Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
Eschelbach, Michael, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. By Peter Enns. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005, 197 pp., $17.99 paper.
Peter Enns is worthy of admiration for wading into deep theological water to wrestle with challenges left unanswered by evangelicals. In the Westminster tradition, Enns is determined to fully engage all interested and significant parties in the debate over the inspiration of Scripture. The purpose of this book, according to the author, is "to bring an evangelical doctrine of Scripture into conversation with the implications generated by some important themes in modern biblical scholarship-particularly Old Testament scholarship-over the past 150 years" (p. 13). Inspiration and Incarnation is an attempt to benefit from the tension between liberals' acceptance of and conservatives' avoidance of difficulties posed by discoveries in ANE Studies. I use the word "benefit" because Enns contends, on the one hand, that there is no necessity of resolving perceived difficulties and, on the other hand, there is much to be gained by continuing to study and dialogue in the face of felt tensions.
The text begins with a relatively brief chapter that states the thesis and intended methodology for supporting it that follows in the text. Chapter 2 is fairly long, but justifiably so. In this chapter we are introduced to three main groups of ancient literature that impact one's view of the Bible: "Group 1-Creation and the Flood: Is Genesis Myth or History?"; "Group 2-Customs, Laws, and Proverbs: Is Revelation Unique?"; and "Group 3-Israel and Its Kings: Is Good Historiography Objective or Biased?" Chapter 3 wrestles with the perceived or potential problem of diversity in the OT. Chapter 4 considers the implications of the NT's use of the OT. Chapter 5 returns to the overarching question of how modern research (the last 150 years) impacts the place of the Bible in the lives of people today, especially of people who would maintain it is the inspired Word of God.
This book is helpful in a number of ways. First, Enns is expressly writing a text that addresses the average Christian. He provides a clear overview of the field that surrounds the basic questions, he presents references to and examples of many archaeological discoveries that people may have heard of but never seen, and he breaks down the issues into numbered outlines. …