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Products>Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, 2nd ed.

Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, 2nd ed.

ISBN: 9781441267856

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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 of 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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Key Features

  • Reconciles evangelical views of Scripture with modern biblical scholarship
  • Proposes an incarnational model of biblical inspiration
  • Includes a reflection on the reception of the first edition


  • Getting Our Bearings
  • The Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Literature
  • The Old Testament and Theological Diversity
  • The Old Testament and Its Interpretation in the New Testament
  • The Big Picture

Top Highlights

“Or to put it better, the scientific evidence showed us that the worldview of the biblical authors affected what they thought and wrote, and so the worldviews of the biblical authors must be taken into consideration in matters of biblical interpretation and formulating a doctrine of Scripture.” (Page 2)

“To put it differently, theologically speaking, God adopted Abraham as the forefather of a new people, and in doing so he also adopted the mythic categories within which Abraham—and everyone else—thought. But God did not simply leave Abraham in his mythic world. Rather, God transformed the ancient myths so that Israel’s story would come to focus on its God, the real one.” (Page 42)

“What makes Genesis different from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts is that it begins to make the point to Abraham and his seed that the God they are bound to, the God who called them into existence, is different from the gods around them.” (Page 42)

“Myth is an ancient, premodern, prescientific way of addressing questions of ultimate origins and meaning in the form of stories: Who are we? Where do we come from?” (Page 39)

“Rather than supporting a suspicious or defensive posture, Inspiration and Incarnation has helped students resolve at least some tensions between their faith in God and modern scholarship by showing that many of the ‘problems’ allegedly caused by the modern study of Scripture are really problems with faulty expectations of how the Bible ‘should’ work perpetuated within evangelicalism.” (Page xi)

Praise for the Print Edition

Some of those most dedicated to biblical studies unfortunately begin from inadequate theological presuppositions. If everyone who identifies as a conservative evangelical would read and absorb this book, the field would be better for it—and so might the church and the world.

—Christopher B. Hays, D. Wilson Moore Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

I have used this book to great effect in the classroom. Divinity students welcome Enns’ invitation to think theologically about history—how the historical ‘problems’ of the Bible may in fact be a crucial aspect of its theological witness. Of course, the incarnational analogy can be pressed too far, and there are other models on offer. But Enns’ model is traditional, illuminating, hospitable to other models, and urgently needed by Christians still caught in late modern debates about inerrancy, inspiration, and revelation. This book continues to strike a chord that resonates.

—Stephen B. Chapman, associate professor of Old Testament, Duke University

Peter Enns has done the evangelical church an immense service by challenging preconceived notions of what the Bible ought to be by insisting on building his high view of Scripture on what God intended Scripture to be. When the first edition appeared, it started important and healthy conversations about the Bible in spite of efforts to dismiss or marginalize Enns’ viewpoint. One does not have to agree with all his conclusions to understand why this book has helped and will continue to help many people to embrace Scripture as God’s Word to us. Everyone who loves the Bible ought to read this important book.

Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

  • Title: Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
  • Author: Peter Enns
  • Edition: Second Edition
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Print Publication Date: 2015
  • Logos Release Date: 2016
  • Pages: 224
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. O.T. › Evidences, authority, etc; Bible. O.T. › Criticism, interpretation, etc; Evangelicalism
  • ISBNs: 9781441267856, 9780801097485, 1441267859, 0801097487
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T01:54:54Z

Peter Enns is an American Old Testament scholar and was professor of Old Testament and biblical hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS), Philadelphia until 2008. He has a BA from Messiah College (1982), an MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary (1989), and MA (1993) and PhD (1994) from Harvard University where he also served as a Teaching Fellow from 1990–1994. Enns was the editor of the Westminster Theological Journal from 2000–2005. WTS suspended Enns following the end of the Spring semester, 2008 due to the theological issues raised in his book Inspiration and Incarnation. Enns decided to leave WTS after 14 years and did so on mutually agreeable terms with the WTS administration.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


5 ratings

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  1. Ken Gilmore

    Ken Gilmore


  2. Glenn Crouch

    Glenn Crouch


    For the last 25 or so years I have often argued that the Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) had a lot in common with the Incarnation, and that God intended it that way. So when I saw the title of this book, I had to give it a read. First, I would emphasise that this is an introductory book, aimed at getting the reader to think about the proposal(s) being made. I think the Author does make this clear - and the excellent references (with short explanations) at the end of each chapters are very welcomed. Whilst I did find the Author's arguments for the approach to Scripture quite well done (given my statement above), I did feel it would be nice to have a bit more on its strengths over other approaches. Also some of the examples the Author gives, I don't necessarily agree with the conclusion he comes to - but that doesn't necessarily invalidate the methodology. I would say this is a worthwhile read for Christians who want to take their Scriptures seriously, and acknowledge that those Scriptures do present us with some challenges.
  3. Bryan Bissett

    Bryan Bissett


  4. Matthew K.

    Matthew K.


    A powerful work that with careful reading, prayer and reflection can help one to better read the Bible without many of our modern assumptions. It's aimed at a popular audience and will prove helpful as an introduction for anyone to Old Testament Scholarship and Hermeneutics before or while they are exploring what current Biblical Scholarship reveals about the Hebrew Bible and it's world. Highly recommended.
  5. Bradley Novacek
    I read the first edition as part of my BA coursework in 2009, and my mind is still blown. The class was a seminar format, so we had many of the "healthy conversations about the Bible" mentioned in the praise for the print edition; none of them reflected well on Enns' position. In a sense, I think that Enns has created a problem where no problem really existed. The "inadequate theological presuppositions" and "preconceived notions" referred to above are simply the idea that the events recorded in the Old Testament actually happened that way. For example, there are many stories in the Ancient Near East that correlate with the biblical creation and flood stories. Enns says that this is a problem, and perhaps it is if you don't believe the Bible to be a true account of historical events. His solution is that God used this ANE literature as a basis for His own creation and flood stories. He argues that since those were the stories people were used to, God used the same elements in His accounts in order to show that He is the creator/preserver/law-giver/etc. as opposed to the gods mentioned in the other stories. What Enns fails to mention even once as a possibility is that maybe the Biblical accounts are true and literal history of the way things actually happened, and the other stories are based on the oral tradition of those events that actually took place. The effect is that all God is saying in the OT is that He is the one who did it rather than the idols, but He revealed nothing to us about how He did it because His versions are just based on myths. This rips the truth out of God's mouth and puts the biblical accounts on the same level of authority as the other stories (the idols say they did it; God says He did it). The idea that God, through the Old Testament, has revealed Himself AND His work is diametrically opposed to Enns' position. According to this book, the Old Testament is merely relative truth...more true than the other stories simply because it is God's version of the same old myths. In short, this book is dangerous. It CAN be used for teaching, but only in the right context and in conjunction with "The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism" by G.K. Beale which is a direct response to "Inspiration and Incarnation."