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Exegetical Fallacies

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  1,875 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
Updated explanations of the "sins" of interpretation teach sound grammatical, lexical, cultural, theological, and historical Bible study practices.
Paperback, 148 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Baker Academic (first published November 30th 1983)
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William Dicks
Carson is here at his exegetical best. I believe every Christian should read this book. Carson handles word-study, grammatical, logical, presuppositional and historical fallacies.

Under the word-study fallacy he handles one of the great fallacies we have heard in the church for the past 30 years: the so-called differences between agape and phileo, and many more.

In his chapter on grammatical fallacies, Carson deals extensively with issues of Greek translation, where preachers and teachers would ma
Jun 19, 2013 Jimmy added it
This is a good book for those who engage in exegesis of the Bible. Actually, I would go far to say that it book is essential for every exegete to have it on their bookshelf. While the work is not intended to instruct on Biblical languages per se, nevertheless the focus of the book on mistakes and fallacies is helpful as a lesson for interpreters of the Bible to be careful of avoiding common pitfalls in their exegesis. I particularly was challenged to think more carefully when it comes to the boo ...more
Adam T Calvert
Aug 22, 2010 Adam T Calvert rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
This is a great book by D.A. Carson focusing on a topic not too often discussed. The book is laid out in five self-explanatory chapters:

1. Word-Study Fallacies
2. Grammatical Fallacies
3. Logical Fallacies
4. Presuppositional and Historical Fallacies
5. Concluding Reflections

Chapters one and two really focus on word-study and grammar fallacies as they pertain to the New Testament Greek. So someone with little familiarity with that language might not profit as much from these chapters (although I thi
Jul 17, 2010 Ben rated it it was amazing
This book is a must-read for any Bible teacher, Pastor, or anyone handling God's word in any way.

Carson covers all the various areas of fallacies ranging from Word-Study, Grammatical, Logical, Presuppositional, and Historical fallacies.

The book is relatively easy to follow, and does not require knowledge of Greek, although it is helpful. It is also brief and to the point. Carson also does not simply point out the errors of others, he points out some of his own errors that he has made in teachi
Peter Krol
Apr 16, 2016 Peter Krol rated it it was amazing
I've never been this encouraged by a book this negative. Though I can see my own work in many of Carson's fallacies, I now have a way forward in avoiding them.
Mar 25, 2017 Rob rated it it was amazing
A brilliant little book that I will have to return to again. Dr. Carson describes errors in the interpretation of scripture in four broad categories: word study, grammatical, logical, and presuppositional fallacies. One could subtitle this work, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." The danger is when pastors know just a little Greek and draw seemingly profound but false conclusions.

For word studies, I was particularly intrigued by the notion that the Greek "agape" does not, in and of itse
J Michael
Dec 06, 2013 J Michael rated it really liked it
If you are doing independent Bible study you want to read this book. While a scholarly topic it is relatively easy to read. Further it will help you to identify and possibly avoid making some mistakes in your understanding and application of the Word of God.

I especially like that Carson used his own errors as examples. Great and useful book.
Benjamin Thompson
Feb 05, 2013 Benjamin Thompson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biblical-studies
This is an excellent, yet brief overview of the many different mistakes Christians and non-Christians make when interpreting the Bible. The chapter on Word Studies I found particularly helpful. D.A. Carson lays out well-thought out examples of each fallacy and notes the importance of being self-critical in investigating the Biblical text.
Mar 27, 2015 Eric rated it it was amazing
Great book, but if you don't stop at least 5 times and think "Whoops, I've done that before," you're lying to yourself.
Justin Tapp
Apr 16, 2015 Justin Tapp rated it really liked it
Shelves: church, bible
I didn't learn to read my Bible until late in life, and I'm convinced most Christians in "Bible-believing" churches do not because they are not taught how to. Everyone tends to believe that their "doctrine" is correct, or the true doctrine. Where another's disagrees, he must be wrong. When we adhere to "doctrine," it gets replicated and multiplied and no one thinks critically about what awe believe and adhere to. This was made depressingly clear to me in a recent book I read about a former pasto ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Janelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pastors, Elders, Bible study leaders, and Students of the New Testament and Koine Greek
In “Exegetical Fallacies,” author D.A. Carson draws from his years of study and teaching experiences to create a guide for serious students of Biblical exegesis. He has gathered examples of more than fifty fallacies, some commonly committed, some rare. They are drawn from a wide variety of sources, from popular level writing to scholarly academic papers. He even humbly includes some of his own work as illustrations of fallacy. This work is well balanced in almost all respects, and is accessible ...more
Colin Adams
May 08, 2017 Colin Adams rated it it was amazing
Serious bible students and preachers need to read this. Essential.
Dave Irwin
Mar 19, 2017 Dave Irwin rated it really liked it
When I read such a book as this, I realize the importance of meditating on God's word. I also know that the exegetical study is not an easy task. Carson is right, one could read this book and conclude that it can cause "deep fears about their own inadequacies for the task of exegesis." But we should always approach God's word humbly and with a bit of fear because it is God's word we are handling.
Ryan Boyer
Mar 08, 2017 Ryan Boyer rated it really liked it
Truly helpful for any starting theological/biblical studies student.
Andy Hickman
Jan 09, 2015 Andy Hickman rated it liked it
D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996), 28.

