In a prior post (see here), I announced a new blog series designed to address problematic passage in the Bible. This new series is largely a response to the one by Peter Enns’ entitled, “Aha moments: biblical scholars tell their stories.”
The first contributor in this series is Greg Beale (Ph.D., Cambridge University). Greg is the J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and the author of numerous books. A few notables are: A New Testament Biblical Theology, The Book of Revelation (NIGTC), and The Temple and the Church’s Mission.
Peter Enns begins his new blog series with his own story about what caused his view of the Bible to change. One of the “culminating ‘aha’ moments” came from his study of 1 Cor 10:4: “for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
Paul is clearly referring back to the times when God refreshed the Israelites with water from a rock during their desert wanderings (Exodus 17, Numbers 20). However, Enns argues that Paul is doing more than just referring to the Old Testament accounts. Paul describes the rock as something which “accompanied them”—a clear reference, according to Enns, to ancient Jewish tradition that the rock in the desert actually travelled along with the Israelites.
Since the Jewish tradition about a travelling rock is clearly a legend—a legend that Paul apparently took to be fact—then we have a real problem, says Enns, for the evangelical view of biblical authority. He puts it bluntly, “no rock moved in the Old Testament, but Paul said one did.”
Of course, I have already responded to Enns’ argument in prior works (e.g., see my Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism, chapters 4 and 5). But, I shall try to summarize some of those earlier points here, but the fuller discussion should be consulted, which also interacts with Enns’s responses to my critiques.
The problem with Enns’ argument is twofold: (a) there are doubts about whether this Jewish “tradition” of a moveable rock was present in the first century; and (b) even if the tradition was present, there are doubts about whether Paul was alluding to it.
As to the first problem, there is only one Jewish reference to this “tradition” that plausibly is dated around the first century A.D., but even part of this reference is clouded by textual uncertainty. The lone Jewish source is Pseudo-Philo, which is dated by the majority of scholars as early as the first century A.D., though there is some debate even about that. The main text in Pseudo-Philo is 11:15: “and the water of Marah became sweet. And it [the well or the water] followed them in the wilderness forty years and went up to the mountain with them and went down into the plains.” However, while some very good manuscripts (the ∆- group of mss. [A, K, P]) have “it followed,” the majority of manuscripts (the π – group of mss. [H, R, W, X, Y, Z, S, Ad, D, E, V, M, B, C, O, G]), which are also manuscripts of very good, indeed almost equal, authority with the ∆- group of manuscripts, have “the Lord [Dominus] followed.”
If “Lord” is the correct reading, then the identification of the “following well” in Pseudo-Philo 10:7 (as well as, presumably, in 20:8) would apparently be the Lord himself. Put another way, if “Lord” is original, then the “following well” in 10:7 and the “water” in the preceding clause of 11:15 could well be viewed as metaphorical for the “Lord” in 11:15, which would take the legendary punch out of the evidence.
The point is that this is not a minor textual problem, despite one’s final conclusions about it, and to base a major conclusion in 1 Cor. 10:4 on this Pseudo-Philo text is precarious. This leaves only Tosephta Sukka 3.11 (date ca. 300 A.D.) and Targum Onquelos Numbers 21:16-20 (date ca. 250-300 A.D.). These are the only really solid textual witnesses to the kind of Jewish legend that Enns says Paul was dependent on; however, because of their late date, it is difficult to say that the legendary tradition was even extant in the first century.
As for the second problem, even if this Jewish “tradition” was extant in the first century there are serious doubts about whether 1 Cor 10:4 demonstrates Paul’s adoption of it. He may well be doing a biblical – theological exegesis of Exodus 14-17 in the light of Psalm 78:14-20 (e,g., “he splits the rocks . . . and gave them abundant drink . . . he struck the rock so that waters gushed out”) and 78:35 (“God was their rock”), the latter of which appears to identify God with the “rock” of Ps. 78:15-16, 20.
