Methodological particularity . . . or pluralism?

One thing I have become increasingly aware of during my time in graduate school is what type of scholar I am, and what type I am not. And while scholarship seems to follow quite particular trends, what is ‘in-vogue’ does not, I would argue–and thankfully so–replace the ‘vogue’ methodological emphasis. But my struggle has always been negotiating these two voices, broadly labeled synchronic and diachronic.

I, myself, as should be evident by my blogger profile, am a synchronic, literary reader of biblical texts. I take many of my hints from Robert Alter, for whose The Art of Biblical Narrative I am tremendously grateful. This methodology has opened up the shear beauty and artistry of the Hebrew language, and I stand now convinced that the ancient Hebrew authors were far more intelligent than they are often given credit for being (which has led me to an increasing frustration when scholarship, commentaries, or the BHS critical apparatus suggests a so-called “better” reading, but cites no corroborating manuscript evidence). And I firmly believe, with this point in mind, that there is great meaning in how the text has been preserved . . . what has become its final form — warts and all. The meaning is in the warts of the text. But how ‘authentic’ is such an interpretation if a responsible diachronic analysis can account for and also make sense of the warts?

Diachronic analysis (transmission history, tradition history, redactional analyses, form criticism) seem to me to have many difficulties, not least of which I would say is often a subjective dismantling of the text. For me, these methodologies themselves are often quite circular, and can be quite jarring when applied in tandem with one another. I thus found Odil Hannes Steck’s Old Testament Exegesis: A Guide to the Methodology, to be quite interesting; he argues (correctly, at points) that these different diachronic methods intersect, inform one another, and cause one to rethink prior conclusions. Steck’s methodology, though, is wholly bound up with the German school of thought, and while I am thankful for his contribution, it has not only helped me to dialogue with those doing diachronic analyses, it has also confirmed for me what type of scholar I am not.

The underlying question here is whether one can successfully integrate diachronic and synchronic analyses together in a single study. To this question, I would venture a modest ‘yes.’ I am mindful here of the work of David Carr in his volume Reading the Fractures of Genesis. He opens the volume very clearly by stating his sentiment that diachronic and synchronic ways of reading are mutually illuminating. Just as synchronic analysis may reveal the “fractures” of the text, so also diachronic analysis may lead to a greater understanding of the text’s wholeness. Of course, Carr is still largely doing genetic work with the Genesis material, but there are helpful literary insights throughout. My teacher, W.H. Bellinger, Jr., argues for what he calls a “hermeneutic of curiosity,” which includes an admixture of diachronic and synchronic analyses. Pertaining to the Psalms specifically, he sees five necessary questions one must ask so as to gain the fulness of interpretation: (1) What is the form of the text; (2) What was its setting in worship/in ancient Israel’s context; (3) Where is the psalm in the Book of Psalms; (4) How does the text use language and rhetoric; (5) What does the reader bring to the text? It is quite easy, I think, to see how this list could be applied to any given biblical text. But I have a question: are each of these questions in harmony with one another? Put another way: does methodological pluralism lead one, potentially, to a text that is ultimately un-interpretable? Is it not likely that these questions would be jarring rather than producing a full, coherent whole? I don’t know.

I lament the divide that exists within scholarship. I also, though, think there is much to be learned from one another. And while diachronic analysis is surely not for me (to put it bluntly, once I see a verse broken down into ‘alpha,’ ‘beta,’ and ‘gamma’ I check out!), I think it has much to commend itself and much to teach. Similarly, synchronic, literary analyses it seems have much to teach scholars of the more diachronic persuasion. But how should one bridge this gap? Can we? And are we in a period of methodological particularity . . . or pluralism?

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26 thoughts on “Methodological particularity . . . or pluralism?

  1. David says:

    John it seems to me that a methodological pluralism or eclecticism is the best way to proceed as long as the adding of multiple methodologies do not overwhelm the exegetical process. For example, narratology is best when used as a descriptive tool, while rhetorical criticism moves more toward an analysis of the purpose of the text. Furthermore, different inter-textual methods may be helpful in seeing the meaning of the text or concept evolve through time and place. I realize that it may be that the division of these methodologies are artificial, but I have found that a text can be analyzed in more depth when a plurality of methods are used. This then can be further applied to the diachronic methods as well.

    BTW, I think you have a good start on this blog.

    David Hymes

  2. Tony Siew says:

    Hi John, welcome to the blogosphere. I agree that a synchronic reading of the OT text offers much insight. R. Alter’s books were most influential when I began my postgrad studies some years ago. Look forward to your posts on Genesis and the OT.

