Harold Camping, Bible Crackpottery, and a Contest

Posted By on May 21, 2011

In honor of today’s blazingly stupid (and failed) rapture prediction by Harold Camping, I thought I’d coin a new term to use for Bible crackpottery.† I can’t decide between two alternatives. I was actually hoping he’d be right since I’ve been grading (mostly poor) student papers since Friday night. “Lord, Jesus, come quickly.” My mind understandably drifted to this important matter.

Exegesis is, as many of you know, the term used by biblical scholars for the examination of the biblical text with respect to grammar, syntax, semantics, genre, and larger contextualization issues. It is a term that describes the effort to draw meaning “out of” (exe-) the text. Eisegesis is the opposite, as it refers to reading ideas and meanings “into” (eis-) the biblical text that aren’t there.

But eisegesis just doesn’t describe the kind of idiocy conveyed by Camping’s idea. The world needs something more precise.† That brings me to my struggle. Here are my two alternatives:

1. “Bunkagesis” – the calculated fabrication of senseless twaddle from the biblical text.This term describes a gift for sustained suspension of right-thinking and proper methodology, with a flair for the ludicrous.

2. “Offalgesis” (or, “Fecalgesis“) – “Offal” describes the waste product of a process. It’s at times used as a polite word for human excrement. “Fecal” is of course more familiar in that regard.† Offalgesis (or fecalgesis) therefore speaks to biblical interpretation that is essentially a hermeneutical turd, an interpretative bowel movement, if you will.

A tough decision, indeed.

Won’t you please help? I hope so. Please take this survey to vote for your favorite. I’ll leave this up for a week or so. Please tell a friend to vote!

Once we have a winner, I plan to take nominations annually for the dumbest piece of Bible interpretation each year.

Okay, back to the papers.† I’m in a better mood now.

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14 Responses to “Harold Camping, Bible Crackpottery, and a Contest”

  1. DT says:

    I’m gonna go with fecalgesis. Has a nice ring to it.

  2. Duane says:

    Nice work! I recommend “Fecalgesis” but it was a hard choice

  3. Steve says:

    Sharing with a few friends, thank you for the laugh.

  4. Nobunaga says:

    I went for Bunkagesis it’s pretty much self explanatory. But i prefer just to call them dispensationalists ….(Joke)

  5. jeremy says:

    how about Gumpagesis?

  6. Ben S says:

    Offalgesis can sound like awfulgesis. I like’em all.

  7. blop2008 says:

    Offalgesis would be a phonetic jack-of-all-trades term, since it sounds like “Off” (Interpretation that is Off) and”Awful” (Interpretation that is Awful).

  8. The Wingnut says:

    Fecalgesis. It was close, until I read “hermeneutical turd”. That is pure awesome.


  9. Doug says:

    I would vote for Campingesis, since the term might apply to many of Harold Camping’s interpretations.

  10. blop2008 says:

    Now Camping is is rescheduling the timing for Oct 21 2011:


    He won’t let go heh…

  11. nslay says:

    You’re right, there needs to be a new term for this kind of senseless prediction. The term “numerology” sounds official (but it’s not!). Perhaps the term can be generalized beyond the Bible.

    Notice how Camping cherry picks the numbers and operations to arrive at his “prediction,” Why not (5+10+17)^2 or log(5*10*17)? I suppose he _had_ to choose multiplication to get a specific coincidental quantity! What about 3, 7, or 12? Those are “nice” numbers too!

    I hope Camping throws some Calculus into his next prediction! I think that would be extremely funny (and more creative)!

    I have trouble believing Camping was ever an engineer! An engineer has some level of understanding and intuition about mathematics and its connection with reality. This prediction was complete abuse of mathematics!

  12. Jason says:

    I voted fecalgesis but I would call it FECALNEUTICS

  13. This may not be very original or erudite, but I call it just plain “ERROR.”

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