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Exegetical Fallacies Paperback – March 1, 1996

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About the Author

D. A. Carson (PhD, University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The God Who Is There and How Long, O Lord? He is one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition and an active guest lecturer in academic and church settings around the world.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801020867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801020865
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 books, including the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament, and is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

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131 of 135 people found the following review helpful By John Botkin on April 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
D. A. Carson is research professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. This book began as a series of lectures sponsored by Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, OR. Carson also explains that much of what went into the lectures, and so now the book, began as part of his notes given in various classes over the years. This is the second edition of the book, which finds it slightly revised and expanded form the previous edition. Carson divides his book into four chapters that deal with various kinds of fallacies and a fifth chapter that offers some concluding thoughts.
The first chapter deals with word-study fallacies. Here, Carson gives a list of the mistakes related to linguistics studies. All of these fallacies occur when interpreters misunderstand the use of certain words by an author. Some involves reading back into the word the meaning of another word which has the original as its root, though the root did not originally mean what its derivative does. For example, while our word `dynamite' may have the Greek 'dunamous' as its root, Paul certainly was not thinking of blasting powder when he spoke of the 'dunamous' [power] of the gospel. Others involve finding a root to words which simply isn't there. For example, we not should interpret the word `butterfly' based on its apparent root words - `butter' and `fly'!
Chapter two examines grammatical fallacies. These sorts of mistakes many times come from basing arguments on the mood or tense of words when the language is more flexible than the one arguing will allow. For example, the aorist tense is often abused by some who insist that it always means an `once for all action' that occurs in the past. Heikki Räisänen makes this mistake when commenting on Romans 3:27.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By E. Johnson on December 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
As others have said, this book is short, but Exegetical Fallacies is well worth your effort to learn how to properly exegete scripture. Written in a systematic way, I appreciate the work Carson has done. He is obviously a scholar and makes great points, especially on those texts that preachers massacre to make them say something that they really don't. I appreciated the fact that Carson was not only critical with others' interpretations but some of his own as well. I thought that this was admirable.
My criticism of this book (why it loses a star) is that there are times Carson could have been so much simpler while still saying the same thing. Several times I had to read and then reread his writing, and still I came away confused. No, it wasn't the use of the original languages that gave me problems, but rather just his manner of using awkward works or saying too much without properly expounding. (Could this have been because he was condensing? Probably.) One example is on pages 51ff regarding the use of agapao and phleo in John 21. I understand his point on page 53, but he (at least in my opinion) was most difficult to follow in these pages. (I'm still scratching my head.) While I'm no scholar, I believe that many average and even above average readers could have been serviced better with a clearer presentation in several parts of the book. But still, the book is worth fighting through, so don't let that discourage you.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By W. cornett on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
In a lengthy introduction Carson shows the need for this study, warns of the dangers of this study, and sets the limits of this study. His purpose for writing this book is to cause awareness of common exegetical blunders. He hopes this will provoke the reader to examine his own exegetical practices, causing the reader to both handle God's Word with care and avoid these errors. He points out that it is a focus on the negative, meaning what not to do. The hope is that by knowing what to avoid the reader will be able to make use of the wealth of material available that inform on the methods of exegesis. The author limits his scope to exegesis and not hermeneutics. He aims to write this book at the semi-popular level with the practitioner in mind. Carson addressees a total of forty-eight different exegetical fallacies. He discusses them under four major headings: word-study fallacies (27-64), grammatical fallacies (65-86), logical fallacies (87-124), and presuppositional and historical fallacies (125-136). A fifth chapter is also included which contains some concluding remarks.

Carson, through a no holds barred approach, draws attention to common exegetical fallacies forcing the reader to examine his own exegetical practice. In almost every instance Carson does not simply write about a particular exegetical fallacy but provides a specific illustration of that fallacy. He also provides some advice on how to avoid it in interpretation. No theological school escapes Carson's critique. His index of authors for the most part looks like a who's who of the theological world. He reveals errors of conservatives and liberals, prominent scholars and less prominent ones, his former dean, and even himself twice.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William E. Turner Jr. on May 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for any Christian preacher, teacher, or student. At this book's heart is the necessity of correctly handling the Word of God. Scripture declares that those who become teachers have a greater judgment (James 3:1). In other words, those who seek to handle the Word of God must do so carefully and correctly. Carson writes, "we cannot lightly accept ... laxity in the interpretation of Scripture. We are dealing with God's thoughts: we are obligated to take the greatest pains to understand them truly and to explain them clearly" (p. 15). This book calls us to careful, clear, and correct preaching and teaching of God's most holy Word.
Carson begins by looking at various "word-study fallacies." With words we preach, teach, communicate, and oftentimes confuse, mislead, and destroy. How we use words matters. One of the most common word-study fallacies is what Carson calls "semantic anachronism." This occurs when one takes a modern day use of a word and reads it back into earlier literature. How many preachers have read the meaning of the English word dynamite back into the Greek word dynamis? Such word-study fallacies are all too common in preaching.
Carson continues by examining various "grammatical fallacies." This involves such problems as the ever-abused Aorist tense in biblical Greek. The Aorist refers to an undefined event, which is often misconstrued to refer to an exact moment of time in the past. The meaning and usage of the word must be determined by its usage within the context not through preset categories. As a side note, this chapter is the most Greek intensive. One could follow Carson's thought but much of it would not be extremely helpful unless one knew Greek.
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