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Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament Paperback – July 1, 2005
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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).
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Enns overstates his case at times, to be sure. By the time he gets around to voicing his more conservative views, he has lost a good part of his conservative audience. I am sure that by now he wishes he had taken a different strategy, for example fleshing out where he is conservative first, then introducing more thorny issues for serious and advanced students of the Bible. I would discuss inerrancy in two halves: how the doctrine came to be formulated, and what the Bible's own self-testimony is. Discuss areas where our understanding can be improved, showing all the while his commitment to the Bible's authority as the word of God, and not merely containing word from God hopelessly mixed in with human error. The incarnational model demands that we accept Jesus as fully human, yet in so being He is without sin. So too the Scriptures. Yes they are fully human, yet they together become one fully divine Word. There are many things that we confess God to be. We say that God is omniscient, so by definition Jesus "ought" to be omniscient. Yet He clearly says that He is not. There are things that only the Father knows.(Matthew 24:36, Mark 13: 32) This does not mean that Jesus wasn't divine. He claims authority to forgive sins, which according to Isaiah belongs to God alone ( Mark 2: 1-12 and parallel accounts; cf. Isaiah 43:25). In Isaiah 43: 11, 12 God declares, "I, I am Yahweh, and there is no Savior but Me. I alone declared, saved and proclaimed, and not some foreign god among you. So you are my witnesses." Yet Jesus' own name, meaning "Yahweh saves", declares unequivocally both His divine nature and mission. ..."and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1: 21) If Jesus is his people's savior, then he either is God incarnate in human nature or the divine declaration in Isaiah 43: 11,12 is a lie. There can be no merely human savior.
Returning to Dr. Enns' book, when we flesh out Biblical testimony regarding the incarnation (a task that he only barely outlines, and it has unfortunate consequences for the reception this book has received), we often come up with surprising data, such as Jesus' confession that He was not omniscient, as the Father is. This data must be fully engaged into our understanding of Jesus, along with His equally clear equations of Himself with God ("I and the Father are one, "He who believes me, believes the Father". "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath", "In order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, take up your mat and walk", "Before Abraham ever was, I AM.")
It is unfortunate that Dr. Enns fails to flesh out what his incarnational model means, and having failed to construct an outline of it, quite frankly it falls apart.It fails to outline the points of comparison between scripture as human and Christ as human, scripture as divine and Christ as divine. An even deeper comparison that is overlooked is Scripture as word of God and Christ as the Word of God. Again, a systematic theologian would undertake this task better. In fact, why not collaborate with a systematic theologian and expand the book?
I found numerous logical errors and inconsistencies in the book. I fail to see, for example, why similarities with Ancient Near Eastern literature, and the fact that some ANE literature predates the Bible tells against the Bible's unique authority (something Dr. Enns appears to agree with). So I am not sure what he is implying by his comparisons. Evangelical scholars do not think of the Bible as dropping out of the sky. On the Biblical model anyway, don't we think that the human race has a common origin, and that stories close to the Fall event would have been more accurate at the beginning and gradually become distorted over time? And there would normally be preserved truths even as stories became distorted, or there would be nothing to distort. The older ANE literature could easily preserve truth that the Biblical authors later used.
Dr. Enns rightly says that the uniqueness of the Bible lies in its proclamation of the One living and true God, Yahweh, as being the creator of the world. Its uniqueness is not a private history dropped out of heaven to Israel alone, but His unique self-disclosure in and through Israel to the larger culture of which Israel was a part. Again, this is not well-developed in the book. And here is where biblical theology, Dr. Enns' specialty, has made great contributions to our understanding. In fact, some of the comparisons between later Old Testament history and ANE literature in Dr. Enns' book were highly enlightening and informative. Examples that come to mind the Siloam Tunnel and Mesha inscriptions.
What does seem to be deficient in the book are comparisons and contrasts. Almost all of the argumentation is regarding similarities between the Old Testament and ANE literature. But what of the contrasts? I have a hard time believing that the major difference between the Bible and other comparable stories is solely that Yahweh is behind it all.
I happen to have worked with flood stories (I refuse the term "myths" or "legends" for the same reason Dr. Enns expresses dislike for such terms, that they are understood as "fairy tales", having little or nothing to do with fact--I prefer "foundational stories" to keep value-judgments out of the term).