Note also some of the differences between Paul’s reference and that of later Judaism: (1) he identifies the rock as the Messiah, (2) he does not use the language of a “well” and (3) he refers to the “rock” from which they drank as a “spiritual rock” from which “spiritual drink” was obtained (1 Cor. 10:4), not a literal rock, significant differences with the later Jewish legend, which appears to see a literal traveling well that “followed” Israel. Incidentally, note also that the idea of God in association with a “rock” that “followed” Israel in the wilderness is not unique to the later Jewish midrashic literature but occurs also in Exod. 14:19 in relation to Exod. 17:5-7, where in the latter passage the presence of the rock from which drinking water came may also implicitly suggest that God is a rock or at least is directly linked to the phrase “the Lord is among us” in response to the people’s doubt about this.
In this respect, note the “following” concept in Exod. 14:19: “and the angel of God who had been walking before the camp of Israel, moved and walked behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.” And the presence of God continues to move between the Egyptians and the Israelites as the latter go through the sea. Note similarly that Isa. 52:12 and 58:8 allude to Exod. 14:19 and prophesy that in the new, second Exodus God would also be Israel’s “rear guard.” Thus, in light of the fact that Exod. 17:6 very closely associates God with the “rock” (as does Psalm 78), it does not take much ingenuity to see how Paul could posit that Christ was a “following rock” in his pre-incarnate divine existence as the “angel of the Lord.” Paul may be doing intratextual and intertextual exegesis, which is a form of biblical theology. Thus, Enns’s attempt to say that the “following” aspect is unique to the Jewish well legend is not correct, since both linguistically and conceptually the notion occurs in the Old Testament itself.
In sum, we can conclude that Enns’ primary conclusions about 1 Cor 10:4 simply remain unproven. It is not certain that this Jewish tradition was even extant in the first century, nor is it certain (if it was extant) that Paul was alluding to it or adopting it.
Mark Holler says
Sorry, but I can’t believe this was really an ‘aha’ moment?? I don’t want to be dismissive but seriously? It takes all of five seconds to respond to Enns on this one. I know there are legitimate questions/issues but so many times I get “nervous” about nothing!
Thank you for this series Dr. Kruger and for this particular post, Dr. Beale. I share a sad sense of bewilderment with others who were disappointed with Enns original post. How can this be the “aha” moment he makes it out to be? Enns argument struck me as rather unremarkable on first blush but now even more so after Dr. Beale’s clear and compelling reply. Thank you.
Kinda hoping for a story, an actual “aha” moment about inerrancy…
I just had my “Aha” moment – that there is something more than textual analysis and rational thought that is driving people like Enns to write what he does. One has to want to find a way of escape from biblical authority as an a priori in order to argue that I Cor. 10 represents a mistake. It is pretty clear what Paul is referring to. Good job Dr. Beale.
Saul/Paul is solid on not being led astray by traditions laid down by men or old wives tales. Paul always points us to Christ in the covenant of Grace often claryfying whether its Christ’s physical or spiritual presence that is to be considered. Paul 1 Enns nil. I think Enns is having an Ex nihilo moment more than a aha revelation..
Joe S. says
Wait a second…. is Beale refuting Enns by saying that Paul was just employing theological exegesis that sounds like a Christotelic hermeneutical approach??
It sounds to me that Beale is claiming that Paul was interpreting passages through the lens of Christ in ways the original authors hadn’t anticipated. Beale is suggesting that Paul saw 2 interpretations of Ex 14:19. The first reading was what the original interpretation intended for the original audience. Beale is also suggesting that Paul also read Ex 14:19 a second time, in light of Jesus Christ, and was trying to communicate a point that the original author had not anticipated to come from that passage.
In doing so he appears to be dancing around a line WTS has drawn in the sand. Professors, tenured and other wise, have been forced out for embracing Paul’s 2 reading, Christotelic, hermeneutical approach of Ex 14:19. Here is a snippet from a document WTS put forward as to why Doug Green was asked to retire (it can be found here on the WTS website here http://www.wts.edu/stayinformed/view.html?id=1794 ):
“The other way of reading is a second reading: reading Genesis in the light of the larger
story’s surprise ending in the gospel – the story of the life, death, resurrection,
exaltation of Jesus and his creation of a new people of God through the outpouring of
the Spirit. I want to contend that a Christian reading of the Old Testament is, above all,
a second reading. It’s a reading where you come back and make sense of the various
scenes in Genesis, now with the knowledge that the story of Jesus (and his people) and
not the story of Israel is the true, albeit unexpected, climax of the grand narrative in
which Adam, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph (for example) play such important roles.In other words, you let the Jesus-ending of Israel’s story reshape the way you interpret
the particular passage you are dealing with. This is the way you read Genesis as a
Doesn’t that sound like the hermeneutical approach that Beale is ascribing to Paul as the solution to this difficult passage? Given the fact that this hermeneutical approach is no longer welcome at WTS, it is extremely confusing that Beale would put it forward as a viable solution to the passage at hand.
lolsies. You get an A for effort!
