Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament” as Want to Read:
Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,129 ratings  ·  127 reviews
In this accessible study, Peter Enns offers an evangelical affirmation of biblical authority that considers questions raised by the nature of the Old Testament text.
Enns looks at three questions raised by biblical scholars that seem to threaten traditional views of Scripture. First, he considers ancient Near Eastern literature that is similar to the Bible. Second, he look
Paperback, 197 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Baker Academic
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Inspiration and Incarnation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Inspiration and Incarnation

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,129 ratings  ·  127 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament
Adam Ross
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
To my great surprise, I found myself liking this book very much. Peter Enns was the erstwhile Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary East before he was suspended for the views espoused in this book. He later left the seminary, though in good standing, and the controversy stirred up by the book seems to have settled down, though not resolved itself.

I appreciated Enns' forthrightness, his courage to examine new ideas, his humility in insisting this book is not the last word on the subj
Douglas Wilson
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Raised some good questions, and did a lousy job answering them.
Nov 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the nature of scripture and inspiration
Recommended to Jonathan by: Christianity Today
Shelves: theology
This book intrigued me because I have long felt that conservative Christians (like me) have overemphasized the divine origin of Scripture over the human element. The true nature of inspiration will probably always be somewhat of a mystery to me, which is why the word “incarnation” resonates with me. Although I am not a trained theologian, I have often used that term to describe the word of God.

Old Testament scholar Peter Enns aims to synthesize some of the issues of Biblical scholarship with an
John Martindale
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing

I appreciated this book, its tone and approach. It seemed the main point made was the one made by C.S Lewis in the chapter Scripture from his Reflection on the Psalms. The point being that if we are going to assume the bible is the word of God, and place our faith that somehow the O.T points to and lays the groundwork for Christ, then we should honor and accept it as it is. Instead evangelicals decide what God should have given us, and with this presupposition force the bible to be and do what i
Sam Fredrickson
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most impactful and helpful books I’ve read. What Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ was to Christian life and belief, Enns’ ‘Inspiration and Incarnation’ is to biblical study. Both are Articles of Faith in their own right and limitlessly valuable to those who will approach them. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Samuel Bierig
May 17, 2021 rated it did not like it
This was much less potent than I anticipated it being. I came into it thinking it'd be a kind of take down of inerrancy and a take no prisoner approach, but instead it was just some rewarmed microwaved arguments that are settled by a converted mind applied + a good hermeneutics class. He offered no constructive alternative, often presented things as major issues that in reality need little more than a hermeneutic of trust + converted heart + focused thinking. There really wasn't a "therefore" th ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I should have paid attention to the subtitle. Had I done so, I would probably not have been so disappointed by this book. In seeing just Inspiration and Incarnation, I assumed the book would defend those concepts. Needless to say, I was disappointed when the author announced in the introduction that he had no intention of defending either, but was simply assuming them. The idea that a book on this topic would not be apologetical in nature surprised me. So I was left to listen in on a discussion ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an excellent challenge to the evangelical approach of engaging with the Old Testament. Though Enns does take care to deliver the material in a kind-spirited and generous manner, this doesn’t detract from the serious nature of the issues that he highlights. Key among these is the dishonest practice of defending evangelical positions for their own sake (which increasingly requires ignoring a considerable amount of evidence).

As an alternative, Enns establishes his “Incarnational analo
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great introduction to a conversation that needs greater pursuit in the Evangelical community. Enns does a very good job of addressing the "human side" of Scripture: It's connections to and similarities with Ancient Near Eastern Literature; It's theological diversity; and the Apostolic hermeneutic that has so often vexed modern Christians. Rather than pretend these "problems" don't exist, Enns suggests that they are things to be embraced as part of the incarnational nature of Scripture, which i ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is the book that eventually caused Enns to resign from Westminster Theological Seminary. It's a frustrating book because of the positions that he takes and doesn't take. He comes across smug sometimes and treats many of his fellow evangelicals like outdated old fogies in the theological world. There's some good stuff and some helpful looks at ANE documents and NT use of the OT, but there are plenty of books that do those things better and with more faithfulness to Scripture. ...more
Jul 24, 2015 marked it as to-read
I probably will never read this book, but I wanted to leave this review (by William Evans) here. ...more
Daniel Crouch
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
For an even more thorough summary, check out this series:

