By Edward Ball

The prestigious authors whose essays look during this quantity (marking the 70th birthday of Ronald Clements,who till his retirement, was once the Samuel Davidson Professor of previous testomony reports, King's collage London) comprise John Barton, Walter Brueggemann, Brevard Childs, John Rogerson, Rolf Rendtorff, Hugh Williamson, the overdue Norman Whybray, Graeme Auld, Richard Coggins. The subject of the amount displays Clements's contemporary curiosity in 'wisdom' as an interpretative framework, and the essays tackle the function of theology and hermeneutics in biblical exegesis, via an exam of tools and ways in addition to by way of software to precise previous testomony writings. whereas the amount levels via problems with canon, biblical theology and literary feedback, with numerous essays at the prophetic books, it continues a transparent specialize in the various concerns and demanding situations dealing with the modern interpreter of the scriptures.

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This is to put the matter in a very sharp and polemical way, and for the most part, of course, the difference between critical and canonical readings will be slight, if they even exist at all: but I believe it is important to see what is at stake. The canonical approach ultimately tells the student of the Bible what to think the text says on doctrinal grounds, rather than on the basis of the philological and textual criteria which historical criticism has developed. It says, for example, that since the overall drift of the Bible is in the direction of monotheism and the framework within which we are meant to read it is that of JudaeoChristian monotheism, any given text in Scripture should be interpreted as a witness to such monotheism, for by definition any non-monotheistic interpretation can only be of a level of the text which is sub- or notyet-canonical and therefore is ruled out by the canonical approach.

Josipovici, The Book of God: A Response to the Bible (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988). 12. See F. Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative 44 In Search of True Wisdom There the reason is perhaps a sense that these interpreters read the biblical books as 'texts' in the pregnant sense that term has in modern literary criticism, or even as works, an equally important term. Jack Miles, for example, tries to see how the Hebrew Bible would look if one interpreted it as a single work with a unified plot and consistent characterization: hence his title God: A Biography.

It says that there were no 'canonical' readings during the 'historical-critical' period which, as we have seen, is at best partially true. But it maintains that there were such readings in pre-critical times. The programme of the canonical approach as argued for by Childs is to reclaim the biblical hermeneutic of the era before historical criticism—in effect, before the Enlightenment. When in his great Exodus commentary Childs surveys the interpretations of the Fathers and the Reformers, he is not practising mere reception history, out of a historical interest in what people in the past made of the Bible.

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