Joe S. says
Thanks, Luke, sometimes you can’t make this stuff up….
As a WTS student I can assure you that the public reasons given for Dr green’s dismissal are not the real reasons.
Is this just going to a Peter Enns bashing forum? I don’t think that will be very productive in the long run. While I admire and appreciate Dr. Beale’s detailed response to the exegetical problem of 1 Cor 10:4, and perhaps it should carry the day, it seems that it skirts the main issue. Enns would certainly say his whole “program,” if you will, is hardly founded on just this one text. What would be nice would be addressing the macro issues that Enns and others raise, rather than a hand-to-hand combat approach on the level of textual exegesis only. That type of engagement might be more productive in the long run.
If not all, most of Kruger’s books could be considered responses to to the macro issues that Enns and others raise.
I appreciate your point. Let me clarify – I mean no disrespect to Beale’s exegesis/analysis of 1 Cor 10:4 or to Kruger for facilitating this engagement of crucial issues that Enns and others have raised. It just seems to me that we need to incorporate those macro responses in our engagement, rather than leaving the issue only at the level of discussing 1 Cor 10:4. I’m actively reading to see what Kruger, Beale, and others have to say in response to Enns because I think both sides have legitimate points to make.
Luke Wayne says
I understand how you are coming to that conclusion, but if I am correctly reading Beale’s argument, I think you have missed a crucial point that resolves the issue. Beale argues that even in exodus and in the psalms, the rock from which the water flows is not only a sigular historical event, but also an image of a greater reality that the LORD was the rock of his people. That he was with his people in their exodus and was providing for and protecting them. Thus Paul is drawing on this theme which Moses and the psalmist did in fact intend, and rightly identifying the LORD with Christ. This claim requires a more detailed fleshing out, which is why Beale’s post is longer than my summery, and why even in his post he directs you to more detailed published work
Joe S. says
Luke, Luke, Luke…. Did Moses really intend the story of the rock struck for water to be taken that way? In other places Moses does call the Lord a rock but I think that you would have a hard time proving that for this particular story. It seems to communicate God’s provision and patience to an unbelieving people when told. If Moses didn’t intend for his story of the water coming from the rock that was struck to be associated with Jesus Christ when he wrote it it can potentially create a bit of a hermeneutical pickle particularly if the Christotelic hermeneutical approach is off the table.
Paul appears to be connecting Jesus Christ with the OT theme of God being a rock and the story of water coming from the rock even though it is not particularly clear if the theme and that particular story were ever intended to be used that way. In doing so he is letting the Jesus ending of Israel’s story reshape how he is interpreting both the specific passage and the theme. Just don’t tell the board or they could ask him to step down as well……..
Luke Wayne says
My comment was not a defense of Beale’s position. It was a summery of it. My point was that Beale is not guilty of the charge you lay against him. If you want to address the accuracy of his argument, I commend you to his published work, not my ammetuer com-box summery of it. 🙂
Joe S. says
Luke, I don’t know if I would say I’m leveling a charge at Beale as much as making an observation about his piece above.
If you read the story of the rock being struck the author’s intention to link the story to the coming messiah is entirely absent. I would also go so far to say the same is true for the psalmist in psalm 78. While it is about the Lord being a rock for his people you don’t get the sense that it is anticipating the messiah. It seems to be a cry for remembrance.
The only way to end up where Beale ended up as a probable explanation for the passage (one that I actually agree with him on) is that Paul was theologizing. This has to mean that Paul was looking back at these familiar stories through the lens of Jesus Christ, connecting them, and drawing meaning out of them.
