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Grammar of Biblical Hebrew


Wolfgang Schneider

Although Wolfgang Schneider’s Grammatik des biblischen Hebräisch: Ein Lehrbuch serves primarily as an introductory textbook to biblical Hebrew, it makes an invaluable contribution to the text-linguistic study of Hebrew Bible. Schneider’s understanding of narrative syntax and discourse linguistics continues to influence such grammarians as Niccacci and Talstra, through whom his work is validated. His discussion of clauses and text syntax remains pertinent to Hebrew students and professors alike. With this English translation, Schneider’s work may now make a worldwide contribution to biblical studies by clarifying for the student the contribution of text grammar to the reading of the biblical text.
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49 The Verbal Part of the Clause—Verbal Nominals


The participle and the infinitive are verbal nominals. They cannot accept the person morphemes of the preformative conjugation or afformative conjugation and are called for that reason “non-finite” forms. They are called verbal-nominals, because they can adopt the functions of nominal parts of clauses and can accept the suffixes typical with nominals.

Verbal nominals occur in texts of all Gattungen fairly regularly and give no indication of the (narrative or discourse) linguistic stance of the text.

49.1 Participles

Participles indicate that which the action performs or that which—with passives—is affected by it.

As Parts of Clauses

Participles can take on the functions of any nominal part of a clause. Participles appear frequently as predicates in a nominal clause (a, b). In narratives, such participial clauses play the role of adverbial clauses (b). In nominal clauses, as well as verbal clauses, participles can also appear as subjects (c).


Participles that are used appositionally or attributively (d) can be rendered in German with relative clauses (attributive clauses). Participles in clauses with the verb היה “to be” (e) stand as predicate nominatives.

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