Stories regarding the flood are common not only to the Bible and ANE literature, but are a worldwide phenomenon, common to every continent but Antarctica, including island chains such as Hawaii. There are many commonalities, such as that the flood is caused by a God or gods, or at times a conflict among the gods. A man is often instructed to build an ark on which a few people and various animals are delivered. Sometimes, not always the flood is seen as divine wrath on humankind--one exception is where the flood is seen as a result of a war among the gods. Many times the ark is said to settle on the peak of a tall mountain, sometimes named in flood stories as a locally known peak among the native people who preserve the story. The dimensions of the ark vary widely. It can range from a large raft to dimensions that far exceed those reported in the Bible.
But there are also contrasts. One strange example has the god urinating on the earth, thus causing the flood.
The Bible account has some remarkable and unique features. To be sure, that it is attributed to one God, as opposed to many or one among many gods, is outstanding, but that is not all. An outstanding feature is that in places it reads like a ship captain's log, reporting the rise and egress of the flood waters over many days. This is rare if not unique among flood stories. It records both immense amounts of rain and geological upheaval as sources for the waters that flooded the earth. This is not so in all flood stories, and surprisingly, it is a common misconception even today that the flood was due entirely to rain.
To say the least, I am skeptical that that the only meaningful contrast between ANE literature and the Bible is that Yahweh is the protagonist of the Bible.
Even with my objections, I commend Dr. Enns for his efforts. I would like to see an expanded edition of the work that lays out the incarnational
model more clearly, laying out more precisely in what sense he sees the human and divine elements played out in Scripture.
If I were him, I would be careful about loud calls for doctrinal "reform", especially if you are not very clear as to what the reform will entail. It is a good effort in calling us to think. However I am not sure that that he is in any sense clear as to where we should go. That being said,calls to overhaul long-standing theology and doctrine sound too much like he is going in directions the church has gone before, and suffered for it.
I hope Dr. Enns will take this as a friendly, not hostile review of his work. He undertakes a huge task. Quite honestly, a collaborative effort
between Old Testament scholarship, New Testament scholarship, systematic theology and Christians with a good grasp of philosophical logic would be necessary to cover an issue this important.
I would like to see laid out before the reader both good and bad attempts at harmonization in Old Testament and New Testament scholarship.
I would like to see laid out before the reader both similarities and contrasts between the Old Testament and Ancient Near East literature, and if there is literature beyond the Ancient Near East (as is certainly the case with the Great Flood narratives), comparisons and contrasts made there as well. To do comparison without contrast gives the reader an unbalanced picture of the full reality of the situation. To emphasize contrasts without due attention to similarities will also give the reader an unbalanced picture. Even including a companion volume that would give advanced students access to the documents so that they can make their own comparisons would be worth the effort. I realize that I suggest an enormous work. But the issue virtually demands it.
I felt a little short-changed by the end of the book. I don't believe that the goal was accomplished. I felt that I had good answers to many, if not all of his concerns. I am sure that many conservative scholars who have read this work feel the same way. Yet no such direct engagement with this scholarship is made in the book as far as I can see, and, frankly, I don't see how that is possible. At least this began to happen with subsequent reviews and replies, but I fear that the communication process has since deteriorated, and for that I am deeply grieved. The issue deserves better on all sides.
Dr. Enns would benefit much, were he to consult a good analytical philosopher, like Alvin Plantinga, not to make his book impossibly technical, but to clear away confusion, and to make his points more clear.to both everyday and more advanced readers.
Ludwig Wittgenstein said it well. "What cannot be stated clearly must be passed over in silence." This little volume is far too short to state clearly what needs to be said on this issue..
Traditionally, inerrancy has entailed acknowledging human agency, but denying that such agency introduces error. Yet what of discrepancies which seem to say otherwise? Are they errors? Are they part of the human element of Scripture that must be accepted? Enns appears to me to be deficient in delineating what inerrancy is, and what inerrancy isn't. Unfortunately, Dr. Enns is a biblical theologian, whereas this has traditionally been the domain of systematic theology. That is precisely where Dr. Enns gets himself into trouble with his more conservative peers; he steps out from his own domain into territory that is not his own. Granted, systematic theologians need to deal with the hard and messy data that biblical theologians often uncover, but it cuts the other way as well; how does all this fit together with the Bible's self-testimony that it IS the word of God.
And sadly today, too many theologians of all stripes are deficient in their training in logic, to spot, sift through, and clear up confusion. The result is too often sloganeering in place of careful, reasoned dialogue, where good reasoning and progress in the truth prevail.
