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Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized
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Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized

by Francis I. Andersen and A. Dean Forbes

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In Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized, Andersen and Forbes approach the grammar of Biblical Hebrew from the perspective of corpus linguistics. Their pictorial representations of the clauses making up the biblical texts show the grammatical functions (subject, object, and so on) and semantic roles (surrogate, time interval, and so on) of clausal constituents, as well as the grammatical relations that bind the constituents into coherent structures.

The book carefully introduces the Andersen-Forbes approach to text preparation and characterization. It describes and tallies the kinds of phrases and clauses encountered across all of Biblical Hebrew. It classifies and gives examples of the major constituents that form clauses, focusing especially on the grammatical functions and semantic roles. The book presents the structures of the constituents and uses their patterns of incidence both to examine constituent order (“word order”) and to characterize the relations among verb corpora. It expounds in detail the characteristics of quasiverbals, verbless clauses, discontinuous and double-duty clausal constituents, and supra-clausal structures.

The book is intended for students of Biblical Hebrew at all levels. Beginning students will readily grasp the basic grammatical structures making up the clauses, because these are few and fairly simple. Intermediate and advanced students will profit from the detailed descriptions and comparative analyses of all of the structures making up the biblical texts. Scholars will find fresh ways of addressing open problems, while gaining glimpses of new research approaches and topics along the way.

Product Details

Publisher: Eisenbrauns
Publication date: 2012
Bibliographic info: xviii + 394 pages
Language(s): English


Cover: Cloth
Trim Size: 8.5 x 11 inches



The authors are to be commended for providing readers a look "under the hood" of the visualized texts of BH provided in a tool like the AFPMA, for explaining the theory and methodology behind it, and for giving a taste of the amazing kinds of research in BH grammar that can be achieved by using it. The authors state in the Preface that "this book takes the first steps toward investigation of the grammar of the Hebrew found in . . . the Hebrew Bible" (p. xi) and that they intend to present "a few sample studies that will illustrate the potential of this approach for research" (p. xii). They have certainly delivered what they have promised. — Phillip S. Marshall, Themelios 40/1 (2015)

Traditionally, scientists present the results of their research after stripping away the scaffolding and passing over the false starts. This volume, by contrast, presents a refreshing and energizing view of science in the making. It contains many new contributions of great scientific value in their own right, but in addition helps the reader appreciate the history of those contributions, and shows the continuity of that effort reaching toward even higher-level insights. — H. Van Dyke Parunak in Computing Reviews #CR140487 (8 Aug 2012)

At times the authors challenge the status quo and argue against the standard reference grammars, and the analysis behind their work makes it difficult to argue with their results. This is a text to be taken seriously, and could potentially change the way certain aspects of the Hebrew language are viewed. —Matthew James Hamilton, Southwest Virginia Community College in Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament, 1.2 (2012)

Despite the strides in linguistics over the past few decades, the challenge of writing a grammar of Biblical Hebrew remains the same. In a word, grammars are a difficult read. Often following a recognizable but generic form, they detail technical information in a straightforward and relatively bland manner. But, occasionally, a volume comes along that is unique or fresh enough in its presentation to warrant attention. Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized is one example. . . . Andersen and Forbes have clearly set a standard in computer-based grammatical research. With the aid of databases such as this, grammarians will be able to analyze more data more easily and formulate theories that have even broader linguistic support. -- David B. Schreiner in Bulletin for Biblical Research 23.1 (2013)

What makes Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized so remarkable is that it provides us a means whereby we can analyse syntactically and classify grammatically every occurrence of every verb, noun and particle in the Hebrew Bible, and the way words work with the words around them. — Terry Falla in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Melbourne) 52 (2015)

Despite their protestations that the book is merely a glimpse into the state-of-the-art, it is a milestone in research since it (1) demonstrates clearly to the uninitiated in computational linguistics the benefits of exploiting computers for syntactic research; (2) shows some of the fruits of such syntactic research into phrasal and clausal analysis; (3) presents a detailed graphic parsing of some phrases and clauses. . . . Though the luxuriant trees that Andersen and Forbes draw are a significant contribution to the subject of phrasal and clausal syntax, another just as substantial contribution of Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized is the precise tallies of syntactic phenomena. — Steven Fassberg in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Melbourne) 52 (2015)

The authors not only provide descriptions of phrase and clause structure that are groundbreaking and address issues that have been completely ignored by centuries of Hebrew scholarship: they also present insights about the linguistic nature of Biblical Hebrew and the way in which its syntax can contribute to general linguistic discussions such as the distinction between configurational and nonconfigurational languages and the applicability of various modern linguistic approaches. . . . [The book] is an innovative, groundbreaking contribution both to Biblical Hebrew studies and to general linguistics. — Wido van Peursen in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Melbourne) 52 (2015)

BHGV has the distinction of unveiling to the scholarly world how one particular method, corpus linguistics, might yet revolutionise the study of Biblical Hebrew grammar. . . . BHGV does not claim to be the final word; messy data, as natural language inevitably provides, tend to generate messy systems. This is a gold mine for scholars of the future as BHGV has exposed a field in desperate need of further analysis. . . . The language needs to be analysed minutely, with every oddity dissected and discussed and somehow labeled, before generalizations can be made. . . . [I]t is this that makes BHGV so welcome in the field of Biblical Hebrew grammar. . . . Corpus linguistics, as represented in this volume, is a method that holds much promise indeed. — Elizabeth Robar, Buried History 51 (2015) 6567.

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