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Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step, Volume I

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Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step, Volume I

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Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step, Volume I
Second Edition
By Menahem Mansoor
Baker Book House, 1999
ISBN: 0-8010-6041-9

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - June 22, 2009

When I began my study of Modern Hebrew, I was fortunate to stumble across Menahem Mansoor's, Contemporary Hebrew 1. This is a grammar-based introductory course on Modern Hebrew. This book provided me with a solid foundation upon which to pursue my study of Modern Hebrew. When I decided to familiarize myself with Biblical Hebrew, I once again turned to Mansoor, and was not disappointed!

Mansoor wrote a 2-volume introductory text on Biblical Hebrew. While I've not worked through the second volume yet, I can say that volume one is ideal introductory text for anyone embarking on the study of Biblical Hebrew. (For those that are interested, Biblical Hebrew Step by Step, Volume 2, picks up where volume one leaves off, and provides extensive reading from the Book of Genesis.

Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step, Volume I is organized into forty short chapters that begin with an introduction to Semitic Languages, and will by the end, have you reading short poems and Biblical passages. Ample review is provided, as well as quizzes, review tests, and a sample final examination. As the title suggests, Mansoor introduces you to the study of Biblical Hebrew, step-by-step, with each new lesson building upon the previous ones - so be sure that you have a firm grasp of the material before moving on to the next chapter.

Like his Contemporary Hebrew I text, this book assumes that you have no prior knowledge of Hebrew and as such, offers brief introduction to the Hebrew alphabet, writing methods, and pronunciation, in this case of Biblical Hebrew. By the end of chapter five, if you will be able to read Biblical Hebrew proficiently, even if you don't yet know what you are reading! Each of the main lessons begins with a vocabulary list, then the 'lecture' followed by study hints, then an assortment of exercises that will reinforce the information that you have learned during the 'lecture' portion of the chapter. The only drawback to this otherwise outstanding text is that it does not provide answers to any of the exercises. However you can purchase an Answer Key to Biblical Hebrew Step by Step, Vol. 1, which is an especially worthwhile investment if you are an independent learner. A separate answer key to Volume 2 is also available. Locating it, however, can be difficult.

For years, Mansoor taught both Modern and Biblical Hebrew at the University of Wisconsin, and he originally wrote this text for use in his First Semester Biblical Hebrew course. While designed for college students, both high school students and independent learners will find this time-tested (it has been in use for more than 20 years) textbook to be an invaluable aid in learning Biblical Hebrew. I highly recommend this text to anyone just beginning their study of Biblical Hebrew.


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