Friday, 25 September 2009

Louth drew on Childs (or the "complentarity of tradition and scripture")

Brevard Childs drew on Andrew Louth's Discerning the Mystery in his Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, especially when talking of the dialectic between the literal and plain sense of the text. I'm reading through Louth's interesting book at the moment and I have just discovered that Louth had already paid Childs the compliment. Here's what he has to say (which, I should add, shows an excellent grasp of what Childs was trying to get at in his Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture):
The tendency of the historical-critical method has been to concentrate on originality and regard what is not original as secondary: but if we see here a process of inspired utterance and reflection on - comment on - inspired utterance within the tradition, itself regarded as inspired, then we have a more complicated, but, I suggest, truer picture. The formation of the Hebrew Scriptures is an object lesson in the kind of complementarity of Scripture and tradition - or inspired utterance and tradition - that I have outlined. The art of understanding is more complicated, and richer, than an attempt to isolate the earliest fragments and to seek to understand them in a conjectured 'original' context: we hear the voice and the echoes and re-echoes, and it is as we hear that harmony that we come to understanding. As I see it, it is this perception that underlies the notion of 'canon criticism' [sic], associated particularly perhaps with the name of Brevard Childs. (Louth, Discerning the Mystery, 108-109).
He mentions in a footnote that some of these concerns had already been raised by A.G. Herbert (especially The Throne of David (London, 1941) and The Authority of the Old Testament (London, 1947) ).

For an more extended quote on the symbiosis of tradition and scripture from the same chapter, check out a post by Ora et Labora.

For an extremely detailed blog thread working through Louth's book section by section, check out Sister Macrina's A Vow of Conversation.

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