Brevard Childs : the logic of scripture's textual authority
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Brevard Childs argues for the inner logic of scripture’s textual authority as an historical reality that gives rise to the material condition by which the church apprehends and experiences God in Christ. The church’s use of (or by) scripture thus has a larger interiority: the shaped canon of scripture, Old and New Testaments, is a rule of faith which accrues authority in the church, through the vehicle of the sensus literalis. Childs’ work has been misplaced, however. Part one locates it internationally, attending to the way it has been read in English and German and ﬁnding that it has enjoyed a more patient reception in Europe than in Britain or North America. To illustrate, Childs’ definition of biblical theology is contrasted with that of James Barr. Their differences over gesamtbiblische theology involve opposite turns toward and away from Barthian dogma in biblical inquiry. Part two examines Childs on biblical reference, introducing why intertextuality is not midrashic but deictic—pointing to the res. This coincides with an understanding of the formation of biblical literature. Childs’ argument for canonical shaping is juxtaposed with Hermann Gunkel on tradition history, showing “ﬁnal form” to be a deliberate inversion of form critical principles. Childs’ interest in the Bible as religious literature is then set alongside his studious confrontation of Judaism, with implications for inter-religious dialogue. Barr and Childs are compared again in part three, which frames their respective senses of indirect and direct biblical reference in terms of allegory. Both see allegory at work in the modern world under certain rules (either biblical criticism or the regula ﬁdei). Their rules affect their articulations of trinitarian dogma. Finally, Psalm 102 highlights divergences between modern and pre-modern interpreters. If scripture comprehends the present immediately, some postures of the church toward the synagogue may be excluded.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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