Textbook Review: Van Pelt

Van Pelt, Miles V.  Basics of Biblical Aramaic.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2011.


Van Pelt AramaicNota bene
:  The present author is currently using this work as a textbook for an online Aramaic I course.  Present author finds this grammar to be the most user-friendly currently available.  In accordance with the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission, present author discloses that an examination/desk copy of this textbook was provided him at no cost by the publisher.

Strengths

  • Assumes prior knowledge of Biblical Hebrew… but covers all critical overlapping material between the two languages by way of review.
  • Inclusion of an annotated text of all Tanakh passages containing Aramaic.  An editable electronic version of the annotated text portion is available from the author.
  • Inclusion of a lexicon containing every Aramaic word that occurs in the Tanakh with glosses derived from HALOT.
  • Exercises entirely drawn from the Biblical texts for inductive learning.
  • Separate answer key available for the exercises.
  • A series of video lectures covering the content of the textbook will be released in November 2014.  The video covering chapter 2 (the vowel system) is posted on Zondervan’s youtube channel as a preview.

Weaknesses

  • Lacking in some of its explanations, leaving the reader with questions that direct him or her to a reference grammar (e.g. Rosenthal or Johns) for answers.
  • 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.
  • Lacks an index for ease of quickly finding specific presentations.

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