Hebrew Chrestomathy

A place for those new to Biblical Hebrew to ask basic questions about the language of the Hebrew Bible.
Forum rules
Members will observe the rules for respectful discourse at all times!
Please sign all posts with your first and last (family) name.
Post Reply
User avatar
Jason Hare
Posts: 1195
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:07 am
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Contact:

Hebrew Chrestomathy

Post by Jason Hare »

Has anyone used a Hebrew chrestomathy (χρηστὴ μάθη) while learning or teaching Hebrew? Do you think it could be useful in any way?

Here is an example of what I'm asking about.
Jason Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel
www.thehebrewcafe.com
Nihil est peius iis, qui paulum aliquid ultra primas litteras
progressi falsam sibi scientiæ persusionem induerunt.

— Quintilian
User avatar
Kirk Lowery
Site Admin
Posts: 330
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:03 pm
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Hebrew Chrestomathy

Post by Kirk Lowery »

So...you talking about a graded reader?
Kirk E. Lowery, PhD
B-Hebrew Site Administrator & Moderator
blog: https://blogs.emdros.org/eh
User avatar
Jason Hare
Posts: 1195
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:07 am
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Contact:

Re: Hebrew Chrestomathy

Post by Jason Hare »

Kirk Lowery wrote: Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:47 am So...you talking about a graded reader?
Yeah, but old style!
Jason Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel
www.thehebrewcafe.com
Nihil est peius iis, qui paulum aliquid ultra primas litteras
progressi falsam sibi scientiæ persusionem induerunt.

— Quintilian
ralph
Posts: 167
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:20 am

Re: Hebrew Chrestomathy

Post by ralph »

I don't know if this is the kind of thing you have in mind, but there is a book, on biblical hebrew - called "The First Hebrew Primer", and it has sections near the end that have stories that aren't from tanach, like "hansel and gretl", which are simpler to read than Tanach, and have a vocabulary list at the beginning.

I found it to be the best part of the book and I would have liked much more of that.

My view is that if I were to get really into learning Hebrew again, then even though my interest is biblical hebrew, i'd actually learn modern hebrew because it is much easier to become fluent in modern hebrew, and then i'd try to apply that to biblical hebrew.. I did go through that book and have been on biblical hebrew courses but never achieved any fluency.

I went on a biblical hebrew course once that went through the Primer book, and I was OK going through a book.. i'd have preferred going through a more rigorous book, but OK ... I learnt quite a bit from that.. But then the next stage was classes going through reading Tanach, and then for me it all went down the toilet.. because nobody ever got fluent.. We were told what we'd be reading before the lesson so people would spend ages looking up words and writing the meaning of the words down, which made for huge homeworks, and the homeworks were almost like cheating.

And what happened was it merged together reading and translation. Most people on biblical hebrew courses are not fluent readers. And so we would sit there in the class listening to a text being read by those taking the class, so, listening to it read poorly and slowly, each person would take turns to read. So the pace was really slow unless somebody was jewish / had attended a jewish primary school or synagogue, and could read fast(like maybe 1/10 people in the class could read-sounding out the words- correctly and at a good pace). And then the translation people would do was quite flawless 'cos they'd just copied it from a bible translation at home as part of their homework. We were no longer doing exercises anymore(eg exercises from the book). And so I no longer found much benefit to me from the classes.

Having reading exercises that would build up to being able to read the tanach would have been great but that material doesn't seem to be out there.

Miles Van Pelt is amazing and has thought of so many things.. to the extent that if you think "wouldn't a particular teaching tool be useful", check if he has done it and he may have.. I have a book, "Graded reader of biblical hebrew" by Pratico and Pelt... I haven't tried it 'cos I got it quite late in my interest. He has not written his own stories though.. flicking through it it looks like purely extracts from Tanach. (With vocabulary lists and parsing exercises)

What the Primer book does is great with doing its own stories so carefully chosen vocabulary and structure.. in the writing.. but even that, is not something that would build up to biblical fluency there isn't enough of it. It'd perhaps be a big project for somebody to do it..And the primer book only has a few of them, near the end of the book.

I realised there's probably far more material out there for people to become fluent in modern hebrew than to become fluent in biblical hebrew. To the extent that to become fluent in biblical i'd probably have to get into modern hebrew, and that'd be a big new hobby to take on!
Ralph Zak
Post Reply