G’Day, Hebrew Syntax

You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much lately. Mostly, I’ve been too busy working on the Andersen-Forbes Hebrew Syntax project. As part of that work, I recently went down to Melbourne, Australia to visit with Frank Andersen and Dean Forbes, the gentlemen themselves. It’s rare that the two of them are ever in the same room, since Dean lives in California and Frank lives half a world away in Melbourne. When we found out that Dean would be visiting Melbourne for a month to work with Frank, we decided that I should crash the party.*

Frank Andersen and Dean Forbes have been working for 30-some-odd years on a thorough syntactic analysis of the Hebrew Bible, complete with word-feature analysis (ie, morphology) and phrase marker graphs of all the grammatical structures in the Hebrew Bible up to the clause level. The two of them created this database in order to investigate various aspects of the Hebrew language, and they have used it as source material for the papers they’ve written over the years.

What they have never done before is publish the entire database. A portion of their work appeared in print as the Vocabulary of the Old Testament, published by the Pontifical Bible Institute in 1989. That volume, however, had little if any syntax information in it. The entirety of Andersen and Forbes’ Hebrew syntax work simply hasn’t been widely available.
Until now …
* The flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne was 15.5 hours, one way, nonstop. All I can say is, ouch. Fortunately, the airline oversold my seat in “steerage” and moved me to business class. That’s never happened to me before, but it was quite nice. I’ve been back for almost two weeks now, and I think I’m finally over the jet lag.


  1. I was reading your blog (Nov 04, 2005) and it ended: “The entirety of Andersen and Forbes’ Hebrew syntax work simply hasn’t been widely available.
    Until now …”
    Is their work available now?
    I am headed to seminary to finish my MDiv studies (I have an MA, and have Greek down, but am going back to finish several areas – mainly Hebrew studies – I can’t wait!!!). This looks valuable!
    thank you & God bless
    Chris Bruynzeel

  2. I probably should have said something like this: “The complete syntax database hasn’t been available to the general public at all for 30 years. NOW, it is (in the process of) being released as a commercial product. You couldn’t get it before. NOW, you can (in the very near future).”
    In any case, we’ll be taking a very strong beta version of the Andersen-Forbes database to the ETS and SBL/AAR shows in Philadelphia — just a few days away. If you’re there, drop by the booth, and we’ll talk. Barring any unforseens, the AF database will roll out as a shipping product at about the same time as the next release of the Libronix DLS software.