Kline, Jonathan G., Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic in Two Minutes a Day. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2017. 384 pp.; Hb. $17.99. Link to Hendrickson
Talk to anyone who studied Biblical languages during their education and I guarantee they will attest to the difficulty of retention post-schooling. Whether at Bible College or Seminary, past or present, it is nigh-impossible to maintain the fundamentals and vocabulary without daily engagement. This becomes more difficult as time grows in scarcity, feeling like you have to relearn the language all over again. What is even more difficult is when one is just getting their bearings with a new language entirely. This is where I’m at with Biblical Aramaic. In all the volumes of the Two Minutes a Day series from Hendrickson, Kline clearly emphasizes that this is not meant to replace a grammar, but supplement it. Because I am not taking Aramaic until the fall, I have been watching online lectures so I can get a feel for the language. Compared to the classroom, this method is far from ideal and I would not recommend it unless one were in a similar situation of semester preparation. Be that as it may, this has been an amazing supplement to the online lectures I’ve watched. In the midst of my gaining traction with Aramaic, this resource has been a reasonable, affordable, and beneficial lifeline that is a joy to reach for. Published by Hendrickson with editor/compiler Dr. Jonathan G. Kline—Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic in Two Minutes a Day is a daily tool specifically designed to aid individuals with their Aramaic vocabulary in just minutes a day!
(Click here to read my review of Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes A Day).
I’ve been immersed in the languages for the majority of my undergrad and seminary career. I’ve had four years of Greek, two years of Hebrew, and am now preparing for Aramaic in the fall. Between the paradigms, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary for Hebrew and Greek, maintaining the skills outside of the classroom is more than challenging. Adding a third language to the plate is very overwhelming at points, but I can honestly say that I am far less discouraged because of this volume on Aramaic. The series is not misleading in suggesting only two minutes a day. Even with a language I am unfamiliar with, I have noticed a huge difference with a mere two minutes a day. The proposed two minutes is an easy commitment for anyone of any familiarity with Biblical languages.
This volume follows the same structure as the Greek and Hebrew volumes. The exception here is is identically structured in that they contain a word a day for each volume. The selections are organized by number of times used in Daniel and Ezra. Each entry contains two new vocabulary words, beginning with the most common words and proceeding to the rarest. Each day provides a verse from Daniel or Ezra, where both the Aramaic and English text are included. For the Aramaic, the verse is broken down into phrases/clauses below with the corresponding English phrases or clauses next to them. This is accompanied by the transliteration, meaning, number of occurrences, and Strong’s number. Additionally, each day includes the definition of each word in the verse for the day if one wanted to devote more than two minutes a day. The pages are dated and numbered with the number of the week and day you are in the book, just in case someone doesn’t want to wait until January to start their commitment. According to Kline, there are 716 unique vocabulary words in Biblical Aramaic (a third of which only appear once in the Bible). By the time the reader reaches the end of the book, they will be familiarized with all 716 of them, and will have read 80% of all the Aramaic portions of the Bible!
This new series from Hendrickson gives language learners the upper hand in the challenge of retaining vocabulary previously acquired. In today’s day and age, the solution to vocabulary retention is provided by some kind of app, but staring at a screen has been (for me at least) another reason to stay on my phone. Incorporating two minutes of reading in a daily routine is very doable, making one less reliable on their phone. This small hardcover book is compact like a journal, making it easy to carry with you whatever your storage preference and calls for such a measly amount of time that it can be incorporated into any level of busyness. While this book is certainly not for everyone, those who have any interest in engaging Aramaic vocabulary will find much to gain from this book and the first volume and will likely find it to be a frequently consulted aid; especially if they are already familiar with Biblical Hebrew. I would definitely recommend this, and any of the other volumes for those looking to rekindle or maintain vocabulary from any of the Biblical languages.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Hendrickson for generously providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own and were not influenced by the gesture.
Other Volumes in the series:
Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes A Day : Vol. 1.
Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes A Day : Vol. 2.
Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes A Day: Vol. 1.
Keep up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes A Day: Vol. 2.