Exegetical Fallacies

by D. A. Carson

Paperback, 1996





This book offers updated explanations of the sins of interpretation to teach sound grammatical, lexical, cultural, theological, and historical Bible study practices.


Baker Academic (1996), Edition: 2, 160 pages


(163 ratings; 4.2)

User reviews

LibraryThing member GrinningDwarf
Carson convinced me of one thing...nothing is more dangerous in theology that someone who doesn't know Greek or Hebrew but is armed with a Strong's Concordance and/or a Vine's dictionary. This book is actually incentive to me to REALLY LEARN Greek and Hebrew.
LibraryThing member temsmail
What you CAN'T read into the text of the Bible. Some of the things we want the Bible to say cannot be supported by honest intellectual investigation, this helps sort out the aceptable methodology from rejected ones.
With Fee's "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth," it is a good introduction to
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the process of exegesis and hermeneutics.
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LibraryThing member sirfurboy
I have had this book in my Amazon basket for way too long. Unfortunately it had slipped to the third page of my books to buy and I had forgotten about it, until an Amazon price change reminded me it was there (I saved a whole 4 pence on the previous price)!

So this book is a look at various
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fallacies of biblical exegesis. It is the kind of book any serious student of scripture should read, and the author is very careful to limit his criticism to criticism of method, without getting caught up in defending his own theological persuasions. Indeed he even criticises his own published work, which seems very fair.

The book is divided into sections - firstly on fallacies around language (words especially), then around grammar, then logical fallcies and presuppositional fallacies and such like. The structure works well enough, although by the end I was wondering whether there was another way to structure the material. On reflection, I cannot think of anything better though. the problem is simply that there are too many ways we can err.

I felt that some knowledge of Greek helped me in the reading of this book. The author transliterates all the Greek words he discusses, but he does not actually translate any (and does the same with German once too). Fortunately I understood everything I needed to, but I felt a translation would make this book more accessible to students of the Bible with no knowledge of Greek, who are not working from the Greek but might be evaluating the arguments of people who are saying things like "ah well, in the original Greek we see this word play..."

Some of my favourite pet peeves were covered nicely in this book, and many others I had not considered. And the fact that I can think of other pet peeves that were not covered is not a bad reflection on the book, because the point is to give us the exegetical tools for avoiding falling into error. And inasmuch as that is what the book is attempting, it achieves just that.
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LibraryThing member matthauck
Clear, concise, unashamed of calling people out (including himself). "A little self-doubt will do no harm and may do a great deal of good: we will be more open to learn and correct our mistakes." (142) Great book.
LibraryThing member micgood
Each of us brings our own fallacies when dealing with Scripture. However, if we truly believe in its authority as the Word of God, then we are called to be aware of these blind spots. Carson's book is a wonderful guide to fallacies in many areas of Bible study. How many sermons have been preached
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on mistaken exegesis? This book asks you to find yourself in the fallacies, and it convicted me in several places.

This is an excellent book, that tells us that sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This is especially true as regards the Bible.
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LibraryThing member ScottSlaughter
An extremely helpful book for the serious student of the Bible.
LibraryThing member ronjawdi
This book ought to be a must read for every pastor, minister, and teacher of the Bible. Though there are other texts out there that deal specifically with many of these fallacies (for word studies see Silva "Biblical Words" and Barr "Semantics of the Biblical Language), this book serves as a
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compendium for the exegete. I have read it at least twice and I always find myself being humbled as I approach the Bible. Care must be taken as we approach the Text and so this book is a healthy preventative from erroneous interpretations and applications. Much is taken for granted today and it is the opinion of this reviewer that Biblical Fidelity is decreasing and Biblical Illiteracy is increasing. This book can serve as a corrective to both. Though it may not be 'night-time' reading for the lay person, teachers ought to demonstrate and implement these rules into their teaching, along with providing them to the people so they too can use it on their own. Overall, this book is excellent.
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LibraryThing member jandm
(Note: this is a review of the first edition, not the second.)

This is a thought-provoking read, but not an easy one, unless you're comfortable with some fairly advanced terminology from logic and greek grammar. But recommended for all those who take the study or application of theology seriously --
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which should include all preachers.

Carson looks in turn at different classes of fallacies, arising from Word Studies, Greek Grammar, Logic and then Presuppositions/History. In each he then subcategorises them into many smaller classes, and gives one or more examples from each. Wisely he takes his examples from many different theological positions, and doesn't exempt one of his earlier works. Wisely too, it's not a very long book, as it's dense enough as it is.

Worryingly, some of the fallacies he lists, particularly around the greek grammar, are ones that I've been taught in greek class at college (eg, around interpretation of aorist tenses and conditionals). Others require a greater mind than mine to notice, so having him point them out and show the (usually missing) logical steps that are in error, has also been useful. But it was somewhat off-putting that even with a year's greek study, most of the grammatical terminology he uses was new to me.

The book has very thorough references, and an scriptural index.
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LibraryThing member Theodore.Gebretsadik
This little book is wonderful, it breaks down the numerous fallacies on scholarly works from logic to linguistic fallacies
LibraryThing member Jared_Runck
This book is a handy summation of the major types of exegetical fallacies. It provides clear definitions and good illustrations, and is especially adept at distinguishing and relating the various "members" of the various families of related fallacies. Carson is clearly an exegete of uncommon skill,
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especially in his grasp of the general rules of linguistics and logic.

However. I would have to say that I feel generous giving the book a single star because of one single factor: the tone. I've read a good many scholars who could have used a lesson or two in humility and gentility, but I've never read another book that could match this for arrogance and condescension. In fact, it's so bad, you expect about halfway through that Carson is going to reveal that the book is a parody of exegetical criticism. You keep waiting for the, "Oh, I'm just kidding! I really do respect the authors I'm critiquing and their works are, overall, extremely valuable." That moment never comes.

And the REAL issue is that the information in the book is truly valuable, well-organized, and easy-to-follow. I'd love to use this text in a hermeneutics class, but since I'm trying to teach students to be lovers of the Word of God and not to be pompous, self-important, condescending jerks, I'll have to look for another text.
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