  3. John Anderson says:

    David and Tony:

    Thank you both for your posts; I hope you will pass the word and we can continue to dialogue here as time allows.

    By way of a brief, rushed response . . .

    David, I share your sentiments that methodological plurality is to be preferred. I remain hesitant, though, in stating with any modicum of confidence that these methods are always mutually illuminating. At times they no doubt crack the text wide open for the interpreter; but in my experience, such plurality also fails often to lend itself to a cogent, unified, single interpretation of a text (I do not mean to imply I think a text has a single meaning; rather, it seems to me this plurality would lead to readings, plural . . . which may not be entirely unproblematic in our postmodern context, but does not lend itself tidily to prospective publications.

    While I find diachronic methodologies quite interesting in the information they try to procure, I have become unfortunately agnostic in thinking they can do so successfully (or at least with the abounding level of confidence their practitioners see. For an example of such confidence, I would suggest von Rad’s “The Form-critical Problem of the Hexateuch” essay, which is actually a surprisingly pleasant, yet overconfident, read). Case in point: Pentateuchal composition. I cannot maintain with any confidence that anyone has–or likely will–ever get this nailed down. And while I am most amenable to a supplementary hypothesis, I do not find it terribly rewarding trying to isolate traditions, units, etc. and their pre/proto-history. At bottom, while diachronic issues are intriguing to me, I do not feel myself compelled to seek out their answers. Nor, more importantly, do I see such methodologies offering much theological insight that is relevant to contemporary ‘faith.’ Thoughts?

    All the best!

  4. Phil Sumpter says:

    Though Alter’s work is exciting, I find M. Steinberg’s treatment of the issue in his Poetics fare more satisfactory. He gives ample space for the both the synchronic and diachronic and highlights the fact that without attention to historical issues one cannot properly undrstand the text (applying the genre category “narrative,” for example, is not enough to tell us what kind of message the text is trying to convey. We need to know why the author was writing, what his goal was). This issue is important for me, as I’m into canonical/theological exegesis.

    Anyway, welcome to the blogosphere! Just a personal tip: I had this black on white format myself and a number of people complained that they found it hard to read. I finally decided to change it (after a year and a half!) and quite a few have thanked me for making the text easier to read. I have to say, having read this post it is a strain on the eyes …

  5. jimgetz says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of biblioblogging.

    I’ve personally found that synchronic and diachronic analysis needs to go together. While it is important to crack open the text and see where it comes from, at the end of the day you need to put it all back together again because that aggregate text is what tradition has handed down to us. This holds true as much for Gilgamesh or the Iliad as it does for Genesis or Matthew.

    BTW, I concure with Phil. I had a black theme for a while and folks were none to happy about it.

  6. psalterium says:

    I am far more interested in diachronic analysis than synchronic, though I do like to experiment in a synchronic reading of the Psalter.

  7. John Anderson says:

    Friends:

    Thank you for these comments. I have found them interesting and engaging.

    I must admit I am less acquainted with Steinberg’s Poetics, and once my comps are done I will check it out; the method sounds like something quite helpful for my dissertation (and the volume is actually in my dissertation bibliography I have compiled). Perhaps my attraction to Alter is that he offers at several points quite illuminating and helpful readings of the Jacob cycle, which is my area of interest.

    Jim, I agree ultimately that diachronic and synchronic approaches (and as I think about this further, I am quite unsatisfied with these artificial labels, not to mention the artificial divide it creates) need to work in tandem with one another. My question, though, is how should this be done — or even, can it be done? Obviously some have tried (David Carr, who I cite above; I would also include Brevard Childs’ Isaiah commentary in OTL). Your comment also about putting it all back together in the end reminds me of the approach one of my teachers, James Nogalski (of Book of the Twelve ‘fame’) proffers as an alternative to a wholly diachronic or wholly synchronic reading. I remember being unsatisfied personally with this way of thinking when it was first exposed to me, but as I reflect, it seems quite similar to the question of shaping (as opposed to shape) of the Psalter. How did the text come together, and why? This, however, still seems to fall much closer to the diachronic side of things. I also dislike the tendency within older scholarship, but surely some current as well, to reconstruct a text that does not exist and then interpret that text. At some point, some community saw this text as an authoritative, cogent, meaningful whole (warts and all); it is presumptuous of scholarship to think we can do better, that we know Hebrew better (!!!), or that we know what the ancient authors were trying to say. At bottom, I have always said, we need to interpret the text we have, not the text we wish we had. Diachronic analyses have a part in this process, but I am reticent to say it is a required part of the process.