Peter Enns’s 2005 book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament is an ambitious effort to bring the insights of critical studies to bear on the evangelical understanding of biblical inspiration. Enns, a professor of Old Testament in the Reformed tradition, aims his work at younger students of religion, though it is undoubtedly relevant for a wider spectrum of po
Dave Lester
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Author Peter Enns has had an interesting relationship with the Evangelical church. One of the hosts of the podcast, "The Bible for Normal People", he no longer attends an Evangelical church but still remains engaged in issues impacting this specific niche of Christianity. "Inspiration and Incarnation" was first published in 2005 when Enns was (I believe) still involved personally with Evangelical Christianity and in this work, he highlights a very important problem. How do Evangelicals approach ...more
Jacob Aitken
EDIT: I think Enns's work also suffers in one more regard. It was fashionable 70 years ago to play off the supposed parallels between Israelite culture (and its use of Leviathan) with Babylonian culture (and its use of Tiamat). The implication was that the Hebrews stole this from the Babylonians. Recent scholarship has suggested otherwise. The discovery of Ugaritic texts and its own usage of Ba'al/Leviathan suggests that the Hebrews didn't borrow from Babylon after all. Enns completely misses th ...more
Reed Fagan
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What's so wonderful about Enns is that he shows how so many of us Christians, perhaps the majority, begin our Bible reading with doctrine, letting it, and thus in essence the men and tradition it has come from, tell us how we are to understand the Bible, rather than the other way around. Therefore, for many Christians the primary source is their denominational convictions and the Bible becomes, in practice, a secondary source text. Though I don't know the particulars of Enns' release from Westmi ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book that was formed earlier in Pete Enn's journey. Much of the information contained in the book has been discussed and represented (better in my opinion) in Pete's later books, though there were many ideas and concepts that were unique. If you had to pick a couple of Pete Enn's books to read, stick with How the Bible Actually Works and The Bible Tells Me So. ...more
Rebecca Ray
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While researching biblical inerrancy for a term paper that I'm working on for my systematic theology class, I kept coming across the name of this book by Peter Enns. Most of the mentions were quite negative, as all these authors had felt that they must respond to Enns book by telling him how wrong he was. . . .When other people try to warn me away, that's always something that makes me immediately go out and read the book.

I read it, and was completely surprised, in the best way, of how non-contr
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Peter Enns has stirred up something of a tempest in some evangelical circles with this book on scripture as well as a more recent book on Adam and evolution. At the same time, scholars like Mark Noll commend his work (in Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind). So, I decided to pick up this work and his one on Adam to see what the kerfuffle is all about.

I can see why some would struggle with this book. Enns asks us to set aside our conceptions of how scripture should work if it is inerrant to wor
B. P. C.
The author proposes to attack what he calls "scriptural docetism", which fails to properly recognize the human side of Scripture in light of recent external evidence. For him, both mainstream evangelicalism and skeptical biblical criticism have been failing to reconcile the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture with recent biblical scholarship. Their modern preconceptions blind them to the Scripture's own dynamic. His solution is what he calls "incarnational analogy", a way of saying that the Bib ...more
Connor Mooneyhan
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In Inspiration and Incarnation, Enns fleshes out his model of Scripture which he calls the "incarnational analogy" or the "incarnational parallel", wherein he draws a parallel between the Word made flesh, Jesus, and the Word in written form, the Bible, which bears witness to God while being both divine and human. Enns argues that the Bible also having noticably human qualities is not to its detriment. Quite the contrary, it is to the Bible's credit that God chose to reveal himself through such a ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to read this book. I agree with the general premise – the usefulness of an Incarnational Model of biblical interpretation – but I was honestly a bit bored halfway through. I think it was probably necessary for Enns to give many examples of Old Testament theological diversity, or New Testament interpretation of the OT, but after awhile I was like I GET THE POINT! Perhaps if I had been more wedded to a traditional evangelical understanding of Scripture this book would have b ...more
Derek DeMars
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's not much to say about this controversial book that hasn't already been said. After FINALLY getting around to it, and having already read some of Enns' other works, I have to say I was much more impressed with this book than his other works. It had a much more balanced and irenic tone, and rested on better (but still not watertight) academic arguments, than his less academic works like The Bible Tells Me So.

