In The Church’s Guide for Reading Paul Brevard Childs turns his sharp scholarly eye to the works of the Apostle Paul and makes an unusual argument: the New Testament was canonically shaped, its formation a hermeneutical exercise in which its anonymous apostles and postapostolic editors collected, preserved, and theologically shaped the material in order for the evangelical traditions to serve successive generations of Christians.
Childs contends that within the New Testament the Pauline corpus stands as a unit bookended by Romans and the pastoral epistles. He assigns an introductory role to Romans, examining how it puts the contingencies of Paul’s earlier letters into context without sacrificing their particularity. At the other end, the pastoral epistles serve as a concluding valorization of Paul as the church’s doctrinal model. By considering Paul’s works as a whole, Childs offers a way to gain a fuller understanding of the individual letters.
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Interested in more? Be sure to check out the Eerdmans Pauline Studies Collection (15 vols.)
Here Brevard Childs offers his clearest statement of the continuities and differences between his canonical approach and historical criticism. The book has the character of a careful, probing conversation—punctuated by disagreement—that extends also to figural readings, postmodernism, and evangelical interpretation. His final gift is to demonstrate at length how central to all the church’s work is wide-ranging, critical scriptural exegesis, guided by the Spirit and disciplined by participation in the church’s life. This book will remain part of our conversation for years to come.
—Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School
This is vintage Childs. Who else among modern Old or New Testament scholars turns so easily to and converses so effortlessly with the other Testament and its critical scholarship? From whom else would we expect so arresting an analysis of the historical development and theological significance of ‘the canonical Paul’? It is as if Childs has hit the reset button on Pauline studies—sometimes resurrecting interpretive issues long neglected, sometimes casting contemporary discussion in fresh light, always pressing for renewed discussion of the role of the canon for reading the wider Pauline corpus in and for the church.
—Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
Brevard S. Childs was Sterling Professor Emeritus of Divinity at Yale Divinity School. Among his many books are Biblical Theology in Crisis, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, The New Testament as Canon, Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context, and Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible.