WTS Prof. Enns calls 1st chapters in Genesis inspired myth

Status
Not open for further replies.

ReadBavinck

Puritan Board Freshman
Check out this troubling review of WTS (East) Prof. Peter Enns' book: Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Reviewed by Brenton Ferry on the OPC website.

I understand that more in-depth and similar reviews are to come out soon.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Wow!

http://www.opc.org/review.html?review_id=40

The book concludes with a plea for temperate discussion, apart from "judgmental suspicion" and "polarization and power plays." Enns anticipates being vilified, writing, "The problem is that true Christians erect a wall of hostility between them, and churches, denominations, and schools split" (p. 172).


This plea cannot smooth over the troubling fact that Enns writes beyond the boundaries of the Reformed tradition as exemplified by chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession. When he says the Bible looks human, he means it does not look divine. When he says Genesis is part myth, he means it is not true in historic, narrative particulars. When he says "conflicting theologies," he means the Bible contradicts itself. This book has the cumulative effect of lowering conservative preconceptions about the inspiration of Scripture. It seems unlikely that it will raise any liberal-leaning preconceptions. Liberals believe the Incarnation is a myth.




[Edited on 3-28-2006 by Civbert]
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
This review from probably 5-6 months ago has also promped a number of letters to New Horizons, mostly supporting Ferry, but a few defending Enns.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
:mad:

He needs to find a job at a liberal seminary (or better yet, leave altogether).
 

New wine skin

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a topic that fascinates me. Some thoughts to spur further discussion:

Before we trash Enns, we ought to read and interact with his work on a personal level (which I have not done myself). I cannot imagine a scholar of that caliber being reckless with his use of terms and ideas.

When I think of the word myth, I immediately become defensive out of nature because it´s a word that is so abused. A few years ago I did some research to better understand uses in history and found the best definition I have heard by CS Lewis. He defined myth in the sense of Anthropological stories that best captures a truth that explicit language cannot convey. Lewis argues that all stories are Myth, but only the bible is True myth. God's Word is the truth upon which all other "ectype" myth derives. The other myth may contain various levels of truth, but such truth is distorted. I may have over simplified this statement, however I wanted to distinguish the word from the modern use that suggests myth as simply a fairy tale of sorts or a word that could only have a negative connotation.

I also noticed from the description of Enns' book that he brings out the idea of Polemic theology (not using this term itself, but the idea that biblical writers borrow secular constructs and ideas to build upon them and infuse new meaning), which I learned from Dr Currid. I think the idea of polemic theology is valid from Currid's perspective when describing how Moses employees it in writing the Pentateuch and is a gate way to explore this issue responsibly as opposed to the higher criticism assumptions and methodology of the older German theologians. I plan to study Enns more to find out what perspective he takes on this.

On the surface I don´t like the implications noted by critics who reviewed Enns work, but I would be compelled to give him a fair hearing before wanting to "impeach" him from WTS.
 

ReadBavinck

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by New wine skin
. . .anthropological stories that best captures a truth that explicit language cannot convey.

I'm not sure I understand what is meant by this. Could you unpack it a little for me?
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
"He defined myth in the sense of Anthropological stories that best captures a truth that explicit language cannot convey."

Genesis 1 through 3 was treated as historically, literally true (i.e. with explicit language) by almost the entire orthodox Jewish church and orthodox Christian church until the 19th century. Augustine is one counetrexample (perhaps the only noteworthy one, as most people distance themselves from Origen these days) and his views are explainable by the translation he was using.
 

New wine skin

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by CJ_Chelpka
Originally posted by New wine skin
. . .anthropological stories that best captures a truth that explicit language cannot convey.

I'm not sure I understand what is meant by this. Could you unpack it a little for me?


First let me tell you up front I admire Lewis and consider him a master of language, rhetoric and writing. I am also a 6 day creationist for the record, since that will be a hot point in dealing with Enns in future posts.


Unpacking this topic is going to be rather delicate"¦. Tip toe tip toe"¦

Here is a quick answer"¦. By anthropological language, I mean human language. As I understand, Lewis wants us to view Myth as a form of communication (a means to and end) that enables one to convey certain truths (not all truth) in such a way that ordinary factual communication or traditional narrative cannot. In other words, myth is a facet of the complex orginism of language whether it comes from God to us by prophet or from the hand of a man. Don't think of this as an all-inclusive category of which you apply as all or none to scripture or a way to "avoid" hot interpretation issues such as genesis chapter 1 & 2. I think Lewis wants us turn from pure rationalism and empiricism and realize the power that aesthetics and stories have in tapping our imagination, thus allowing for a deeper understanding that is a handmaiden to the facts or knowledge being presented allowing for a greater impact. (Don´t confuse subjectivism with what I am trying to express. I am saying that I think our imagination can function in helping us approbate truth to a deeper level without the risk of subjectivism) (We attach our experience of the toil and method of farming to the parable of the sower to better grasp the truth Christ wants to convey). This also requires less intellectual power to process because it employs simple langauge. This I believe provides a more powerful and effective way to speak about truth in context of history in a way that is modular and thus independent of our presuppositions. In a capacity of learning, I think Lewis would agree with me and say empirical knowledge by itself is stuffy and dry... It leaves one with out any wonder of the depth truth. ( I think Lewis is reacting to the influence of the enlightenment and scientfic method).

Again I have not read this work in question and I am not interacting with his comments on Genesis. I just am commenting on the term Myth. I suspect Enns is being honest and wants to approach the topic from a different paradigm. Remember, people formulate theology usually out of a polemic approach. I.e... Augustine develops his doctrine of Sin and Grace out of his anti-pelagian writings. I think Enns sees a dysfunction in our approach to inerrancy and inspiration and wants to approach it in a different direction ( I am not saying a agree or disagree, I have not read his work). He wants to think out of the box. Now this can lead to more confusion and problems as it has with NPP (NT Wright), but it may be worth exploring.
 

rmwilliamsjr

Puritan Board Freshman
it looks like the debate is on several different places.
is anyone aware of a links list that brings all the pieces together in one place?


i have this so far from here:
topic worth blogging and following up the links
Subject: WTS Prof. Enns calls 1st chapters in Genesis inspired myth
at: http://www.puritanboard.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=17643&page=1#pid243300
http://www.opc.org/review.html?review_id=40
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/presbyterians-opc/messages/32134?threaded=1 you have to been signed in as a member of yahoo-opc
http://www.wts.edu/news/index.html#EnnsInauguration
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/02/inspiration-incarnation-2.html
book: Peter Enns, an OT prof. at Westminster in Philly, published Inspiration & Incarnation (Baker 2005)
Amazon.com: Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament: Books: Peter Enns ---i ordered it

still working on the opc-yahoo groups messages.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
By anthropological language, I mean human language....
For all practical purposes, is there really any other kind of language with which we interact?

Maybe it's just me, and I'm slow to catch on, but whenever I read (or hear) of someone attempting to invent some new construct like this, which to them seems to be an improved way of communicating (based on some perceived deficiency with language), it seems rather odd to me that they use language to attempt to do the very thing they claim can't be done, viz., communicate. I guess the latest construct "craze" is now "inspired myth." How encouraging!

Cheers,
DTK
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top