The initial point to be made is that the canonical approach to Old Testament thoelogy is unequivocal in asserting that the object of theological reflection is the canonical writing of the Old Testament, that is, the Hebrew scriptures which are the received traditions of Israel. The materials for theological reflection are not the events or experiences behind the text, or apart fro mthe construal in scripture by a communty of faith and practice. however, because the biblical text continually bears witness to events and reactions in the life of Israel, the literature cannot be isolated from its ostensive reference (6).
I am appreciative for what Childs says here: the emphasis is most fruitfully placed on the canonical text. Where I disagree with Childs–and where I continue to be unsatisfied with his canonical methodology–is in his confidence that the larger canon intentionally serves as the hermeneutical lens through which one must interpret various texts. For instance, elsewhere in this tiny volume he argues about a topic near and dear to my heart–the ethically problematic tales of the patriarchs–suggesting that in the biblical canon the emphasis is not on their ethical infelicities but instead on the grace of God in choosing such figures and remaining steadfast to them. While I don’t disagree with the idea that God’s grace is in evidence (abundance!) in the ancestral narratives, I am quite hesitant to suggest with any sort of confidence that these later texts (for instance, Psalm 105, among others) are intentionally reinterpreting the Genesis texts. Why could the opposite trajectory not be equally, if not more, authoritative? Could the Genesis texts be offering a comment on Psalm 105 et. al.? I have never been convinced that the way one adjudicates the direction of interpretation and influence is anything but arbitrary. But in the end, I am deeply appreciative for Childs’ emphasis on the importance of the final form of the text as the locus of Israel’s theological reflection and thus the necessary starting point for the interpreter’s theological reflection as well.