Gregory E. Reynolds
Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day: 365 Selections for Easy Review, vol. 1, compiled and edited by Jonathan G. Kline. Peabody, MA: Hendrikson, 2017, xiv + 370 pages, $39.95.
Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day: 365 Selections for Easy Review, vol. 1, compiled and edited by Jonathan G. Kline. Peabody, MA: Hendrikson, 2017, xiv + 370 pages, $39.95.
Back in the sixties I remember reading with interest the book Europe on $5.00 a Day. So, Jonathan Kline’s fine little volumes (there are two each for Hebrew and Greek, and one for Aramaic, which I am not reviewing) allure the busy and often overwhelmed pastor to keep fresh in his use of the biblical languages. I always reminded parents who inquired about how to do devotions with their little children to keep the lessons short and sweet. Kline has done a masterful job of doing just this for original language studies.
Each volume covers three hundred sixty-five one-page selections beginning January 1. The eight-page introduction to each volume is a very useful and important aid to getting the most out of these books. For example, Kline provides suggestions for brief (ten seconds to one minute), medium (two to five minutes), and longer (ten to twenty minute) study periods, depending on the time available to the pastor on a given day. Finally, there is a complete index of Scripture references.
Each one-page selection begins with a verse in an English version of the author’s choice. Kline uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Bible (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB only for the New Testament), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), and Modern Language Bible (MLB). Three Greek or Hebrew words are embedded in parentheses in the English translation; one is a new vocabulary word, and the other two are for review. The transliteration and meaning of each new word appear next, shaded in gray. Each of the review words has a reference to the day when that word was first used. Next to this is the frequency of the Greek or Hebrew word found in Westcott-Hort edition of the Greek New Testament or Michigan-Claremont-Westminster Electronic Hebrew Bible, followed by an “x.” For the assistance of beginning students, just below the frequency number is a reference to the new word in Strong’s concordance, beginning with an “S.” Finally, the Greek or Hebrew text of the daily verse is given with the daily words highlighted in bold and “then divided into phrases or clauses, with the corresponding English phrases or clauses next to them” (vii).
At first the lack of declensions of nouns and conjugations of verbs seemed like a flaw, but then I realized that the absence of those technical grammatical features encourages simple growth in reading the original texts. Kline addresses this at the outset: “This book complements such grammatical study by enabling you to build a robust vocabulary base and by encouraging you to work with the biblical text and review morphology and syntax in a largely inductive manner” (vii). These volumes deliver what they are advertised to do and should be a serious encouragement to pastors and students seeking to build a reading knowledge of the Bible in its original languages for devotional and exegetical work. I highly recommend this unique series.
Gregory E. Reynolds is pastor emeritus of Amoskeag Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Manchester, New Hampshire, and is the editor of Ordained Servant. Ordained Servant Online, January 2019.