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Plong425 Stars Out Of 5An excellent book for savoring the Proverbs slowlyJuly 26, 2019Plong42Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Kline has already compiled Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes A Day and Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic in Two Minutes A Day. This new volume provides one proverb a day with glosses and reading helps from Proverbs 10:1-22:16.
As Kline says in his introduction, Proverbs are best internalized by "savoring them slowly in small quantities." This is because proverbs are often difficult to understand. They are cryptic and ambiguous, and they are especially difficult to translate. His goal in this volume is to help students, clergy, teachers, and scholars who have not yet read much of the book of Proverbs in Hebrew begin to explore how these sayings work in Hebrew" (xiii). This is not a commentary and Kline does not provide any guidance for translating beyond lexical and syntactic glosses, not does he attempt any explanation of the cultural and historical background to obscure elements.
To produce this reader, Kline sorted 365 proverbs from Proverbs 10:1-22:16. The section was chosen since it is labeled the Proverbs of Solomon and it has 375 proverbs. Kline omits ten which are very similar. For example, he omits 11:4 since it is similar to 10:2; 15:22 since it is similar to 11:14. Another advantage to this section of the book of Proverbs is each proverb is formatted into two parallel lines. In Hebrew, the lines are usually three to five words long.
In some ways this is a graded reader. Kline selected proverbs with more common vocabulary for the earlier in the book, less frequent vocabulary towards the end. But there is no attempt to sort the proverbs by morphology and syntax. A student also needs to know what to do with a hiphel infinitive construct. For most students with a semester or two of Hebrew, this book provides enough to read with clarity. Each page contains a single Hebrew proverb divided into two lines. Each word is glossed and identified morphologically if necessary. In the example to the left, Proverbs 15:31 is divided into two lines, the first line has three units and the second line only two.
Put this together, Kline translates Proverbs 15:31 "an ear listens to a life-giving rebuke, it makes its home among the comprehending." This English translation is not at the bottom of the page. To keep students from using the English as a crutch he puts his translation at the bottom of the third page to avoid "accidental" peaking. As is clear from the previous paragraph, his translations are more periphrastic than expected. As he explains in the introduction, he is "drawing deeply from the rich reservoir of English vocabulary" to produce a translation which is "fresh, memorable, and-by dint of their novelty-defamiliarizing, thought provoking, and even fun" (xx). This is an important feature since Kline wants the reader to stop and ponder the two simple lines of Hebrew, to chew on them for a few moments and meditate on what they mean in a variety of contexts and circumstances.
The book includes an alphabetical index and a frequency index. The latter would enable a student to memorize common vocabulary in Proverbs. For example, there are only the fourteen words occurring 25 times or more in the book (even a beginning Hebrew student will know most of them). The book is bound as in green cloth over boards with an attractive green pattern on the front and back. What is lacking is a string bookmark typical of a Bible.
This book certainly achieves the goal of providing a student with the necessary information to read a proverb a day and it will facilitate meditation on these important verses in Proverbs.
NB: Thanks to Hendrickson for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
Published on July 27, 2019 on Reading Acts.
Andrew WenclIndianapolis, INAge: 25-34Gender: Male4 Stars Out Of 5Great for daily devotionsJuly 20, 2019Andrew WenclIndianapolis, INAge: 25-34Gender: MaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Keeping up with the biblical languages can be a challenge. As a bi-vocational pastor, a lot of my time is already claimed between work, church, and family. Even a little time working with Hebrew or Greek is valuable. But where to begin? How to make the best use of limited time? A devotional is a great way to develop the habit of daily Bible reading, so why not something similar focused on the biblical languages? Enter A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew compiled and edited by Jonathan G. Kline.
The book has 365 verses from the section known as "The Proverbs of Solomon" in Proverbs 10:1 to 22:16. The verses are not in the order they appear in the Bible. If that were the case, you might as well just do your own study with a Hebrew Bible and a good lexicon. Kline did an in-depth analysis of the words that make up the verses and figured out the frequency of each word, then organized the verses according to word frequency. As you work through each day, you build upon vocabulary you've already encountered. I found that helpful in easing back into the habit of reading and understanding biblical Hebrew since it's been a few years since my last language course.
Kline breaks each verse into its respective Hebrew lines. Under each line he provides a gloss for each word and parses out each verb. Since nouns can differ in number, gender, and suffixes, I would have liked to have them identified as well, but at least the gloss gives you the idea. Just having the English renderings of the Hebrew words doesn't mean there's no work for the reader to do. For one thing, you don't have to rely on the English if you don't want to. Second, proverbs, by their very nature, are a little cryptic. Even with an English rendering, sometimes you have to work to understand how the words relate to one another. At the bottom of the page, two pages beyond each verse, is Kline's own rendering of it. These renderings vary greatly, sometimes more word-for-word, other times more thought-for-thought. The idea is to make you think.
Since each word has its own gloss, there's no lexicon at the end of the book, though an alphabetical index of each Hebrew word is included. He also has an index with words by the frequency of their appearance. Finally, Kline lists out all the verses from Proverbs 10:1 to 22:16 with the day on which they appear.
The book itself is a sturdy hardback with cloth over board. It looks like a collector's edition. The font is quite large, making reading easy and enjoyable. I typically read more than one proverb at a time, so it should not take me a year to read through the book. If your Hebrew is really rusty, or if you prefer to take it one at a time, you should be able to work through each verse in about two or three minutes, which makes it a great way to get back into biblical Hebrew.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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