A healthy reminder: D. A. Carson on root fallacy

I’m thinking that it may be helpful to make regular posts about issues that we will be addressing in any upcoming courses at the Grace Bible Institute. My first post in this regard was “Where does meaning reside?” and we will certainly address this issue in the upcoming course in September called Bible Study Methods.

Another element we will discuss in the course is how to do a proper word study. One of the biggest mistakes we make in this regard is trying to determine a semantic range of a term by appealing to the root of a term. In English, some terms are transparent enough that it is relatively easy to determine how and why the term originated. For instance, a bookcase is a “case” for “books.” But there are limits. Take for instance the term “butterfly.” I know, it’s pretty funny. Or how about the English prefix “mal” which comes in to English from old French and means “bad.” We see it in the terms “malcontent,” “malfeasance,” “malnutrition,” and “malpractice.” However how about “malice”? 🙂 Well, I did just buy a new filter for the ice maker on my refrigerator for that very reason but you get my drift. The same is true of “malted.” It took you a while! Sorry for anyone named Ted, no offence intended. My point is that we must be careful.

D.A. Carson wrote an excellent book many years ago now titled Exegetical Fallacies, and in it he deals with various exegetical errors that interpreters make. One of these errors he calls “Fallacies in Semantics” and the first one listed is “The Root Fallacy.” And now, through the amazing gift of “technology” [OK, I will try. It looks pretty transparent and to be from two Greek words: τέχνη (techn) meaning “art” or “skill” as in a “trade” and λογία (logia) (a derived form of λόγος (logos) meaning for the most part, “the study of”)… and now, through the amazing gift of technology, I give you D. A. Carson’s section on root fallacy from Amazon books! You can read almost the entire section here! Just “look inside and scroll down and you can read it from pages 28-31.

I hope to see you in Bible Study Methods!

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