Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Creating Space for Theological Reflection on the Two Christian Testaments

Jeremy made a very helpful comment on yesterday's post regarding my reflection on servanthood and artwork. I think he hits the nail on the head when he unviels the influence that Brevard Childs has had on my thinking. He writes:

You noted that, “The crucified one is a true "Servant" in the sense that both testaments of the Scriptures labor to flesh out the nature of "servanthood." It seems that Childs’ influence is helping you frame your study of servanthood in the sense that you are asking how both testaments are discrete witnesses to their subject (i.e. Christ). Personally, I think a large benefit of Childs project is not ultimately in his specific theological exegesis (only his exegesis is quite helpful and we are lucky to have it) but his ability to create a space for others to do Christian theological exegesis. In other words, by struggling to come to terms with the importance of a two testament Christian canon that sees 1. the relationship between the two testaments more than simply prequel and sequel and 2. our relationship to these testaments as different than that of the prophets and apostles, Childs tries to supply a framework from others to do Christian theological exegesis that is both spiritual (scripture as a witness to God) and disciplined (it takes seriously the notion of canon and fleshes out the consequences of this notion).

I mention this because I think his canonical proposals are often unfairly characterized as limiting exegetical work rather providing a framework for it. Partly, I think this is because his “Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testament” did not make as big an impact on the field of biblical theology as his earlier works did, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, it seems to me that you are showing very creatively how his canonical proposals can help one reflect on/develop a biblical theology of servanthood in both a spiritual and disciplined manner. --Jeremy

Warm thanks for these perceptive and welcome thoughts. Further comments welcome...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your discussing on servanthood very interesting because I was recently invited to contribute an essay to a volume that deals with disability and Christian theology. They want me to discuss disability and the authority of scripture by engaging the work of a major theologian. As a biblical scholar, I think it might be interest to look at issues of authority of scripture from a canonical prospective. Partly because I notice some developments in the use of Scripture in relation to disability that I think Childs can speak to: 1. the preference for a particular source over another. E.g. J’s theology of disability (esp. Exod 4:11) is more authoritative than P’s theology (e.g. Lev 21 and so on). 2. The NT is more authoritative than the OT (e.g. Acts 10 in relation to purity laws). Childs may help reframe the use of scripture in relation to disability by asking how both testaments use imagery of disability as discrete witnesses to God. At any rate, your posting are helping me think about how to apply Childs’ work to a particular motif within the Bible (servanthood, disability, etc.) as I’m still working out how to apply the above question to specific texts.


Thu Feb 01, 11:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Jeremy, your project sounds very interesting! Please keep us informed as it progresses! ---SLC

Thu Feb 01, 05:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter Carey said...

Steve, how 'digestable' is Brevard Childs ... tough going, or is it accessible...?

Thu Feb 01, 09:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

This book, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, is well written and clear at some points and in other sections could have used more editing, more blue pencil. In general, Childs writes at the level of seminary student and above. IMHO, all his writings are well worth the extra effort of digestion. ---S.

Thu Feb 01, 09:25:00 PM GMT-5  

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