Book Review: An Introduction to Biblical Aramaic

ImageTitle: An Introduction to Biblical Aramaic

Author: Andreas Shuele

Bibliographic info: 136 pages

Publisher: Westminster John Knox, 2012.

Buy it at Amazon

With thanks to Westminster John Knox for the review copy.

I would like to be able to write a more lengthy review of this book, detailing how useful it was for helping me to learn Aramaic. However, I requested the Kindle edition and am regretting that choice as the Kindle edition is utterly useless.

I’ve seen many problems before in other Kindle editions of books that contain non-Roman alphabetical characters. That is why I am always hesitant to purchase a Kindle edition of a book I know will contain Greek and Hebrew characters, unless there are reviews on Amazon specifically saying that there is no problem with the Kindle edition. The Kindle edition of this book, unfortunately, is by far the worse I’ve ever come across.

The formatting is very sub-par. Almost all the headings are a random mishmash of upper and lowercase letters. Many paragraph breaks are missing. And so forth. Here is an example of what I am talking about:

The DeveLoPmenT oF SPeCIFIC PhonemeS In ArAmAIC AnD heBreW

On top of that, almost none of the Aramaic characters come through! The Aramaic is just indecipherable gibberish. Here is an example of the Aramaic from a random page:

Analyze the syllabic structure of the following words.

!yKil.m; “kings”

an”h]K’ “priest”

aY”m;v. “heaven”

I know it isn’t the author’s fault and I am sure that the print edition of the book is great and very useful. But be forewarned…. if you purchase this book buy the print edition and not the Kindle edition. You literally won’t be able to learn a single word of Aramaic (or even the Aramaic alphabet) using the Kindle edition.


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