An Introduction to Aramaic, Second Edition (Resources for Biblical Study) Paperback – August 1, 2003
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.5 pounds
- Paperback : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1589830598
- ISBN-13 : 978-1589830592
- Product Dimensions : 8.75 x 0.75 x 11 inches
- Publisher : Society of Biblical Literature; 2nd Edition (August 1, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #266,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Less key issues like similarities to Hebrew, and the numerals, occupy entire chapters.
I didn't see typos, but the entire English text was full of weird spacing problems: I can overlook a few glitches, but this suggests an overall want of care.
Until now. Fred Greenspahn has solved the problem. (Full disclosure: I am the translator of the Spanish edition of this work and have used it for several years to good effect at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica).
In thirty-two chapters, the author introduces the student who already knows Biblical Hebrew to the biblical Aramaic texts in full, as well as selections from inscriptions, the Elephantine and Bar Kochba letters, Midrash, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan.
The text is well formatted with lots of white space, a psychological help to the student of no small import. Though errors bedevil the Aramaic of even this second edition, they have been identified and will doubtless disappear in a third.
The exercises are derived from the texts under study, which in the biblical portions are mostly Daniel and Ezra-Nehemiah passages that have been scrubbed of their most troublesome features. A full answer key appears in the back of the book.
This work is a gift to teachers and students of Aramaic. The ever essential works of Alger Johns, Franz Rosenthal, and others are now liberated to play their proper role as brief but invaluable reference works.
It's enough to make you doubt the decline of Western civlization.
It is easy to read, but knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is a prerequisite because almost every chapter takes off from comparisons with the morphology of Hebrew words and inflections. The closing chapters are devoted to Aramaic beyond its biblical incarnation and are very interesting. The print is easy on the eyes and the key to the exercises is included. All in all, this is a good introduction.
I only wish it had more
1. explanatory content which would be useful to a self-learner - every chapter leaves you wanting for more (I had to refer to Franz Rosenthal's reference grammar in several instances)
2. exercises to aid retention of what you've learned (I'm thinking of Nava Bergman's Cambridge Biblical Hebrew Workbook which is excellent in this regard)
The author acknowledges the work's limitations in his preface and has suggestions for further study at the end. I think he should take the opportunity and expand this work, including the latter extra-biblical portions. The Aramaic content of the Tanakh is slim and one objective of trying to learn Aramaic is presumably to gain facility to read other works, e.g. the targums. Though the audience for this work may be relatively small, it fills a gap for those wanting to take a further leap. I'm not aware of any other comparable beginner's grammar available with such a scope.