Seow, Choon-Leong. (1995). A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (Rev. Ed.). Abingdon Press.This is the book that we used for first-year Hebrew back when I took it in Fall 1999. I had just finished my first year of Greek, for which we used Bill Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek and which I had supplemented with the same author’s Morphology of Biblical Greek. I, therefore, thoroughly enjoyed the attention to detail that Seow pays in his presentation of the various morphological issues in biblical Hebrew. This approach doesn’t work for everyone, but it certainly pushed me to better understand the forms and where they came from.
The systematic presentation drove us from one topic to the next. By the end of that first year, not having spent much time actually reading the text of the Hebrew Bible, I felt that my mind was mush, and I told my professor that I didn’t think I’d enroll for the second year of Hebrew. It was just overwhelming, dealing with binyanim, tenses and suffixes (oh my!). He convinced me to push forward to the second year, in which we would be doing reading as the basis of our studies, and it really paid off.
Only after reading the Hebrew Bible did I realize how profitable that first year had been and how much I had really learned from Seow’s textbook and presentation. I appreciated the book much more after I had become a reader of Hebrew and left the grammar book behind. When I teach Hebrew today, I make sure to include LOADS of text for reading and discussion. That was the real weakness of Seow, but maybe it could be improved upon by focusing more on the texts that he has you translate than on the translation exercises that he made up for drill.
Have you got any experience in using Seow’s textbook? What did you learn from? What do you see as benefits and drawbacks of the system that you learned from?