For those interested in hermeneutics Enns also gives incredible insight into how the New Testament authors were influenced by Second Temple interpretive traditions when quoting the Old Testament (such as when Jude quotes the book of Enoch). It is a fascinating read to say the least, and extremely insightful. And Peter Enns's proposition that the incarnation of Jesus is analogous to the human and divine particularity of the Bible is a compelling one. This book may be a challenge to some, but Peter Enns writes with genuine humility and a heart that seeks intellectual honesty for the honor and glory of God. I highly recommend this book.
I first read Inspiration and Incarnation a year and a half ago. By that point in time, I had been fairly interested in biblical theology for about a year. I had read the work of N.T. Wright that reads the New Testament throught the lens of exile and exodus. According to Wright, the apostles saw the return from exile as having been accomplished in the resurrection of Jesus. Part of my project was to return to the Old Testament and see how this theme works within the Old Testament. Is it possible to find Jesus in the Old Testament if one understands that one should look for the resurrection in passages dealing with the exile? My tentative answer to that question when I read Inspiration and Incarnation was a big “yes.”
Nevertheless, I wasn't committed to biblical inerrancy. My understanding was along the lines of limited inerrancy. The Bible is trustworthy in its overall structure, but its individual parts may contain some historical errors or exaggerations. In the year and a half since reading Inspiration and Incarnation, I've shifted radically in a conservative direction. Interestingly, my shift in this direction has taken place while immersed in what Enns calls the “phenomena of Scripture.” Enns suggests that immersion in the phenomena of Scripture necessarily means an abandonment of biblical inerrancy. In this review, I want to sketch out some reasons why I disagree.
Foundational to Enns' argumentation is his portrait of the world of the ancient Near East. In the first chapter, Enns lists four similarities that the Near Eastern world shares with the biblical worldview, noting that these Near Eastern traditions precede the Bible. He lists (1) temples, priests, and sacrifice, (2) the institution of prophecy, (3) the institution of kingship, and (4) Israel's legal code. My criticism of Enns here is foundational for my critique of the rest of the book. Enns' argument that the Near Eastern worldview precedes the biblical worldview is in itself based on the assumption that Genesis 1-11 is not historical. According to Genesis 4, it was Seth who first began to gather people to communal worship of Yahweh. According to Genesis 6-9, Noah was called as a prophet, and God granted kingship to Noah. If God granted kingship to Noah, it's reasonable to assume that Noah and his sons developed legal codes- codes that may well be the root of later ancient Near Eastern legal codes.
Such solutions might seem ad hoc. However, there is important anthropological data that supports this explanation over and against Enns' explanation that God condescended to a Near Eastern worldview. Virtually everything Enns lists about the ancient Near East is likewise true about cultures across the world, cultures that had no contact with the world of the Near East or the biblical writings. For example, Mesoamerican civilizations were governed by kings- kings who developed laws, built temples, and oversaw sacrificial worship led by priests. We ought to go further than this and note that many cultures across the world actually appeared to worship the singular God revealed in Scripture. For example, there are innumerable reports by the early colonists that the Algonquin tribes worshiped the “Great Spirit”, a god who is transcendent, self-existent, and concerned with the moral order of the world. Indeed, such monotheism among geographically disparate people groups is almost always correlated with an adherence to a biblical standard of morality- the people who worshiped the Great Spirit reported that He enjoined them to love one another, adhere to a strict sexual morality, and limit themselves to monogamy. For more on this subject, I highly recommend Winfried Corduan's “In the Beginning God.”
In other words, Enns' arguments concerning Near Eastern context depend upon limiting oneself to the literature of the ancient Near East. If one limits oneself to such literature, then one will acquire the impression that God has assumed an ancient Near Eastern worldview in order to reveal Himself. If one expands ones focus to the ancient literature of peoples who had no contact with the Near East or biblical revelation, one will acquire an entirely different impression, namely, that the revelation of God precedes biblical revelation, and that it is primeval revelation that shapes the worldview of the ancient Near East, often in corrupt form.
