In part 9 I outlined Enns’ account of the development of critical scholarship as it relates to the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, and the Book of Genesis. I will complete that discussion today. Why does Enns’ mention the development of the Old Testament in a book about Adam and Eve? Because Enns wants to emphasize that the Bible was written to give Israel an identity post-exile, not to explore the science of human origins.
According to Enns’, “…the alleged ‘postbiblical’ period is actually the biblical period.” * The canon formed around the community after the exile. Enns begins to present his point by juxtaposing the theological message of Samuel-Kings with Chronicles showing how Chronicles reworked the material that made Samuel-Kings from a postexilic perspective. This perspective emphasized the throne of David a little less and the throne of YHWH a little more. When we begin looking for this emphasis we find it everywhere.
We have the Deuteronomistic editorial work, the obviously post-exilic books like Ezra-Nehemiah, the editorial and authorial changes to the poetic books including the creation of the Psalter, the editorial work on the prophetic books (e.g., 2nd Isaiah), and so forth and so on. Enns writes, “…there is a strong consensus that the postexilic period played a vital role in (1) the production of numerous books or parts of books and (2) the final editing of older material and eventually shaping of the entire Old Testament as sacred Scripture.”
It was after the exile that Israel’s sacred collection of books came to be–not out of dispassionate academic interest on the part of some scribes but as a statement of self-definition of a haggard people who still claimed and yearned for a special relationship with their God. The Bible, including the Pentateuch, tells the story for contemporary reasons: Who are we? Who is our God?
This is Enns’ emphasis: the Hebrew Scriptures were edited, written, and collected to give Israel an identity after exile, not to explore history as history or science as science. The creation story has the same purpose, especially the creation of humans. Adam and Eve were discussed to say something about Israel. Enns notes that the authors of the New Testament do the same thing: they access and reinterpret Scripture on the other side of the resurrection to give the church an identity.
What does this emphasis do for/to our reading of the Adam and Eve story in the Book of Genesis?
* Kindle locations will be added later.