Textbook Review: Ross

Ross, Allen P.  Introducing Biblical Hebrew.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001.

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APRossNota bene:  I have worked with this text from both sides — student and instructor — and have found it to be one of the better Biblical Hebrew textbooks available.  I have great respect for Dr. Ross and the product he provides to the study of Biblical Hebrew.  It does, admittedly, have a few drawbacks, but these are easily compensated for via the application of a Hebrew Language lab which inductively engages a text of Scripture from early on in the learning process.

Strengths

  • Very thorough in its explanations of why Hebrew operates as it does.
  • Supplementary material (mostly video) available at http://www.animatedhebrew.com — very helpful to students.
  • Exercises work both Hebrew-to-English and English-to-Hebrew so that students are learning at a deeper level than just recognition value.
  • Uses regular verb paqad as paradigm verb rather than traditional pa’al (II-guttural).
  • The Introduction chapter is of great value in understanding Biblical Hebrew within the greater context of Semitic language development.
  • The “Lessons at a Glance” section is a great benefit for students as a quick review tool.
  • The bi-directional glossary in the back is a huge value-added feature for quick look-ups.
  • An answer key is available to professors from the publisher.

Weaknesses

  • This grammar does not really engage the Biblical text until chapter 41, but as addressed in the opening paragraph, this is easily compensated for and should not be seen as a deterrent from using this textbook.
  • Numbers are not introduced until chapter 25 (of 54).  This content could appear quite a bit earlier… but the chapter is “stand-alone” enough that it could be maneuvered to an earlier point in the course rather easily, e.g. as a vocabulary supplement.
  • Sometimes Ross has sentences in the exercises which rely on constructs not yet covered in the grammar.
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