Hebrew Textbook(s), Update

In a previous post, we announced the existence of a second Hebrew textbook we have created — one that uses more of an “immersive” learning experience by using comic-book style biblical scenes paired with graded Hebrew texts and asking students to read and answer in biblical Hebrew, and interact with each other and their instructor in Hebrew. This second textbook is titled Biblical Hebrew: An Illustrated Introduction (BHII), which complements the different (more traditional) pedagogy of our first textbook, Biblical Hebrew: A Student Grammar (BHSG).

The BHII textbook is structured so that in many institutions (e.g., those that have longer semesters than the 12-week terms at Toronto), the entirety can be covered in a single semester. And yet, because we know we must provide a transition to the next step (what we assume in most curricula are intensive reading courses or exegesis courses), we are very pleased to report two bits of news.

First, we have completed Readings 11-13, which cover Genesis 1, 47, and 50, respectively. The texts within the comic-style illustrations is the full (unaltered) narrative content of those chapters in the Hebrew Bible. Reading 11 (Gen 1) omits verses references and the טְעָמִים, and inserts modern punctuation. Readings 12-13 omit verse references, but dispense with modern punctuation and include the טְעָמִים.

Second, we have begun work on an intermediate Reader, tentatively titled Biblical Hebrew: An Illustrated Reader (BHIR), which will cover the Elijah and Elisha stories in 1 Kings. As with the BHII Textbook, the Reader will utilize comic-style illustrations to help the student contextualize the new language information, thereby facilitating comprehension and memorization. Appendices following the illustrations will include panel-by-panel grammatical and textual notes appropriate for guiding students along the path towards greater interpretative depth and nuance. While the Reader will strictly speaking be a stand-alone work, and thus usable even for those who do not use our BHII Textbook, it will also proceed from the level at which the BHII ends (and it will include cross-references to the grammatical discussions in both our textbooks: BHII and BHSG).

Finally, we point our readers to Bernard Levinson‘s (Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota) recent review of a new biblical Hebrew textbook in the online Review of Biblical Literature. We mention Prof. Levinson’s review for two reasons: 1) his review illustrates that no single pedagogical approach fits every instructor or student (which is why we have two textbooks with the same grammatical description but different pedagogy); and 2) because we are simply thrilled that our two unpublished textbooks rated a (positive) mention in Prof. Levinson’s published book review (see footnote 3 and the Appendix).

One word sums up our response: “Wow!”. (Thank you, Bernard!)

5 Responses to “Hebrew Textbook(s), Update”

  1. Mike Aubrey Says:

    Thanks, I have enjoyed reading through your student grammar.

  2. Daniel Witte Says:

    Dr. Holmstedt,

    Might your BHIR or portions of it be available for trial use in an academic setting this summer?

    I ask partly because I’m a Lutheran pastor with an interest in biblical Hebrew, and I’ve appreciated your BHSG.

    Main reason for asking:

    Our denomination’s college in New Ulm, MN sponsors a one-week “Hebrew Institute” each summer. This July 11-15 our goal is to read rapidly from BHS 1 Kings 19 and 2 Kings 1-13.

    The instructor, Thomas Nass, has a Masters in Hebrew from UW-Madison. You may know him from your time there.

    A .pdf brochure about the Hebrew Institute is here:


    Usually about a dozen pastors attend.

    I’d be interested to correspond with you about your planned BHIR, or to put you in touch with Tom Nass about the same, if that would be of interest to you– perhaps using us to test/review your materials in a classroom setting.

    • robertholmstedt Says:


      We should have a solid draft of the BHIR done well before your summer institute. And an intensive like this would be a very interesting test of the concept at the intermediate level.

      Please contact us (or have Tom Nass contact us) at our gmail address: bibhebii – at – gmail.com. We’ll ask to you to sign up at our Forum, which is where we’ll post the materials once we finish them.

  3. holyhiway Says:

    We have a Hebraic Roots assembly that is interested in learning Hebrew together. If we choose to use your student grammar, could we have a copy of the key? There would be approximately 20 people in this class. We need something easier than the norm so that people won’t be as likely to be overwhelmed and give up. I think this grammar is what we need but we can’t use it without a key. Thanks for considering our request.

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