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Brevard Childs, Biblical Theologian: For the Church's One Bible
Baker Academic / 2012 / Paperback
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Brevard Childs (1923-2007), one of the monumental figures in biblical interpretation in the last half-century, is a founding presence in the current resurgence in theological interpretation of Scripture, and is the father of the "canonical" understanding of Scripture.
He combined critique of biblical scholarship with a constructive proposal related to the canon. Because his work is influential, complex, and contested, it needs and merits clarification. In this full-scale intellectual biography of Childs' work entitled Brevard Childs Biblical Theologian, Daniel Driver takes account of the complete corpus of Childs's work, providing a thorough introduction to the context, content, and reception of his canonical approach.
Originally published in hardcover by Mohr Siebeck, this work is now available as an affordable North American paperback edition.
Brevard Childs (1923-2007), one of the monumental figures in biblical interpretation in the last half-century, is a founding presence in the current resurgence in theological interpretation of Scripture. He combined critique of biblical scholarship with a constructive proposal related to the canon. Because his work is influential, complex, and contested, it needs and merits clarification. In this full-scale explication of Childs's thought, Daniel Driver takes account of the complete corpus of Childs's work, providing a thorough introduction to the context, content, and reception of his canonical approach. Originally published in hardcover by Mohr Siebeck, this work is now available as an affordable North American paperback edition.
A detailed monograph on the long-lasting academic legacy of the late Brevard Childs...Driver works out the contribution of Childs to Biblical Theology and the various reactions he received from within both the English and German academic communities...The final form of the biblical text, the significance of the Christian canon, and Gunkel's form-criticism with its impact on Childs' scholarship, are among other highly debated topics being covered in this work. Driver is successful in providing the reader with the necessary background for Childs' theological training, the controversy held in various academic circles throughout America and Europe, and later developments in contemporary scholarship stemming from Childs' contribution to the field of Old Testament studies. The reader will find an original analysis of all published materials in English and German and enlightening the topic under discussion with previously unseen letters and papers...This study is by all means a milestone in the contemporary discussion of Childs and his contribution to the study of Scripture.
Theological Book Review
The search for a fresh paradigm for a biblical theology resumed with new seriousness in the 1950s, and few scholars contributed more frequently and extensively to this debate than Brevard Childs...This detailed critique by Driver explores the historical course of the debate, provides a comprehensive bibliography of the most relevant sources, including important reviews, and traces as closely as possible the points that have aroused sharpest contention. The result is a book that is indispensable in showing why, since World War II, historical and theological approaches to the Bible have found it difficult to establish a common ground. It is part biographical and part methodological, looking beyond the work of one scholar to examine major questions about the use and interpretation of Protestantism's iconic book. It will certainly remain an essential work of reference for a while to come.
-R. E. Clements,
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
In sum, this book gives a very detailed and extensive presentation of the life's work of Brevard Childs. Driver demonstrates clearly Childs's deep rootedness in German-speaking historical-critical exegesis as well as in the Barthian stream of the Reformed tradition. He clearly lays out Childs's lifelong struggle for a whole-biblical theology that on the one hand takes historical-critical work seriously but on the other hand also can make a distinctive and prescriptive contribution to a decidedly Christian theology. As a biblical theologian, Childs is very hard to pin down, thanks to his detailed processing of the positions with which he interacted: his lifelong critique of the history-of-religions school, the unfortunate (because based on misunderstanding) criticism of James Barr (and others), and Childs's delimitation of his own approach from apparently similar but actually opposed narrative-critical and intertextual Bible-reading strategies that run afoul of sound literary-critical method. Overall, this stimulating book presents Child's impressive and influential work to exegetes and theologians as an inspiration and encouragement to consciously differentiate and actively represent their Christian theological positions.
Driver has undertaken the monumental task of attempting to understand the views of Brevard Childs...Driver does a masterful job of attempting to capture and explain the life, career, and views of Brevard Childs. Like all human beings, Childs was very complex. At the same time, two significant emphases in his life seem to stand out: the Bible is the guide of the church as a unified canon, and the role of the church is to attempt to understand and apply the Bible to contemporary life and practice. All who wrestle with the questions raised by these two points of emphasis will find this book a useful tool for study.
-John T. Willis,
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
Evangelical and historical-critical scholars alike who are wary of all things 'canonical' would do well to situate Childs in his academic context. Driver demonstrates that throughout his career, Childs reflected on the relationship between historical-critical and biblical-theological methods and assumptions...In a sense, the burden of Driver's volume is to answer thoroughly the question, 'What happens if Childs's work proves to have a logic of its own, even if it is a logic one finally chooses not to enter?' It is this suggestive yet balanced approach that makes Driver's volume an instructive hermeneutical guide for reading Childs.
Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
The comprehensive scope, theological insight, and analytical skill with which Driver treats his challenging subject make this work more than worthy of careful reading and rereading. It will surely advance our understanding of the significant issues involved.
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