    Psalterium – I checked out your blog and really enjoy it. I hope we can continue to dialogue both there and here. You may be interested to know I am currently working with Dr. W.H. Bellinger, Jr. on two Psalms projects: 1) the Smyth and Helwys commentary on the Psalms [this thing is a beast, but should be a fine volume]; 2) a second edition of his introductory textbook Psalms: Reading and Studying the Book of Praises published by Hendrickson. He is also writing a 2 volume Psalms commentary with Walter Brueggemann in the New Cambridge Bible Commenatry. These three volumes I hope will prove to be quite helpful.

    I was curious, also, if you were familiar with a volume on the Psalms that is particularly pertinent to the discussion here. It is entitled Diachronic and Synchronic: Reading the Psalms in Real Time, edited by Joel Burnett, W.H. Bellinger, and W. Dennis Tucker and published by T&T Clark in the LHB/OT series. As the title suggests, it offers synchronic and diachronic readings of the Psalter, with essays by the three editors, as well as Brueggemann, C. Mandolfo, Bill Brown, Adele Berlin, Erhard Gerstenberger, Clint McCann, and others. It was published in 2007 and thus, I think, offers a nice snapshot of Psalms scholarship at the time (and maybe also speaks, in a way, to our methodological question).

    Thoughts?

    I hope you will continue to visit the blog!
    All the best!

  8. Phil Sumpter says:

    Steinberg’s opening chapter is one of the most interesting pieces of work I’ve read in Biblical studies.

    My understanding of Childs’ attempt to value the ‘final form’ is that he sees its unity as consisting in its theological referent, rather than in a literarily coherent text. This means that a Childsian synchronic reading is always of a more dogmatic flavour than literary readings of, say, Alter. He’s often criticized other attempts at synchronic reading – done in the name of a ‘canonical approach’ – for ‘flattening the text’ and imposing a foreign ideology on to it. Key here is the Barthian/von Radian concept of the text as a kerygmatic witness, which is where I think Sternberg becomes useful again.

    Thanks for referencing the volume Diachronic and Synchronic. I’m attempting a canonical interpretation of Psalm 24, so this will come in handy.

  9. psalterium says:

    John,

    Your work sounds infinitely more interesting than mine. That’s for mentioning Diachronic and Synchronic I will have to check it out, some big names there!

    In terms of method, I doubt very much that a Diachronic reading of individual Psalms will produce too much by way of a Synchronic reading but I am happy to be proven wrong. Have you any thoughts on when the Psalter was closed, would you agree with Wilson’s thesis of 50CE?

    One of my long-term goals is to come to terms with German so that I can translate Mowinckel’s Psalmenstudien II: Das Thronbesteigungsfest Jahwas und der Ursprung der Eschatologie but that will take a few years!!

    Kind regards,

    Richard
    (BTW: yhwh mlk is also mine)

  10. John Anderson says:

    German is a beast of a language. But necessary . . . I wish you well in your goal of translating Mowinckel.

    Re: the closing of the Psalter, I used to have this information very much at the tip of my mind, but alas, much of it has gone away. Here, though, is how I would respond:

    The issue is of course a complex one, especially with the Qumran material now in play. Wilson’s The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter notes three possibilities with the Qumran evidence in mind: 1) a sequential linkage [i.e. 11QPsa–>MT150]; 2) parallel collection [i.e., 11QPsa a more inclusive collection, with MT 150 becoming official canon at the end of the first century CE]; 3) MT 150 stabilized prior to the 4th century BCE [thus making the Qumran material of a different sort]. The Qumran pss material certainly seems to point to a fixity for Books I-III early on, and a greater fluidity with Books IV-V even into the first century. This issue is compounded all the more, I think, by how one understands the Qumran community (just how 'sectarian' are they?) and, more importantly, what constitutes scripture for them? I would argue the Qumran community certainly has a much looser view of Scripture (see, for instance, the double citation and intentional alteration of 'scripture' in two lemmata in the Habakkuk pesher (1QpHab), or even the many Rewritten Scripture texts, or Genesis Apocryphon, or Jubilees), and thus it is conceivable to me–but still equivocal–that the Qumran pss material may not be decisive in solving the question . . . but it is no doubt seminal.

