Textbook Review: Johns

Johns, Alger F.  A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic.  Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press, 1972.


Alger Johns AramaicNota bene
:  The present author initially learned the language from this grammar, but does see shortcomings in it.

Strengths

  • Valuable as a reference grammar, including a subject index.
  • Assumes prior proficiency in Biblical Hebrew, which present author agrees is advantageous to the study of Biblical Aramaic.
  • Separate companion volume answer key available.
  • Full glossary in back of textbook.

Weaknesses

  • Translation exercises lack any explanatory notes (a feature of most grammars).
  • Inconsistent format to verb charts which occur in the text, and they only cover strong verbs.
  • Relies in early chapters on concepts to be presented in full later, apparently forgetting that they have not yet been introduced.
  • Vague in its explanations of syntactical matters (but then again it does not claim to be a syntax guide).
  • For all it includes, this grammar neglects the Eastern Peshitta, which is of the same general style of Aramaic as the Daniel and Ezra portions which comprise the bulk of the focus and is available in Asshuri block script.
  • Not as user-friendly a volume as Greenspahn or Van Pelt.
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