Childs (1923-2007), a scholar from the second half of the twentieth century, is most well known for pioneering canonical criticism (a term coined by James Sanders, but eventually rejected by Childs) or the “canonical approach” as he liked to call it. He, along with James Sanders, helped pioneer a way of looking a biblical books that reacted to, yet did not reject the tradition historical-critical method. Canonical criticism was a way of reclaiming the biblical text from the hands of scholars who were so focused on keeping the meaning of scripture in its original context in the first millennium which made it more difficult to use on the pulpit. Childs wished to see the HB in its canonical context, seeing how originally disparate voices and sources are made to work together within a text once it reaches its final canonical “shape” (the canonical “shape” of a text was technical term for Childs). Although similar to literary criticism in its regard for the final form of the text, Child’s canonical approach does not necessarily reject the results of the historical critical method, it merely puts sources and voices within a “canonical context” refusing to privilege one voice over another based on its historical origins. Whereas Sander’s brand of canonical criticism looked the process and community that canonized scripture as point of departure for later analysis, Child’s focused upon the text itself, its canonical shape.


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