Waltke O’Connor An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax

Waltke and O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax is one of the most important Biblical Hebrew reference grammars available today. It bridges the gap between introductory grammars and the much more advanced grammars of Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka.

What is Waltke-O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax?

Bruce Waltke and Michael O’Connor first published An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax in 1990. Since 1990, several corrected editions of the text have come out as well. It is often referred to as “Waltke-O’Connor,” and sometimes abbreviated to “IBHS”.

Whereas Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka are comprehensive Biblical Hebrew grammars, Waltke-O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax only deals with syntax. However, the term “introduction” is something of a misnomer. In fact, Waltke-O’Connor is over 700 pages!

Waltke-O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax is the perfect tool for students who have mastered the basics of Biblical Hebrew and are ready to begin more advanced material. It is much easier to use than Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka, making the transition from being an intermediate to an advanced scholar much easier.

Layout and content of Waltke-O’Connor

One of the first things you notice when using Waltke-O’Connor is that it is clearly written and well organized. Waltke-O’Connor also uses great examples from the biblical text. For English speakers, you’re simply not going to find a grammar organized more clearly than this one.

Here are some highlights of the contents of Waltke-O’Connor:

  • The first few chapters of Waltke-O’Connor contain helpful histories of the scholarship of Biblical Hebrew and the history of the Hebrew language. Waltke-O’Connor contextualizes this section within the wider discussion ancient Semitic linguistics. It also provides helpful information for understanding the history of the Masoretic text.
  • The next chapters in Waltke-O’Connor describe fundamental concepts in Biblical Hebrew grammar, beginning with over-arching concepts and then getting into specifics. Chapters are arranged topically, roughly moving from nouns, prepositions, adjectives, and pronouns. Approximately the entire second half of the book is devoted to verbs.
  • Waltke-O’Connor uses modern linguistic theories to explain Biblical Hebrew. Although many scholars disagree with their presentation of the verbal tense system in Biblical Hebrew, their attempt to apply modern linguistics to this problem is very helpful.

Key features of Waltke-O’Connor

Here are some of the most important features of Waltke-O’Connor:

  • The most unique feature of Waltke-O’Connor is its glossary of linguistic terms. Most beginning and intermediate students are not familiar with linguistic terminology, so this glossary is very helpful indeed. It can even be a helpful resource when using Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka.
  • Like Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka, Waltke-O’Connor also provides very helpful indexes for quickly finding information in their volume.
  • Unlike Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka, Waltke-O’Connor can theoretically be used as an intermediate grammar. Students can read through specific chapters in Waltke-O’Connor and gain important information without becoming overwhelmed.

Final Verdict

Waltke-O’Connor is a great reference grammar that bridges the gap between introductory grammars and the more advanced reference grammars of Gesenius and Joüon-Muraoka. Its glossary of linguistic terms is particularly helpful. It’s a tool no serious student should be without.

Information about purchasing Waltke-O’Connor’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax can be found by clicking on the image below. Or learn about other  biblical hebrew grammars.

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