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Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old… (2005)

de Peter Enns

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How can an evangelical view of Scripture be reconciled with modern biblical scholarship? In this book Peter Enns, an expert in biblical interpretation, addresses Old Testament phenomena that challenge traditional evangelical perspectives on Scripture. He then suggests a way forward, proposing an incarnational model of biblical inspiration that takes seriously both the divine and the human aspects of Scripture. This tenth anniversary edition has an updated bibliography and includes a substantive postscript that reflects on the reception of the first edition.… (més)
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A great book that was formed earlier in Pete Enn's journey. Much of the information contained in the book has been discussed and represented (better in my opinion) in Pete's later books, though there were many ideas and concepts that were unique. If you had to pick a couple of Pete Enn's books to read, stick with How the Bible Actually Works and The Bible Tells Me So. ( )
  eliason | Sep 28, 2021 |
Addressed to evangelical Christians who are troubled by what they see as inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the Bible, especially in the way NT authors treat OT material.
Clearly explained, along with his solutions (very briefly summarized0: (1) recognize that the Scriptures are "incarnational" in the same sense that Christ was divinity incarnated in mortality; that is, the scriptures are God speaking in ways that the people receiving his revelation could understand; (2) treat apostolic hermeneutics in their own context.

Excerpts below are my comments on a post by JS at H--A--.com regarding the History Channel mini-series The Bible (2013), which is what enticed me to read the book:
http://hotair.com/archives/2013/03/31/did-history-channels-the-bible-get-it-wron...

Unless Enns has changed his views since publication (2005), I believe Jazz misinterpreted as a criticism his assessment of the producers’ intent in the mini-series.

“They were focusing on the final stage of the Bible story, which is Christ’s appearance,” he said. “It’s all a buildup to that. They take a celebrity approach to The Bible, and highlight the figures people know and present them in ways that make it seem that when you get to Jesus, you’ll feel that this was how it was meant to be all along.”

The bolded portion neatly summarizes Enns’ position (and purpose in writing) his book.

Enns discusses quite thoroughly “three issues that have not been handled well in evangelical theology.” The details aren’t important to this discussion (although they are quite interesting), but the thrust of Enns’ argument is that the Bible must be read through an eschatological hermeneutic that he dubs “christotelic”, meaning, “to read it already knowing that Christ is somehow the end to which the Old Testament story is heading.” (p. 154) ( )
  librisissimo | Apr 11, 2013 |
NO OF PAGES: 197 SUB CAT I: Biblical Interpretation SUB CAT II: SUB CAT III: DESCRIPTION: Enns' book is a refreshingly honest and sincere attempt to work through the tough issues in taking contemporary scholarship seriously while at the same time maintaining a high view of Scripture. I think Enns has accomplished his task with this well-written and timely work.

After a brief explanation for the purpose of the book, Enns launches into a comparison of the Biblical text of the Old Testament with literature of the Ancient Near East. For those who are unfamiliar with ANE literature this comparison will come as quite a surprise. Since Israel was a relative newcomer on the scene of the ancient Near East, it is certainly appropriate to examine possible parallels between Israelite literature and that of the surrounding nations.

Enns looks at the numerous discoveries of the last 150 years which reveal creation and flood stories in ANE literature that predate the Biblical accounts. The similarities are striking. Other interesting parallels include ancient law codes (again, predating the Biblical accounts), that are amazingly similar to the law codes in the book of Exodus. The structure of the book of Deuteronomy seems to reflect the structure of Hittite treaties. Portions of the Proverbs are similar to a body of Egyptian wisdom literature known as the Instruction of Amenemope. There are a number of other examples of this kind. Now the question: So what? Well, this is where many conservative evangelicals will attempt either to explain away the evidence, or deny it altogether and hide behind a pre-critical, pre-suppositional mind set. However, Enns himself could be labeled a conservative evangelical and yet he deals with the problem honestly and helpfully by looking at surrounding cultural influences in the ancient Near East, the use and methodology of ancient historiography (to name just a couple of factors), and by offering what he refers to as an "incarnational analogy" in which "Christ's incarnation is analogous to Scripture's incarnation." Enns takes as a starting point that "as Christ is both God and human, so is the Bible." I do not have the time or space here to unpack this, but Enns' analogy is profound.

The next difficulty with which Enns deals is the "problem of theological diversity in the Old Testament." He provides numerous examples from the wisdom literature (eg, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job), the Chronicles, Law (eg, Exodus, the Ten Commandments and Deuteronomy), slavery, the practice of Passover and sacrifice, and more. I have always been at a loss to explain the diversity between the books of Kings and Chronicles for example. The typical explaining away of differences and tensions have never been of help to me. Understanding the Biblical writers in their historical setting is a better way of getting at the reason for such diversity. However, the diversity we find in the Old Testament cannot be finally and fully explained.

The final difficulty with which Enns deals is the New Testament writers use of the Old Testament. The honest person must admit that there are numerous examples of the writers of the New Testament quoting the Old Testament out of context for their own purposes. The explanations in "Bible Difficulties" books are nothing more than illusions that misunderstand what the New Testament writer is attempting to get across. "Innerbiblical" interpretation cannot be understood apart from the historical setting in which the New Testament authors wrote, and an understanding of Biblical interpretation in Second-Temple literature is the key to help us understand it. Enns provides examples from Second-Temple literature and the New Testament writers.

A handy Glossary ensures that we understand the terms and concepts and be able to keep in step with each section of the book. This is a fantastic piece of work by Peter Enns. It is well-written, carefully argued, and in the most irenic spirit that I have seen from a writer in his tradition. Check out his excellent commentary on Exodus in the NIVNOTES: Purchased from CBD. SUBTITLE: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
  BeitHallel | Feb 18, 2011 |
I’ll admit it. I bought this book because of the controversy. If you’re unaware, read up on it here. I figured that anyone who wrote something that controversial deserved a read. I’m glad I read it.

This book conveys a sense of humility and intellectual honesty within a evangelical framework. The best part of this book is his willingness to state the questions boldly (15-16):

1. “Why does the Bible in places look a lot like the literature of Israel’s ancient neighbors? Is the Old Testament really that unique? Does it not just reflect the ancient world in which it was produced? If the Bible is the word of God, why does it fit so nicely in the ancient world?”
2. “Why do different parts of the Old Testament say different things about the same thing? It really seems as if there are contradictions, or at least large differences of opinion, in the Old Testament.”
3. “Why do the New Testament authors handle the Old Testament in such odd ways? It looks like they just take the Old Testament passages out of context.”

His thesis (as reflected in the title), is that scripture is analogous to the incarnation: fully God, fully man. We’ve tended to overemphasize the fully God bit, but we continue to uncover evidence that challenges us to consider what it means that scripture is fully human as well.

If you’ve ever dared to wonder about these things, pick up this book. It’s more than just controversy. There are questions here that will set the future of Evangelicalism in general. ( )
1 vota StephenBarkley | Jul 22, 2009 |
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How can an evangelical view of Scripture be reconciled with modern biblical scholarship? In this book Peter Enns, an expert in biblical interpretation, addresses Old Testament phenomena that challenge traditional evangelical perspectives on Scripture. He then suggests a way forward, proposing an incarnational model of biblical inspiration that takes seriously both the divine and the human aspects of Scripture. This tenth anniversary edition has an updated bibliography and includes a substantive postscript that reflects on the reception of the first edition.

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