Critical Thinking & Exegetical Fallacies

Critical Thinking / Exegetical Fallacies

Critical Thinking is evidence-based thinking. The two main components of critical thinking are tearing down and building up. These are not the technical terms. You will more commonly see the terms Intellectual Standards, Elements of Reasoning, and Intellectual Traits used to schematize critical thinking.

Tearing down involves a continual reassessment of prior beliefs in light of the best available evidence. Mythbusting, debunking, and empirically-based skepticism are the more common examples of this component of critical thinking in pop culture.

Building up involves the construction of the most defensible explanation of the extant evidence. Occam’s Razor, the scientific method(s), and the Modern vs. Postmodern debate are the more well-known examples of this component of critical thinking in pop culture.

You have to be able to evaluate evidence whether you are studying the Bible for yourself or preparing a sermon or teaching. So many people say so many things about the Bible that you will quickly drown without discernment. Critical thinking is one of the tools you will want to develop. The following sources will help:

Logical Fallacies

If evidence-based, well-reasoned thinking is the goal, logical fallacies are ways that thinking goes wrong. Fallacious reasoning does not always guarantee a wrong conclusion, but it is often associated with wrong conclusions.

The two main things to keep in mind regarding logical fallacies are:

  1. If you use a logical fallacy, you are not automatically wrong.
  2. If you avoid using a logical fallacy, you are not automatically right.

Logical Fallacies common to Biblical Exegesis

The following is a partial list of fallacies that are common to biblical studies. The term “Exegetical Fallacies” may be more appropriate here,  except this list will combine both exegetically-specialized and general logical fallacies.

Hasty Generalization

This is by far the most common fallacy I encounter in my grading. The tendency for new students in biblical and theological studies is to move well beyond the evidence and quickly look for the personal application. Grand theological statements and glittering generalities are made apart from careful assessment of the evidence, if any evidence is referred to at all.

Correlation & Causation



Semantic Anachronism

[this fallacy is under construction]

Illegitimate Totality Transfer (James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language, 1961)

[this fallacy is under construction]

Word Root Fallacy

[this fallacy is under construction]

Cherry Picking the Data

[this fallacy is under construction]

Ad hominem


Post hoc ergo propter hoc


Mirror reading

[this fallacy is under construction]

Argument from silence

[this fallacy is under construction]

False analogy

[this fallacy is under construction]


“Parallelomania” was popularized by Samuel Sandmel at the Presidential Address delivered at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in 1961 and published in the Journal of Biblical Literature in the following year. It describes a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that alleges causative parallels between biblical texts and other ancient literature. Without denying “that literary parallels and literary influence. . . exist,” he defines parallelomania “as that extravagance among scholars which first overdoes the supposed similarity in passages and then proceeds to describe source and derivation as if implying literary connection flowing in an inevitable or predetermined direction.” (Sandmel, JBL 81, 1)

Texas sharpshooter

Personal incredulity


Personal incredulity is #7 on this list. The infographic was produced by Nathan Kitches for, though it appears that the site has been sold to another company and no longer hosts this image.


False authority


Click “more information about this page” at the bottom of the linked page to see Snopes’ explanation of false authority.

Poisoning the well

[this fallacy is under construction]

Straw man

To quoque

[this fallacy is under construction]

Reductio ad absurdum

[this fallacy is under construction]

Asch conformity experiment



False memory

[this fallacy is under construction]

Either/or  (False dichotomy)


3 thoughts on “Critical Thinking & Exegetical Fallacies

  1. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I was looking for this information for my mission.


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