Brevard Childs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Brevard Childs
Brevard Childs.jpg
Born 2 September 1923[1]
Columbia, South Carolina
Died June 23, 2007[2]
New Haven, Connecticut[3]
Spouse(s) Ann Childs
Theological work
Notable ideas Canonical criticism

Brevard Springs Childs (September 2, 1923 – June 23, 2007) was an American Old Testament scholar and Professor of Old Testament at Yale University from 1958 until 1999 (and Sterling Professor after 1992), who is considered one of the most influential biblical scholars of the 20th century.

Thought[edit]

Childs is particularly noted for pioneering canonical criticism, a way of interpreting the Bible that focuses on the text of the biblical canon itself as a finished product. In fact, Childs disliked the term, believing his work to represent an entirely new departure, replacing the entire historical-critical method.[4] Childs set out his canonical approach in his Biblical Theology in Crisis (1970) and applied it in Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (1979). This latter book has been described as "one of the most discussed books of the 1980s".[5]

Childs' influences included Karl Barth[3] and Hermann Gunkel.[6]

Christopher Seitz argues that

Professor Childs single-handedly effected major and sustained changes in the conceptual framework of modern biblical studies through appeal to the canonical presentation of biblical books and the theological implications of attending to their final form.[7]

Seitz has also noted that "there is a small cottage industry in evaluating the contribution of Brevard Childs."[8]

Education[edit]

Childs’s formal education was interrupted during 1943-45 while he was serving in the United States Army during World War II. After being discharged, he continued his academic work at the University of Michigan.[9]

In addition to his earned degrees, Childs was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Theology by the University of Aberdeen in 1981 and by the University of Glasgow in 1992.[10]

Life[edit]

“There is no one hermeneutical key for unlocking the biblical message, but the canon provides the arena in which the struggle for understanding takes place.”
Brevard S. Childs[11]

Most of Childs’ professional life was spent in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. From 1958-1999, he was Professor of Old Testament at Yale University. In 2007, shortly after returning from his spring residence in the United Kingdom, Childs suffered a severe fall at his home in Connecticut from which he did not recover. He had continued writing and publishing until the end.[12]

Childs was survived by his wife, Ann, and their children, Kathy and John.[13]

Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School studied under Childs and notes:

His scholarship was very fully integrated into his character, it would be very difficult to separate those two. He was a Christian. His work was a form of discipleship.[14]

Publications[edit]

In addition to the following books, during the 1955-2006 period, Childs wrote some eighty articles and reviews.[15]

  • Myth and Reality in the Old Testament (1960)
  • Memory and Tradition in Israel (1962)
  • Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis (1967)
  • Biblical Theology in Crisis (1970)
  • The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary (1974)
  • Old Testament Books for Pastor and Teacher (1977)
  • Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (1979)
  • The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (1984)
  • Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context (1985)
  • Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible (1992)
  • Isaiah: A Commentary (2001)
  • Biblical Theology: A Proposal (2002)
  • The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture (2004)
  • The Church's Guide for Reading Paul: The Canonical Shaping of the Pauline Corpus (2008)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://manuscripts.ptsem.edu/collection/41 “The Brevard S. Childs Manuscript Collection” at Princeton Theological Seminary.
  2. ^ http://www.yale.edu/divinity/news/070625_news_childs.shtml
  3. ^ a b Obituary at Yale University
  4. ^ Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (SCM, 1979), 82–83.
  5. ^ Tremper Longman, Old Testament Commentary Survey, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 19.
  6. ^ Daniel R. Driver, Brevard Childs, Biblical Theologian (Baker Academic, 2012) §4 “Form-Final Form-Canon after Gunkel”.
  7. ^ Obituary at Society of Biblical Literature
  8. ^ Christopher R. Seitz, "The Canonical Approach and Theological Interpretation" in Craig Bartholomew et al (eds.), Canon and Biblical Interpretation, p. 61.
  9. ^ http://manuscripts.ptsem.edu/collection/41 “The Brevard S. Childs Manuscript Collection” at Princeton Theological Seminary.
  10. ^ http://manuscripts.ptsem.edu/collection/41 “The Brevard S. Childs Manuscript Collection” at Princeton Theological Seminary.
  11. ^ Brevard S. Childs, Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context (Fortress, 1986), 15.
  12. ^ Christopher R. Seitz, “Tribute to Brevard S. Childs at the International SBL Meeting in Vienna, Austria” in Christopher R. Seitz, Richards Kent Harold, eds, The Bible as Christian Scripture: The Work of Brevard S. Childs (Society of Biblical Lit, 2013), 1.
  13. ^ http://www.yale.edu/divinity/news/070625_news_childs.shtml
  14. ^ Yale Divinity School obituary online at http://www.yale.edu/divinity/news/070625_news_childs.shtml
  15. ^ Christopher R. Seitz, Richards Kent Harold, eds, The Bible as Christian Scripture: The Work of Brevard S. Childs (Society of /Biblical Lit, 2013),

External links[edit]