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Spring Has Sprung For Exegetical Fallacies

With the first snowdrops carpeting woodland and garden floors and bunches of yellow daffodils in various rooms in the house from St. David’s Day, the usual talk about the weather turned to the springing of spring.

Spring has sprung at Hyde Park, London

Spring has sprung at Hyde Park, London

Spring has sprung at Hyde Park, London

Took advantage of the clear skies and sunshine to sit and read on the edge of The Serpentine in Hyde Park. There were tentative signs of activity returning to the bare garden – a straggle of frisbee players, two brave row boats, roller-skaters and inline skaters bundled up against the barely-above-freezing temperatures, horse-riders, bird-feeders shivering as they ungloved their hands to better control bread distribution…
Spring has sprung at Hyde Park, London
Hardly got past the first chapter of D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies when a passing Portuguese bodybuilder hit on me. Awkward. The pickings must be very thin on the ground indeed.

Spring has sprung at Hyde Park, London
Happily, Carson was far better company. Not having gotten very far in New Testament Greek, the chapters other than “Grammatical Fallacies” were instructive:

Word Study Fallacies

  • root fallacy – presupposes that every word actually has a meaning bound up with its shape or its components
  • semantic anachronism – late use of a word is read back into earlier literature
  • semantic obsolescence – interpreter assigns to a word in his text a meaning that the word in question used to have in earlier times, but that is no longer found within the live semantic range of the word
  • appeal to unknown or unlikely meanings
  • careless appeal to background material
  • verbal parallelomania
  • linkage of language and mentality
  • false assumptions about technical meaning
  • problems surrounding synonyms and componential analysis
  • selective and prejudicial use of evidence
  • unwarranted semantic disjunctions and restrictions
  • unwarranted restriction of the semantic field
  • unwarranted adoption of an expanded semantic field
  • problems relating to the Semitic background of the Greek New Testament
  • unwarranted neglect of distinguishing peculiarities of a corpus
  • unwarranted linking of sense and reference

Logical Fallacies

  • false disjunctions: an improper appeal to the law of the excluded middle
  • failure to recognise distinctions
  • appeal to selective evidence
  • improperly handled syllogisms
  • world-view confusion
  • fallacies of question-framing
  • unwarranted confusion of truth and precision
  • purely emotive appeals
  • unwarranted generalisation and overspecification
  • negative inferences
  • unwarranted associative jumps
  • false statements
  • the non sequitur
  • cavalier dismissal
  • fallacies based on equivocal argument
  • inadequate analogies
  • abuse of “obviously” and similar expressions
  • simplistic appeals to authority

Presuppositional and Historical Fallacies

  • uncontrolled historical reconstruction
  • fallacies of causation
  • fallacies of motivation
  • conceptual parallelomania
  • fallacies arising from omission of distanciation in the interpretative process

Opportunities for Even More Fallacies

  • problems related to literary genre
  • problems related to the New Testament use of the Old
  • arguments from silence
  • problems relating to juxtapositions of texts
  • problems relating to statistical arguments
  • the rise of structuralism

Loads to consider when taking care to interpret God’s word faithfully.

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