In reading Carson's first chapter “Word Study Fallacies” from Exegetical Fallacies I learnt lots of new words! Here is my brief summary of three fallacies:

The root fallacy presupposes that every word actually has a root meaning. For example, just look at the etymology of English words (p28). Carson says time and novel usage shifts the boundaries of a word's meaning and usage. It has been assumed that ἀποστολο
Nov 06, 2011 Joseph rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Overall a very useful resource for Christians.

It is less of an in-depth study and more of a list of types of bad reasoning and logic, with brief explanations of why they are bad, and examples of them.

I will say, given my impression of Carson from other books, he is surprisingly even-handed. The examples he cites come from arguments made by Catholics and protestants, conservatives and liberals, even from names many conservative theologians never want to question, like the John Calvin. And while h
Nathan Moore
Jan 03, 2014 Nathan Moore rated it really liked it
This little book is an important, humbling, and perhaps even frightening read. I have read no scholar whom I have greater intellectual admiration for than D.A. Carson and his book only furthers that admiration. Though this is a technical book, it was a technical-devotional read for me because it calls for both humility and exegetical fidelity. While reading through the Word Study fallacies I reflected on and was taken back by the extreme care necessary for the process of exegesis. While slogging ...more
May 28, 2014 Scott rated it liked it
Admittedly some of this was over my head since I don't have any experience with Greek. Regardless, this was a very nice little volume on various fallacies interpreters fall into.

While a very nice work, it is a little bit of a shame to see Carson's quick dismissal of certain hermeneutical methods. I'm sure it was for good reason to not talk about foundationalism and postmodern hermeneutics at any real length, but I would've liked to see more probing. Humorously, what Carson says not to do in ch.
Joel Ohman
Dec 03, 2014 Joel Ohman rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for any serious Bible student. I had purchased this over a year ago, and had never gotten around to reading it, until it was made required reading for a Critical Thinking and Argumentation Philosophy class that I am taking in seminary. I now cringe at some of the exegetical mistakes I might have avoided had I only read this book much earlier!

Carson delivers eminently practical advice in a way that is nuanced and, most of the time, not overly technical. Section tw
Apr 12, 2013 Phil rated it liked it
Pretty good book--nice summary of lots of problems.

But I was jolted on p. 140 when Carson wrote, concerning statistical studies in comparative literature, that "there are many methodological fallacies connected with statistical arguments, fallacies of which most New Testament scholars are only vaguely aware. . . . If enough of such studies were done (and ideally it would take thousands), we could eliminate our reliance on the null hypothesis."

First, it's pretty obvious that some scholars don't h
Zach Waldis
Aug 09, 2016 Zach Waldis rated it did not like it
DA Carson is a fundamentalist. DA Carson is very smart. Those two propositions (and being a fundie, he really likes propositions!) make for a rather pointless read. I know Biblical Greek, but am not an expert on grammar, so Carson's comments on word study and grammatical fallacies were of little help to me. One wonders how they would help the pastor who, if he or she (Carson isn't a fan of female pastors and it shows in this book) is reading, also has a less than comprehensive knowledge of koine ...more
Thomas B.
Mar 16, 2012 Thomas B. rated it really liked it
Going beyond mere theological differences that exist between Christian believers, this book attempts to eliminate differences that exist simply because of inadequate research in word studies and grammar, illogical conclusions, personal bias, and much more.

