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Book Reviews -- Reviewing Titles from D.A. Carson
Copyright © 2002 - All rights retained by author
Reviews Written by: C. W. Booth

Book Title: Exegetical Fallacies
Book Author: D.A. Carson
Our Rating: Good

Book Theme

As the title of the book implies, D.A. Carson takes on an area of academic investigation that is rarely attempted and even more rarely tolerated by theologians today, exposing to light improper techniques of biblical interpretation. The version of the book reviewed is copyrighted 1984. Carson himself comments on his own hesitation to deal with this sometimes ugly subject, and yet, he also articulates a strong case for the importance of such an exposition.

Creating numerous groupings of fallacies, Carson categorizes many of the common errors used by pastors, laymen, commentators, and theologians to come to improper conclusions about passages of Scripture. His intent is to help all Christians avoid these errors and pitfalls by walking ahead and pointing out what they look like so they will be more easily identified and avoided before they cause harm to the student of Godís Word.

Analysis of the Book

This short work is clearly targeted at serious students who have some working knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew. However, a lack of formal language training should not deter one from reading this book cover to cover. The errors, exegetical fallacies, that are highlighted and explained are just as likely to trip the seasoned language expert as they are likely to cause the neophyte to stumble. And Carson does a sufficiently adequate job in most instances to allow the arguments to be followed by those who do not know Greek or Hebrew.

It would be virtually impossible to memorize all the categorizations of errors that Carson puts to print. On the other hand, a few of these categories are practically essential to contemplate every time the Bible is opened.

Most notable is Carsonís excellent discussion of the primacy of context in interpretation. If context is abandoned, the phrases and words of Scripture, no matter how thoroughly researched and no matter how carefully scrutinized by the entomologist, will rarely yield the proper definition or interpretation. This understanding is the foundation of much of Carsonís discussion of word study fallacies and grammatical fallacies.

While some readers will be troubled with Carsonís straightforward discourses refuting some dearly held misperceptions based on interpretive errors, such as the use of various forms of "love" found in John 21, it is certain they will learn to be more discerning and discriminating when reading Scripture, and when reading what others have written about Scripture. It will also be necessary to overlook a few apparently disparaging remarks which Carson makes at the expense of the layman or informally trained Sunday School teacher, though once again, this should not dissuade anyone reading and gaining insight from this book.

Conclusion

This earlier work of D.A. Carson must certainly rank among his more important efforts. Whether one takes issue with his refutations of logical fallacies of interpretation, or whether one fully embraces his expose of historical fallacies, the student is forced by Carson to reexamine his own use of Scripture and to contemplate the integrity with which each of us approaches Godís Word.

It was a bold work when it was written, and it stands as a bold work of discernment even now. This reviewer encourages all students of the Word to pick up this book and learn from the errors of others brought to light by Carson.



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