Abstract —Biblical interpretation is susceptible to false premises in the process of exegesis by violating laws of language and logic, and maintaining faulty presuppositions. Wrong understanding of the principles of language, errors in understanding word definitions and usage, the proper governance of context, or grammar lead to incorrect conclusions about meaning. Concerning the laws of logic, principles of argumentation, premises, and reasoning are sometimes neglected or distorted, resulting in false conclusions. The basic premise in word studies is that words are fluid entities that are affected by their surroundings. Words are not merely an isolated collection of symbols that represent a static idea.
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Abstract —Biblical interpretation is susceptible to false premises in the process of exegesis by violating laws of language and logic, and maintaining faulty presuppositions.
Wrong understanding of the principles of language, errors in understanding word definitions and usage, the proper governance of context, or grammar lead to incorrect conclusions about meaning.
Concerning the laws of logic, principles of argumentation, premises, and reasoning are sometimes neglected or distorted, resulting in false conclusions.
The basic premise in word studies is that words are fluid entities that are affected by their surroundings. Words are not merely an isolated collection of symbols that represent a static idea. They require a series of associated words to define their meaning. Such a series of words is referred to as a context. It involves phrases, sentences, discourse, genre, style; it demands a feel for not only syntagmatic word studies those that relate words to other words but also paradigmatic word studies those that ponder why this word is used instead of that word.
In one form or another, each fallacy points to an erroneous assumption that ignores an established law of language. And, more often than not, the error is in ignoring the context and investing undue authority in the words themselves. Root Fallacy—Determining the meaning of a word based solely or primarily on its etymology. Semantic Anachronism—Reading a more recent meaning of a word back into earlier literature. Semantic Obsolescence—Assigning meaning to a word that it used to have in earlier times but is no longer found within the semantic range at the time of composition.
Careless Appeal to Background Material—Using background information to formulate a meaning for which there is little or no substantial connection or grounds for its validity.
Verbal Parallelomania—Claiming verbal or conceptual links and even dependency of meaning based on parallels alone, being selective in using certain parallels to establish meaning, or seeing parallels in every occurrence of a word. In other words, no distinction is made between language and the way people think. False Assumptions About Technical Meaning —Assuming that a word always or almost always carries a technical meaning wherever used, disregarding the possibility that words can have more than one meaning including a technical one and can be used in more than one way.
Selective and Prejudicial Use of Evidence—Appealing to certain evidence in a selective way that justifies a particular view while ignoring or dismissing all other evidence. Unwarranted Restriction of the Semantic Field—Limiting the semantic range of a word that ignores the full range of possible meanings it can have.
Unwarranted Adoption of an Expanded Semantic Field Illegitimate Totality Transfer —Incorporating a broader scope of meaning for a word in a particular context that is greater than the context allows. Problems Relating to the Semitic Background of the Greek New Testament—Imposing an overly close correlation between a Semitic word and Greek equivalent without consulting the Hellenistic context of its usage.
But those who do grammatical analyses and other forms of critical investigation are usually more aware of how to handle the text and are less likely to make presumptive statements that fall into the category of fallacies. The Middle Voice—Assuming that the middle voice always connotes a reflexive action or suggests that the subject acts of itself. Or seeing 3rd- class [vii] conditional statements as indicating a degree of possibility for its fulfillment or unfulfillment.
Or perceiving the time reference of the conditional statement to be in relation to the speaker rather than in reference to the protasis. The Article—Interpreting the meaning and use of the Greek article in terms of the English article. Relationship of Tenses—Inadequately distinguishing the relationship of verb tenses between clauses and what each tense denotes in the structure and syntax of the passage. In general, logic deals with propositions, deductions, and inferences, and how evidence and reasoning are used to formulate meaning from suggested relationships between two or more objects or ideas.
Below are listed several exegetical fallacies that deal with the improper use of logic. Each fallacy points to a specific violation of a law of logic that ignores the logical constraints that must be applied to knowledge in order for it to be properly correlated. In most of the cases mentioned below, the error in logic is committed by trying to force meaning upon a text by incorrect associations, deductions, or conclusions that neglect logical consistency in the available information data.
