Narrative and Ontology: The Canonical Approach of Brevard S. Childs
Brevard Childs’ “canonical approach” to Biblical interpretation, introduced programmatically in his Introduction to the Old Testament in 1979, continues to find enthusiastic supporters and vigorous detractors. Yet Childs’ response to the reception of his work was often as critical of the former group as it was of the latter. The primary issue turns on his particular understanding of the meaning of the term “canon,” which he considered a “cypher” for a constellation of literary, historical, and theological realities. This paper provides a new account of the content of that cypher and thus the logical coherence of his approach. In short, it argues that the heart of the matter for Childs is “ontology,” the question of the identity of the text’s divine source and referent. In light of this analysis, it will also be suggested that Childs’ proposal has not yet been fully exploited by scholars seeking to understand the nature of the unity of Scripture and thus the proper method for interpreting it.
Putting David in his Place: The Logic of the Arrangement of Psalms 15–24
In recent years there have been a number of attempts to explain the structure and meaning of Psalms 15–24 (Auffret; Hossfeld/Zenger; Miller; Brown), generally understood to be the second of four “sub-collections” constituting the first book of the Psalter. While there is a consensus that the Psalms have been chiastically arranged according to their genre, there is still disagreement concerning the logic undergirding this arrangement. How do the parts relate to each other in the final form of the text? What is the function of this particular mode of arrangement? This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion by highlighting and interpreting four elements of the composition that have not yet received their proper due: 1) The manner in which the content of each psalm is “expanded” and “brought forward” in its chiastic parallel; 2) the nature of the relation between the framing Psalms (15; 19; 24) and those that intervene; 3)the identity of David as “author” of the Psalms; and 4), the significance of Zion as the horizon for interpreting the meaning of these Psalms. In short, I argue that the editors were concerned to situate David within his true theological context.