to find an introductory textbook teaching a seven-vowel system rather than five, however...

One thing you'll notice after a while with the study of Hebrew is that most areas of the grammar of the language is hotly debated. But a knowledge of the language is very rewarding I find.

Hope this helps.

David Kummerow.

11-16-2007, 07:32 AM
Thanks for the link. D/Ling now.

But a knowledge of the language is very rewarding I find.Been my experience too.

I love it when some curriculum junkie (flunkie?), who doesn't prepare and has never prepared and can only facilitate wing-it-in-the-name-of-Jesus break-out discussions, finds time to mock the folks who took the time to learn the languages and use the languages God used in His "Good Book" in the fullness of time.

That's all I'm tryin' to say. TGIF.

Joshua Luna
02-17-2008, 06:14 AM
Shalom Tom ;)

I learned Hebrew on my own and I while *every* learner is different, I personally liked The Basics of Biblical Hebrew by Practica/Van Pelt. Things I liked:

* Well defined chapters. Yes, you get to verbs later (and thus reading) and it can be fairly "rigid" but it also aids with conceptualizing which I found helpful. They give you most of the info you need up front on a topic, so when you learn nouns or the like you really get a firm handle on the topic.

* Excellent Layout. The typesetting is great, the chapter outlines are well thought out, and the pacing and conciseness are excellent. As a self learner I never felt overwhelmed. I could take each section and sub section in turn.

* Diagnostic approach. The emphasis is on diagnostics, not sheer memorization. Now, you are going to learn every word that appears 70x or more and will still need to master your strong verb paradigms, suffixes, etc. It is still a LOT of hard work!! But the diagnostic approach helps in a number of ways.

* Neat (if not Christian oriented) articles that encourage your learning and application of Hebrew. Some people hate these little articles, but I found them interesting and they do show how learning a little Hebrew can help you work with the text (as well as set boundaries). The complexity increases as you move on and are loosely tied with what you have just learned.

The BBH series has a nice workbook (I really liked having the workbook SEPARATE from the text as you can then use the text as a reference book) as well as some other aids. There is now a Graded Reader, Vocabulary building book, and even loosely related CDs (which are great, but Pennington doesn't use traditional pronunciation which makes them not so useful... record your own on an MP3 player with a Mic I say!)

And now they have the CDs which have Flash video covering each chapter of the book and utilize the overheads. So it is like having your own self paced teacher.

I tried a number of grammars before BBH and while useful I found BBH's approach great for verbs (much like Ross; the only negative for Ross is no key for checking your answers--Ross is also VERY excellent, up to date, and more technical and insightful in many ways).

There are a lot of good grammars out there. Kelly's is solid with a lot of good Biblical examples and a workbook and answer key; The First Herbrew Primer simplifies some concepts for adults (like the throaty letters and such instead of gutterals) and does move briskly into reading; Seow and Weingreen are top of class academically but I am not sure I could suggest them for a home learner; Garret's grammar has sound pedagogy and approachable to students; Rocine's grammar is very interesting as it takes the approach of discourse but the formatting isn't always great and conceptually I think would be difficult if done alone. BW has Futado's grammar but I haven't read it yet (although I have it... yeah, I collect grammars). I would suggest staying away from Kittel's and Mansoor's grammars for individual study.

That said, after the BBH I would recommend, "Invitation to Biblical Hebrew" which does a decent job of presenting Hebrew grammar (so-so in areas; some stuff is excellent though, e.g. the chapter on proto-Hebrew is a lifesaver in trying to *understand* all the various changes in vowels) ... but the big selling point is the DVDs that are available ($50 I think) which go, chapter-by-chapter, and cover the information. The quality isn't movie quality (but better than BBH's flash videos), the only drawback is they tend to go with a whiteboard instead of digital overheads. All about preference though.

I would recommend either BBH and CD course (you can just by the CDs for $100; so grammar, workbook, and CDs will come to about $150-$170) or you can pick up the "Invitation" grammar, workbook, and DVDs for about $100 total.

Finally, Fred Putnam has put his grammar online: http://fredputnam.org/?q=taxonomy/term/4 So if you are looking for a thorough, and free, grammar with a discourse/genre focus this may be of some help.

Anyhow, that is just my experience, ymmv. Good luck!