The corollary of this insight is that exegesis which wishes to really get to the “substance” of what the Bible is about needs to go beyond describing the contours of each individual witness and “push through” the text to theological reality that called them into being. This activity of “pushing through” is consonant with the intentionality of the text itself, as it is ultimately kerygmatic, i.e. it functions to proclaim something.
As I noted in the previous post, this brings Childs closer to the exegetical approach of Gabler, rather than Frei, with whom he is more usually associated. Here's the key quote from Gabler:
"If exegesis is to be nothing more than giving an account of the meaning of a writer--of what he himself meant by what he said--then no doubt the conventional explanation of the story of Jesus' temptation as an objective appearance and activity of Satan is the only true one, for in their account Matthew and Luke appear to have nothing more in mind. Once this fact has been established, the task of the grammatical exegete is indeed at an end, since he has only the concern himself with the true meaning of his author. If we know only the meaning of a biblical passage, we in our day are very little further ahead. It is now the turn of historical and philosophical criticism, which subjects such a biblical passage to its closest examination. This critical analysis functions in the area of explanation of content, just as the discovery of the grammatical meaning functions in the area of the explanation of words. The task of the Biblical exegete involves both. In fact, then, we can draw a valid distinction between interpretation and explanation: to the former belongs only the attempt to recover the meaning of the passage; to the latter, on the other hand, the explanation of the matter itself. . . . In our day is anyone satisfied, for example, with the merely grammatical interpretation of the Mosaic cosmogony and of the earliest story of mankind?" [*]Gabler, along with most of his generation, noted a certain dissatisfaction with pure exposition of the “meaning” of the text. Surely the question of truth must arise too, and that is dealt with by looking at the “content” of the Bible. The fascinating question is what is the content (or the Sachverhalt, or res as Childs called it) of the Bible? That is where Childs parts company with Gabler, with direct hermeneutical implications.
[*] J. Ph. Gabler, "Über den Unterschied zwischen Auslegung und Erklärung erläutert durch die verschiedene Behandlungsart der Versuchungeschichte Jesu," Neuestes theologisches Journal 6 (1880):224ff, repr. in Kleinere theologische Scriften, vol 1, p. 201ff; quoted in Kümmel, The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of its Problems, p. 102-103.
[HT Michael for the quote ;)]