Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 07:1 (Spring 1986)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Exegetical Fallacies, by D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984. Pp. 153. $7.95.

The latest effort from the prolific pen of D. A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School would seem destined to become required reading in seminary hermeneutics classes. It is essential reading for the pastor-exegete. Exegetical Fallacies is a searching and revealing examination of the misuse of various exegetical and hermeneutical principles. Carson states that the book “focuses on the practitioner” (p. 22). Under four major headings (Word Study Fallacies, Grammatical Fallacies, Logical Fallacies, and Presuppositional and Historical Fallacies) he explodes forty-eight different myths regarding “proper exegesis” and then adds an additional six in the concluding chapter. A study like this can be intimidating (Carson acknowledges this in his lengthy introduction), but honest exegetes should consider each of Carson’s warnings and should heed most of them.

Carson’s treatment of the various fallacies is not always evenhanded. One cause of this may have been the pressure of deadlines (p. 10). Some of the “exploded fallacies” receive thorough exploration and adequate corrective explanation. In other cases, a problem is simply noted but little or no solution is offered. One example of this can be found in Carson’s discussion of “Improperly Handled Syllogisms,” in which he cites examples of how bad logic can lead to incorrect conclusions, especially in the areas of culturally limited teaching. After exposing the problem, he states, “I believe there are some guidelines that can help us distinguish between the range of applicability…; but I had better not embark on that sort of discussion here” (p. 82). It serves little purpose to expose an error if not even a hint of the correct approach to the problem is given. Again, he speaks of R. C. Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament as lacking legitimate basis in linguistics, but does not explain how this is so (p. 54). Finally, he mentions a misapplication of the Granville-Sharp rule by critical scholars (p. 85) but gives no bibliographical information about further discussion of the problem.

These examples of insufficient treatment are balanced by a few instances of overkill. Carson takes Charles Smith to task in regard to Smith’s article on “Errant Aorist Interpreters,” (GTJ 2 [1981] 205-26). He chides Smith for being “linguistically naive” (p. 73) and for “throwing the baby out with the bath water” (p. 74). Yet Carson’s conclusion seems to be exactly what Smith attempts to say in his article. The tense of the aorist makes no determination at all about the sense of its use. Rather, it is solely a contextual determination.

Two other shortcomings ...

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