I first heard of Peter “Pete” Enns on the “Bible for Normal People” podcast and greatly appreciated not only his own commentary but also the guests and discussions that he hosts on each episode. This lead me to hearing that he had written a book. So I went out and bought it.
“How the Bible Actually Works” is Enns’ explanation for why we shouldn’t expect the Bible to be a one-since fits all book of rules meant to be copy and pasted onto each new generation of believers. He believes that instead, the Bible is a boom of wisdom that challenges readers to not take the literal words and apply them to our lives today, but to consider how the ideas might fit or be adapted to our lives.
He comes at this idea from an academic standpoint and refutes the anti-intellectual argument that the Bible is fool-proof. He shows that throughout the Bible there’s instances where different books and writers conflict previous verses. The goal isn’t to disprove the Bible but to disprove the idea that these conflicts must be ignored or glossed over. Instead Enns outlines the how and the why of the conflicts based on time periods, needs, and audiences. It makes sense that a document that spans such a long swath of history would not be stagnant but would change with the points of views of the writers and the needs of the audiences to which they were writing.
It is refreshing to read an academic book about the Bible that is comfortable and able to show that religion and academia are not mutually exclusive. You don’t need a theology degree to read this so this makes a great read for a book club or a personal read.