Book Notes: Carson, “Exegetical Fallacies”


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Most Relevant Audience: Anyone interested in hermeneutics, exegesis, etymology

Date: 8/24/2009

D.A. Carson. Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996),

“Because traditions are reshaped as they are passed on, after a while we may drift far from God’s word while still insisting all our theological opinions are ‘biblical’ and therefore true. If when we are in a such a state we study the Bible uncritically, more than likely it will simply reinforce our errors.” 17

“The person who makes it his life’s ambition to discover all the things that are wrong…is exposing himself to spiritual destruction.” 17

“distanciation.” 24

Chapt 1 – Word Study Fallacies

  • Meaning of words come from contexts. 30-32
  • Not purely etymology.
  • “We cannot responsibly assume that etymology is related to meaning.” 33
  • “Power” is Rom. 1:16 is root of “dynamite,” but its absurd to suggest Paul had dynamite in mind when he wrote this text. 34
  • It’s semantic anachronism.

“Words [like martyr] change meaning over time.” 36

“Head” in I Cor. 11:2-16 does not mean “source” at that time.

See James Hurley’s book on gender

Ειμι has 4 five uses:

  1. Identity – “Is the law sin?” Rom 7:7
  2. Attribute – “No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18
  3. Cause – “To be carnally minded is death” Rom 8:8
  4. Resemblance – “The tongue is fire.” James 3:6, p 58
  5. Fulfillment – “This is what was spoken by the prophet.” Acts 2:16

“This is my body” really means “represents.”

Symbols can be means of conveying what they represent, like a handshake. But the “Deal” is still a handshake, just as the “body of Christ” is still bread. 59

New Testament authors use words differently. 63

Chapter 2 – Grammatical Fallacies

  • Aorist is not always once for all action (see Phil. 2:12, II Cor. 11:24, Revelation. 20:4, and Heb 11:13; those who died didn’t die all at same time right?)

“No believer doubts that Christ was sacrificed only once (I Cor. 5:7), since after all some passages explicitly affirm this (e.g. Heb. 10:12); but this theological conclusion, as important as it is, derives no sure support from the presence of an aorist verb.” 69

Aorist is plastic in relation to context more than other tenses (although not infinitely plastic). 71

“A statement like ‘because this is an ingressive aorist it means…’ is unwarranted; but given the right context a statement like ‘The context shows this is an ingressive aorist, that is, the verb should be rendered…’ may be perfectly legitimate.” 73

Sharp’s rule: “If two substantives are connected by κια and both have the article they refer to different persons or things…; if the first has an article and the second does not, the second refers to the same persons or thing as the first.” – Brooks and Winbery, Syntax of New Testament Greek. 70

“Even where the text does not have one article governing two substantives, but two articles, one for each substantive, if does not follow that the inverse of the Granville Sharp rule holds true, such a that there must be two separate references.” 82

Chapter 3 – Logical Fallacies

Chapter 4 – Presuppositions and Historical Fallacies

“There may be differences of opinion about what the Bible is in fact saying…but among Christians there should be little excuse for ignoring or avoiding what the Bible has to say on the false grounds that knowledge of objective truth is impossible.” 128

Ignoring historical theology cultivates “the soil that sprouts either heresy or the shallowest sort of traditionalism.”