    Peter Flint, in his The Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls and The Book of Psalms argues that the corrections in 4Qpse suggestion an earlier edition (11QPsa) that was corrected toward a text similar to the MT. He thus sees three editions of the Psalter at Qumran: 1) early edition [Pss 1/2-89] used before the founding of the community ca. 150 BCE; 2) Edition IIA [11QPsa], which has scriptural status; Pss 90ff joined with Edition I before the Qumran period by those advocating the solar calendar; 3) Edition IIB [the MT 150], completed prior to the Qumran period. Flint also points out that the fact the MT arrangement is attested in a LXX trans in the second half of the 2nd century BCE corroborates this view).

    Two other views deserve brief mention. Patrick Skehan sees 11QPsa as dependent upon MT 150. George Brooke argues that Books I-III are stable in the early Second Temple period, but Books IV-V compiled at a later date (cf. Wilson).

    Now that I’ve done my history of scholarship (wink) . . . it seems to me the Qumran evidence provides a terminus ad quem of around the first century CE. But the LXX attests to a period a few centuries earlier. This point, however, cannot be an unequivocal terminus ante quem . . . one would have to go back further and have other mss. evidence to corroborate. There are, though, compelling arguments for reading the Psalter in a post exilic (Persian?) context. That said, I would conclude with two provisional points.

    1) The Psalter achieved its final canonical form sometime between, roughly, the 4th century BCE-1st century CE. A huge span of time, but right now, without doing further reading to refresh my memory, I don’t feel safe getting any more specific.

    2) 11QPsa–and other Qumran pss material–likely knew and derived from at the very least a well established Books I-III, or perhaps even the entire MT 150.

    Whew. I hope that is helpful.

  11. John Anderson says:

    No problem. I appreciate the prodding, and hope this has been a helpful response.

    So, what do you think? Where do you come down on the question?

  12. Phil Sumpter says:

    John,

    this is an excellent and helpful summary – especially if it was off the top of your head (thanks)!

    I’m not expert, but I can at least add the considerations made by Erich Zenger for narrowing the time frame down to the fifty year gap between 200-150 BCE. History of thought issus seem to play a significant role:

    1) The editorially placed Psalter framework (Pss 1-2 and 146-150) reflect the language and theology found in Jesus Sirach (175 BCE).
    2) The same goes for Qumran’s wisdom text musar lammebin and the “Book of Mysteries” (Tora wisdom, eschatology, ethnic-cosmological dualism, praise of God).
    3) The Qumran Pesher 4QMidr.Eschat(a ) (71-63 BCE) combines the sequence of Ps 1:1 and Ps 2:1f. with other Biblical quotes and applies them eschatologically to the Qumran community. For the order of the Psalter to have had such authority, A. Lange reckons it must have accepted with the grounding of the community in 152 BCE.
    4) The LXX translation (Jerusalem, 100 BCE?) affirms the MT ordering and the number of Psalms.
    5) The paleographic manuscript Masada Psalms b (2 half of 1st cent. BCE) confirms the order.
    6) The differing order in 11QPs [a], could, as you say, be due to liturgical usage. It may even have been made to compete with the MT, which would just confirm the dating.

    You said: I would argue the Qumran community certainly has a much looser view of Scripture . Would this, then, be similar to the NT, as they to changed the text for their goals?

  13. psalterium says:

    John, I haven’t read enough to come to a solid conclusion. Personally I would side with Mowinckel but I am not convinced he takes the DSS into account enough.

  14. psalterium says:

    I would also be tempted to ask if there really is a canon, especially when the LXX and MT differ.

    Any good book suggestions on this would be most welcome!

  15. John Anderson says:

    Phil: I must confess, I did pull my notes out to confirm some of the specific dates I cite. But I was proud to have remembered what I did. The texts you point out are helpful. I also cannot help but notice how eschatologically charged the texts you cite are (which, I trust, is because you are getting this information from Zenger). The potential difficulty I see here–and it is by no means insurmountable–is that one relies on dating a text (or collection) based upon the presumed dating of another text, one constructs a base that may not be as solid as one would like. Dating texts is a science and an art, one that I am not particularly adept at. But I would be hesitant–although maybe not reticent–to date the Psalter’s final form based upon other texts with which we may/may not be certain re: date. Maybe I am being too picky . . . and maybe approximate dates are a helpful enough indicator.

    Psalterium: Can you remind me where Mowinckel comes down on dating the final form of the Psalter? And I would venture it is safe to say he doesn’t take the Qumran material into account.

    re: a suggestion for a volume on canon . . . of course Brevard Childs is a fine place to go, but I get the sense he presumes many answers in his analyses to questions you would like to ask. While I have not read this volume (although I am awaiting its arrival), there is a volume published by Hendrickson that contains countless essays and may be of interest. Here is the bibliography:

    McDonald, Lee Martin and James Sanders, eds., The Canon Debate. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2002. (ISBN: 9781565635173).

