In his writings in general one can see that his response to this problem is heavily influenced by Hans Frei's work on figurative reading, i.e. pre-Enlightenment Christianity saw the biblical text as describing the real world, which experience tells us is "single world of one temporal sequence" (Frei, 1974: 2). Therefore, Christianity was driven to assume that there must in principle be one cumulative story in the Bible to depict it. The unity within the diversity was assured by means of typology, "a way of turning the variety of biblical books into a single, unitary canon"by weaving the various biblical stories together into a common narrative "referring to a single history and its patterns of meaning" (2).
My question is whether Childs is arguing that this process was already taking place at the redactional level of the text, such that contemporary figurative reading is in essential continuity with the way the text came to us in the first place. In his OT example of "exegesis in the context of biblical theology" (Genesis 22.1-19) in his 1992 Biblical Theology, he makes what I consider to be a key statement to his whole understanding of the 'canonical process':
It is my contention that this multifaceted text has been shaped through its lengthy development in such a way as to provide important hermeneutical guidelines for its theological use by a community which treasured it as scripture. By carefully observing how the editors dealt with elements which they deemed unrepeatable (einmalig) but which they reckoned to be representative or universal in application, a basic hermeneutical direction is provided by which to broaden theological reflection beyond the Old Testament" (1992: 326; italics mine).He illustrates this by reference to 'canonical clues' in the text which point to the dual dimension of the final form of the text as incorporating both particularity and universality within itself. The story of Abraham is unique, yet its editorial connection to the repeated trope concerning the promise of seed connects the story to a broader framework which can be seen to encompass us; the editorial addition of the superscription "God tested Abraham" likewise connects a unique occurrence to a more generalisable principle, one that echoes throughout scripture and again can be seen to encompass us; the word play on "the LORD sees" and "the LORD is seen" could refer to a kind of expansion of the unique story to Israel's broader experience of God in that place; finally, resonances with Levitical sacrificial rites, somehow, 'typologically' connect Abraham's experience to Israel's later cultic system.
My question is: is Childs trying to find evidence of Frei's work within the text itself? Is the redaction history of the text an example of typology in process? For me, the key phrase in the quote above is that this move within the text provides a basic hermeneutical direction, which we should imitate in the context of the final form.