Aramaic was once a language that was spoken by many people throughout the times of the Bible. It was spoken during the time of Daniel and was even spoken by Jesus Christ. However, time had a way of diminishing the number of Aramaic speakers and this has caused Aramaic to be in danger of becoming a dead language.
Because of miniscule amount of speakers today, is it worth studying Aramaic? After all, Greek and Hebrew compose almost all of Scripture. To learn these languages would be a prudent course of action for those wanting to study the Bible in its original form. Yet, does this give reason to ignore studying Aramaic?
One advantage of studying this language is that it was still spoken during the time of Christ and it would give insight into how people of that day thought. After all, we think in language and language influences our cultures. To understand Aramaic would be to understand better the mindset of those living during the time of Christ.
With this in mind, Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook, is an excellent resource to understand this tongue. The book gives the text of Scripture that are in Aramaic but also has a lexicon element to aid in the understanding of each word. This allows for a better grasp of the language to aid in thinking like an Aramaic-speaking person.
One section that I wanted to draw specific attention to is the Easily Confused Words. This section lists words that are similar so as to build correct vocabulary while reading Aramaic. It also points to how difficult it can be to translate a passage of Scripture.
That aside, the introduction gives some historical background on Aramaic as well as how the book is laid out for ease of use. By doing this, the utilization of the book can be strengthened and the effectiveness can be maximized.
Another item to note is that I did not see a pronunciation guide. It is assumed that the reader has an understanding of how to read Hebrew and can pronounce the words as read. While this may not be an issue to some, the book notes that Aramaic shifted from some forms of Hebrew pronunciations and it would have been nice to have a pronunciation guide to remind the reader of these shifts.
I did enjoy the of the Biblical texts in Aramaic. They aid in variants and translation of the texts assisted by the textual abbreviations found near the front of the book. It again shows the cousin-like connections of Hebrew to Aramaic which again aids the reader in the understanding of the mindset of the Aramaic-speaking world.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.