    HERE is the link to the description on Hendrickson’s website: http://www.hendrickson.com/html/product/35175.trade.html?category=all

    Others?

  16. Phil Sumpter says:

    John,

    I actually agree with you that one must be reticent with such things. I’m simply choosing Zenger at the moment as an orientation point in a field which is overwhelmingly complex!

    Richard (Psalterium),

    Childs wrote a review of Psalms research and he mentioned that Mowinckel’s weakness was that he did not take the Qumram material suffienciently into consideration. As for Mowinckel’s theories themselves – there is a fair bit of debate about them. I recently discovered that he differed to his teacher Gunkel on the question of the relation of the Psalms to the cult. Whereas Mowinckel saw them as direct transcripts for the liturgy, Gunkel saw the Psalms as drawing on cultic genres but doing their own thing with them and orientating them towards private piety. Zenger and Hossfeld have taken up Gunkel’s approach. Seybold has a middle way: the Psalms were originally cultic but they were separated from their cultic use over a period of time.

    As for the issue of “canon,” the fact that LXX and MT differ does not mean that there was no canon. At most it means that there were two canons (if LXX was ever conceived to have an authority independent of the MT). Canon always assumes a community: the MT is the canon of the Jewish people. It was closed and stabilized in the 1st Century A.D. Which canon is the canon of the church is a debated issue, but I’d tend to take the Protestant route. See Childs’ chapter on Text Criticism in his Introduction.

    Daniel Driver, who has just completed a PhD on Childs, laments how the volume edited by Sanders takes no account of Childs’ version of the canonical approach. A pity, in my book, as I think it is superior!

  17. John Anderson says:

    I find that odd, and potentially problematic (I’ll wait until I read it) that the Sanders/McDonald volume does not treat Childs. Perhaps because, as I understand it, these essays are more about the formation of the canon and Childs (more or less, and I realize this is an over-simplification) assumes the canon as the locus of his exegetical activity. I think the fact that Sanders has a part in this volume by Hendrickson makes the distinction clear. Sanders would be more interesting in the “shaping” (i.e., formation of), whereas Childs–once he had moved beyond his form-critical days (you did know Childs is a ‘reformed’ form-critic, right? Very interesting stuff . . . see his Memory and Tradition in Israel. Studies in Biblical Theology 37 (1962) . . . it is quite different) is much more interested in the “shape” the text has already attained. I would venture it is not a slight towards Childs, just a recognition of two similar, yet different, methodologies.

    Re: the issue of canon . . . In Emanuel Tov’s Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2001, 2nd revised edition) he discusses how several biblical texts had multiple final forms. For instance, the vast differences between MT and LXX Jeremiah. Joshua also exhibits differences. He attributes this difference to multiple versions of the final form of the text being preserved. Put simply, for instance, LXX Jeremiah was written and circulated, then some time later it was rewritten/revised and expanded, and recirculated. These second final forms, however, did not always trump or erase the first final form, and thus we have multiple, divergent traditions. I find this compelling. I also think it has some ramifications for the concept of canon.

    Re: Mowinckel and Gunkel. Indeed, there is a distinction between the two. Gunkel saw the psalm we have in the canon as examples or types, similar to the psalms that would have been sung in ancient Israel’s worship. Mowinckel, however, felt this view to be inadequate and said the psalms in the book of Psalms are the actual Psalms used in ancient Israel’s worship. Likely with the events of 587 BCE the psalms were loosed from their cultic context and were able to be handled far more freely . . . which is how I interpret the presence of a psalm in Habakkuk 3.

    And lastly, on the topic of Zenger as an orienting point, I am on board. I personally am not a Zengerite (too much eschatology for me), but I find his work to be thoughtful and helpful.

  18. psalterium says:

    John: Thanks for the book recommendation. Mowinckel goes for no later than 200 BCE but likely circa 300 BCE, you should be able to read his argument here.

    Phil: In regards to Mowinckel’s argument you are probably aware that I braodly subscribe to his approach over and against Gunkel. Gunkel argued the Psalms were written very late, Mowinckel demonstrated the very opposite. At the same time I would be happy to allow for an exilic/post-exilic redaction.