I’m sure this is too simplistic but on face it does appear that Beale’s solution to the passage is very similar to the Christotelic hermeneutical approach that made WTS dismiss Dr. Green.
I’ve spent many years at WTS and have rubbed shoulders with Beale and the other faculty. Some faculty are given a little more theological freedom and are more heavily promoted while others are reigned in and all but ignored. So it doesn’t surprise me that Beale can say that Paul was theologizing and have people celebrate his work while Green could say something quite similar and be shown the door.
A few other points:
1. 1 Cor 10:4 as part of Paul’s whole letter–presupposes Paul’s prior contact with and previous (lost) letter to the Corinthians. It looks to me like verse 4 assumes prior shared knowledge if you take it as an allusion to the Jewish fable. We don’t know what the precise nature of that shared understanding would be but in light of Paul’s view that one should not pay heed to Jewish myths, it is as likely that Paul was using an allusion illustratively and/or in had previously critiqued it. In short, Enns implicit rejection of the myth is likely preceded by Paul’s same rejection of the myth unless we assume Enns is smarter than Paul (I don’t assume he is even smarter than Beale).
2. Enns choses the most damaging interpretation of 1 Cor 10:4, vis-a-vis inerrancy with disregard to Paul’s avowed rejection of Jewish fables. At the time, Enns did this (mid 1990’s?) it was likely a part of redefining inerrancy rather than outright rejection (he was at WTS). But there is an agenda. Extra biblical materials are now raised to parity or near parity with canon for doing hermeneutics. This enables modern biblical studies to ignore the findings of systematic theology which is more tightly controlled by the canon. Hermeneutics “appears” to be more neutral than dogmatic but in reality is more post-modern since it has lost touch with a normative text. That’s how Paul’s own rejection Jewish fables can be ignored.
3. The whole Christotelic thing looks like a new is a development to me which is not simply a question about surprising NT interpretations of the NT or two readings of a text. The question, as I see it, is whether there is some organic tie between an original understanding and a Christ-centered fulfillment. The organic tie may be surprising (and often is) and not totally predictable to an OT reader but there is a tie other than some NT writer adopting Midsrashic conventions that have imposed themselves on his consciousness from extrabiblical (2TJ) material. To begin with, it is as supernatural tie of God’s ordering. This tie enables further study of the text to see continuities and discontinuities. If you don’t begin with the supernatural tie you are on the slippery slope to post-modern gibberish-centricsm.
Roy Kerns says
The text itself makes plain the correctness of Beale’s rather than Enns’ understanding.
Consider: God calls the Exodus redemption (Ex 6:6, 15:23 and more ref’s). We do not make a mistake when we understand his sovereign shaping of history as analogous to redemption. God made the connection. That connection provides a lens thru which to view the narrative.
Redemption provides for the needs of the Redeemed that they may accomplish all that God has for them to do. Israel in Ex17 faced a huge logistical problem. 600K fighting men suggests perhaps 4M people plus livestock. No water v1 in Sinai wilderness not matter of inconvenience, but serious threat well understood by any who have camped in a desert wilderness. The Israelites accurately understood the physical realities and correctly understood the implications. But they did so in unbelief.
Put another way, the peoples’ contention of v3b not only doubts the work of redemption. It puts God on trial for not delivering what the people expect in the way they expect. Check out the Hebrew for v2’s “quarrel”, and for Moses’ word “test”. Their intentions toward Moses v4, whom they could get to, tell their intentions toward God. They would kill God. What happens when we put God on trial?
We fail. We deny his provisions in history (cf Ex 15, Ex 16). We call him a liar (v3b in contrast to the repeated promises of entering the promised land). Thus we assault God’s character, his name as the one who does not change, who remembers and keeps his covenant (3:14, 2:24). When we interpret reality without including the analysis of faith, when we exclude God, we defy him.
What happens, then, when God puts us on trial? That is, after all, what happens in v5. God tells Moses to grab the staff, the one via which he struck Nile bring death (“struck” in Hebrew means more than “hit”, but carries the idea of “smite unto death”), and summon the elders (representing the people). Israel and we deserve to die. We deserve God’s wrath not just before we were redeemed, lost in sin. But even in our present unbelief in which we challenge his providence with our misinterpretation. What shall happen?
God himself takes the blow, bears the wrath, v6a. The blow falls thru God onto the rock. That the people may drink v6b. God keeps his promises of redemption in spite of Israel’s and my and our sin, preserving us to serve him.
Exodus 17 does not tell of the abundance of water which flowed. OT xrefs do. In ICor 10 Paul understands. God does bear the blow and, in the correct economic understanding of the work of the Trinity, specifically God the Son.
What about Num 20? This time God tells Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses strikes the rock not once but twice. For this apparently incredibly minor change Moses will not enter the land. Say, what? At stake is not merely that Moses did not listen to and obey God. Instead, focus on the motive and action of Moses. Moses had turned Roman Catholic, figuring sin required multiple masses. For this rejection of the sufficiency of Christ’s once-for-all work, Moses shall not enter the land.
These truths the text teaches. I don’t care what one labels the hermeneutic that allows one to see that which the text displays. Beale has it correct; Enns (and the sources he refs) has it wrong.
Marius Lombaard says
“The text itself makes plain the correctness of Beale’s rather than Enns’ understanding.”
No it doesn’t. When we open the bible and put it on a table, it does not narrate nor exegete itself to us. In order for the Scripture to function as an authority, it must be read and interpreted by someone. Scripture cannot be asked questions and expected to answer like humans. We can’t put the Bible on the witness stand and tell it to give us the whole truth and nothing but. The bible always has a reader, and the reader is herself an interpreter.
Since a text often and necessarily omits its own context for brevity (lest the author never finish their literary works, because they will forever be busy writing to ensure the whole context and traditions of the time to be present in their writings for the sake of modern 21st century readers), a text should not be considered it’s own interpreter. The plain-ness of a text cannot be a hermeneutical key, since multiple people can read the same text and conclude different things from it.
Rather, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the key to interpret any text should not be the text itself, but THE TRADITIONS SURROUNDING THE TEXT.
I have problems with this post at various points but I’ll simply take the last sentence:
“Rather, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the key to interpret any text should not be the text itself, but THE TRADITIONS SURROUNDING THE TEXT.”
The hermeneutical bias of the interpreter is as much an issue when it comes to selecting or “identifying” “traditions surrounding the text” as is reading meaning from the text itself. Peter Enns chooses to focus on a Jewish tradition of a moveable well, alleged (not absolutely proven) to have existed in the first century. We can get a good idea of a third century (e.g. Tosephta) shape of such a tradition but the issue of the exact tradition itself in the first century is up for grabs. So he latches onto the verb “followed” and reads back what amounts to a third century context for interpreting 1 Cor 10:4. Now I am prepared to believe, based on the unusual choice of the verb “followed” that such a tradition is SOME form MAY have been alluded to. I am not prepared to read into this all of the Enns eisogesis based on this unusual use of “followed.” My controlling tradition and context is the canon (e.g. Titus 1:14). Enns, like others, has abandoned the Reformed principle of analogia fidei (see WCF I.9). Formally this entails leveling all the literary materials available. In reality it enables human autonomy to choose any amount of nonsensical literature to supply a “controlling context” for meaning. That’s how we end up with the nonsense of Derrida, queer studies, etc.
Marius Lombaard says
You have missed the point entirely. Another way to state “the traditions surrounding the text” is to simply call it “context”.
Context is made narrow and interpretive accuracy is hindered when you focus exclusively on the text, whereas context is made comprehensive by looking at sources that shed light on the text in question.
What i’m arguing for is a proper contextualizing of the text. And it doesn’t help one’s cause to simply look at the text itself, which sheds too little light on the subject and hinders proper interpretive conclusions.
You wouldn’t do that when studying the literary works of say, Chesterton or Lewis – quite the contrary, it would help to know things about those men that are simply not always found in their own writings, to shed light on it.
I think you’ve wrongly identified what Enns does as “eisegesis” and simply used the word as a pejorative and a partisan boundary marker.
In any case, you call it eisegesis if you will – I call it contextualizing.
RE your point: “You have missed the point entirely. Another way to state “the traditions surrounding the text” is to simply call it ‘context’.”
You have simply changed verbiage and willed your point into existence. If a third century fable is context, Titus 1:14 is more so. To advance the discussion, if that is possible, I think what one seeks first is the IMMEDIATE context. The immediate context is more like what Beale or Roy Kerns are looking at. The issue for Paul is Christ is the Rock that provides spiritual food and drink. The Enns eisogesis of the text put focus on the possibility of allusion to a fable. He psychoanalyzes Paul’s state of mind by inferring that Paul believed the fable. Even if Enns had the same immediate access to revelation as Paul, it would be dubious that he can read Paul’s mind on such slender evidence as the verb choice “followed.”
Re your point: “Context is made narrow and interpretive accuracy is hindered when you focus exclusively on the text, whereas context is made comprehensive by looking at sources that shed light on the text in question. What i’m arguing for is a proper contextualizing of the text. And it doesn’t help one’s cause to simply look at the text itself, which sheds too little light on the subject and hinders proper interpretive conclusions. ”
Beyond the point above concerning “immediate context,” this is where analogia fidei comes in. The canon provides lots of “context” or “intertextuality” and a sufficient context for basic doctrinal meaning. Your remarks, IN THIS CONTEXT, might be taken to mean that Paul places more focus on an ill-defined (per first century info) Jewish fable as context than the canonical accounts of wilderness food and water. In this word wrangle about “context” and eisogesis, I advocate a new term: “Ennsogesis.” This fallacy is committed when one:1) from the distance of 20 centuries pretends to know the mental mistakes of an inspired author based on a single verb form while 2) ignoring the same author’s own express views about what should be rejected in one’s thinking about doctrinal matters, and 3) generally implying that the 20th and 21st century OT scholar (scholar herein defined in terms of Harvard, Kugel, and or Enns) is smarter in OT matters than Paul.
Marius Lombaard says
“You have simply changed verbiage and willed your point into existence.”
wow. okay. i guess there is no discussion to be had after all. i won’t waste more time over here then.
I was hoping for more from this series. Actually, I expected more. If the first post is any indication, then this will be more heat than light as the “usuals” rally to man the watch. Let’s hope, if there is to be any redemptive value, there future posts will be less condescending and more irenic.
C. M. Granger says
There is at least one good development with regard to this tact taken by Enns and others. Rather than engaging in hermeneutical acrobatics to assert the text means something other than what it says, they’ve now resorted to attributing error to Paul and even Jesus Himself. Let’s see….Jesus or Enns? The apostle Paul or Enns? Perhaps we need an Enns study bible so we know where Jesus and Paul were right?
pete head says
Mike, some thoughts on this piece in particular and more broadly
a) I find this an odd passage to chose to begin with, since, although the passage is complex, most evangelical commentators haven’t found any great problem in coping with Paul’s expression bearing some resemblance with and having some relationship to, contemporary Jewish patterns of reading Israel’s wilderness wanderings (so e.g. Fee, Garland, Rosner & Ciampa, Witherington; Carson & Beale). Greg Beale seems to me rather idiosyncratic in his concern about this.
b) I find this way of dealing with ‘biblical difficulties’ inherently unhelpful because it is so defensive and minimising (as if Philo, Biblical Antiquities, 10.7 and 20.8 were not in fact completely clear on the following well and rather coherent with the other Jewish material – which is far more widespread than Greg here acknowledges). I don’t myself think that Greg has the better of Pete Enns on most of this material, and I doubt if careful readers of all the relevant evidence would find it persuasive.
c) The aha moments over on Pete Enns’ website are personal, emotional, story-telling testimonies, they have despair, humour, pathos, and occasionally, unemployment. If all we’ve got to offer on the more conservative side is a page from Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, then we may struggle.
Michael Kruger says
Thanks, Pete. I appreciate your involvement in this discussion. Let me offer some thoughts:
1. You mention this was an odd passage to begin with. But, it was not I (or Greg) who chose this passage. This was the first passage that Pete began his series with. So, we are simply responding to his claims about the passage. So, I am not sure what you mean when you say Greg is “idiosyncratic in his concerns about this.” It is Pete, not Greg, who has raised the issues related to this text.
