A Student’s Review of “BHS A Reader’s Edition” from Hendrickson Publishers
We recently had Dr. George Athas on the podcast, and he mentioned a project he’d been involved with, a Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia Reader’s Edition (=RE, Hendrickson Publishers). I since picked up a copy and have been using it for my morning reading time.
Anyone familiar with a typical BHS copy will immediately note the larger size, both of the RE itself, as well as the font inside. Beyond its tactile differences however, there are a number of things which help the student of biblical Hebrew learn to read the Bible in its own context, without the assistance of outside aids (for the most part).
First, the only two issues some might have with the RE. The size of the volume makes this more fit for desktop/table top use than travel, which is to be expected from any reader’s edition (the LXX version also from Hendrickson is two volumes!).
In addition, the parsing system used in the footnotes of the text is somewhat foreign to some students; words used less than 70 times are parsed, while others, even though occurring more than 70x are still parsed for various reasons given in the introduction. In addition the RE employs the semitic verbal stem categories and a numbering parsing system, so the verbal parsings end up as (for example) “G24” as the parsing for a Qal qatal 1cs. One presumes this is done to conserve real estate in an already large volume, however, it does require the student to learn a new [albeit helpful for those working with semitics in general] parsing system. The introduction provides the information needed to use the parsing system, and there is an insert provided with a quick reference sheet (though, it is paper and mine has already begun wearing out, maybe a laminated bookmark might work better?).
Once through the initial parsing curve (for some) the RE is perfect for personal reading time and study in the Hebrew text. The ability to quickly maneuver from verse to a parsing/gloss of rare lexemes and morphemes makes the volume indispensable for the student out of their first year of Hebrew. In addition, the glossary provided at the rear of the volume makes it so that one does not necessarily have to possess a lexicon to begin working through the Hebrew Bible (though one is always good to have).
In the podcast Dr. Athas makes the point that reading the text as it is in the Bible is one of the best ways to really get familiar with it and learn it. As a student, the RE is helpful in giving me the extra push I need to study every day, where the more confusing forms are already taken care of, and I can focus on reading the text, and here is where the RE fits in perfectly. It enables the reader to read, pure and simple.