I need to learn Biblical Hebrew, stat.
September 22, 2009 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I need to learn Biblical Hebrew, to a level of someone studying it for 4 university terms (2 years of one course/term) really really fast. If you've taken Biblical Hebrew in undergraduate or graduate studies, what textbooks did you use?

I transferred into my chosen field very late, and I need Biblical Hebrew to continue on with grad school--eep!

I do have Tanakhs, and interlinear chumashim, so that's not a problem--I need good textbooks, however.
posted by flibbertigibbet to Education (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used Seow and this one (which seems to have an updated second edition as well).
posted by leesh at 7:18 AM on September 22, 2009

Weingreen is classic, and seconding Kittel (second link by leesh).
posted by apartment dweller at 7:43 AM on September 22, 2009

I've heard good things about Kittel as well (disclaimer: my mom is one of the authors).
posted by phoenixy at 7:44 AM on September 22, 2009

Paid tutoring with a rabbinical student? Or other student of the language...
posted by IAmBroom at 7:50 AM on September 22, 2009

I used Lambdin. I liked it a lot. And the international edition (paperback) will only set you back around $30.
posted by milestogo at 7:55 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

btw: rabbinical students, by and large, will not know the grammatical intricacies of biblical hebrew (though they should be able to competently translate biblical passages). It is mastered by academics and scholars.
posted by milestogo at 7:57 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

milestogo, thanks for that point. My perspective is skewed by my small sampling (1) of rabbinical students.

My bad.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:38 AM on September 22, 2009

(OT) Heh - Miles' Toga is how I first read your alias...
posted by IAmBroom at 8:39 AM on September 22, 2009

I used Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (I think) the first two terms and Readings in Biblical Hebrew for the second two terms. We had very limited class time, so the professor said he picked these two specifically for moving us through the material quickly. The first is out of print but is pretty easy to find used.

Seow and Kittel are the other names that get mentioned most often.
posted by BlooPen at 8:41 AM on September 22, 2009

Best answer: If you want to learn the language well, use Lambdin. If you want to learn the language fast, use Seow. If you want to learn the language at all, don't use Weingreen, which survives in the academy only by virtue of good pedagogy and institutional inertia.

I have heard very good things about Pratico and Van Pelt, though I haven't used it myself. I have taught from Kelly and found it workable, albeit cumbersome.

My best advice is to buy Seow, work with a tutor and try to get through the text as quickly as possible. There is a new workbook that goes along with it which adds a lot of exercises (something Seow has long lacked) along with better explanations for things Seow was obscure on. The advantage to working with Seow to progress quickly is that he was Lambdin's student. So you can productively step up from Seow to Lambdin, reading the latter for more in depth explanations of what you've gotten in cursory fashion from the former. After that, buy yourself a copy of Waltke & O'Connor and you're in the club.

Best of luck. Hebrew is a beautiful language and if you can muck through the difficulty of learning it, your reward will be a lifetime of facility with some of the most sublime literature ever written by human beings.
posted by felix betachat at 9:05 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you felix! I went with your suggestions, with the Kittel book as a supplement, just in case.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:02 AM on September 22, 2009

Response by poster: For those who are following this thread--for reasons that elude me--there's a new contender for best Hebrew introduction out, that uses a totally new pedagogical method.

It's the Cambridge Introduction and it's getting great, great reviews. A common theme is "the CD is worth the price alone." And it has flash cards.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2009

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