Exegetical Fallacies: Common Interpretive Mistakes Every Student Must Avoid

January 26, 2019 - This article presents seven exegetical fallacies which are common to scholars and students alike.

Here are the seven fallacies identified in this article:

  1. The Evidential Fallacy - “It is fallacious to condition acceptance of the biblical text upon corroboration by external evidence. When the student encounters interpretive problems in the biblical text, he must allow the text to speak and must accept the testimony of the text with a presumption of accuracy.”
  2. The Superior Knowledge Fallacy - If we don’t understand a text or it doesn’t make sense to us, “[o]ur first assumption should be that we are in error instead of applying the hermeneutics of doubt to the text”.
  3. The Word Study Fallacy - “Study of the words alone will not present us with a consistent interpretation or theology.” There is more to the text than just words and we should not get so lost in word studies that we loss sight of the context, syntax, and semantics of the section we are studying.
  4. The Fallacy of Reading Between the Lines - “As this writer grows older and (hopefully) wiser, he has less and less interest in ‘white spaces’ in the Word. We have enough to occupy us in understanding and applying what the Word says explicitly. What the Bible student must do is to focus on what the Scriptures say, not on what he thinks the Scriptures imply.”
  5. The Hebrew Verb Fallacy - Students of the Old Testament must ask “What is the exegetical significance of this form [of Hebrew verb] in this passage?” It is easy to “fall victim to either the extreme of over-simplification or the extreme of over-complexification”, but the form of Hebrew verbs is important to consider when interpreting a text.
  6. The Fallacy of Ignoring Particles - Especially as it relates to participles in the New Testament: “No Bible interpreter or translator has the right to select certain elements of biblical propositions for preservation and to excise the remainder from the text. An accurate translation must be full and complete, not selective and partial. Omission of any portion of the text hinders full understanding or, at its worse, creates misunderstanding.”
  7. The Fallacy of Reduction - Repetition in the Bible is significant and should be preserved.

You can learn more here: https://www.tms.edu/m/msj19.1.pdf.

  • Article
  • William D. Barrick
  • Fallacies
  • Exegesis
  • TMSJ
  • Interpretation