Carson's effort here is something of a gem. This little book is filled with sage advice for exegetes and all levels (layman, student, pastor, professor). What makes the book all the more useful is that each concept is concretized via an actual example of someone committing the fallacy under discussion. Carson's comments are generally fair, sober and accurate. Two cautions are in order however: 1) Carson's own presuppositions sometimes show through (he is a mildly Reformed Baptist) in cases of continuity and discontinuity of the Old and New Testaments and his slightly wooden understanding of the grammatical-historical method, and 2) Just because Carson thinks something is a fallacy does not mean that it actually is! His observations here are his, they do not carry the authority of the fallacies commonly identified by the logicians. Hence, one can rightly disagree with Carson and should at a few points. These reservations do not detract from the immense value of this book as a teaching tool (as long as one keeps in mind that the teacher is not infallible) and a great help to interpreters of Scripture.
The book is divided into five chapters (six if you count the 11 page introduction) 1. Word Study Fallacies 2. Grammatical Fallacies 3. Logical Fallacies 4. Presupposition and Historical fallacies 5. Concluding Remarks I found the word study fallacies salutary and it has made me (even more) cautious in accepting at face value word study expositions. The chapter on grammatical fallacies was a little bit more demanding of my linguistic vocabulary (anarthous, articular, syllogisms, distanciation).
To give one example the word "agape" (love) has become a loaded term to describe the qualities of Divine love. Yet the word is used in the LXX to describe the love of Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:15 for Tamar whom he raped! (p31) Apparently agape was becoming the prominent word for love from the 4th century on. One reason was that phileo (love) was becoming increasingly used in the context of kissing. This seemed a bit academic, until I was directed to Luke 22:47, where Judas betrays with a kiss (phileo).
The book is well referenced and I have already ordered one book referred to (Biblical Words and Their Meaning - Silva on p61). This deals with the problems of seeking Hebrew equivalents for the Greek. I am particularly interested in this as I am dealing with friends in the Hebrew Roots movement.
It has left me with a new respect for the Greek text and a desire to know more about possible meanings that Greek actually rules out (and rules in). I would highly recommend the book but would warn that it is pretty academic; more so as you move through the chapters.
Before closing this review I should mention GRAMCORD which is a GRAMatical concordance. This was conceived by James Bayer and developed by Paul Miller (p85). It is a computer retrieval system which uses a tagged text of the Greek New Testament. It allows sophisticated analysis of grammatical constructions.
If you are looking for a lighter read then I would recommend Scripture Twisting: Twenty Ways the Cults Misread the Bible by James W. Sire (16 copies second-hand on Amazon on 26th September starting at ~$4). This was one of only two books I bought after browsing the London Bible College library as a student. It is sitting on my shelf as I speak and is a much more accessible tome. It is referenced on p103 (world views) by Carson, which is what reminded me of it.
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. Highly recommended.
great for 1st year students at undergraduate level, you set the pace on this home study course. It is without any doubt beneficial for those who wish to advance there degrees further by reading ancient languages specifically when it is to compliment Theological degrees. This little treasure will advance your studies even further.
While not exhaustive (which Carson didn't mean for it to be), it gets one started thinking in a balanced direction towards hermeneutics and exegesis in general. It leaves one wanting to exegete with caution. Carson's description of evaluating one's presuppositions before the text is priceless. Every fundamentalist Christian out there should get there hands on this gem and READ IT!! If this book doesn't humble you in your approach to biblical interpretation, you're doomed to hell.