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A. Philip Brown II, Bryan W. Smith (Eds.

), A Reader’s Hebrew Bible, Grand Rapids:


Zondervan, 2008, pp. xxviii + 1,652. $49.99.

Originally published in Princeton Theological Review

Following the success of its New Testament companion, Zondervan has published A
Reader’s Hebrew Bible. The purpose of this text is to provide students of biblical Hebrew and
Aramaic the necessary tools for sustained reading of the Hebrew Bible in the original languages.
A Reader’s Hebrew Bible is an invaluable resource for students of biblical Hebrew which will
allow them significantly increased time in the text at an earlier level of study than previously
possible.

The Hebrew text of this edition is the Leningrad Codex which is very similar to the texts
found in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) and Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ). An appendix
at the back of A Reader’s Hebrew Bible helpfully lists the consonantal and pointing differences
between the text of the Leningrad Codex and the text used in BHS. Only 27 differences exist; so,
students should find it easy to move between the critical editions and the present edition.

A Reader’s Hebrew Bible boasts a number of other strengths to commend it. Foremost is
the running lexicon at the bottom of each page in which all Hebrew words with a frequency
fewer than 100 are footnoted, excluding proper nouns. In the Aramaic portions of the text, all
words that occur less than 25 times are footnoted. The footnotes list the stem and provide stem
specific glosses from A Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament and Brown-Driver-
Briggs. The running lexicon is the most important feature of any reader’s Bible enabling the
reader to spend more time in the text rather than thumbing through the pages of the lexicon.
There is also a glossary in the back of the book containing all words that occur 100 times or
more making this reader’s Bible the only book needed for sustained reading in the Hebrew text.

The glosses are context specific which will help students to achieve the goal of sustained
reading. Readers should remember that glosses are not intended to convey the full meaning of a
word and should not be depended upon for detailed exegetical work. Glosses are helpful, as the
editors indicate, in that they help the reader produce a fairly literal rendering and familiarize the
reader with typical Hebrew and Aramaic expressions (xvii).

The editors have designed the text to facilitate easy transition from the reader’s Bible to
critical editions. The prose sections are justified with no line breaks between verses, and the
paragraph breaks in BHS are generally followed. Each verse in the poetic sections begins on a
new line. Poetry is differentiated within a prose section by an indent from the right margin.
Given the difficulty in distinguishing Hebrew prose from poetry, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible
generally follows the majority consensus in BHS and modern English translations for identifying
poetry.

The large format is somewhat bulky being about the size of most study bibles. It is
available in a nice Italian Duo-Tone binding and measures 7.2 x 9.9 x 2.1 inches. The light
brown cover and silver page edges are aesthetically pleasant. Like many Bibles, the thin pages
allow the words on the following pages to be seen through the page. This, however, is not a
sufficient weakness to keep students from purchasing and benefiting from this text.

The editors of A Reader’s Hebrew Bible have provided an invaluable tool which will
enable students of biblical Hebrew and Aramaic to more easily achieve sustained reading of the
text in the original languages. Students will enjoy the fruit of their effort at an earlier stage of
learning than was previously possible. The ability to read continuously will likely motivate
students to devote more time to learning Hebrew and Aramaic. I happily recommend A Reader’s
Hebrew Bible as an invaluable resource for reading the Hebrew Bible in its original languages.

Matthew P. O’Reilly
Asbury Theological Seminary
Wilmore, KY