The Good and the Bad of Brevard Childs’s Canonical Criticism

chilsdIn his book Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, Brevard Child’s explains his approach to canonical criticism, a term he does not like (82), but one that generally describes his approach to interpreting Scripture in its final form. Among critical scholars, i.e., those who employed historical-critical methods of interpretation, Childs championed a new (and better) approach to the Bible.

Instead of looking for the sources behind the text (e.g., Julius Wellhausen) or certain forms in the text (e.g., Herman Gunkel), or traditions running through the text (e.g., Gerhard Von Rad), Childs advocated an approach to the Bible which studied the final form of the text. In the academy, this approach turned the corner towards studying the unity of the Bible and not just its diversity. His work spurred on others to read the Bible canonically, and his labors helped turn the corner towards what is known today as TIS, the theological interpretation of Scripture.

Therefore, its worth considering what he said on the subject of reading the Bible in its canonical form. From his chapter on “Canonical Criticism,” here are a few insightful quotations, listed under five summary statements.

(Spoiler Alert: At the end, I’ll outline a few reasons why Childs approach may not be helpful as some think.) Continue reading

A Few Thoughts on Typology

The subject of typology has been an interesting subject over the last few years. It is a place where theologians and biblical exegetes take turns cranking the hermeneutical spiral to figure out just how the Old and New Testaments work together. This subject matter—typology—was a key part of my dissertation, and it is something I think about often (read: every time I read the OT).

So, when I see friends like Jim Hamilton, Patrick Schreiner, and Matt Emerson squaring off to discuss some of the finely tuned nuances of Biblical Theology, TIS (Theological Interpretation of Scripture), and typology, I am keenly interested. Here are their posts. The comment sections are worthwhile, too.

Typology, Biblical Theology, and the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Jim Hamilton)

Typology and Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Patrick Schreiner)

Typology, TIS, and Biblical Theology (Matt Emerson)

Authorial Intent and Biblical Theology: A Rejoined to Patrick Schreiner (Jim Hamilton)

Maybe at some point I will pick up the conversation on the blog here. At present I am working on finishing up a journal article that has been ruminating for about five years. Hopefully, it will be published sooner than later.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss


An Explanation and Evaluation of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Last year, our Systematic Theology Colloquium at SBTS discussed the growing movement among evangelical scholars called Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS).  Since our class was comprised of students committed to the full inerrancy of Scripture, it was skeptical because of  the movement’s uncertain Scriptural foundation. You can see my evaluation here.

This summer in a far more comprehensive fashion, the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT) published a series of articles explaining and evaluating TIS.  Online you can find Steve Wellum’s introductory editorial where he raises a number of questions that must be answered concerning TIS.  In his introduction he describes TIS “as a broad and diverse movement comprised of biblical scholars and theologians who are mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and evangelicals and who are attempting to recover the authority of the Bible and to return it to the church. Obviously this raises the question as to what TIS is recovering the Bible from and the answer to this question helps describe why it has arisen.”

He notes that “a majority of those in the TIS movement arise out of non-evangelical circles since, like Karl Barth before them (who is often viewed as the “founder” of the movement), they are attempting to recover the Bible’s voice by rejecting the liberalism they were taught and raised in.”  With such ambiguity on the Bible, it raises questions (for me at least) as to how long this movement can last without an agreement on Scripture, or how long “evangelical” pastor-scholars, who affirm inerrancy, can remain in their circles.

As this movement is having increasing impact in scholarship (which always trickles down to the church) and is attracting many evangelicals (e.g. Kevin Vanhoozer, Daniel Treier, Jonathan Pennington), its develop should be watched and analyzed.

If you are interested in tracking down the journal, here is what you will find.

Editorial: Stephen J. Wellum, “Reflecting upon the ‘Theological Interpretation of Scripture‘”

Daniel J. Treier and Uche Anizor, “Theological Interpretation of Scripture and Evangelical Systematic Theology: Iron Sharpening Iron?”

Stephen Dempster, “‘A Light in a Dark Place’: A Tale of Two Kings and Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament”

Gregg R. Allison, “Theological Interpretation of Scripture: An Introduction and Preliminary Evaluation”

Keith Goad, “Gregory as a Model of Theological Interpretation”

Robert L. Plummer, “Righteousness and Peace Kiss: The Reconciliation of Authorial Intent and Biblical Typology”

James M. Hamilton Jr., “John Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch: A Review Essay”

Soli Deo Gloria, dss