This month Eisenbrauns has a sale on my favorite series of theirs: Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic (LSAWS). These titles are not often on sale, and you can rarely (if ever) find a cheaper copy of anything here, even if used via Amazon.
I highlight two volumes:
Word Order in the Biblical Hebrew Finite Clause, by Adina Moshavi
Many of Moshavi’s examples come from Genesis, which make them easy to understand, as she is mostly using a narrative/historical text for purposes of illustration. I’ve read 75 pages (closely) and found the book both substantive and easy to understand.
Here is the publisher’s description:
Over the last 40 years, the study of word-order variation has become a prominent and fruitful field of research. Researchers of linguistic typology have found that every language permits a variety of word-order constructions, with subject, verb, and objects occupying varying positions relative to each other. It is frequently possible to classify one of the word orders as the basic or unmarked order and the others as marked.
Moshavi’s study investigates word order in the finite nonsubordinate clause in classical Biblical Hebrew. A common marked construction in this type of clause is the preposing construction, in which a subject, object, or adverbial is placed before the verb. In this work, Moshavi formally distinguishes preposing from other marked and unmarked constructions and explores the distribution of these constructions in Biblical Hebrew. She carries out a contextual analysis of a sample (the book of Genesis) of preposed clauses in order to determine the pragmatic functions that preposing may express. Moshavi’s thesis is that the majority of preposed clauses can be classified as one of two syntactic-pragmatic constructions: focusing or topicalization.
This meticulous yet approachable study will be useful both to students of Biblical Hebrew and to persons doing general study of syntax, especially those interested in the connection between linguistic form and pragmatic meaning.
Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew, by Joshua Blau
I haven’t read as much of this one, but is it ever detailed! It’s an excellent reference tool to look up and learn why Hebrew words are formed the way they are, and how each little part (morpheme) of a word comes into being and functions. Easily worth the $39 sale price.
From the publisher:
More than 80 years have passed since Bauer and Leander’s 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 Hebrew—all 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.
Blau’s 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.
Access the sale here. The two volumes above–and some other really good titles–are available at the best discounts you’re likely to find.
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