Carson includes many, many examples in this well-researched book. It is not a 'how to' book, but rather a 'how not to' book. As such, the strong negative tone was to me very challenging.

To be blunt, I found Carson's book very challenging, and
Dec 26, 2013 Christopher rated it it was ok
I remember this book from my days at Bethel Seminary as an Evangelical. Though it was my impression that this was one of the most common books on my fellow seminarians' bookshelves, I wonder if a lot of people actually read it. I suppose it wasn't uncommon for any of us to have a book like this on our shelves because we thought we ought to, and I was guilty of having many books on my own shelf that were strangely pristine. I consider myself firmly outside the Evangelical fold now, but I still ha ...more
Bendick Ong
Nov 19, 2014 Bendick Ong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
This is an excellent book that lists down with illustrations all the possible exegetical fallacies we can commit while reading the Bible. Broadly categorising them to, 1) etymological; 2) grammatical; 3) logical; and 4) presuppositional and historical, carson did a good job in identifying and explaining the different possible pitfalls we can have while interpreting the Word of God. And it is very readable, small, handy and short book of less than 150 pages, it can certainly be used as a handbook ...more
David Holford
Nov 10, 2012 David Holford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been a long time since I read this book and picking it off the shelf to scan into Goodreads, I looked through it again, rediscovering just how good it is. I agree with all the reviewers who say this is a must-read book for all pastors, teachers, and other who seek to the study and understand the Scriptures, particularly in the original languages.

Carson is very even-handed in his approach, and though he is a conservative evangelical, he uses (and gently debunks) a theologically wide range
Josue Manriquez
Sep 12, 2011 Josue Manriquez rated it really liked it
This is a great book, however it needs to be updated. Additionally, it seems Carson's purpose was to introduce the reader to specific fallacies, rather than explaining each fallacy exhaustively. Consequently, anyone who has not had previous exposure to many of the fallacies will not fully understand the content of this book (such as myself).
Nevertheless, Carson makes it clear throughout the book that meticulous explanation of each fallacy is beyond the scope of the book; and so he provides plent
Alita Clark
Jan 02, 2016 Alita Clark rated it really liked it
A quick read with a lot of information that is extremely helpful in understanding exactly what Carson intends to express. The fallacies listed are presented well and the examples further his explanations, making the understanding of each fallacy clearer. I read this book for my Hermeneutics class and it definitely furthered my knowledge on the subject of fallacies and warned me of mistakes that I myself have been making in my own understanding of the Bible and of my life. This book is a valuable ...more
Missie Kay
Jul 11, 2011 Missie Kay rated it liked it
Shelves: review, nonfiction
Although there are useful examples in here, he sometimes goes overboard in arguing against certain interpretations. Mostly, he succeeds in what the introduction claims he is NOT trying to do--scare the average person away from ever interpreting the Bible at all. One feels he might look back on the pre-Reformation Roman stance with nostalgia: the "good old days", when only the most educated had personal access to the Bible. If you don't have a solid background in ancient Greek, don't even bother ...more
Joel Griffis
Jul 24, 2014 Joel Griffis rated it liked it
For scholarly competence and clarity of expression, it doesn’t get much better than Carson in my book. Exegetical Fallacies is good; it just isn’t as special as I was anticipating it would be. By the end, you realize that it’s not much more than a compilation of particular exegetical arguments that Carson personally takes issue with. While his critical remarks are legitimate by and large, the attempt to categorize these examples of problematic argumentation into formalized "fallacies" seems a bi ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Nate rated it really liked it
There are many linguistic, logical, historical, and literary pitfalls waiting to ensnare those who seek to teach, preach, or write about the Christian Bible's contents. Dr. Carson lists and describes some of the most common errors that teachers, preachers, and academics make when they do not craft their arguments or sermons carefully. Although useful to most in a teaching position, those who have some academic background in the Biblical languages, or logic and philosophy will get the most benefi ...more
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D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Cana ...more
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“But tragic is the situation when the preacher or teacher is perpetually unaware of the blatant nonsense he utters, and of the consequent damage he inflicts on the church of God. Nor” 0 likes
“It is all too easy to read the traditional interpretations we have received from others into the text of Scripture. Then we may unwittingly transfer the authority of Scripture to our traditional interpretations and invest them with a false, even an idolatrous, degree of certainty. Because” 0 likes
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