The 2014 January edition of Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries features articles on Hermeneutical Fallacies which you can find online HERE. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Robert Cara’s article “Word-Study Fallacies / Words of Caution” with an example of a common interpretative error I’ve heard before—maybe you have too.
““At my seminary, I often teach the introductory Greek course. On the first or second day of class, at least one student and I will have the following typical conversation during one of the breaks:“Dr. Cara, is it not true that sin in the New Testament means ‘miss the mark’?”“Well, not exactly,” I respond. “In the Bible, sin means to violate God’s law. Yes, it is true that the Greek word translated as ‘sin,’ hamartia, is a combination of ‘not’ and ‘mark,’ but that is not its meaning in the Bible.”“I’m confused. I have been told by many people that the real meaning is ‘miss the mark.’”“Many centuries before the New Testament was written, the word may have been coined based on someone throwing a spear and ‘missing the mark.’ But that is unrelated to the meaning of the word in the New Testament. In fact, emphasizing ‘missing the mark’ as the real meaning may confuse some into thinking that sin is only when one tries his best and fails—he tried to hit the mark but missed. If I may say so, you are confusing the history of a word and its possible original derivation with the meaning current during the New Testament period. You are committing what is called the ‘etymological fallacy,’ which we will cover later in the course.”" continue reading...
By the way, Tabletalk issues are all available online free but if you don’t subscribe to the paper edition of Tabletalk I highly recommend it. It makes a great gift too! You can get ordering info HERE
Also from this blog: Hermeneutics: Playing by the Rules