Friday, June 05, 2009

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Yesterday I got my copy of A Reader's Hebrew Bible (Zondervan, 2008) in the mail and all I can say: Wow! Where have you been all my life?! (More to the point: Where were you when I first learned Hebrew ten years ago? I could'a used you then.)
This thing is fantastic. Essentially, it is what it says it is: a Hebrew Bible specifically designed for reading the Hebrew text. In order to facilitate this--for those who don't happen to have every word in the Hebrew Bible memorized--it provides footnotes for all Hebrew words that occur less than 100 times, excluding proper nouns. The definitions given in the footnotes are all taken from major lexicons like Brown-Driver-Briggs (lovingly or not-so-lovingly known by all Hebrew students as 'BDB') or Koehler-Baumgartner's massive Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament.
I can't say how helpful this is. Anyone who's done any reading of the Hebrew Old Testament knows that the one thing that really kills the joy of the whole endeavor is having to put down the text you're trying to read, pick up (an often-very-heavy) lexicon like BDB, track down the root of the Hebrew word, hope you got it right, then go back to your Hebrew Bible (usually the visually chaotic BHS), try to find your place, try to find your word, and start up the whole process of reading again...

Those days are over with the Reader's edition. Don't get me wrong--for detailed exegesis and study--there's no replacement for lexical work. Moreover, if you don't know how to recognize masculine and feminine forms, as well as the different lemmas (stems) of your words, then it's not going to be some kind of magic potion. You've still got to know your grammar and syntax (as well as all the words that do occur 100 times or more).
 However, if you're just wanting to practice reading, this Bible helps cut out the wasted time (and effort) of switching from book to book while your vocabulary grows. 
If you're a budding student of the Hebrew Bible, or if your Hebrew is getting rusty, or if you just (like me) hate reading the BHS because there's so much crammed onto one page, then this is the book for you. 
Oh, and one last thing--it comes in a sweet leather binding with silver-leaf and a silver RIBBON!
How can you top that?


Sister Mary Agnes said...

Thank you for sharing this. I have a friend who is Jewish and who knows Hebrew, and I am going to recommend it to him.

Pamela said...

:) I love you guys! Such pleasure in the things that make your life a bit more flavorful. I guess that is the equivalent of a really cool cake decorating tool or an innovative new diaper for me. But seriously, I will keep your recommendation here in mind if ever I manage to learn Hebrew which would be sweet... right after I fianlly attempt Latin. God Bless!

Dov said...

Thanks again!!! Your recommendations are consistently good! My copy arrived...although I should probably have waited for the SBL discount. This is everything you said it would be...I'm happy.