In “Exegetical Fallacies,” author D.A. Carson draws from his years of study and teaching experiences to create a guide for serious students of BiblicaIn “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 to intermediate and advanced students of Scripture. Although some of the fallacies discussed pertain specifically to original languages and will therefore not be of much use for those who are not familiar with Hebrew and especially Greek, Carson discusses a sufficient number of fallacies that are just as dangerous for those who study the Bible in English as they are for those who study it in Greek and Hebrew. This inclusion merits consideration even by students who only study English translations of the Scriptures. In addition to explaining why he wrote the book, Carson also lays out two possible dangers readers will face due to the nature of a book focused on errors; pride and despair. It seems that he has observed more damage caused by despair than by pride because he returns to at the end of the book, finishing with words of exhortation and a call to humble determination in continued study. The pride he describes leads exegetes to judgmental attitudes and blindness to their own errors, but despair cripples them with fear and with the heavy burden of responsibly handling the Scriptures. At its worst, this despair prevents one from even attempting exegesis for fear of doing it wrong. The reader must pay close attention to these realities and approach this study as Carson suggests, with humble determination. He also discusses the issue of distanciation, a phenomena which is especially common among seminary students. It is a valuable discussion, for he recognizes both the necessity and the danger of distanciation in relation to exegesis and spiritual life. The two largest groups of fallacies Carson treats are those concerning individual words and logical errors. The first chapter addresses the pitfalls of improper word studies. Many of these errors are especially tempting to those who “know enough to be dangerous,” namely, people who have little to no experience working within the original languages, but know how to use a concordance or a program like Bible Works. The pair agapaw and filew have so often been the objects of such errors that Carson decided to dedicate several pages to the issue of fallacies involving the pair (p. 28, 31, and 50-53). The author succeeds in making this chapter (and others) very accessible to students who do not know the original languages by providing not only examples in Greek and Hebrew, but also in English. In the second chapter, Carson turns to addressing fallacies based upon grammatical units, morphology and construction. The often abused aorist tense receives considerable treatment, as does the article. This chapter will prove helpful to second year Greek students in the vital task of bridging the gap between morphology and context. Those who rely solely on English translations will find its usefulness minimal, though not completely absent. It is helpful in the sense that those who put in the effort to at the very least skim through it will be made aware of the complex role grammar plays in exegesis. This awareness will prepare them to better evaluate arguments they come across in commentaries and other exegetical resources. The complete lack of examples based on Hebrew grammatical structures is disappointing—particularly in light of Carson’s choice to include Hebrew examples in the first chapter. In the third chapter, Carson tackles the problem of faulty logic. Logical fallacies abound as much as those related to word-study—in the contexts of original language study as well as in studies of translated Scriptures. Carson presents fallacies caused by a lack or complete disregard of critical thought in the exegetical process. He draws attention to the fact that while a statement may be true and an argument may be valid, these can still be insufficient means to prove a particular conclusion. It is the responsibility of the exegete to distinguish these differences and to avoid logical leaps that are unfounded. Carson describes the fallacies of the fourth chapter as presuppositional and historical. These deal largely with a failure to take into account the greater contexts of the Bible and history. This failure manifests itself when the exegete ignores what the greater context is as well as when he ignores the limitations of that context. Unlike scientific experiments, historical events and people cannot be recreated. Within this section, he returns to the issue of distanciation and discusses the problems caused when an exegete fails to properly distance his own personal theology from the exegesis of the text. It appears that when proper contextual considerations are left out of the exegetical task, personal opinion and assumption wait ready to fill the void. The brief final chapter seems to be a catch-all for those fallacies which the author deemed important but do not fit within any of the previously mentioned categories. The list of fallacies is useful, but the arguments presented against them are not as strong as the arguments in the first four chapters. The treatments of New Testament use of the Old and the rise of Structuralism do little more than alert the reader to the existence of an issue, though to his credit, he directs the reader to sources for additional information regarding structuralism and the process of distinguishing figurative and literal linguistic uses. Carson closes the book by reminding the reader to avoid the trap of despair by approaching exegesis with a combination of humility and persistence. This author’s goal for this book is to help readers become better exegetes by avoiding errors in their work. Carson achieves this in the realm of New Testament exegesis. It serves as a plumb line for students of the Scriptures by helping them judge the quality of their work. Because it is not meant to teach how to exegete, it must follow instruction from other sources. That being said, it is a valuable reference—especially for readers who know a little Greek vocabulary, grammar and syntax. ...more
This book is a wonderful introduction and summary of six streams or traditions that have influenced Christianity: *The Contemplative Tradition-the prayThis book is a wonderful introduction and summary of six streams or traditions that have influenced Christianity: *The Contemplative Tradition-the prayer filled life *The Holiness Tradition-the virtuous life *The Charismatic Tradition-the Spirit-empowered life *The Social Justice Tradition-the compassionate life *The Evangelical Tradition-the Word-centered life *The Incarnational Tradition-the sacramental life
Foster does a wonderful job of presenting the best of what each tradition brings to the Church (universal body of believers across the world and across time, not the building on the corner) and the potential pitfalls of each one when it is practiced in isolation.
Each chapter opens with a historical paradigm, telling the story of someone whose life exemplifies that tradition. Foster then moves on to present a Biblical paradigm, doing the same with an individual from Scripture, and a contemporary paradigm with an individual from the 20th century. These stories almost define the traditions on their own, but following them Foster moves into a more detailed description of what each tradition is, its major strengths, its potential perils and practical ways the reader can begin incorporating that tradition into his or her life.
