Review of Peter Enn’s book, Inspiration and Incarnation

I’ve just read the first chapter in Peter Enns’ book, Inspiration and Incarnation. Rather than read the entire book and then produce a formal book review, I’ve decided on a slightly different approach. I’m going to write my review as I’m reading the book.

Certainly, this approach may have some inherent dangers: I may make a big deal out of something that gets clarified later, or I may pass over something that becomes significant later. But it has the pedagogical benefit of displaying in a hands-on way how a book gets read.

My reviews will follow a simple outline. The “Summary” section will try to encapsulate the author’s main idea in a brief paragraph or couple of paragraphs. The “Responses” section will offer some reaction to what the author has written so far.


Chapter 1 of Inspiration and Incarnation, “Getting our Bearings”


In this first chapter, Peter Enns presents his foundational concept  concerning inspiration, a concept he calls “incarnational analogy.” Drawing on the concept of Christ’s humanness and divinity, he argues by analogy that the Scriptures ought to be considered in full light of their humanness as well as their divinity. This adjustment in perspective, he argues, will inform our perspective when we encounter problems in the Old Testament.

Enns aims to examine three “problem” issues related to the Old Testament: 1. The Old Testament and other literature from the ancient world (the question of the Bible’s uniqueness) 2. Theological diversity in the Old Testament (the question of the Bible’s integrity) 3. The way in which the Old Testament authors handle the Old Testament (the questions of the Old Testament’s interpretation)

A point of clarity seems appropriate. Taking this chapter as a whole, Enns is suggesting a reorientation of the evangelical approach to inspiration, not its abandonment. The last few sentences of the chapter make this point in a helpful way. Speaking of the Bible’s humanness he notes, “when God speaks, he speaks in ways we would understand. With this in mind, we can now look at some of the evidence that has been part of the scholarly conversation for several generations, not to determine whether the Bible is God’s word, but to see more clearly how it is God’s word.” (Enns, 21, emphasis original)



For quite some time, I’ve been noting the similarities of the Old Testament to ANE literature: the similarities of Deuteronomy, for instance, to various treaty forms of the second millennia BCE. I have found  this comparison helpful for the insight it provides.

The big question I’m wrestling with is how this “incarnational analogy” will guide one’s approach to Bible difficulties. I readily admit that my approach to difficulties such as the David’s treatment of the Gibeonites in 2 Samuel 21 is more theological than anything. Would a greater appreciation of the Old Testament’s humanness inform my approach to this problem passage?

I hope to answer these questions and more as Enns fleshes out his argument first in relation to the Bible and ancient literature.


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