[b-hebrew] Aramaic

FPutnam at biblical.edu FPutnam at biblical.edu
Mon Mar 14 11:41:53 EST 2005

I've used all three grammars to teach BA.

Rosenthal is a reference grammar (i.e., not pedagogical), with an 
extensive (full?) glossary of BA. Gerald H. Wilson published a Scripture 
index for it (JSS 24/1 (1979): 21-24), which makes it much more useful. It 
does not assume knowledge of BH, but its basic orientation to the language 
is fairly skimpy.

Johns is an extremely verbose pedagogical grammar, with extensive 
discussions, explanations, and exercises. My students found it slightly 
frustrating, mainly because of the amount of information presented in 
short compass. I prepared an answer key for the chs. that we covered (I 
don't remember how far we got).

Greenspahn is the best of the lot (IMHO). It is a pedagogical grammar, 
concise without being too short, and written for students who have studied 
BH. He begins with a few chapters bridging the gaps between BH and BA, 
showing consonantal differences, cognates (and false cognates). This 
approach was a great help (and encouragement) to students. His exercises 
are all biblical texts, so that by the time you have finished the first 27 
chapters, you have "read" all of the BA texts, including those 
transliterated into Greek in the New Testament. The word "read" is in 
quotes, because he simplifies the biblical text for the early readings. We 
read his simplified version, and then read the biblical text, which worked 
well--most of the omitted stuff is names, titles, &c. (he first goes 
through Ezra, then Daniel). Ch. 28-32 deal with selections from 
extra-biblical texts (inscriptions, letters (Elephantine, Bar Kochba), the 
Genesis Apocryphon (DSS), Genesis Rabbah (Midrash), and Targum 
Pseudo-Jonathan). We used it in a concentrated three-week course, and 
everyone made it through quite well (it was the only course for most 
students), including some who had had only one semester of BH. We didn't 
make it through the entire book (about ch. 22, I think). There were a 
*lot* of typos, but I understand that they have been cleaned up for the 
second edition. I prepared vocab quizzes and an answer key for the 
chapters that we covered, although once we were translating "straight" 
biblical text, I told students to jsut check one of the more "literal" 
English VSS. If you'd like either, I'd be happy to send them (MSWord with 
embedded fonts).

Hope this helps.



Frederic Clarke Putnam, Ph.D.
Professor of Old Testament
Biblical Theological Seminary
Hatfield, Pennsylvania

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