This study from Peter Enns is an important reconsideration of evangelical perspectives on scriptural authority, particularly in light of recent Old Testament scholarship. His concern is to help readers whose faith has been challenged by critical studies. He suggests that evangelicals need to move beyond a merely defensive doctrine of Scripture and develop a positive view that seriously engages contemporary critical scholarship.
Enns looks at three broad issues raised by biblical scholars that seem to threaten traditional views of Scripture:
- Parallels with ancient Near Eastern literature that call into question Scripture's uniqueness
- Theological diversity in the Old Testament that calls into question Scripture's trustworthiness
- Unusual uses of the Old Testament by New Testament writers that call into question Scripture's authority
Enns concludes by offering an incarnational model of Scripture--one that recognizes and affirms both the divine and human aspects of the Bible. This work includes a glossary of technical terms and annotated bibliographies for further reading and will make an excellent starting point for those wishing to develop an informed doctrine of Scripture.
This is a very needed and refreshing book. Enns poses some of the difficult questions conservative-thinking Christians ask today about the distinctiveness, diversity, and integrity of Scripture. He states the issues in a clear and penetrating way and then proceeds to answer them with honesty, clarity, and appropriate caution, providing helpful illustrations along the way. Scholars, pastors, students, and all informed believers will find this book to be readable, informative, and stimulating in their pursuit of God through Holy Scripture.
—Richard E. Averbeck, professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
At last, here is a constructive exploration--by an evangelical scholar with a high view of Scripture--of how to handle seriously the evidence from inside and outside the Bible that sits uncomfortably with classic formulations. Enns's combination of faith and intellectual honesty will bring much encouragement to all serious Bible students who have struggled to face up to these unavoidable issues.
—H. G. M. Williamson, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Oxford
The author has offered an honest and refreshing look at the implications of contemporary biblical scholarship for a Christian doctrine of Scripture. His 'incarnational paradigm' will likely provide an alternative way of reading the Old Testament for many Christians who no longer find traditional evangelical answers satisfying. Written for a popular audience, this book nevertheless makes a contribution to what may be considered the maturation of evangelical scholarship and at the same time is an ardent appeal to allow that maturation to continue.
—Bill T. Arnold, professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages, Asbury Theological Seminary
In this book, Enns explores three aspects of the Bible, and he sometimes raises and reflects upon uncomfortable questions. How is the Bible, especially the Old Testament, divine revelation if it shares the material and, to some extent, even the worldview of its ancient Near Eastern neighbors? What are we to make of the contradictory perspectives and views that the Bible presents? How do we respond to New Testament writers who interpret the Old Testament in ways that we would disallow in a contemporary classroom setting? In sum, how is the Bible the Bible, and how does one read it on its own terms?
—David W. Baker, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Ashland Theological Seminary
Enns has done the evangelical church a great service by emphasizing the human dimension of Scripture. He likens the incarnation of Scripture to the incarnation of Christ: both are truly divine and truly human. He argues, however, that with regard to Scripture, evangelicals tend to commit the same error as the Docetists in that they deny the real humanity of the Scripture. More specifically, he argues that the early chapters of Genesis reflect the mythic world in which they were composed, that the biblical authors represent different viewpoints according to their historical contextualization, and that the apostles reflect the hermeneutics and traditions of the Second Temple period. By basing his book on data that is backed by excellent, annotated bibliographies; by reflecting cogently on the material; and by writing in a clear style with unflinching honesty, Enns has given impetus to evangelicals to discuss the doctrines of inspiration and hermeneutics, and he offers an excellent base on which to develop their understanding of these most important doctrines in the twenty-first century.
—Bruce K. Waltke, professor emeritus of biblical studies, Regent College; professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary