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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew: An Introduction
Blau, Joshua

Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2010 pp. xiv + 369. $59.50

Series Information
Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic, 2


Description: More than 80 years have passed since Bauer and Leanderís historical grammar of Biblical Hebrew was published, and many advances in comparative historical grammar have been made during the interim. Joshua Blau, who has for much of his life been associated with the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem, has during the past half century studied, collected data, and written frequently on various aspects of the Hebrew language. Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew had its origins in an introduction to Biblical Hebrew first written some 40 years ago; it has now been translated from Modern Hebrew, thoroughly revised and updated, and it distills a lifetime of knowledge of the topic. The book begins with a 60-page introduction that locates Biblical Hebrew in the Semitic family of languages. It then discusses various approaches to categorization and classification, introduces and discusses various linguistic approaches and features that are necessary to the discussion, and provides a background to the way that linguists approach a language such as Biblical Hebrewóall of which will be useful to students who have taken first-year Hebrew as well those who have studied Biblical Hebrew extensively but have not been introduced to linguistic study of the topic. After a brief discussion of phonetics, the main portion of the book is devoted to phonology and to morphology. In the section on phonology, Blau provides complete coverage of the consonant and vowel systems of Biblical Hebrew and of the factors that have affected both systems. In the section on morphology, he discusses the parts of speech (pronouns, verbs, nouns, numerals) and includes brief comments on the prepositions and waw. The historical processes affecting each feature are explained as Blau progresses through the various sections. The book concludes with a complete set of paradigms and extensive indexes. Blauís recognized preeminence as a Hebraist and Arabist as well as his understanding of language change have converged in the production of this volume to provide an invaluable tool for the comparative and historical study of Biblical Hebrew phonology and morphology.

Subjects: Methods, Linguistics, Hebrew

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Review by Jeremy M. Hutton
Published 8/12/2011
Citation: Jeremy M. Hutton, review of Joshua Blau, Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew: An Introduction, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2011).


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