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REVIEWS A BIBLICAL HEBREW REFERENCE GRAMMAR. By Christo H. J. van der Merwe, Jackie A. Naude, and Jan H. Kroeze. Biblical Languages: Hebrew, 3. pp. 404. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999. Paper, $29.95. The authors' stated purpose is as follows: "To serve as a reference work at an intermediate level for exegetes and translators of the Hebrew Bible who have a basic knowledge of biblical Hebrew, but would like to use and broaden the knowledge they have acquired in an introductory course" (p. 9). In keeping with this purpose the authors seek to present .their material in an orderly fashion (since in introductory works information is often presented piecemeal for didactic purposes) and also to present only such material as is, in their opinion, relevant to the exegesis of the Biblia Hebraica StUltgartensia. Two features in particular distinguish the book from others: a) an indebtedness to a tradition of teaching biblical Hebrew grammar in academic circles within South Africa (hence the occasional recourse to parallel constructions in Afrikaans); and b) an emphasis on recent developments in the field of linguistics. The book has a fairly conventional layout. Chapter 1 introduces-in a mere six pages-tbe Hebrew language's context, historical development, and history of research. Chapter 2 (pp. 22-50) considers the consonants and vowels and, in keeping with the book's purpose as an aid to the BHS. in some detail, the Tiberian masoretic accents and other markers. Chapter 3 (pp. 51~6) introduces the student to the linguistic categories used in the study of Hebrew at an intermediate level. The writers are here prudent in using English examples as a point of reference, yet are careful not to equate the structure of English with biblical Hebrew. Chapter 4 (pp. 67-173) considers the verb, chapter 5, the noun (pp. 174-270), and chapter 6 (pp. 271-335), "Other Word Classes" (i.e., prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, predicators of existence, interrogatives, discourse markers, and interjections). Chapter 7 (pp. 336-350) considers briefly both the syntax of word order and its semantic-pragmatic functions. Following this is a useful glossary with eighteen pages of linguistic terms (e.g., "cataphor," "fronting ," "syntagm," etc.) or otherwise constitutive of the metalanguage of the book (e.g., "aktionsart," "beth instrumenti," "casus pendens," etc.) A bibliography of only four pages is followed by indices of Hebrew words, texts, subjects, and authors. Of the indices, the subject index is by far the Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 226 Reviews most complete, enhancing the book's value as a "reference grammar" (but see my comments below). Strengths of the book include a systematic layout with sections numbered , reminiscent of GKC; use of technical jargon only where necessary and helpful; reasonably sharp print; frequent recourse to examples from the Hebrew text (much as Waltke and O'Connor do) as well as from English ; and, at times, exceptionally clear and insightful explanations of potentially difficult concepts, as in the case, for example, of how the consonants he, wow, yod, and aleph came to be associated with vowel sounds (p. 27). The most important academic contribution of the work lies in its linguistically astute analysis of various constructions. The book also has its weaknesses. First, as the authors acknowledge (p. 11; cf. p. 21), in order to reflect sound methodology linguistically, the book ought to be somewhat less word-based, emphasizing instead the role of the sentence as well as more pragmatic and sociolinguistic conventions. Secondly. the book is woefully devoid of references to relevant comparative -historical material. To cite but one example, the book discusses the socalled imperfect fonn of the verb (including with the waw-consecutive) without once making reference to the probable historic distinction between yaqtulu "imperfect" and yaqtul "preterite" fonns. This owes something to the book's synchronic approach as well as to its concern to provide the student with only that infonnation which is essential for exegesis of the BHS. Arguably, however, this kind of oversimplification is potentially misleading and does little to help the student arrive at a deeper understanding of biblical Hebrew. Thirdly, in view of the tantalizingly brief nature of many discussions, the book ought to include a list of books for...


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