This is a wonderful read for Christians from any background. Although there will probably be one tradition that is more familiar than all the others, one primary influence in the reader's background, the beauty of all of these traditions is the way they work together--sharing their strengths and providing protection against the perils. When I read it, I found the exposure to different traditions brought my faith and the expression thereof to a deeper level and I gained new understanding and appreciation for the beautiful diversity of the Church.
The two appendices included provide snapshots of turning points in church history, and brief (one paragraph) biographies of individuals whose lives reflect the various traditions (30-40 people for each one). These are a great starting point for further exploration!...more
I first read this for a class in the prophets back in 2004. Since then, I have returned to it as a reference several times. VanGemeren does an outstanI first read this for a class in the prophets back in 2004. Since then, I have returned to it as a reference several times. VanGemeren does an outstanding job of combining historical context, literary structure, theme, message and application.
One of the elements I found most helpful, especially the first time through, was the fact that at the end of each chapter the author included a list of questions and issues that would be suitable for group discussion or for individual study.
This is not a verse-by-verse commentary, so don't expect to get that kind of detailed explanations from it. It is, however, an excellent way to get the big picture in view before and during your study of Old Testament prophetic literature....more
okay, so I didn't read ALL of it, but I read enough to recognize that this is a good reference for anyone who is studying the book of Isaiah. The introkay, so I didn't read ALL of it, but I read enough to recognize that this is a good reference for anyone who is studying the book of Isaiah. The introduction is solid, and the major sections each have their own introductions followed by detailed explanations of each paragraph in the text. I'll be sure to refer to it every time I am working in Isaiah, and I would recommend it to anyone else who wants to do a little more in depth study as well. Motyer pulls out nuances from the original language that do not translate well into English, for example he points out many significant conclusions based on the singular and plural, masculine and feminine forms of "you". ...more
Early on Black makes his intentions for this book clear. His desire is that those who read it will be adequately inspired and equipped to use exegesi Early on Black makes his intentions for this book clear. His desire is that those who read it will be adequately inspired and equipped to use exegesis of the New Testament in its original Greek to bring a new level of depth to their teaching ministries. His approach is to first convince the reader of the benefits and necessity of Greek exegesis, to provide a list of reliable reference materials, to define in more detail the components of exegesis and finally to put those components together as a routine readers can adapt for their own use – taking them from their first encounter with a text all the way through the completion of a sermon. Black begins by addressing the question which crosses the minds, if not the lips, of most Greek students; “Do I really need to know Greek for ministry?” It is a valid question, and his answer is satisfactory. He presents well the limitations of relying solely on English translations and the depths which can be reached in the original language. He also wisely warns the reader repeatedly to remember the reason for studying Greek exegesis – ministry – above academics. His writing style is particularly appealing to those who are conceptual learners. The many metaphors he employs do well to illustrate the points he is trying to make (although at times he may rely too heavily on their use). The main focus of chapter 2 is the tools that are needed for performing exegesis which is faithful to the text. The ten items he identifies are timeless, as are the examples he provides for using each one. On the other hand, some of the specific titles have become outdated and new advances in Biblical scholarship have been made since the printing of this book. This is especially true concerning computer resources; the section is almost meaningless for a modern reader due to the significant changes in technology in the past ten years. Chapter 3 goes deeper into what exegesis is. While applications are sprinkled throughout, the main focus here is on analysis. Black’s visual description of exegesis as approaching the text from three angles (p.65) is excellent. As in previous chapters, he has provided an image which will stick in the readers’ minds, helping them remember his point. He provides sufficient examples from Scripture to illustrate the insights which can be discovered by applying the varied types of analysis discussed. The descriptions are concise, but a good review for anyone who has studied hermeneutics in the past. For those who would desire more information on a particular aspect of exegesis, he provides references in the following chapter. The fourth chapter is where he dives into the nuts and bolts of using Greek exegesis as a part of developing sermons. This chapter, along with the third, has the best success in reaching its objectives. Black does an excellent job of summarizing each step in the process, as well as providing detailed explanations and examples which illustrate the significance each step contributes to the final outcome. The full example at the end of the chapter pulls everything together and allows the reader to follow the process through a single passage (p. 107-115). The final chapter is unnecessary; leaving the reader to wonder where the “sample” Black is referring to might be found (p. 117). It would have been better to add two paragraphs to the fourth chapter, identify them as a reader exercise, and end the book there. If the steps were each followed by suggestions or questions specific to the passage recommended for study, then perhaps a separate chapter would be justifiable. Readers who have studied hermeneutics in the past will find this to be largely review. That being said, however, it is still valuable as a concise reference even for those who have studied its topics previously. For those who have not, it is a great introduction to the purpose and process of Greek exegesis beyond classroom walls. ...more
I had high hopes for this book, but I found Zahl's writing style to be very repetitive, so much so that it was distracting from his main point. Many oI had high hopes for this book, but I found Zahl's writing style to be very repetitive, so much so that it was distracting from his main point. Many of his examples and analogies were pulled from pop culture - the movies, books and tv shows - of my parent's generation, which made it hard for me to connect with them and understand what exactly he was trying to say. There were sections which were thought provoking. I doubt that anyone who reads this will agree with everything Zahl has to say, but at the very least he will challenge you to form your own opinions and think about various issues regarding grace and law. ...more