RE: [asa] Enns is officially leaving WTS: joint statement released (interpretive principles for ASA)

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Jul 25 2008 - 12:28:04 EDT

RE: George's response to "As a conversation starter, would you suggest
one or two "theological" interpretative principles that might be useful
for ASA concerns?"




What about advice for using MODERN science to interpret Scripture. For
example, Scripture talks as if the Earth is flat and the universe is
geocentric, which no one interprets literally anymore. Likewise, modern
history and science can be used to interpret "Adam as a real historical
person and made literally and directly from the dust of the Earth" as
ancient (untrue) history and science? That would sound like a major
interpretive principle that would dramatically affect theology.



From: [] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:46 PM
To: Jack Haas; ASA list
Subject: Re: [asa] Enns is officially leaving WTS: joint statement


1st, the center of scripture - "what it's all about" - is Christ. (Of
course there are naive ways as well as more adequate ones of
understanding this.) In particular, the OT is to be read in terms of
the NT & the way NT writers understand OT passages has to be taken


2d, the canonical setting of a text - within particular books,
testaments & the whole Bible - has to be considered. This involves more
than the familiar (& correct) principle that context must be taken into
account. E.g., it's the common understanding of critical scholars that
there are 2 different creation accounts in Genesis, written by different
authors perhaps 500 years apart. But they now have a certain
relationship within the Book of Genesis so that they are canonically
related & not simply separate texts. Furthermore, even though it seems
very likely that Moses didn't write them, at least in their present
form, the fact that they are part of what the tradition has understood
to be the Mosaic corpus has canonical significance.


3d, books within the canon are more authoritative, & have a different
kind of authority, than contemporary writings of similar types. This of
course is obvious for traditional Christians - the Bible is unique. It
can't be taken for granted today, for some biblical scholars deny that
the fact that some writings are within the historic canon has more than
historical significance. & a perhaps subtle distinction has to be
stated. One of the things that makes conservatives suspicious of Enns
is the way he draws parallels between extra-biblical texts and parts of
scripture, but in doing so he is not suggsting that those other texts
have the authority of, e.g., Genesis. That's to be contrasted with
something like the approach of the Jesus Seminar, which not only
compares the canonical gospels with the Gospel of Thomas but in fact
considers the latter document to be as authoritative (or
non-authoritative) as Mark or John - or in some cases more so.



        ----- Original Message -----

        From: Jack Haas <>

        To: George Murphy <> ; ASA list

        Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 5:12 PM

        Subject: Re: [asa] Enns is officially leaving WTS: joint
statement released


        Well said George!
        As a conversation starter, would you suggest one or two
"theological" interpretative principles that might be useful for ASA
        Thank you O:-)
        Jack Haas
        George Murphy wrote:

        Not just within evangelicalism (in the American sense). The
same fault line - though not terribly sharp - could be perceived in the
Missouri Synod split in the 70s.


        & though Enns is (from my standpoint at least) the "good guy" in
this case, my sympathies tend to lie with systematics folks in many
debates. Biblical studies people are in danger of missing the forest
for the trees - i.e., failing to have an overall theological
interpretive principle.


        George <>

                ----- Original Message -----


                From: David Opderbeck <>

                To: Ted Davis <>

                Cc: ;

                Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 1:35 PM

                Subject: Re: [asa] Enns is officially leaving WTS: joint
statement released


                Anyone know where he is landing? I'm glad at least that
the WTS administration acknowledged that Enns' "teaching and writing
fall within the purview of Evangelical thought." For those truly
interested in the debate provoked by I&I, the WTS official documents
discuss the theological fault lines between the Systematic (opposing
Enns) and Biblical Studies (supporting Enns) faculty in detail: IMHO, the differing
perspectives in these documents reflect a fault line within
evangelicalism as a whole, one that is not easily closed.


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Received on Fri Jul 25 12:29:01 2008

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