If you ever find yourself dressed in a bomber jacket and carrying a bullwhip through the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem in search of a biblical artifact, you'll be glad you took the time to learn Hebrew. Of course it'll come in pretty useful when you're asked to lead a Bible study, preach an evening sermon, or you just want to read Judges in the original language, too.
Fortunately, there's a course for aspiring archeologists and high school students alike. Biblical Hebrew 2 by Kim McKay is both a follow-up to her one-semester Biblical Hebrew: A Homeschool Primer and a stand-alone program that assumes only that students know the Hebrew alphabet and can read and write Biblical Hebrew.
How Does This Work?
In an age when foreign language programs are becoming more and more elaborate, the simplicity of Biblical Hebrew 2 is refreshing and non-threatening. The course consists of a student textbook, a consumable workbook, and a workbook answer key that is an exact replica of the workbook except with answers. Students will also need a Hebrew Bible.
The textbook is divided into 45 chapters, each in turn divided into five sections. These five sections are daily assignments, so that completion of the course will take 45 weeks (about one and a half school years). Sections are typically short (many are less than a page), but workbook exercises can be lengthy.
Students can work alone, as part of a group, or under supervision, but the program was designed to be student-directed. Because the book is fast-paced and demanding, some students may want to go at a less rapid pace; either way, the program will earn high school students two foreign language credits for successful completion.
This is a solidly grammar-intensive course. McKay begins by re-introducing the alphabet, then jumps right into nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions, etc. She also looks at idioms, weak letters, hollow verbs, and several other topics rarely addressed directly in a high school level language program.
McKay mixes in plenty of information about ancient Israel and Mesopotamia, the evolution of language, and historical tidbits so that reading the textbook isn't an entirely dry enterprise. That said, there is a lot to read, a lot to memorize, no illustrations, and no humor. There are lots of charts, declensions, conjugations, and appendices (with more charts and lists).
Our Honest Opinion:
Despite being rather austere, this is an excellent study of Biblical Hebrew. Students will go from a rudimentary understanding to a working knowledge in a year and a half (faster, if they're motivated and have lots of time), and at the end they'll be ready for more intensive study whether at college or on their own.
The lack of teacher materials may frustrate or worry some, but there wouldn't be much to put in a teacher's guide that isn't already present in the student textbook. Students who complete Biblical Hebrew 2 will be well prepared for Basics of Biblical Hebrew by Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt, a standard college Hebrew text.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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