Accordance has released a host of new daily readers that focus on the original languages of the Bible. All of these are based on 365 day reading plans, starting today, January 1. Each provides the type of readings you can work through in less than five minutes a day, which means if you fall behind it is really easy to catch up.
Here are the new resources:
- Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day (2 volumes)
- Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day (2 volumes)
- Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic in Two Minutes a Day
- A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew
I want to discuss these resources in two groups based on those for whom I think each will be useful. Two of these resources would be helpful for just about any person who reads the Bible in its original languages; two are useful for those who are just learning the languages or have forgotten most of their vocabulary and want to review.
A note on the screenshots: I did some of them in Accordance’s dark mode, some in light mode. All these books can be displayed in either light or dark mode.
Proverbs & Aramaic for All
The resource that first caught my eye in this sale is A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew. This book is fantastic because so many people I know who read the Bible in Hebrew — and have been doing so for years — still haven’t dipped into Proverbs. I know I haven’t. I’ve read a lot of the Hebrew Bible and continue to do so regularly, but I’ve never touched Proverbs. This is a fantastic resources for introducing beginners or more advanced readers to an often neglected portion of the Hebrew Bible.
A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew
I love the simple but helpful layout of the entries. Here is the reading for today, January 1:
Notice, the reading has broken the verse into two parts and provides vocabulary glosses for each word directly underneath each part. This setup makes it easy to digest one part at a time.
Which Proverbs are included? Jonathan Kline explains in the preface,
This book presents all but ten of the 375 verses that comprise “The Proverbs of Solomon” (10:1), the section that spans 10:1 to 22:16, which is the largest generally recognized collection of sayings found in the book. A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew therefore contains about 40 percent of the text of the book of Proverbs—that is, 365 of the book’s 915 verses.p. ix
How are the Proverbs ordered?
The verses in this book are presented not in canonical order but rather according to the number of times the words they contain appear in Prov 10:1–22:16. That is to say, the verses with the highest number of frequently occurring words are located at the beginning, and the verses with the highest number of infrequently occurring words are located at the end.p. xi
I appreciate the choices made regarding scope and sequence even though I am the type of reader who likes to start at the beginning of a book and go to the end. For this type of book, the goal is not cover-to-cover reading. The goal is exposure and familiarity with the Hebrew vocabulary and syntax of Proverbs.
What about translations? In the Accordance version the inclusion of a translation is less relevant because you can always click on the hyperlinked verse reference and see the passage in any translation you own. The author has, however, included his own translation, but these translation don’t show up on the same page as each day’s reading. The translation shows up two pages later. The author wants readers to encounter and ponder the verse in Hebrew without the distraction of English. This is a good call because I don’t want to see translations when I first open a daily Hebrew reader. There are times, however, when I do wonder how the author might render a certain expression in English. In those cases, I can just scroll down a couple of pages, and there it is.
These readers also work well in conjunction with other Accordance resources. For example, here is the workspace I setup for A Proverb a Day:
When I click on the verse reference in the upper right corner of A Proverb a Day, (1) the text browser opens the verse in my default tagged Hebrew Bible and (2) the Hebrew audio by verse resource opens in parallel [note: these resources are sold separately from Kline’s readers]. The text browser allows me to hover over a word for a quick gloss or parsing information or triple click to look it up in a lexicon. I have the audio resource there in parallel so that after working through the verse and reading it out loud a couple times myself, I can then listen to the verse multiple times as well.
This process and setup in Accordance fits well with and enhances the stated goal of the book:
A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew has been designed to help you mull over, chew on, and slowly digest one verse from the book of Proverbs on a regular basis (ideally each day, as the book’s title suggests).p. vii
Keep Up Your Biblical Aramaic
This book will be helpful for almost all students of Biblical Aramaic, regardless of experience level. Even though I had two full semesters of Aramaic in seminary and have a lot of reading experience with Aramaic inside and outside the Bible, I still find that I need to review about once a year. I simply don’t spend enough time with the language on a regular basis. This book, however, provides a way to slowly meditate on the the most neglected biblical language throughout the course of the whole year. I’m definitely going to give this book a try this year, along with the Proverbs volume.
This Aramaic volume is a part of the “Keep Up Your [insert biblical language]” series, unlike the standalone Proverbs volume. It differs from the Proverbs volume in significant ways. The format makes me think this book is more focused on reviewing beginner vocabulary than facilitating focused short readings. The book provides both, but look at the entry and notice the focus. Here is a screenshot of the entirety today’s reading:
The entry focuses on helping you encounter the most frequently occurring Aramaic in context. The idea is that you spend two minutes a day on each reading, and then once a week you review all seven pages of the week’s readings. Jonathan Kline writes,
… The benefits you derive from using this book will obviously depend on how much time you spend with it and how often, the specific ways you choose to use it, your current level of Aramaic proficiency, and your ability to learn inductively. Nevertheless, I have done my best to design the book so that it can help you make substantial and enduring gains in learning even if you are able to use it for only short periods of time at most sittings and even if your Aramaic is at a rudimentary level when you begin.p. ix
How much Aramaic vocabulary can you expect to encounter over the course of the year? Kline explains,
… Although there are approximately 720 unique vocabulary words in Biblical Aramaic … by the time you reach the end of this book you will have seen every single one of these words. And during this process, you will have read about 80 percent of the Aramaic verses found in the Bible.p. ix–x
This is very helpful, and I look forward to reporting back on my experience.
Greek & Hebrew Refresh
The Greek and Hebrew resources in this sale seem ideal for someone who thinks they need a structured way to ease back into the language. I don’t recommend these books as standalone ways to “keep up your Greek/Hebrew” unless your introduction to Greek was very brief and extremely fast paced. If you have completed a course in Greek or Hebrew that was designed to prepare you to read the Bible, then you should just get a reader’s Bible and start reading. Don’t delay. Don’t review another grammar. Just read.
If, however, your introduction to Greek or Hebrew was very face paced or if you have definitely forgotten most of what you learned in college or seminary, then these books would be an easy way for you to review.
Keep Up Your Biblical Greek & Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew
The Keep Your Greek/Hebrew volumes can also be used in conjunction with your own first ventures into the Greek and Hebrew Bible. If you are reading a verse or paragraph or chapter of the Bible on your own each day, perhaps for the very first time, these books could be an additional part of your daily routine to help you review and solidify what you already know. The entry is very similar to what you saw above in the Aramaic volume.
Here is today’s entry in Keep Up Your Biblical Greek:
Here is today’s entry in Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew:
As you can see, the passages on day 1 are extremely basic. Let’s take a look at what you might encounter in each by mid-year.
Here is the Greek entry for July 1:
Here is the Hebrew entry for July 1:
I appreciate the way these volumes provide an affordable, structured, inductive way to review vocabulary. I like how Kline has glossed the text phrase or clauses chunks. This help the learner focus on comprehension and the bigger picture rather than words in isolation. Finally, I like how the length of the readings allow the text of each entry to be displayed in a readable size while still displaying the day’s entry in its entirety.
Accordance has something for everyone with Kline’s daily readers. More experienced readers will find the Proverbs and Aramaic volumes beneficial, while those who would like a structured, simple review of Hebrew and Greek vocabulary will enjoy the Keep Up Your Hebrew/Greek volumes. Having these volumes digitally in Accordance is ideal because these are not books designed to be read at length. When you have only two spare minutes during the day, you can open one of these readers on your computer and benefit from them.
I hope this post has given you a better feel for what each volume has to offer and how you might use them in Accordance. If you have any other questions, you can find me on Twitter or the Accordance forums.