2. You mention that this way of dealing with biblical difficulties is “defensive.” Well, of course it is. But, I am not sure there is anything inappropriate or problematic about that. Pete, in essence, claimed that Paul was wrong in his understanding about a rock moving in the desert. Is there something taboo about making a case about why Paul isn’t wrong? If there is, I am not aware of it.
3. You mention that the series on Pete’s site has emotional story-telling and “all we have to offer” is a page from Gleason Archer’s Bible Difficulties. I think that is an unfair comparison. This series on my site was never designed to be the mirror image of Pete’s with our own emotions and storytelling. I suppose we could offer an evangelical version of such things to counter Pete’s series, but then I would imagine we would be accused of emotionalism and failing to deal with the evidence. Instead, we have decided to more narrowly deal with just the textual/biblical problems raised in Pete’s series. Is there something wrong about that goal? This series on my site was not intended to be exhaustive (nor could it be). Moreover, you make it sound like Pete’s series is just “personal” story telling. But, that is not the case. While personal stories are certainly involved, those posts make significant truth claims about the Bible. My series is simply designed to address those truth claims.
The real problem is that evangelical scholars are wanting the accolades of the secular academic community. They want to have their feet straddling orthodox Christianity and Naturalism. Must be a tough way to live. On Sunday they can dawn their churchman cap, but when they are at SBL they can rub shoulders with the “real” scholars.
I graduated from WTS in 1974 and what Beale is doing raises no red flags for me. What Enns does in 1 Cor 10:4 raised immediate flags for me though I did not have his original the article in front of me until shortly after he published I&I to be sure of what he was saying. In I&I Enns makes clear (see glossary) that Christotelic differs from Christocentric. Gaffin’s response to Davis makes clear that the issue is not about rejecting Biblical Theology. Beale is just doing Biblical Theology as I remembered it in 1974. So if Christotelic differs from Christocentric, how does it differ? I cannot comment on to any significant degree on Green (and he is not the topic anyway) or what is going on at WTS now. The Enns Christotelic position, as I understand it in the context of his 1 Cor 10:4 “aha moment”, is that Paul adopted the conventions of his time—he was captive to his exegetical culture (Enns is not? Yes but it’s a smarter culture?). As such his hermeneutic allowed for believing a fanciful legend (I prefer myth or fable) and so he just appropriated it to Christ the way others Rabbi’s appropriated and developed texts to their own ends. The divine element and special superintending providence of God (supernatural) is so subordinate that it is missing. Hermeneutical deism with a sprinkle of Christ is added and implied error to boot (unless Enns believes there was in fact a moveable well in the wilderness which his article implies he does not).
I suppose I have a problem with the collusion between Enns and Beale on this passage. Basically they are both agreeing that if we see Paul utilising a jewish interpretive approach (rather than a historical exegetical, authorial intention approach) then this is a problem for an evangelical view of Scripture. I don’t personally recognise this as a sensible starting point for the discussion of this type of exegetical phenomena within the NT. I prefer a different viewpoint and would respectfully suggest that there are more options in this discussion that the two extremes. On this passage in particular, as I noted, Beale seems in a minority of one in comparison with most evangelical commentators. Anyway, no big deal. Pete
Some noteworthy commentaries are missing that do little for your point (Hodge, Calvin, Kistemaker, inter alia). The 1911 ICC (not exactly conservative) states: “That the wording of the passage has been influenced by the Jewish legend about a rock following the Israelites in their wanderings and supplying them with water, is hardly doubtful; but that the Apostle believed the Jewish legend is very doubtful.” If the Enns “aha moment” only amounted to the ICC position, there is not much “aha” there. I had my “aha moment” about Enns when I read his BBR article. He was abandoning what I then thought was an “evangelical view” of Scripture. If the term “evangelical” now includes liberals and modernists who deny the historicity of Adam then I suppose he is still entitled to it but I don’t see how those who believe in historical Christianity can take him or such “evangelicals” seriously any longer. If Beale takes a position that is less certain than the ICC on a supposed allusion to a Jewish legend it makes little difference to the larger question of regarding inerrancy as a meaningful notion or Paul’s ability to rise above his exegetical culture
Pavel Espinal says
The Spanish translation of this article is also available at: