How scripture speaks

Brevard Childs (1923-2007)
Brevard Childs, one of the leading Old Testament scholars of the 20th century and a biblical theologian of international renown, continued to publish major new works right up until his death on June 23. His magnum opus was undoubtedly Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Fortress, 1993). This 745-page volume was followed by a commentary on Isaiah (Westminster John Knox, 2001), a further volume on the reception history of Isaiah (Eerdmans, 2004) and—in a manuscript finished just before his death and to be published later this year—a treatment of Paul’s letters.

Childs’s scholarship was too wide-ranging and subtle to be summed up in a slogan or thumbnail sketch. In many respects, however, his life’s work could be viewed as a sustained act of reflection on how reading the Bible is not, in a phrase made famous by the 19th-century biblical scholar Benjamin Jowett, “like reading any other book.”


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