These problems become acute in chapter two, where Enns looks at specific examples of Near Eastern parallels with the biblical literature. Enns first calls attention to the similarity of Genesis 1 with ancient Near Eastern creation stories, looking particularly at the Enuma Elish. He notes that they are similar in four senses. First, the sequence of creative activities are the same. Second, darkness precedes the creative acts. Third, the primeval waters are divided. Finally, light exists before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. Unfortunately, Enns never looks outside the Near East to see whether there are creation stories outside the world of the Bible that share these similarities. This is important, because such data serves as an essential “control” on Enns' argument. If Enns is correct that God was condescending to the worldview of the Near East, then similarities with the Bible should be uniquely concentrated in the Near East. If, however, Genesis 1-11 is history and God revealed Himself to the peoples of the ancient world, then similarities with the Bible should be distributed globally. It is the latter, not the former, that is correct.
Consider as one example the Popol Vuh, a Mesoamerican creation story recorded very soon after the conquistadors landed in Western hemisphere, but before missionary activity had a significant influence on the culture of ancient America. The Popol Vuh begins when only the sky and the sea existed. Then, the “Heart of Heaven” forms dry land, followed by trees, followed by animals, and culminating with an attempt to create man out of mud (which initially fails). In many ways, this creation story is actually more similar to the biblical story than is the Enuma Elish. Or consider that the Yuki creation story records that the monotheistic God “spoke a word, and the Earth appeared. One Chinese creation story, the Huainanzi, begins like this: “Of old, in the time before there was Heaven and Earth: There were only images and no forms. All was obscure and dark, vague and unclear, shapeless and formless, and no one knows its gateway”
In other words, every similarity that Enns cites between Genesis 1 and the Enuma Elish can also be found in creation stories outside the ancient Near East. Because Enns does not include this important “control” on his data, readers are left with the impression that such similarities are actually concentrated in the Near East. The problem is even worse when Enns considers the flood stories of the ancient Near East. Enns calls attention to two ancient Near Eastern flood myths, the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Atrahasis Epic. The parallels between the biblical flood story and these flood myths of the ancient Near East are indeed striking, and if such parallels were limited to the Near East, we would be justified in arguing that the biblical authors picked up such a story and used it for the purpose of theological polemic.
It is simply inexcusable that modern biblical scholars have entirely overlooked the presence of flood myths in other cultures, myths which are well known to anthropologists. The Gilgamesh Epic records Utnapishtim building a boat to survive a global flood and sending out birds at the end of the flood. Well and good. But so do a number of Native American flood myths. I will limit myself to only three, compiled by the anticreationist website (no confirmation bias there!) TalkOrigins:
From the Tamanaque of Orinoco:
In the time of the great flood, "the Age of Water," the sea broke against the Encamarada mountain chain, and people were forced into canoes. One man and one woman were saved on the high mountain called Tamanacu, on the banks of the Asiveru. After the flood, as they descended the mountain grieving the destruction of mankind, they heard a voice telling them to throw the fruits of the Mauritia palm over their heads behind them. People sprung from the kernels of these fruits, men from those thrown by the man, and women from those thrown by the woman.
From the Skokomish of Washington:
The Great Spirit, angry with the wickedness of people and animals, decided to rid the earth of all but the good animals, one good man, and his family. At the Great Spirit's direction, the man shot an arrow into a cloud, then another arrow into that arrow, and so on, making a rope of arrows from the cloud to the ground. The good animals and people climbed up. Bad animals and snakes started to climb up, but the man broke off the rope. Then the Great Spirit caused many days of rain, flooding up to the snow line of Takhoma (Mount Ranier). After all the bad people and animals were drowned, the Great Spirit stopped the rain, the waters slowly dropped, and the good people and animals climbed down. To this day there are no snakes on Takhoma.
Finally, the Yurok of Northern California:
The sky fell and hit the water, causing high breakers that flooded all the land. That is why one can find shells and redwood logs on the highest ridges. Two women and two men jumped into a boat when they saw the water coming, and they were the only people saved. Sky-Owner gave them a song, and many days later the water fell when they sang it. Sky-Owner sent a rainbow to tell them the water would never cover the world again.
Mainstream anthropologists' explanations for such stories are almost comical. The suggestion that they came from missionaries fails because of the sheer volume of such flood myths: there are literally thousands. Where are the thousands of myths corresponding to other popular biblical stories, such as the exodus from Egypt? Second, some of the myths are different in such bizarre ways that origin from missionary activity is impossible. For example, one Native American myth records that the gods peed out the flood. Other anthropologists attempt to explain these myths because all peoples experience local floods. This might be plausible if the only similarity uniting such stories was that there was once a large flood. But the degree of similarity strongly suggests that such an explanation is wrong- most of the myths record a man being told to build a boat, gathering creatures into the boat, and landing on a high mountain afterwards. Some record that he offers a sacrifice which the gods smell (cf. Genesis 8:21-22). The widespread distribution of flood stories creates an insurmountable difficulty for Enns' argument that this is a “Near Eastern myth” which the biblical authors adopted.
