The Big Concordance Fallacy

I want to coin the term “Big Concordance Fallacy.”  It happens when someone (almost always a man) with little to no theological training gets a big concordance and starts randomly pulling out original Greek or Hebrew words from the text and then plugs in different English translations of the individual words to see how the overall verse changes when retranslated back into English.  By doing this selectively and repeatedly, radical new applications to living can be discovered from familiar texts!  Of course the problem with this type of interpretation is that it completely isolates the original words from their context, and the final interpretation is based on the range of a word’s meaning in English, not Greek or Hebrew.  I attribute its regularity to a variety of factors, including the modern personalization of Scripture (what does the Bible say to ME!!!!)  and a desire of a lot of men to appear spiritual.  Perhaps there is a bit of novelty as well to having “discovered” a new principle.  I’ve done a lot of language study as part of being a data scientist, and I’ve learned with enough degrees of freedom, you can “retranslate” a passage to almost anything by selectively choosing words and repeatedly flipping them for synonyms.  It may seem like scholarship to the uninitiated, but it most certainly is not.  I wonder what Moby Dick would look like if I selectively translated it to French and back?

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