I came across the following chart on page 136 in the new book A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis by Craig L. Blomberg. Heeding caution from this chart will ruin many dramatic points in sermons across the country but will end up being more accurate, which will in turn be more honoring to the Lord.
Common Errors in the Word Study Process
- Granting more interpretive weight to the etymology of a word than is appropriate (etymological or root fallacy)
- Assuming that a word in the text takes on a meaning that was not yet present in the time of the author.
- Supplying a word’s meaning with a definition that preceded the author but that had fallen out of popular usage by the time of the author (semantic obsolescence fallacy)
- Making an appeal to an unknown or unlikely meaning of a word, due to either the interpreter’s theological presuppositions or reliance on out-of-date or idiosyncratic secondary literature
- Assuming that a word carries several or all of its possible meaning in each of its appearances when in fact the most probable meaning of any word is that which contributes the least amount of new information to the overall context (illegitimate totality transfer)
- Assuming that if a word in the New Testament means something in the majority of its appearances, it must also take on that meaning in any context in Scripture where it appears (prescriptive fallacy)