Given that these major biblical stories have strong parallels not just in the Near East, but globally, we can suggest an alternative explanation for the similarities between biblical literature and the literature of the ancient Near East (and the world), as follows. The Bible is history, and all people are descended from Noah, whom God had revealed Himself to. As such, the categories of thought within which all peoples think is strongly shaped by the God who reveals Himself in the Bible. Shem, the son of Noah, developed laws based on the revelation from God that he received, and those laws influence other ancient Near Eastern lawcodes.
Such a paradigm explains everything that Enns' paradigm explains and more: it explains why temples, priests, sacrifice, creation stories, and flood myths are distributed across the world and not just in the Near East. It explains why the Bible contains such strong similarities to the religious traditions of all mankind. Enns' contention that the historicity of Genesis 1-11 is implausible in light of other Near Eastern literature is simply false. My very strong suspicion is that Enns takes the paradigm that he does not because of Near Eastern literature, but because of scientific data that suggests the world is billions of years old and that mankind is two hundred thousand years old. It is beyond the scope of this review to address such data, but I want to at the very least suggest that the score between these two views of history is much more evenly balanced when one takes anthropological data (such as that above) into account.
Enns next turns to the issue of theological diversity within the Old Testament. Some of what Enns argues in this chapter is unobjectionable. For example, it is certainly true that Chronicles emphasizes the righteous acts of the kings of Israel, while Kings tends to emphasize their wickedness. As Enns notes, the reason for this difference in emphasis is because Kings is devoted to explaining why Israel was sent into exile, while Chronicles is setting up the kings as paradigmatic for the ulimate king of Israel, the Messiah. I only wish to add here that Chronicles itself refers to the books of Samuel, Gad, and Nathan (1 Chronicles 29:29), the very authors that Jewish tradition attributes the book of Samuel to. We ought to consider Chronicles, then, not as attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of its earliest readers, but to tell Israel's story for a different purpose, while referring its readers to the book of Samuel for a more complete account.
This review is already very long, so I will not address every purported contradiction that Enns cites in the biblical text. I will limit myself to only two. First, Enns suggests that Exodus 12:8-9 and Deuteronomy 16:5-7 provides two contradictory sets of instruction for the cooking of the Passover Lamb. Exodus explicitly commands the Israelites not to boil the meal in water, while Deuteronomy uses the same word but commands the Israelites to boil it. Such a contradiction is easily solved when one recognizes that this word only means boil when it is qualified with “in water.” 2 Samuel 13:8, for example, uses the word simply to refer to cooking.
Next, Enns argues that the Old Testament reveals a strong difference with the New Testament when it refers to the existence of many gods. It is well known that the Old Testament has an idea of a “divine council” of gods surrounding Yahweh. Enns argues that God condescended to the Near Eastern worldview, first revealing himself as the greatest of many gods (even as such gods did not exist), just like parents tell their children that God is greater than the boogey man (who in fact does not exist). The problem with Enns' argument is that he assumes that “god” means the same thing that modern people take it to mean. Michael Heiser, an Old Testament scholar with a focus on the divine council, argues that “god” simply means “spiritual being.” For example, 1 Samuel 28:13 refers to the ghost of the Prophet Samuel as a “god.” Why? Because he is a spiritual being. Indeed, the Qumran scrolls (which nobody doubts are monotheistic) freely refer to many gods. Enns argues elsewhere that this proposal fails because it is absurd to take Psalms praising the “God of gods” as references to the “God of demons”, but Enns misses the point. Other “gods” are not simply demons (though they include demons, cf. 1 Corinthians 8:5-6), but refer to all spiritual beings: angels, demons, ghosts, and Yahweh Himself. The question is whether Yahweh is a unique “type” of god within the divine council.
Enns next turns his attention to the interpretation of the Old Testament within the New Testament. It is here that my own identity as an Orthodox Christian becomes most relevant. Orthodox Christians are to take the Old Testament as historical. Yet, the Holy Fathers recognized that the Old Testament, while historical, is much more than history- our hermeneutic might best be called the “symbolic-typological method.” Earlier events in Israel's history foreshadow later events in Israel's history, and ultimately, in the history of the Messiah. Furthermore, as everything in creation reveals something about (symbolizes) God, the Scriptural record of creation history will always have symbolic dimensions. As one becomes familiar with the symbolic and typological patterns of Scripture, the interpretive method of the New Testament authors will begin to make more sense.
