Challenging Old Assumptions with Pete Enns

Challenging Old Assumptions
Conversation with: Pete Enns

In this video “Conversation,” Pete Enns addresses some assumptions about ancient readers and writers that are relevant to the way we should read Genesis in the 21st century.

To discuss this video, see the post "Challenging Old Assumptions" on Science & the Sacred.

Video Transcription

I think one of those assumptions is maybe, just sort of restating one point that I just made before, which is that they share the same understanding of the nature of, let's say, the cosmos or reality. They don't. No ancient people thought in terms of outer space. They thought of levels of heaven, perhaps, or they thought of a three-tiered universe with the heavens above the Earth and then below the Earth.

We don't share that today for good reason, and if we think that the biblical authors and God himself thinks about those things the way we do, it actually creates an impediment to having a really high view of the Bible. Ironically, a high view of the Bible is one that recognizes its lowliness in some respects. It's actually a positive thing to keep in mind, that God is not afraid to speak in the way people understand.

Maybe, another one, and this gets connected to things with Genesis and other kinds of things, and it gets a little bit more dicey, but it's something that we need to think about, is the degree to which ancient authors thought of writing history the same way we do today think about writing history.

Maybe, the best way to illustrate that is in the Gospels, moving to the New Testament. You have four stories of Jesus that don't say the same thing about the same things. They have Jesus saying things a little bit differently here than in this Gospel over there. That seems to be OK for God to do that, to portray Jesus by these four Gospels. And our pressure is not to sort of make them all say the same thing. If we were to have one Gospel, we'd have it. We have four Gospels. That's because in antiquity, that's how you get a full picture of someone, by sort of giving different portraits.