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Is it best or second best?
on July 23, 2006
This is one of the two big (about 1000 cards/words) sets of pre-made Biblical Hebrew flash cards readily available for purchase on Amazon. Recently I reviewed the other set, the Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Cards by Dillard, which sell on Amazon for $12.95. The Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary Cards by Van Pelt and Pratico (part of the Zondervan product line) sell for $17.95, a bit more. As I noted in my review of the Dillard set, if I were still a starving college student, the five dollar difference alone might have inclined me toward Dillard. Now that I've got a real job in the real world, I sprung for BOTH of them. I have been using both of them in my personal study of Hebrew and I like them both, though each is a little different from the other with different strengths.
In my review of the Dillard set, I stated that I liked it the best. I still think I do, but I might have been reacting a bit to what I thought was an unfairly negative review of the Dillard cards by one reviewer. The same reviewer in a shorter review of the Van Pelt and Pratico cards says the Dillard set is "plain awful." I strongly disagree. Basically, the two sets are quite similar: Hebrew on one side and English on the other. There would not be many people who could learn from one but not from the other. But in this review, I will highlight the advantages of the Van Pelt and Pratico set, which I will call Van Pelt for short.
Van Pelt cards are keyed to four Hebrew grammar texts: one by Van Pelt and Pratico themselves, and the others by Futato, Ross, and Seow. I'm not using those at the moment, but if I were that would be very helpful. Some of the cards have some ancillary information such as alternative spellings and irregular plurals (but in smaller print). The Van Pelt cards are a little larger overall. Their length is a little less than the Dillard cards (which are the same length as many standard business cards) but the width is greater than the Dillard cards (not quite the width of a standard business card). And the paper is a little thicker and stiffer than the Dillard set. To me this makes no difference but perhaps the Van Pelt set will last longer because of the thicker paper. The print on the Van Pelt is a regular Hebrew word processor font. The Dillard uses hand calligraphy. What I consider an unfair review of Dillard states that the Dillard calligraphy was not well done and that it was difficult to read. I think the Dillard calligraphy is excellent and quite readable. But if you are myopic and need very big print, the Van Pelt will be better for you (but as I noted, it has some ancillary information in smaller print; the Dillard cards have even more ancillary information in smaller print. But even the smallest print on either card is larger than newprint).
The Van Pelt set advertises an "internet support site" but really this is just an advertisement site for other Van Pelt and Practico products as well as some other Biblical language products. What is not mentioned on the box is that there is a audio CD by a different author "Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary: Learn on the Go" by Jonathan T. Pennington, as part of the same Zondervan product line, in which the most frequent Hebrew Bible words are pronounced. These are not in the same order as the numbered Van Pelt cards, but one can rearrange the cards and put them in the same order. I recently bought the audio CD but I haven't worked with it yet. I cannot attest that the words are exactly the same, but since both sets claim to have about 1000 of the most common Hebrew words in the Bible, there should be a very significant overlap. One could actually use the CD with either the Van Pelt or the Dillard cards though I might expect that they would match the Van Pelt set better. Also, there is a book on Hebrew vocabulary, which I don't own, called The Vocabulary Guide for Biblical Hebrew by Van Pelt and Pratico, which probably parallels the Van Pelt cards quite well.
If you look up the Amazon listing for the Dillard set, which is part of the huge Vis-Ed line of study cards, you can see the reasons why I prefer Dillard. To be honest, they are all weak reasons except for the fact that the Dillard cards frequently have a lot of ancillary information such as related grammatical forms and derivations that I find interesting and useful. In deciding which set to buy I would recommend consulting your teacher, if you have one. Also, if you are using one of the books cross referenced by Van Pelt, then Van Pelt is probably better for you. If you can afford it, do what I did---buy both.