been to ulpan, bibliography on aspect

Bryan Rocine 596547 at
Thu Sep 24 17:33:19 EDT 1998

Heh Jonathan,

Thanks for your continued questions!  

You wrote:
> From: Jonathan Robie <jonathan at>
> Are there any good articles or books that discuss Hebrew grammar in terms
> of aspect? My books don't.

Do you want the good news first or the bad news?  Let's mix it all up.

Bad:  I don't think there's a Fanning for BH, yet....

Good:  Waltke and O'Connor _An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax_
Eisenbraun's, 1990  is a great source on the history of the study of the
verbal semantics in BH(as well as lots of other topics each supported by a
great number of proof texts, and a super bibliography).  Bad: it's pricey. 
How are you going to break it to your wife?  Actually, it's a great value.

Good:  I would also recommend for the verbal semantics of BH Leslie
McFall's _The Enigma of the Hebrew Verbal System_ 1982? a key source book
for W and O'C. In either W and O'C or McFall you will see all the 'heavies'
mentioned, the Jewish grammarians, Ewald, Driver, Michel, et al, so I won't
mention them here.  

I am very partial to an article by Wm. Turner cited in McFall  called "The
Tenses of the Hebrew Verb" in _Studies Biblical and Oriental_.  btw,
written 1-8-76 !!!  Yup that's 18, not 19.

Bad:  I think the only way to get either McFall or Turner is via
inter-library loan.  btw, if anyone wants to sell your McFall, I'm buying,
including the shipping!  ;-)

Good:  Also interesting is T. Givon, a true aspectnik, who refers to BH in
"Tense-Aspect-Modality: The Creole Prototype and Beyond" from
_Tense-Aspect:  Between Semantics and Pragmatics_, ed. Hopper, 1982.

Decide for yourself:    I recommend that a Hebraist reads Comrie, _Aspect_
and _Tense_ for
himself and draw his own conclusions about BH and aspect.   Comrie is the
aspectnik on whom W and O'C rest to draw their final conclusions about BH
verbal semantics.  But I think W and O'C are handicapped by their decision
to reject discourse analysis, discourse being a key consideration in
Comrie's theory.  Interestingly, in Comrie's survey of world languages--I
forget what it's called(ask me and I'll dig up the title)--a Robert Hetzron
states blandly , "...the traditional label 'aspect' for these [two verb
forms, the prefixed and affixed] is unjustified and rests on indefensible
arguments"  Who is Robert Hetzron?  Seriously.  I want to write him a

Good:  ;-)  I also hope to write about the verbal semantics of BH some day,
sort of a dream of mine.  

As usual, I hope others will show me how much work I have ahead of me by
supplementing this list.


B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13208


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