Review of Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Hebrew by Gary A. Long

November 19, 2020

Long, Gary A. Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Hebrew (2nd Edition). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013, pp. 213, paperback.


Gary A. Long (PhD) is professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University and the author of Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Greek.

Long provides an explanation of the strategy of the book by writing: “Designed to complement standard teaching grammars, this book assists the entry-level Biblical Hebrew student in learning basic grammatical concepts no single teaching grammar treats adequately and no reference grammar explains plainly enough for many beginning students (p. xvii).   The book is not designed to be read through at one time but rather fills the need for a simple reference to Hebrew grammar with many cross-references to major works on Biblical Hebrew.

He divides the book into three parts. Part 1: Foundations reviews the basics of language with an emphasis on building a bridge between English grammar and Hebrew grammar.  The chapter may be overwhelming to the beginner as the explanation of linguistic hierarchies is complicated due to the complexities of the discussion. Part 2: Building Blocks develops grammatical concepts that are common to most all languages.  Some of the building blocks are gender, number, article, conjunctions, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, participles, infinitives, and mood.  Part 3: The Clause and Beyond cannot be comprehended without a thorough knowledge of chapter 2.  The semantics of clauses, sentences and paragraphs are dependent on the understanding of the basic building blocks of language. A significant advantage of these discussions is the relating of English grammar to Hebrew.  It is widely known that most English students do not understand English grammar so as to have a foundation  for further language study.  Long does an excellent work of simplifying, as much as possible, a solid understanding of grammatical concepts. Throughout the book, he provides valuable cross-references to standard works on Biblical Hebrew.  The many examples that are provided are invaluable to the beginning student.

Although the book includes “Concepts 101” in the title, the book covers information that is useful to any student of Hebrew.  It goes far beyond introductory matters.  This second edition is expanded and updated with accessible information. Long states: “I have written the book for a learner (I suggest life-long learner) who has had little or no formal study of grammar. The language, therefore, strives for simplicity wherever possible. Some will find the language at times overly simplistic.” (p. xvii)

John A. McLean

Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity.

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