The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 6 of 261
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Similarities do not constitute Identity.
pp. 7, 8
(An important principle of interpretation
considered and commended to all true "Bereans").
On pages 173 to 177 of Volume XXXIII, we attempted to answer an objection that
had been made to our teaching, based upon the incidence in Hebrews of words or
expressions similar to others found in Ephesians. This objection was expressed in a
letter, from which we gave an unedited extract. If this extract does not accord with a
booklet since published by the writer of the letter, it will be understood that such
variation, while within his rights, cannot reflect upon our own integrity.
The reasoning that underlies this method of examination is fallacious in that it
discovers similarities but interprets them as identicals. Whether they are concerned with
the problem put forward in the article referred to or not, we believe it would be a "word
in season" to all our readers if this fallacious argument was exposed, because principles
of interpretation are fundamental to all understanding, and should occupy a prominent
place in the Christian worker's equipment.
The principle stated: Similarities, however many, cannot constitute identity in the
presence of one proved contrary. This may sound rather involved, but the following
illustration may convince of its essential truth.
The principle illustrated: Here is a supposed description, circulated by the police, of a
wanted man:
"A man, past middle age, height 5'7", dark hair, slightly grey at temples, eyes grey,
complexion pale, aquiline features, tendency to stoop, interested in art and music, editor
of a religious paper; last known place of residence, London, S.W."
The reader who is personally acquainted with the editor of The Berean Expositor, will
recognize the foregoing as a fairly good description of him. Now, let us further suppose
that the police, acting upon information, take the editor into custody. He is examined
point by point, and found to tally with the description. Surely some would say, "This is
the man!" If a list of similarities proves identity, then the prospects before the editor look
rather bleak.
As we have seen, the believer may put into a parallel columns words found in
Hebrews and Ephesians, and say, in effect, "These prove identity", "This is the same
calling", but, happily, the police do not mistake similarities for identity. One clear