Review: Keep Up Your Biblical Languages in Two Minutes a Day

KUY-banner_hendThe most important practice for maintaining and increasing one’s understanding of the biblical languages is daily engagement with the language itself. That’s right. It’s as easy as daily use of the language. Still, for most students of the biblical languages (past or present), there are two common hurdles to overcome—time and direction. It is for this reason, that I can think of no resource more essential to students of the biblical languages than The Two Minutes A Day Biblical Language Seriescompiled and edited by Jonathan G. Kline.

The Two Minutes A Day Biblical Language Series has been specially designed to help readers build upon a previous study of the biblical languages by facilitating daily engagement in an easy, manageable, and spiritually enriching way (p. vii). The series is comprised of five handsomely produced, durable imitation leather volumes: Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day: Volume 1 & 2 (forthcoming), Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic in Two Minutes a Day, and Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day: Volume 1 & 2 (forthcoming).

The organizational structure of each volume in the series is identical. Each volume contains 365 sections for review in a single-page devotional style format. To encourage the readers to spend regular time with the biblical languages, each page includes a day number (from 1 to 365), a date (from January 1 to December 31), and a week number (from Week 1 to Week 52). The format of the content for each entry includes an English translation of the passage (NRSV, ESV, NASB, NIV, CSB, and MLB) with vocabulary words bolded for contextual recognition, new vocabulary words with both transliterations and definitions, a biblical language presentation of the passage, and a side-by-side breakdown of the passage with both biblical language and translation (see examples below).

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 8.46.57 PMKeep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day: Volume 1was created with consideration of the main frequency list of vocabulary found in The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew by Miles V. Van Pelt and Gary D. Pratico. Kline has taken the 365 most frequently occurring words in the Hebrew Bible and curated a list of passages for readers to engage each day. Thus, not only are readers engaging biblical Hebrew, but they’re effectively learning vocabulary that will afford them greater efficiency when using Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition. For ease of reading, Kline has removed the Masoretic accents and Ketiv forms, including only the Qere forms. Lastly, it should be mentioned that the Hebrew text referenced in this volume is taken from the Michigan-Claremont-Westminster Electronic Hebrew Bible, which is a public domain text that is based on the BHS and compared with the Leningrad Codex.

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Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 8.47.18 PMKeep Up Your Biblical Aramaic in Two Minutes a Dayoffers readers, in order of descending frequency, every word in biblical Aramaic. The volume is shaped in conjunction with the lexical forms, glosses, and frequencies of the incredibly useful Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbookby Donald R. Vance, George Athas, Yael Avrahami, and Jonathan G. Kline (see review here). Students of biblical Aramaic would do well to purchase this volume if they haven’t already. The Aramaic text used is likewise from the Michigan-Claremont-Westminster Electronic Hebrew Bible, and, for ease of reading, Kline has likewise removed the Masoretic accents and Ketiv forms. The approach that Kline took concerning the descending nature of the volume is especially helpful considering the number of hapax Legomenon present in the Aramaic passages of the Hebrew Bible (more than one-third of words in biblical Aramaic).

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Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 8.46.46 PMKeep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day: Volume 1 was created with consideration of the main frequency list of vocabulary found in Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament by Warren C. Trenchard. Kline has taken the 365 most frequently occurring words in the Greek New Testament—all words that occur 42 times or more, plus about half of this that occurs 41 times—and curated a list of passages for readers to engage each day. Mastery of these 365 words will not only allow readers to engage biblical Greek with more proficiency but afford them knowledge of nearly every lexical form assumed by The Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition. The glosses are abridged entries of Hendrickson’s Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Mark House, with occasional contextual modifications from Kline. The Greek text quoted in this volume is The Greek New Testament prepared by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, which is a critical edition of the Greek New Testament published in 1881.

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There is so much to be praised about this series and the two forthcoming volumes. I’ve already voiced the necessity of these volumes for readers looking to remain in contact with a study of the biblical languages. There is absolutely nothing like them on the market and Kline is to be commended in the highest regard for his work here. The format is both easy-to-use and inviting. Thus, not only has Kline created a space for readers to enter their needed engagement with the biblical languages, but he has made it both exciting and immediately rewarding. Additionally, these volumes are the quality construction that many have come to expect from Hendrickson Publishers. The cover is a supple imitation leather over board, which provides both the functionality and durability that will withstand daily use for years to come. The paper is also thick and opaque, and the text is easy to read. Lastly, the inclusion of two ribbon bookmarkers per volume compliments the overall approach of the series and offers added usefulness that readers are certain to appreciate.

The Two Minutes A Day Biblical Language Seriescompiled and edited by Jonathan G. Kline is certain to become a new classroom standard for both teachers and students looking for quick and easy ways to remain engaged with the biblical languages. If you are a past or present student of Hebrew, Aramaic, and/or Greek, then the volumes in this series should be a no-brainer purchase. They won’t replace grammars nor the necessity of such for learning the biblical languages, but they will most certainly transform how you engage them. I couldn’t recommend this series more strongly!

(photos were provided by Hendrickson Publishers)

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