Exegetical Fallacies: Common Interpretative Mistakes Every Student Must Avoid

William Barrick | May 21, 2010

Students of the Bible often make mistakes that can be avoided if they are aware of errors that others have committed. One of the errors is the “Evidential Fallacy” which fails to approach the text with the presumption that it is accurate. Another mistake is the “Superior Knowledge Fallacy” which occurs when one, in approaching difficult texts, practices textual emendation to accommodate the critic’s ignorance. A third mistake is the “Word Study Fallacy” which uses imaginative extrapolations to find unjustified meanings in individual words. The “Fallacy of Reading Between the Lines” reads into the Scriptures what one thinks the text implies. Another mistake occurs in improper explanations of the two tenses of Hebrew verbs, the perfect (or qatal) and the imperfect (or yiqtol). Occasionally in the NT, the “Fallacy of Ignoring Particles” causes an interpreter to miss emphasis that is conveyed by Greek particles. Sometimes a translation leaves out words found in the original language causing the “Fallacy of Reduction.” Correct interpretation results from close attention to details of the text in avoiding the mistakes mentioned above, as well as others.

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William Barrick Faculty Associate, Old Testament B.A., Denver Baptist Bible College M.Div., San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary Th.M., San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary Th.D., Grace Theological Seminary Before joining The Master's Seminary faculty in 1997, Dr. Barrick served with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). In 1981 he and his family moved to Bangladesh. In that ministry Dr. Barrick served as the Exegetical Consultant for Bible translation projects, theological consultant for the Literature Division, and adjunct faculty member of the Baptist Bible Institute of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Theological Seminary, and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary Extension Program (Singapore). Prior to joining ABWE in 1979, Dr. Barrick had been Professor and Chairman of the Old Testament Department at Denver Baptist Theological Seminary from 1972 to 1978. Beyond his teaching and Bible translation work, Dr. Barrick has been active in a variety of ministries including three years as Director of Church Planting in Chittagong, Bangladesh. He has also had a varied writing ministry from scholarly journals to adult Sunday School materials. Dr. Barrick has been writing in the areas of Bible and theology for forty years. His writings range from adult Sunday school materials, in-house library publications, and newspaper editorials to technical journal articles in English and a commentary on the book of Daniel in Bengali. In addition, as a result of his fifteen years of Bible translation ministry in Bangladesh, he has participated in the production of Bibles, New Testaments, and Bible sections in six different languages. While in Bangladesh he participated in the editing of over twenty books and tracts, including a Bengali translation of Unger's Bible Handbook. During his doctoral studies he worked as a phototypesetter and proofreader for the first fascicle of The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and a number of other major volumes. Dr. Barrick has been involved in writing or contributing to 26 books, and has authored over 125 periodical articles and book reviews. Currently he is the OT editor for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Logos) and will be writing the Genesis commentary in that series. He has also contributed the essay, “A Historical Adam, Young-Earth Creation View” in the recently released book Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan, 2013). Dr. Barrick has been married to his wife Barbara for 48 years. They have four married children and fourteen grandchildren. He is currently Faculty Associate and Director of Th.D. Studies at The Master's Seminary.

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