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The First Hebrew Reader

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The First Hebrew Reader

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The First Hebrew Reader
Guided Selections from the Hebrew Bible
By Jessica W. Goldstein
EKS Publishing Co., 2000
ISBN: 978-0-939-14430-3

OR, Order directly from: EKS Publishing Company

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - December 9, 2011

Designed for use by adult students who have completed the First Hebrew Primer or a similar grammar based textbook such as Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step, The First Hebrew Reader, by Jessica W. Goldstein is an ideal next-step. This textbook helps students to refine their translation skills and to improve their overall grasp of Hebrew grammar and reading comprehension. This is done through the guided reading of actual biblical passages, selected from the breadth of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible).

The guided readings of biblical passages that you'll find in this textbook include Genesis 22:1-19, Deuteronomy 5:1-21, II Samuel 7:1-17, Jonah 1:1-2:2, Psalm 23:1-6, Psalm 136:1-26, Ecclesiastes 3:1-22, and more. In all, this textbook contains eighteen guided readings, including seven passages from the Torah (Five Books of Moses), four passages from the Prophets, and seven passages from the Writings.

The First Hebrew Reader assumes that students already have a basic grasp of Hebrew grammar and a working vocabulary of around 330 of the most common words found in the Bible. The text follows a standard format throughout. Each reading is divided into short segments that are presented in Hebrew with nikud (vowels). Each of these small segments is followed by a line by line translation of the text. In the linear translation, the verbs are printed in gray, with the main text in black. Also included with each short segment is a list of new vocabulary words and their English translation, along with a verb analysis chart for that segment, and any relevant grammatical notes. Intermediate students should strive to read and translate the bible passages without referring to the linear translations. Beginning students will find that these translations are a great boon as they improve their translation skills and hopefully they will find that by the time they have finished this book, they no longer need to refer to the translation other than as an 'answer key' to check their work.

A companion audio CD is available for The First Hebrew Reader. This CD contains readings of all of the guide reading selections contained in the textbook and it is ideal for anyone seeking to improve their listening and speaking skills.

The First Hebrew Reader is well suited for use in a classroom setting, as well as by independent learners. The information in this textbook is well organized, and grammatical concepts are explained clearly and with minimal technical jargon. In addition, the readings in this textbook cover a variety of styles from historical narratives to Biblical prose, giving students practice in translating passages written in a variety of styles. This 'variety' of passages also helps to keep you engaged and excited about learning Biblical Hebrew. It may take awhile before you can pick up a Hebrew Bible and effortless read it without having to resort, on occasion, to using a dictionary or vocabulary list. However, with perseverance and lots of practice, one day you will be a proficient reader of Biblical Hebrew. To aid you toward this goal, The First Hebrew Reader will help develop the skills to allow you to work independently as you master the art of reading and translating Biblical Hebrew.

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