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Monday, November 2, 2015

"The Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users" (Michael Williams)

TITLE: The Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users: Grammatical Terms Explained for Exegesis
AUTHOR: Michael Williams
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015, (144 pages).

Technology is here to stay. Whether we like it or not, technology is fast changing the way we study the Bible, especially in the way we approach biblical languages. I have heard of seminaries and Bible colleges doing away with the conventional ways of approaching the biblical language. So, armed with all kinds of modern computer platforms and powerful Bible software, users can try to learn all the Hebrew from the technological tools, according to their own pace.

Traditional learning is also not easily done away. Such a method of learning Hebrew includes the rote memorization of word endings, the hours of digging into grammar, the vocabulary, the various rules and unique features of the ancient biblical language. I remember using many flash cards handwritten and placed in my pocket to be revised throughout the day. The art of remembering the Hebrew, combined with the science of analyzing the grammatical structures is part and parcel of learning the semitic language.

Before the invention and easy availability of Bible software, most students have to do it the hard way. With software becoming more powerful and affordable, there are rising calls for a completely new way of learning the language. This is to use technology to supplement the traditional learning of Hebrew. In describing the need to avoid either extremes, Calvin Theological Seminary Professor and Hebrew instructor Michael Williams writes this book to show us how both traditional learning and technological tools can help the student pick up Hebrew well. Williams is convinced that:

"What is needed for more fruitful Old Testament study, therefore, is a resource that occupies the vast and currently vacant middle ground between the traditional, full-blown academic study of biblical Hebrew on the one hand and complete ignorance of biblical Hebrew on the other. The purpose of this book is to helpfully occupy that middle ground."

Whether it is the completely traditional way or the completely technological way, Williams believes in using the best of both in studying Biblical Hebrew. This is what this book is all about. Meant as a tool for students rather than a complete replacement for learning, Williams lets this resource answer the questions that pop up in the minds of a person using the top three most popular Bible software like Accordance, Bible Works, or Logos. It features:
  • Detailed description of each grammatical term
  • Explanation of what they do
  • Example of "exegetical insight"
  • User-Friendly placement of information on "facing pages" for easy reference (hard copy)
  • Help in maximizing the use of the Bible Software
  • Resources for further study
  • Essential tools needed to 
Arranged in alphabetical order, this is a handbook style reference for Hebrew grammatical terms for readers using English to learn Hebrew. There are explanations about adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, infinitive absolutes, nouns, verbs, participles, definite articles, jussive, and so on. I find the descriptions of each term very concise and easy to understand. Supported by the exegetical insights to bring life to mere words, and examples of how the different words are used, students will find this tool extremely helpful. While not impossible, it will be quite hard for students who have never taken a course on Hebrew before to simply open up a Bible software program and reference the words in this book. The group that would benefit most are people having done at least a year of Hebrew at Bible school, and who needed some kind of a refresher. The appendices at the end of the book will be a wonderful all-in-one reference to revise the basics of Hebrew. For the more advanced Hebrew students, this book can be a useful reference for some of the more challenging grammatical structures.

As a reference book, this resource is an excellent companion for all students of Biblical Hebrew, not just those using Bible software. I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5 stars of 5


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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