Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Canon and the fullness of extrinsic reality

In response to James Barr's (and thus proleptically to all those who only read Childs through the lens of Barr) accusation that Childs opposes every extrinsic historical reconstruction as a vantage point for interpretation and thus severs the Old Testament from all extrinsic reality, Childs has the following to say:

I certainly confirm that Israel's faith was grounded in anterior reality. First in oral tradition and subsequently in written form Israel bore testimony to God's redemptive intervention on its behalf. These events of divine deliverance were not simply recorded, but continually re-interpreted throughout history. Israel actively shaped its traditions while at the same time being formed by the very material being transmitted.
Because of of the peculiar nature of Israel's tradition which is reflected in the multi-layered testimony of the canonical text to this sacred history, there is no direct access to the fullness of that extrinsic reality on which the faith was grounded apart from Israel's own testimony. One important purpose of establishing a normative canon was to mark the special relationship of the community to these witnesses.
... The central point to be made is that the nature of Israel's testimony to historical events varies greatly and that extrinsic reality can be represented in innumerable ways ... . [*]
The key word here is fullness. Mark it well.

Does anyone else's heart "burn within them" when they read this?

[*]Childs, "Response to reviewers of Introduction to the OT as Scripture," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 16 (1980), 52-60; here, 57 [ATLAS has a free pdf of the responses and Childs' response]


thechangingman said...

Hello Philip,

I am very, very new to blogging (started yesterday!!) and very, very new to doctoral research (started a couple of weeks ago!!!)

I read some of your blog with huge interest. Apart from the fact that your obvious intelligence makes me feel like an abject imbecile I warmed to what you have to say and would VERY much welcome any advice or guidance you might be able to give to a brand new researcher who is studying part-time and long distance and feels as if someone has dropped him alone into a strange land inhabited by strange and elusive people who when spotted speak a different language to him!!!

If you can help I'll be VERY grateful. If you can't no offence whatsoever will be taken and may your studies go well...

Peace and Purpose be with you...


Martyn J Smith, Lincolnshire, England

Anonymous said...

Good quote! I ordered IOTS last week, which I am looking forward to.