Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TrinJ 1:1 (Spring 1980) p. 88
Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, by Brevard S. Childs. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979. 688 pages. $28.50.
Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture will occupy a place alongside the classic introductions to the OT. It represents a unique approach among OT introductions, in that it affirms the inadequacy of the categories of “liberal” and “conservative” (p. 15) and, in a sense, challenges the standard methodologies.
According to Childs, the final redactive form of the canon represents the culmination of the response of the Jewish community to the divine word, and it thereby enables the interpreter to examine the biblical text in its final canonical form and to determine its relevance to the community of faith. Thus, the author “seeks to describe the form and function of the Hebrew Bible in its role as sacred scripture for Israel” (p. 16).
Each chapter begins with a very helpful bibliography of literature appropriate to the subject discussed. The first chapter, “The Discipline of Old Testament Introduction,” contains a bibliography of OT introductions including several conservative works.
In this chapter Childs presents a brief survey of the history of the discipline of OT introduction. He devotes only one paragraph to conservative reaction to the critical approach in which he states “… no truly fresh formulation of the problems of Old Testament Introduction emerged from the conservative, evangelical wing of Protestantism since Hengstenberg” (p. 37). Childs points out strengths and weaknesses in the traditional critical introduction. The weaknesses are that “it does not have for its goal the analysis of the canonical literature of the synagogue and church,” “it fails to understand the peculiar dynamics of Israel’s religious literature,” and it “has failed to relate the nature of the literature correctly to the community which treasured it as scripture” (pp. 40,41).
It has been noted that the key to Childs’ approach is to be found in his affirmation that the canon is the critical issue in OT Introduction. He asserts that the historical-critical methodology led to a breakdown of the traditional role of canon, whereas scholars who maintained an important role for the canon often gave little importance to historical criticism. The canonical approach to OT criticism does not eliminate the issue of historical process in the literary development of the OT, but affirms it, for the received canon represents the judgment of the Jewish community relative to the historical process. The scholar who works with the final form of the OT text is not losing the historical dimension, but is affirming the historical-critical process to which the finalized form o...
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