Overall, I really like the main thesis. Enns' primary contention -- that the incar
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to the problem of reconciling the Old & New Testaments. A must-read for those of us who have that nagging sense that somethings not right, and yet have been burdened by the historical-grammatical interpretation of the Old Testament. The section on Apostolic Hermeneutics alone is worth the price of admission. If these words sound too complicated for you, just read the book; its an easier read than it sounds :)
Nicholas Quient
An enjoyable intro. Somewhat perturbed by the poor reviews (Helm) and flack. Strikes me an a necessary book for those willing to explore.
Timothy Sikes
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Enns makes a case for an "Incarnational" reading of scripture: as Christ is both fully human and fully divine, so Scripture is also fully human and fully divine. Running with this analogy, Enns takes this analogy and applies it to 1) the Old Testament in the context of its surrounding culture, 2) what we are to do with the New Testament's use of the Old Testament and 3) What we are to do with the Bible as a whole.

Through my education both through school and through various teachers and churches,
Paul Abernathy
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
“We do not honor the Lord nor do we uphold the gospel by playing make-believe.”

There is a lot packed into this short book. It advocates a way of looking at the Bible that is new and different (and slightly unsettling) for most evangelical Christians. It seems to me that people either love it or hate it.

The idea is this: just as Jesus was both God and man, in a similar way the Bible is both divinely inspired and also very human. God speaks to people in ways they can understand even if that means
Steve Irby
Jul 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Quarantine-Book #33:

I just finished "Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament," by Pete Enns.

This seems to be another pewward [my word: written for or in the direction of the (I hate the word) "laity"] directed book. Enns here seeks to define a Doctrine of scripture which maintains historical evangelical affirmations: scripture is ultimately from God and a gift to the Church.

Enns begins by showing an incarnational analogy: just as Jesus is fully God and fu
David Redden
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a surprisingly helpful synthesis that lays out potential ways of thinking through and moving past contemporary issues relating to the Old Testament, namely:

1) Its historical accuracy (the seemingly irreconcilable differences between the geological and biological record on one hand, and the Old Testament accounts of the creation and the Garden of Eden on the other, is the first an most obvious problem);
2) Its internal integrity (i.e., how do we account for the fact that different parts of
Good questions asked and a good reason for asking them. The book is written at the popular level, which leaves his overall analysis something to be desired. At times he poses straw-man arguments or vague ones that I wish he would be more specific about. He doesn't present counter-arguments to his own. He seems to only present those that are easiest to debunk.

His conclusions do not always follow either. There are some logical leaps. For example, how do we go from the fact that the ten commandment
Jonathan Hatt
Jun 02, 2018 rated it liked it (G.K. Beale’s review)

Enns brings up many helpful concerns with Christians’ (particularly Evangelical) use of the OT. Although I was more critical of certain chapters (chapters 2,3), I did find the book overall to be helpful. I found myself sympathetic with his distinction of Christocentric vs. Christotelic hermeneutic and the NT’s approach to Second Temple hermeneutic (chapter 4).

I do think that Enns was overly critical of the typical Evangelical approach
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation
  • Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters
  • Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
  • Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today
  • The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
  • What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything
  • Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
  • Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
  • The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith
  • Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
  • Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope
  • A Tale of Three Kings
  • Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
  • Who Was Jesus?
  • The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
See similar books…
Peter Enns is Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania. 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 Inspiration and Incarnation, The Evo ...more

News & Interviews

While all Goodreads members love books (or so we assume, otherwise this would be a weird way to spend your time!), there's a dedicated subset...
139 likes · 13 comments
“Ours is a historical faith, and to uproot the Bible from its historical contexts is self-contradictory.” 7 likes
“It is wholly incomprehensible to think that thousands of years ago God would have felt constrained to speak in a way that would be meaningful only to Westerners several thousand years later. To do so borders on modern, Western arrogance.” 2 likes
More quotes…