Enns argues that the New Testament hermeneutic must be understood against the background of Second Temple Judaism. I don't believe one should (as some have) locate Enns' error here. Rather, Enns' error is in how he understands (following scholars such as Richard Longenecker) the hermeneutic of Second Temple Jews. For example, Enns notes that there was a tradition within Second Temple Judaism that the Rock which gave Israel water (cf. Exodus 17) followed Israel in the Wilderness. He argues that Paul draws on this tradition in 1 Corinthians 10 when he identifies Christ as the “rock which followed Israel.” Peter Leithart, in his review of Inspiration and Incarnation, points out the flaw in this argument: it fails to ask whether there was a hermeneutical logic in Second Temple Judaism. There is indeed: Exodus 17 says that Yahweh “covered over” the rock and gave Israel water. It is Yahweh, the Glory-Cloud, which followed Israel in the Wilderness. This brings Paul's exegesis into sharp focus- “that rock was Christ.” Christ, the incarnate Lord of Glory, was struck and gave forth water.
This problem is pervasive in Enns' reading of the New Testament. For example, he cites Galatians 3:19, which says that the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai through angels, and notes that the book of Exodus nowhere records this. Enns argues instead that Paul is drawing on a Jewish tradition which records the presence of angels at Mt. Sinai. But again, Enns stops short of asking the important question- why did Second Temple Jews have this tradition? Were they merely reading the text arbitrarily? I don't think so. Passages like Isaiah 6 and Daniel 7 make clear that in the midst of the Glory-Cloud, which descended on Sinai, there are billions of angels swirling around the enthroned Lord of Glory. Indeed, Exodus 14 identifies the Lord in the center of the cloud as the “Angel of Yahweh” whom Christians have historically identified as the preincarnate Christ. The book of Revelation picks up on this when it records twenty-four angelic elders surrounding the throne of God (Revelation 4-5). Throughout the book, each of these angels performs one action, and walks off stage. They are led by a character called “Another Angel” who is described in terms reminiscent of Old Testament theophanies. This “Another Angel” is Christ, acting as the Angel of Yahweh. At the end of the book (Revelation 20) the angelic council is replaced by men, headed by Christ as the Last Adam. The Old Covenant was an age of angels, while the New Covenant is an age of man. Because of this, Deuteronomy 33:2 says that when the Lord came at Sinai, "ten thousands of his holy ones" or angels, came with Him. Interestingly, the text declares that Moses "became king in Jeshurun" when he gave the law, but in 33:7, Moses invites the Lord to bring Judah "into his people." This draws on innertextuality throughout the Pentateuch so that the seed promise is focused down to the king from the line of Judah. In short, the blessing of Abraham is given to Isaac, then Jacob, then quoted in Numbers 24 with reference to the king who will come "in the latter days." What Deuteronomy 33 suggests is that ultimately, the seed from the line of Judah will assume kingship, replacing that of Moses. This is a more likely source for what Paul says in Galatians 3: the law was given through angels, until the seed should come to whom the promise belongs. Paul isn't drawing haphazardly from floating Jewish traditions, but reading Deuteronomy 33 with sensitivity to the literary strategy of the Pentateuch.
Enns is surely right to argue that “It is foolish to think we can get our doctrine from the apostles without also employing their hermeneutic.” The problem is that Enns only sets up two options: a historical-grammatical interpretation or an arbitrarily interpretation which reads Christ into passages where He is not actually there. I follow the interpretation of the Orthodox Fathers, the symbolic-typological interpretation. While the patterns of exegesis practiced by the apostles are foreign to modern Western people, the more I have studied the Bible, the more I have realized that there is a definite method to their madness.
Inspiration and Incarnation is a well-written book. Enns is right to call attention to the failure of evangelicals to properly wrestle with the Bible as it is. Yet, the solutions that Enns provides are ultimately insufficient. He stacks the deck by failing to note that biblical parallels with ancient Near Eastern literature are also found in ancient Chinese and American literature. He ultimately fails to grapple with the nature of the hermeneutic of Second Temple Jews. It is because of these critical failures that I must identify the book as a whole as unsuccessful in promoting its thesis.
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