Is there a theological reason for the order of the books in the New Testament canon?
There are many events in the Bible which, if taken in isolation, make little sense. The “translation” of Enoch is one of them.
The skeptical mind sees them as artefacts of imaginative story telling. The faithful mind sees them rightly as works of God. But the faithful modern mind is left to scour the slim pickings available from even the best commentators if historical architecture is not taken into account.
Aaron Denlinger remarks that “Calvin’s comments on chapter 5 of Genesis barely fill a handful of pages in his lengthy commentary on the first book of the Bible,” then comments:
The record of Enoch’s translation, then, speaks not to what a man might merit, in distinction from his peers, by virtue of his righteous walk or talk. It speaks, rather, to the peculiar mercy of God, who responds to the need of his people to have their faith in him and his promise buttressed by clear and repeated reminders of his character and his promise. And in itself it constitutes an instance of God’s promise, reminding God’s people that death is no final word even for those who, unlike Enoch, must undergo it. Enoch inherited a “better abode” by a rather peculiar means; but every true believer is an heir of that “better abode,” and so ultimately of the God whose presence defines that place.1Aaron Denlinger, The gospel according to Enoch: Calvin on Gen. 5.21-24.
This conclusion is a good one, since it takes the whole Bible into account. But if you are like me, there is a niggling feeling that we still have not got to the bottom of things. The modern evangelical practice of “seeing Christ in all the Scriptures” is often little more than whitewashing a passage with things we already know. Rusty Reno writes:
Many of us have limited biblical imaginations. We have stock phrases and favorite passages. We think of ourselves as biblical, but our friends recognize that nine times out of ten we’re quoting from Paul’s Letter to the Romans or the Book of Revelation or the Gospel of John. The Old Testament functions as a hazy background. The Psalms have no living power. Although we would vigorously deny it, we are functionally allied with Friedrich Schleiermacher, who notoriously set aside the Old Testament, or Immanuel Kant, who rejected the ‘Jewish’ parts of the Old Testament as unusable. Should we be surprised, therefore, that our preaching and teaching remains ‘spiritual’ or ‘theological’ in an abstract and theoretical way? Nothing we say is heretical. Orthodoxy carries the day. But it all floats a few feet above the ground.2Rusty Reno, from his foreword to The Glory of Kings: A Festschrift for James B. Jordan.
This explains why Calvin’s, and even Denligner’s, explanations are so unsatisfying. They are merely telling us what we already know. Their “big picture” is in reality just a collection of facts about the Gospel, with little or no comprehension of the work of the Gospel as a process in history. Consequently, so much theology today, even at the highest levels, has the character of a long-winded essay by a high school student who has not really understood the question. This failure is disguised in a smokescreen of factoids and generalities, and the actual question is never answered. We learn what effect the taking of Enoch might have had on the people of the day. We learn why God might have chosen Enoch instead of somebody else. But why did God actually take him? This is the question even the child wants answered. But these learned minds haven’t got a clue, because they do not see the mind of God expounded in the processes of history.
The answer is that Enoch was taken by God as a kind of Firstfruits. The pattern of Adam’s testing as an individual became the first step in a larger but identical pattern measured out in the culture he founded. Adam was taken from the Land into the Garden Sanctuary, and there must be a correspondence in the larger picture as the cultus is reflected in the culture, as the Head takes on a Body.
Like the Creation Week, every level of the narrative prefigures the pattern described more clearly in Israel’s festal calendar, where the Gospel process is written into the nation’s harvest year. In a very simplified form, the greater picture looks like this:
We can also align the elements of the Tabernacle to each step of this process, which means that the history also has a cruciform shape. But that is probably enough for now. The question has not only been answered, it has been answered in a form so simple that it could have been sketched on the triangular shape of a folded paper napkin. Yet so far, after seven years of beating the drum, it seems such an understanding is beyond the grasp of almost all of the brightest in the field today.
The Bible Matrix offers a new paradigm for theology, one which is not imposed upon the text but instead springs from the text, and makes the absolute genius of the inspired Scriptures apparent in a way that a child can understand.
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)
Even the earliest accounts in Scripture are doing something far beyond the grasp not only of the Reformers, but also of modern Reformed academia, which seems incapable of meaningful reform generated by the Scriptures. It merely attempts to maintain the status quo.
These theologians are unwilling to open their minds like children. When it comes to the Scriptures, even among the godly, the wise are indeed simple, their eyes are blind, their ears are deaf, and their academic rigor is mortis. But as always, God is beginning something new outside the artificial boundaries of the city of men, and putting His new wine into new skins. I wish He would hurry up, but lasting change and solid edification are always a protracted process, especially when dealing with slow minds.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Aaron Denlinger, The gospel according to Enoch: Calvin on Gen. 5.21-24.|
|2.||↑||Rusty Reno, from his foreword to The Glory of Kings: A Festschrift for James B. Jordan.|
|3.||↑||For a more detailed presentation, see Bible Matrix: An Introduction To The DNA Of The Scriptures.|
“In the Alpha words of Genesis 1, we should be able to discern some clues to the Omega words of the Apocalypse.”