Bibliographic Resources for Hebrew Reading and Exegesis
Like many of us, I've recently revised my syllabi for the new fall term. Below is my lightly annotated list of reference books helpful for students in my second-year Hebrew Reading and Exegesis class. Do any of you have comments, corrections, or additions to suggest? These are most welcome. Thanks!
Bibliographic Resources for Hebrew Reading and Exegesis
Brown, Francis; S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB) Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951. You'll probably remember the features of this work from your introductory Hebrew course. A less expensive edition of the work is available from Hendrickson. It includes some additional “helps,” but the print quality is not as high as the Oxford edition. REF PJ4833.G4 1980
Holladay, W. L. (ed.), A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1971. This is an affordable, English, abridged version of the German Köhler-Baumgartner lexicon (see next entry). Though handy and portable, it is not as comprehensive as BDB and not as useful for Hebrew exegesis. REF PJ4833.H733
Köhler, L., W. Baumgartner, and Johann Jacob Stamm et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HAL-OT), 3 vols. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994-2000. A new, unabridged, English translation of Köhler-Baumgartner, with revisions and updating. Draws on more recent comparative Semitic data than BDB. REF PJ4833.K79 (vols. 1-3)
Feyerabend, Karl, Langenscheidt's Pocket Hebrew Dictionary to the Old Testament New York: Langenscheidt, 1961. Arranged alphabetically according to basic lexical form, rather than roots (contrast BDB). Complete, but only basic, concise definitions. REF PJ4833 .F434
Einspahr, Bruce, Index to Brown, Driver & Briggs' Hebrew Lexicon Chicago: Moody Press, 1976. An aid that can facilitate use of BDB, especially for the beginning student. N.B.: This should be used as a last resort only and not as a crutch. PJ4833.B683 G4
Davidson, Benjamin, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978. Lists every word and inflection of the Hebrew Bible in alphabetical order and gives its grammatical analysis and three-letter root. Don't you wish you had known about this book in Introductory Hebrew! ☺ N.B.: Please use this reference only as a last resort and not as a crutch. Otherwise, you will stunt your linguistic growth. REF PJ4833.D3 1970
Botterweck, G. Johannes and Helmer Ringgren (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TDOT) (tr., J. T. Willis et al.; multiple volumes) Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1974- . An unabridged translation of Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament. Discusses key Hebrew and Aramaic words in depth. The project is not yet complete, but close to it. If the word study you need is not in TDOT, you should also check G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), which contains studies of the Hebrew terms behind the key Greek words of the New Testament. REF BS440.B751 (vols. 1-15 currently available).
Clines, David J. A. (ed.), The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993- . A new, multi-volume Hebrew dictionary project. It attempts to deal with all extant texts of Classical Hebrew, not just those found in the Bible; it is oriented by modern linguistic theory, e.g., it focuses on the use of words rather than on their translation equivalents; it is arranged alphabetically; and it uses inclusive language. So far, the project is complete through vol. 6, Samekh-Pe. REF PJ4833 .D554 (6 vols. currently available).
Guides to Hebrew Syntax:
Williams, Ronald J., Hebrew Syntax: An Outline. Second edition. Toronto ; Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, 1976. An old seminary stand-by, outlining Hebrew syntax in concise, numbered sections. A useful quick-reference. The specialized (idiosyncratic?) terminology will take some getting used to. Look closely at the examples given in each section and at how the English translation brings out the syntax in each case. PJ4701.W726 1992 [update: there is a new third edition (2007) updated by John C. Beckman, which keeps the same structure and section numbers but expands the discussions, subdivides some of the sections, and adds cross-refrences to the major grammars. This looks like the one to buy now: ISBN: 0802094295 (click here)]
Arnold, Bill T., and John H. Choi, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Intended as an intermediate help for Hebrew students, giving them affordable access to scholarly advances in understanding the topic. PJ4701 .A752 2003
See, importantly, Waltke & O’Connor below.
Gesenius, W., (ed. E. Kautzsch and A. E. Cowley) Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (GKC) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910. This is the standard Hebrew reference grammar in English. It is much more detailed than any introductory, “teaching” grammar (including Davidson, Weingreen, or Kittel). Although issued in this basic form at the start of the century, it remains of immense value since it is primarily "descriptive." It is perhaps most accessible through the excellent scripture index. If you encounter a difficult phenomenon in the Hebrew of a verse you are working on, more often than not the verse will be indexed in GKC. REF PJ4564.G389
Jöuon, P. (tr. and revised, T. Muraoka) A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (3 parts in 2 volumes; Subsidia Biblical 14 / 1 & II) Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1996. A comprehensive and very helpful reference grammar of Biblical Hebrew, originally available only in the original French. The Semitic linguist, T. Muraoka not only translated the work into English but also revised it substantially and expanded it in light of modern advances. There is an extensive index of biblical passages at the end of vol. II. (I am told that there is a newer edition of this available, but I have not seen it.) PJ4567.J87 1991 (2 vols.). [update: okay, the 2006 edition has an ISBN of 8876536299; I've checked several on-line bookstores now, and I just don't find this available in print; please correct me if I'm wrong; however, I just checked my computer and Bible Works 7.0 is using this latest edition! second update: this is also now available as a pre-order from logos: click here]
Waltke, Bruce, and Michael P. O’Connor, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1990. Now a standard tool for reading and understanding Hebrew at a level beyond the beginner. Many find the prose turgid, but the volume is really indispensable for tackling the more complex levels of the language. Many argue that Joüon-Muraoka, van der Merwe, along with the other comparable works available, just don't hold a candle to Waltke O'Connor in terms of depth and helping one to understand the Hebrew. REF PJ4707.W237