Failure to Recognize Distinctions—Linking two ideas together in all aspects simply because they share similarities in certain aspects. Selective Partial Evidence—Choosing to rely on a subset of evidence thinking it will represent the whole see Word-Study Fallacy 10 above.
Improperly Handled Syllogisms—Pairing multiple statements of logic syllogisms together in such a way as to infer connections between the pairings that do not exist. Negative Inferences—Assuming that if a proposition is true, then the negative inference of that proposition must also be true. This fallacy is the first to arrive when one fails to properly achieve distanciation. Confusion of Truth and Accuracy—Assuming the question of truth is a matter of precision and accuracy so that if a statement is not precise, it is not accurate, and therefore not true.
Rather, truth has degrees of precision to it that do not invalidate it as being inaccurate simply because it could be stated with greater clarity. Purely Emotive Appeals—Assuming that emotional appeals based on sincerity and conviction can supplant the role of reason and logic. Unwarranted Generalizations and Overspecifications—Simply using one particular example to extrapolate a generalization that then is applied universally.
Unwarranted Associative Jumps—Allowing a word or phrase to trigger an associated idea, concept, or experience that bears no explicit relation to the text but is then used to interpret the text.
The Non Sequitur—Assuming that a statement or conclusion logically flows from a previous statement without proper cause or connection. Cavalier Dismissal—Assuming that an argument has been sufficiently answered when, in fact, it has just been written off and the interpretation redirected. Equivocal Argumentation—Overreaching the implications of an argument beyond what it proves so as to make the argument seem conclusive or decisive on some level.
Inadequate Analogy—Supposing that a particular analogy is relevant to a text or theme when that analogy is actually inadequate or inappropriate.
Simplistic Appeals to Authority—Assuming that appeals to authorities scholars, pastors, authors, speakers, etc. Irrelevant Argumentation—Posing an argument not relevant to the subject under discussion in order to discredit or bolster a particular position or to promote personal credibility or engender distrust in the opponent.
Presuppositional claims deal with the field of epistemology the study of knowledge-its source, nature, and scope and are highly nuanced and complex. Needless to say, the arguments can be endless. Historical reconstructions are an effort of specialists to recover information about culture, events, people, and places in an attempt to fill in gaps in understanding the ancient world.
Every person who interacts with the biblical text brings along a certain amount of preunderstanding. But the hermeneutical process that the interpreter of the Bible engages in is highly influenced by their presuppositional and historical biases.
When the differences [between your horizon and the horizon of the text] are more clearly perceived, then it becomes possible to approach the text with greater sensitivity than would otherwise be the case. Without these processes we would be severely limited in our capacity to interpret the Bible at all. Are they interfering with what the text is really saying? Below is a list of exegetical fallacies that deal with presuppositions and historical reconstructions.
Each fallacy points to an error in the way the interpreter lets their preunderstanding taint their view of the text or the way the interpreter shapes historical renderings to suit their perspective or support and agree with prior conclusions.
Speculative reconstructions cannot overturn substantive evidence of history and cannot be used as an authoritative means for interpretation.
Fallacies of Causation—Accepting causative explanations for events to which they are not causes, either because they are inferred causes, oversimplified causes, re-ordered causes, uncorrelated causes, or imaginary causes. Some minor alterations have been made for improvement of clarity or intelligibility. A few additional fallacies have been included as well. See Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, They are general statements of futurity usually based on hypothetical circumstances.
Kilgore, An Introductory to Logic 2nd ed. Only then can we profitably fuse our horizon of understanding with the horizon of understanding of the text—that is, only then can we begin to shape our thoughts by the thoughts of the text so that we truly understand them.
An Overview of Exegetical Fallacies
Virisar Wrong understanding of the principles of language, errors in understanding word definitions and usage, the proper governance of context, or grammar lead to incorrect conclusions about meaning. If you are doing independent Bible study you want to read this book. The author succumbed to one of the fallacies he described, since his arguments presumed a more robust dogmatic? Selected pages Title Exegeticap. In this book, D.
Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed.
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