What implications does this have for the historicity of the narratives in the Bible? On the one hand, the ideological function of the Bible as “Scripture” for a particular “community” means that various creative devices are used in order to instil a particular world view. Just as ideology/theology cannot be simply read off “raw” historical events, so the Bible-as-Scripture requires plenty of creativity in order to get its point across. On the other hand, the very logic of biblical faith is one in which God intervenes in history and does things in our dimension of reality.
Childs was reserved in pronouncing judgement on this issue (cf. his quote here). Yet it is clear that his particular approach places constraints on the range of possibilities of what actually happened. Certain factors need to have been present in history in order for a reading of the final form to be legitimate. For example, he stated in 1980:
a historical critical theory of Deuteronomy which would construe the book as a pious fraud created for propaganda reasons to support the political aspirations of the Jerusalem priesthood would, if true, raise serious questions about a canonical interpretation which claimed that the book was shaped by primarily religious concerns. Similarly, if the development of a sense of canon was only a late peripheral phenomenon of the Hellenistic period, my approach to the O.T. would be seriously damaged.(go here for full quote and discussion).
This predilection for a particular construal of Israel's history manifests itself in the kinds of historical critics Childs likes. Tomorrow I will illustrate by looking at Martin Noth.
For the remaining posts in this thread, read the following in order:
M. Noth on the Laws of the Pentateuch
The Theological Problem with Noth's Approach
What is Good about Noth's Proposal?