Canon(ical) Criticism

Ken Smith kens at
Sat Mar 16 15:26:24 EST 2002

I think that's exactly what I was trying to say, Liz.  I'm certainly not
advocating an intentional mistranslation of a passage.  But (as Childs
concludes), there really isn't any one particular English word that is a
good translation of (LMH.  Not only is the evidence for its actual
meaning rather ambiguous, but most scholars think that neither "virgin"
nor "young woman" precisely capture its semantic range.  Given that
ambiguity, and given the extensive Christian tradition (both within the
Christian canon and outside of it) which sees Is. 7:14 as a reference to
Mary, I don't think it's at all a stretch for a Christian Bible to
render it as "virgin".  (I would hardly expect a Jewish translation to
do so, of course: Judaism has its own interpretive history to work with
and answer to.)  I agree that a prophecy of the virgin birth of the
Messiah probably wasn't what the historical Isaiah was trying to say --
but then the final, canonical shape of the book of Isaiah was hardly
what the historical Isaiah was trying to say, either.  And I'm not sure
I see any fundamental difference (there are some differences, obviously)
between reading Is. 1 in light of Isaiah 66, reading Joshua 7 in light
of Genesis 12, reading Is. 7 in light of Matthew 1, reading John 1 in
light of the Council of Nicea, or reading Deut. 6 in light of the
Mishnah or Talmud.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lisbeth S. Fried [mailto:lizfried at] 
> Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2002 12:02 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: Canon(ical) Criticism
> Hmm, maybe you're right, but maybe we're both right,
> maybe it's the same thing. When Childs interprets the
> text of the Book of Isaiah, it's canonical form is it's 
> meaning as part of the *Christian* canon, and the present 
> meaning of that canon includes the whole history of its 
> interpretation in the church. At any rate, he's not concerned 
> with what the historical Isaiah is trying to say. Liz
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Christian M. M. Brady [mailto:cbrady at]
> > Sent: Sat, March 16, 2002 2:47 PM
> > To: Biblical Hebrew
> > Subject: Canon(ical) Criticism
> >
> >
> > On 3/16/02 1:48 PM, "Lisbeth S. Fried" <lizfried at> wrote:
> >
> > > Dear Ken,
> > > With these last remarks you seem to be confusing canon 
> criticism and 
> > > eisegesis. Canon criticism is the very laudable study of how the 
> > > bible has been interpreted by faith communities through the 
> > > millenia.
> >
> > I am not sure about Ken's posts (wasn't paying attention) or what 
> > "Canon criticism" is. But as I understand *canonical 
> criticism* (e.g., 
> > Brevard
> > Childs) it is not studying how the Bible has been 
> interpreted through the
> > millennia, but instead is critical study of the biblical 
> text as it stands
> > in its *canonical form* rather than as, say, the "J" source.
> >
> > Is that what you meant Lis or is one of us getting our 
> terms confused 
> > (and it may well be me).
> >
> > Cb
> > cbrady @
> > --
> > "There are a good many fools who call me a friend,
> >  and also a good many friends who call me a fool."
> >                                       - Chesterton
> >
> >
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