  19. John Anderson says:

    Richard:

    I understand your ascribing to Mowinckel’s understanding of the Psalms over-against Gunkel’s (honestly, I had never thought terribly hard about how I feel about the issue . . . I think scholarship has just more or less assumed Mowinckel; at least that is my take), but would you say you ascribe to the bulk of Mowinckel’s methodology and conclusions in his The Psalms in Israel’s Worship? I ask because, for me at least, while this volume was no doubt groundbreaking at one time (and still is in some respects), I think it is, for lack of a better word, passe in terms of where scholarship has gone. I would also personally call many of Mowinckel’s conclusions into question, not least of which would be his reconstruction of the New Year’s festival, and see him as operating within a hermeneutic that is not terribly prevalent in Psalms scholarship at present.

    To be fair, I do recognize that much of Psalms scholarship still has an interest in deciphering the original (cultic) Sitz im Leben of a given psalm, but I also think scholarship has grown increasingly hesitant in proferring these ideas with the same level of bold confidence evident in Mowinckel. Certainly my teacher, Bill Bellinger, still incorporates a worship setting as part of the necessary interpretive work for a given psalm (as I discuss way up above!) . . . but I am just not certain that festival settings are so clear. If one wants to accept the psalms as having a worship setting, I’m glad to oblige. When psalms begin being ascribed to particular festivals (and reconstructed festivals at that) I begin to lose interest quickly. But maybe that’s just the anti-historical/critical side of me talking?!?!

    And yes, some of Tov is quite fascinating. I remain unclear, though, about how he views the task of textual criticism. Is it ultimately about recognizing the variety within the textual witnesses as he seems to emphasize early on in the volume, or is it getting at the Urtext (which, you may suspect, is a task I have somewhat agnostic feelings about regarding its potential success. But it is an interesting endeavor no doubt!

  20. psalterium says:

    John: I think I would ascribe to the bulk of Mowinckel’s methodology and conclusions in his The Psalms in Israel’s Worship whilst acknowledging that modern psalms scholarship has ‘moved on’ to pastures new.

    I have found John H. Eaton’s Festal Drama in Deutero-Isaiah and his Kingship in the Psalms to be quite stimulating works building upon the insights of Mowinckel, both somewhat overlooked in recent scholarship. Having said that Baltzer references the former in his Deutero-Isaiah: A Commentary on Isaiah 40-55.

    In terms of Mowinckel’s “reconstructed festival” I would broadly agree with him, interestingly F. M. Cross attempted to modify Mowinckel’s conclusions and posited two ‘new year’ festivals in his Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, one in the Spring associated with Passover and one in the Autumn associated with Tabernacles. I agree that the Scandinavian school and Myth and Ritual school went somewhat overboard, though again I am somewhat taken by their views concerning Gen. 1-2 and Ex. 1-15.

    I would suggest that the biblical text witnesses to the reconstructed festival posited by Mowinckel but we do need to be careful how detailed we become about what went on.

  21. Phil Sumpter says:

    John,

    I think you’re on the right track concerning the differences between Sanders and Childs. By the way, I’m not sure Childs really moved too far from his form critical days. For him, the final form is a “form” after all, and so subject to the kinds of constraints (similar, at least) that his former form-critical work operated in (attention to form, content, and most of all: function).

    I also agree that the recensional history of the various “final forms” has implications for how we conceive of the nature of canon. Childs’ option for the MT was more theological (“ontological unity of the people of God”).

    And for what it’s worth, I’m also on board with your sceptisism concerning Mowinkcel and affirmation of the latest developments.

    Richard,

    as if by coincidence, I’ve just started reading Tov. Your right, fascinating stuff.

  22. John Anderson says:

    Wow, a hot topic (and no, not that scary store you see in every mall).

    Phil:

    I appreciate your comments on Childs. I think you have a point. It seems to me,though, that Childs began to ask questions most form critics weren’t (and perhaps still don’t).

    Similarly, I appreciate your comments on Mowinckel. What he did was revolutionary when he did it, but beyond that I can’t ascribe to much of his methodology today.

    And re: Tov being “fascinating”—did we read the same book?!?! Kidding. But in all fairness, I think the meat of that monograph was clearly in the first half of the volume.

  23. Phil Sumpter says:

    Oh yes, Tov is fascinating. For me, even the Hebrew/Greek lettering is an aesthetic object. I know this is not for everyone though. I like Childs’ comments on N.T. text critics: “It would almost appear as if a special breed of scholar has been needed …” Not that I intend to become a text critic myself.

    Concerning Zenger and eschatology, I’m guessing you wouldn’t agree with this

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