The surprising success of this book suggests that there is an encouraging number of preachers and
teachers of Scripture who want to correct common errors in exegesis. I am grateful to God if this book
has been a help.
Many readers have written to share with me their own lists of amusing fallacies. A few
of their suggestions have found their way into the pages of this second edition. Three or four reviewers
or letter writers strenuously objected to this or that example. I have tried to take their complaints
to heart. In a couple of instances I have revised the section; in two or three instances I merely dropped
the material or substituted better examples, not always because I thought I was wrong on the issue, but
simply because in this book I am not trying to score points on particular subjects so much as give
indisputable examples of exegetical fallacies. But most of the material in the first edition has been
retained here. Occasionally I have dropped material not because I have changed my mind as to the exegesis,
but because I would defend my position a little differently today.
By contrast, from time to time I have inserted fresh examples. In addition, the material
in the fourth chapter has been expanded somewhat. Granted the rapid changes taking place in the field of
hermeneutics, that chapter could easily have become a couple of books. Restrain prevailed, so that not
too many pages were added.
I would have liked to expand the fifth chapter, but it seemed best not to enlarge the
book too much at one go, not least because it is primarily used as auxiliary reading in exegesis courses,
so that too great an increase in length would probably destroy its usefulness. In particular, I rather
wanted to say more about the interpretation of literary genres than I did. The little I added may be of
use to some. And if this book ever goes to a third edition, perhaps that will be the time to add more to
the fifth chapter.
Soli Deo gloria D. A. Carson
Most of the material in this book was first delivered at the Spring Lectureship sponsored by Western
Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, in 1983. It is a pleasure to record my thanks to James
DeYoung, the chairman of the Lectureship Committee, not only for the invitation, but also for efficient
arrangements and boundless courtesy. My thanks, too, to the faculty members and students who went out of
their way to make me feel welcome.
Some of the material in these pages still retains elements of its genesis in lectures,
although the notes, of course, played no part in the original series. Far more of my examples have been
taken from New Testament scholarship than Old Testament scholarship, not only because that reflects my
relative expertise, but even more because many of these examples have been drawn from classroom material
culled over the years in the course of teaching students responsible exegesis of the New Testament. Although
my reading of Old Testament scholarship assures me that comparable examples are no less frequent in that
corpus, to prevent this book from growing out of bounds I have decided to retain the original limits.
Some of those who have heard or read part or all of this material have sometimes criticized
me for being unfair to their preferred viewpoint on some theological or exegetical point. I have tried to
listen to their criticisms and make changes where needed; but I am encouraged to note that approximately
the same proportion of Baptists as Paedo-baptist, Calvinist as Arminians, and so forth, have voiced
objections and suggestions, so perhaps the balance is not too far off. I can only insist in the strongest
terms that I have tied not to use these pages as a sounding board by which to give vent to personal
prejudices. Doubtless I have in some measure failed, but readers who take too great offense in discovering
just where I have damaged their preferred interpretations might profitably ask themselves to what extent
their own prejudices have influenced their judgment.
My secretary Marty Irwin typed the manuscript under extremely short notice and considerable
pressure; I am profoundly grateful for her efficiency and enthusiasm. Mark Reasoner gave valuable assistance
with two of the indexes.
Soli Deo gloria
"This book…is a must for teachers, pastors, and serious Bible students. Carson’s methodological
approach is full of wisdom, it is penetrating, and it is clearly expressed." Thomas Schreiner,
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
"The reader who does not confuse the Bible’s inerrancy with his own interpretations will receive
valuable guidance from the book. Carson has furnished a pithy and practical manual of many of those
mistakes to which all of us who deal with the text in earnest fall prey." Robert Yarborough,
"If given the attention it deserves, Exegetical Fallacies will make its readers more careful
and hones expositors of the Bible." Gerald Mattingly, The (Cincinnati) Seminary Review
"…well written, easy to read, and thought provoking. It is highly recommended to all who truly
desire to handle accurately the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15)." Jeff Guimont, Grace Theological
"The reader…is given much preventive medicine in this book…. Avoiding ‘fallacies,’ obvious or
subtle, should result in the building up of exegetical skills, and that is the positive role of this
book." David Olford, The Preacher
Taken from "Exegetical Fallacies" by D. A. Carson. Used by permission of DIVISION, a division
of Baker Book House Company, copyright ©1996. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not
to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites
without written permission from Baker Book House Company. (www.bakerbooks.com)