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Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament Paperback – July 1, 2005


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Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament + The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It + The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; annotated edition edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801027306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801027307
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) has served as an adjunct professor at Eastern University and Fuller Theological Seminary and previously taught at Westminster Theological Seminary for fourteen years. He is the author of Poetry and Wisdom, Exodus Retold, and Exodus (in the N.I.V. Application Commentary series).

More About the Author

Dr. Peter Enns (PhD, Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, St. Davids, PA. He has taught courses at several other institutions including Harvard University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Enns is a frequent contributor to journals and encyclopedias, and is the author of several books, including, The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It (HarperOne), The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously (with Marc Brettler and Daniel Harrington, Oxford University Press), Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and The Problem of the Old Testament (Baker), and The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins (Baker).

Customer Reviews

This book was a very interesting read.
F. Gwin
The incarnational analogy allows us to hear the Bible speak in its own voice, which, mysteriously, is God's voice.
Jeremy Abel
Enns' application of this concept to the creation and flood stories, I think, is particularly helpful.
David W. Opderbeck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A. Omelianchuk on April 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Enns covers three broad topics in what he calls "the problem of the Old Testament:" (1) the common features the Pentateuch shares with ancient Near Eastern creation myths and legal codes; (2) examples of theological diversity where different passages seem to say things contrary to one another; (3) the method by which New Testament writers cite and quote OT passages in their writings. Each of these is a challenge for students of the Bible because they have been taught to expect certain qualities of how the text should be. For example, we expect the Bible to be unique in its revelation of creation origins and moral laws, that the Bible's message ought to be unified and coherent, and that the NT writers did "good Bible interpretation" by citing the Old Testament in ways that represents what the OT passages were originally talking about. Because the Bible does not live up to any of these expectations many lose their confidence in it, and go directions that end up harming their faith.

Enns proposes a solution to this by utilizing what is called the "incarnational analogy" that makes the comparison between the nature of Christ and the nature of Scripture. We confess that Christ is both fully human and divine, not a fraction of one or the other. So too with the Bible it has a divine and human nature, neither of which can be eclipsed by the other. As Christ is sinless, the Bible is errorless, and as he was situated in a time and place, so were the biblical writers. For Enns, God's revelation necessarily entails accommodation to human modes of communication. Thus, we should not be surprised that the Bible behaves the way it does in that it reveals a God who uses the cultural and literary forms of the day to communicate its truth.
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144 of 157 people found the following review helpful By David W. Opderbeck on June 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Peter Enns' book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, is a vital contribution to the discussion about how Evangelicals should understand the Bible. I believe anyone with Evangelical commitments who is interested in relating the Bible to modern science and postmodern epistemology will benefit greatly from Enns' perspectives.

Enns is a Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. Westminster is a Reformed seminary with a commitment to Biblical inerrancy. Thus, Enns writes from within a Warfieldian concept of Biblical authority and a Reformed epistemological stance.

Enns tackles several difficult questions for Evangelicals who take the Bible seriously but who also recognize that "all truth is God's truth." These include the stories of creation and the flood and their similarity to ancient near eastern (ANE) myths, the sometimes imprecise, non-linear nature of Biblical history, and the way in which the New Testament Apostolic authors often took Old Testament passages out of context and infused them with new, spiritualized meanings. Contrary to many popular efforts at addressing these problems, however, Enns avoids the temptation to propose strained harmonizations that purport to explain away tough questions.

Instead, Enns' central thesis is that we must approach the Biblical text as an incarnational text. Jesus, as God incarnate, is God's ultimate self-revelation to us. The church has long recognized the error of minimizing either Jesus' human or divine natures. We are not surprised that Jesus experienced human limitations such as tiredness, thirst, pain, and even fear, because he truly was fully human, even as he was fully God.
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71 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Abel on June 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Inspired. Inerrant. Infallible. These and many other words are tossed around in discussions of the Scriptures' authority - discussions which can become quite vigorous. Battles over the Bible may be the source of more controversy among American Christians in the last century than anything else.

In "Inspiration and Incarnation," Peter Enns joins the debate, especially as it relates to the Hebrew Scriptures. He identifies three "problem" areas:

1. The Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Literature. In many ways, the Bible looks like the literature of the surrounding Gentiles. If the Bible is God's special revelation shouldn't it be unique?

2. Theological diversity in the Old Testament. Different authors seem to have different opinions on the same subject, at times even flatly contradicting each other. If God only has one opinion shouldn't the Scriptures always say the same thing?

3. New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament. The NT authors seem to quote the OT out of context, making it say something the author never intended. If we have to use the grammatical-historical method shouldn't they?

Enns shows that these issues are real; they are not simply cooked up by liberals who want to dismiss the Bible as hopelessly contradictory and irrelevant. What are we to do with this unexpected book? Enns provides an answer:

"The problems many of us feel regarding the Bible may have less to do with the Bible itself and more to do with our own preconceptions." (page 15)

The problem is not whether the Bible is God's Word; the problem is with our notion of how God's Word ought to behave. We're looking for something neat and clean. And, consistent with his modus operandi, God does something completely different.
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