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A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew and Some Other Syntactical Questions

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Verbal theory is where the big debates about how languages function occur, and Hebrew is no exception. Driver’s Treatise is a seminal work on how the Hebrew verb functions.

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  • Preface by the author
  • Additions and corrections
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Top Highlights

“allude to the distinction between order of time and kind of time” (Page 2)

“Gen. 15:6 והאמִן‎. 21:25 והוכִח‎. 28:6. 38:5. והיה (a uniquely-worded sentence, which can scarcely be before us in its original form: LXX αὕτη points to וְהִוא: cf. 1 Sa. 23:15. 24. 2 Chr. 10:2). Ex. 5:16. 36:38. 38:28. 39:3. Jud. 3:23 ונעל‎. 7:13 ונפל‎. 16:18 (might be freq.: cf. 6:3). 1 Sa. 1:12 והיה‎. 3:13 והגדתי‎. 4:19. 10:9 והיה‎. 17:38 ונתן‎. 48 והיה‎. 25:20 והיה‎. 2 Sa. 6:16. 7:11b והגיד‎. 13:18 ונעל again. 16:5. 23:20. 1 Ki. 3:11b. 6:32. 35. 11:10. 12:32. 13:3 ונתן‎. 14:27. 20:21. 21:12. Isa. 9:7. 22:14. 28:262? 38:15 (‘both’). Amos 7:2. Ps. 22:6. 15. 28:7. 34:5. 6 [but see § 58 note]. 35:15. 135:10. 12. 148:51.” (Pages 161–162)

“These tenses were formerly known by the familiar names of past and future, but inasmuch as the so-called past tense is continually used to describe events in the future, and the so-called future tense to describe events in the past, it is clear that these terms, adapted from languages cast in a totally different mould from the Hebrew and other Semitic tongues, are in the highest degree inappropriate and misleading. It will be better therefore to acquiesce in the names now generally employed by modern grammarians, and deduced from real and not fictitious or accidental characteristics of the two forms in question, and to call them by the terms perfect and imperfect1 respectively.” (Page 1)

“To the student who may be interested in tracing a particular use, the number of examples will not probably appear excessive; and others also may be glad sometimes to have the opportunity of judging for themselves how far an alleged custom extends, whether it is really common or only exceptional. Moreover, a rule is more firmly grasped when it has been seen repeatedly exemplified: and (as has been observed) it may even happen that, in virtue of the common point of view attained by the comparison of numerous instances, passages and constructions appear for the first time in their true light.” (Pages ix–x)

  • Title: A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew and Some Other Syntactical Questions
  • Author: S. R. Driver
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date: 1892
  • Pages: 306

From JewishEncyclopedia.com

Samuel Rolles Driver

English Christian Hebraist; born at Southampton Oct. 2, 1846; regius professor of Hebrew (in succession to Pusey), and canon of Christ Church, Oxford, since 1883; member of the Old Testament Revision Company, 1876-84.

Together with T. K. Cheyne and Robertson Smith, Driver has been one of the foremost champions of Biblical criticism in England. Driver approached it from its linguistic side ("Jour. of Phil." 1882, pp. 201-236). His first contribution, "A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew" (Oxford, 1874; 3d ed., 1892), has remained the most complete presentation of the subject...In matters of criticism Driver has always taken a conservative view, showing much moderation and sympathy with the orthodox position.


Driver has edited two small rabbinical works: a commentary on Jeremiah and Ezekiel by Moses ben Sheshet, London, 1871, and one on Proverbs, attributed to Abraham ibn Ezra, Oxford, 1880. He has also been a collaborator on the second edition of Smith's "Bible Dictionary," on Hasting's "Dictionary of the Bible," and on Cheyne and Black's "Encyclopædia Biblica," and is coeditor, with Professors Brown and Briggs, of the Clarendon press edition of Gesenius.

by Joseph Jacobs & Richard Gottheil


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    Digital list price: $12.49
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