Bad ways to do a word study


The Challies blog, via, courtesy of Dr Mark Jennings (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) and Dr Grant Osborne (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) has posted ‘7 ways to do a bad word study‘. 

I really encourage you to read the article. It offers a helpful critique and highlights how lay people, as well as ministers, can know if a word study really is legitimate. It tackles the seven following poor approaches:

  1. The Root Word Fallacy
  2. The Origin Fallacy
  3. The ‘Everything’ Fallacy
  4. The Lexical Fallacy
  5. The Word-Argument Fallacy
  6. The ‘Authorless’ Fallacy
  7. The ‘Webster’s Dictionary’ Fallacy
If you want to know which approaches to avoid when leading a bible study, or you simply want to recognise appropriate use of word studies, this post really is worth a read.


  1. Question left on facebook by Sarah Roberts:

    That is a good article! Definitely heard a lot of them. Do you think that those who don't know Greek should steer away from explaining the Greek altogether? Or do you think there's still benefit in them saying 'I've read that in the Greek it means…'

  2. I don't think there's anything wrong with looking at possible meanings in Greek. I also don't think there's anything wrong with looking in a lexicon if you don't know Greek and trying to figure out what the most likely use of a particular word is given the context. What is not legitimate, is looking at a single word – seeing a range of possible meanings – and, with no knowledge of Greek language and no thought for the context, ascribing the meaning you think fits your predetermined view/idea you wanted to share.

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