Enns' writings remind me of some of the unpublished stuff I wrote when I first started teaching college. As I read Enns, I thought of some of the notes Drury wrote after kindly reading some of it.
First, I was doing my "therapy" in those writings for PFSD, Post-Fundamentalist Stress Disorder. PFSD occurs when, after fighting to the death in the fundamentalist infantry, you find out that you're not actually fighting for God but for a peculiar twentieth century cultural phenomenon. Like Paul, you realize you were a "zealot without knowledge." You feel betrayed. You feel stupid. You feel angry. Not that Enns gives off much of this vibe...
But as part of the therapy, you often "shell" your imaginary reader with far more examples than are necessary--and of course the deconstructive examples are pervasive, which of course contributes to the sense of absolute stupidity on your part. I thought of Drury when I read this sentence in Enns, "It may seem that these examples have been drawn out further than they need to be" (131). Drury has written notes like that to me--I got the point three pages ago... :-)
The way that the New Testament interprets the OT provides one of the greatest bits of "naughty data," if not the greatest, in the Copernican Revolution that is currently underfoot in evangelical hermeneutics. Evangelical hermeneutics, as an extension of Protestant hermeneutics, has insisted that the Bible alone is the authority over the Christian. As hermeneutical developments proceeded to understand original meaning more clearly, it became the "original meaning alone" is authoritative over a Christian.
But what if we were to find that, as it turns out, the New Testament itself does not interpret the OT in terms of its original meaning. Does this fact not deconstruct the entire hermeneutic? Does it not imply a controlling factor in interpretation beyond the text itself?
The Ptolemaic scientists of evangelicalism have not missed the potential threat to "normal science," to their paradigm. They have launched a coping strategy, called Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old. The goal is to find as many connections as possible between the New Testament use of the Old Testament and anything that might smack of attention to original context.
But alas, this is supposed to be a review of Enns. Let me try to summarize him.
1. The NT reads the OT in a "Christotelic" and "ecclesiotelic" fashion. That is to say, they read it knowing that Christ is somehow the goal toward which the Old Testament story is heading (154). Enns does not mean that they see Christ in every OT passage. The "ecclesiotelic" way of reading is a way that sees it leading to the people of God as understood in the NT.
2. In other words, and perhaps Enns spends too much of his time showing this--the NT by and large is unconcerned to read the OT in context, indeed sometimes felt free to change the wording in striking ways. Some of his examples include Matthew 2:15's interpretation of Hosea 11:1 (one I've mentioned here often), 2 Corinthians 6:2's use of Isaiah 49:8, Galatians 3:16 and the seed of Abraham, Paul's editing of Isaiah 59:20 in Romans 11:26-27, Hebrews 3:7-11 and Psalm 95:9-10.
3. Enns shows that the NT in such exegetical techniques is doing things similar to the way other texts like the book of Wisdom, Jubilees, or the pesher commentaries at Qumran interpreted the OT. The NT is in the flow of such interpretive traditions, as we see in 2 Timothy's comments on Jannes and Jambres, 2 Peter 2:5's comments on Noah preaching, Jude 9's mention of Michael arguing with Satan over Moses' body, Jude 14-15 quoting 1 Enoch 1.9, Acts 7's mention of Moses' Egyptian education, the idea that angels delivered the Law to Moses, or 1 Cor. 10's idea of a rock following Moses in the desert.
4. Biblical interpretation is a community activity.
So what does he want us to take away from this book? Basically, the message of the Bible is incarnated and thus multidimensional. Secondly, the Bible sets trajectories, not rules, because there is theological diversity present and dialog. Finally, "the primary purpose of Scripture is for the church to eat and drink its contents in order to understand better who God is, what he has done, and what it means to be his people, redeemed in the crucified and risen Son" (170). Scripture is "a means of grace for the church." He appeals to his audience (and perhaps at the time to Westminster Theological Seminary) to listen to the text rather than to shove it in their preconceived categories.
I suspect if we are left at the end of the day wondering what this looks like, it will not surprise us of a Reformed thinker (I'm assuming Enns is Reformed). Part of the Reformed ethos, whether it be Barth or Jamie Smith or William Placher, is to leave it up to God to make the right understanding happen. How do we as a community come to a right understanding of the meaning of Scripture? God will take care of it. Am I wrong?
I would extend this thought in a direction Enns doesn't take it. Where does this trajectory lead? Does it not lead to the consensus of Christendom?