Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yesterday's Memorial Service for Brevard Childs (1923-2007)

Yesterday I traveled by Amtrak back to Yale for Brevard Childs's Memorial Service. I arrived early, and had a chance for a long talk with Robert Wilson, currently academic dean, and for a tour around the new rennovations, which I had not seen before in person. YDS appears to be in strong shape indeed. Lee Keck did a marvelous job in speaking and memorializing Bard at the service. Bob Wilson also spoke very movingly in doing the prayers, specifically about Bard's several "private" and "public" voices, for which we are thankful. Bard's wife of fifty years, and closest friend, Ann, spoke and gave thanks at the reception in the YDS Common Room following the service. If I am able to get ahold of some of these words and prayers, either as video or transcripts, I will make them available here. I saw friends and former students of Bard from all over, including, in random order, Stephen Chapman, Richard Hays, Kevin Wilson, Vicki Hoffer, Dennis Olson, Harry Nasuti, Abraham Malherbe, Carolyn Sharpe, Harry Adams, David Bartlett, Kathryn Greene-McCreight, and many others. Judy Fentress-Williams and I ended up taking Amtrak back to DC together, arriving home about 1:30 in the morning. A long day.


Speaking of Stephen Chapman, I want to draw your attention to his article on Brevard Childs, a little over one page long, in a recent issue of the Christian Century (September 4, 2007), pp. 8-9. It is entitled "How Scripture Speaks." Stephen writes how for Childs, reading the Bible is very different from reading just any other book. True, the Bible is like other ancient texts, but "not in every way." The text has a voice as Scripture, which is something greater than its composite parts and than its reconstructed history of development or even than a flat reading of its final "literary" shape. Contrary to Childs critics, this voice must not be identified simply with an unhistorical reading of the text's surface. (As Lee Keck said in his remarks at the service yesterday, Childs refused to separate theology and history. He refused to keep separate the text's witness and the reality to which it pointed. Reading this unique text called Scripture is a complicated and multi-dimensional affair.) To hear and appreciate Scripture's voice requires disciplined, competent readers who "celebrate its anomaly," who study it as "a matter of life and death."

2 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

Stephen, I would love to see the article on Brevard Childs in the Christian Century, do you have the link? Many thanks - I am also praying for peace in Myanmar, so terrible!
Best, Peter

Thu Sep 27, 12:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thanks, Peter. I had to photocopy the article in the library. I do not think it is available on-line. (If anyone finds it, please let me know!) And yes, we are all wearing red shirts or ties today here at VTS in solidarity with Myanmar. I asked my two students, and they said they prefer the name "Burma." Interestingly, they feel the name Myanmar was imposed on the people by the military dictatorship. As always, so many thanks for your comments and support. Peace, ---SLC

Fri Sep 28, 10:41:00 AM GMT-5  

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