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Guide to Understanding Biblical Language
on 27 May 2002
Many people are keen to be able to read the bible in the original languages, but do not understand how to apply their new-found knowledge.
There are some excellent books to assist in this regard, including Moises Silva's Biblical Words and Their Meaning, Cotterell and Turner's Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation and David Alan Black's Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek, It's Still Greek To Me and Using New Testament Greek in Ministry.
But Don Carson's Exegetical Fallacies is a great start. It is reasonably easy to understand, and shows how language works and how we can easily get tripped up in our efforts to interpret it, in a stimulating and entertaining manner. His book is short, and definitely worth reading a few times.
If you find yourself disagreeing with his conclusions, think carefully about what yours are based on. Is it a great sermon or a cherished theory, or is it based on careful biblical study?
Other thought-provoking books by Carson which give examples of his exegetical method include his "Inclusive Language Debate: a plea for realism,""The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God" and "Showing the Spirit," which is an exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14.
Carson is bilingual, having been brought up in Canada where he and his father preached in both English and French. He shows how this has helped in his study of language and of the Bible in his book on the inclusive language debate. The insights he has discovered make him well worth reading.