The Old and New Testament claim to be the revelation of a god whose word and deed are fundamental to true human existence. For two milenia Christian theology has repeatedly reinterpreted this claim, checked it, and found it to be right. Form criticism provides the means for a more accurate interpretation and examination thatn has been possible before. If the thesis is right that form criticism culminates in a language history (literary history, transmission history) involving all manifestations of life then that claim cannot be justified by appealing merely to isolated texts, but to a complete history of all the biblical writings, to which each Old and New Testament book would contribute, and in which each would gain the recognition due to them, and this history would be carried further by church history. Within an overall historical framework of this kind it is possible to see why the early Christians (and Christians even now) recognise in Jesus the Christ. I do not believe that such a large historical enquiry will lead to our being less convinced than our fathers in the church were that Scripture is of God’s making and prompting. On the contrary, we have clearer grounds for sharing their conviction, for careful historical analysis enables us to see each stage of the biblical compilation as a living response to God (from The Growth of Biblical Tradition).I think Brevard Childs would share a lot of these assumptions. God has established a kerygmatic witness to Himself in his prophets and apostles and so listening to this proclamation in all its details can surely be only helpful. This explains Childs' penchent for "tradition-historical trajectories," both inner-biblical and in post-biblical tradition.
But there is another dimension to this issue which I think Koch et al have left out, namely, the ontological. As I argued in my post The need for ontological categories for Biblical exegesis, there is a sense in which a grasp of the fuller reality of God reconfigures older testimony to Him. The Old really is "transformed" by the New (if that's the right word). And if it is the case that Christ "opens up" the Old in such a way as to show us its true heart, then shouldn't we allow the later hermeneutical shape of the canon to reconfigure whatever existed before, at an older tradition-historical level? To give some examples from the prophetic literature: a prophet's message is often expanded in scope by its placement in a new literary context, or it is metaphorically extended, or oracles are detached from their original historical moorings and given a new theological context, or traditions are edited in the light of the larger canon. All these manoeuvers have hermeneutical implications and a theological reading of Scripture that wants to grasp the fullness of its divine Subject must not only take the final form seriously as part of a trajectory, it must allow the final form to exercise a critical function in "re-calibrating" everything that went before.
This quote has inspired me to start a new thread looking at the various ways in which the prophetic literature in the OT was canonically shaped, as opposed to just tradition-historically extended. Stay tuned!
It is this conext, by the way, that Chris Tilling's recently posted Brueggemann quote should be evaluated