Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook

9781619708914oWhilst at SBL in San Antonio the nice folk at Hendrickson handed off a copy of their brand new Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook for perusal and examination.

Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook is a “one-stop shop” for anyone who is studying Biblical Aramaic or seeking to retain the knowledge they have already acquired. A wonderful resource for both professors and students, Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook effectively empowers students to be able to read the Bible’s Aramaic texts with comprehension, ease, and enjoyment, and to sustain a solid, lasting command of the language long after their formal study has ended. Split into two main sections—a Reader and word lists—this is an essential tool for anyone who wants to read the Aramaic portions of the Bible with understanding and confidence, and to maintain this ability over the long term.

Created by a team of scholars: Donald R. Vance (PhD), George Athas (PhD), Yael Avrahami (PhD), and Jonathan G. Kline (PhD).

My first thought was ‘if someone has a copy of Hendrickson’s BHS Reader’s Edition (which contains as well all the Aramaic passages in the Hebrew Bible), what will this stand alone Aramaic reader provide that it doesn’t contain?’  The answer- much indeed.

First, and probably most importantly, the notes intended to aid readers are in many instances more complete than in the BHS edition.  The grammar of the Aramaic texts is offered without the (admittedly) sometimes confusing ‘encoding’ of the BHS counterpart.

Second, the limited nature of the Aramaic texts in the Old Testament allow the editors to provide a really fantastic supplement to what we find in the traditional ‘Aramaic Grammar’.  Indeed- the biblical text takes up barely 60 pages whilst the grammatical material extends from page 61 through page 233.  This volume, then, is the ideal text for a course introducing Aramaic to students familiar and competent in Hebrew.  It does not, however, take the place of a traditional Grammar but it brilliantly supplements such a volume.

Finally, whereas such volumes tend to normally be cursed with tiny print and tinier notes, this is a volume people outside of their teens will be able to see with ease and enjoy and, further, profit from enjoying.  The font is really lovely and the paper is thick enough so that there isn’t any annoying bleed through.  The entire presentation is crisp.

I recommend it without hesitation to those looking for a reader’s aid for Biblical Aramaic.  The editors are to be congratulated for a very useful tool and the publisher is to be thanked for bringing to us a work which will undoubtedly find its way to many classrooms and studies.

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