If I had to summarize typology…


If I had to summarize typology simply and briefly, this is how I’d do it.

  • Typology is not…
    • Allegory.
      • Allegory is not directly concerned with the meaning of the text. It’s interested in a spiritual or moral meaning that goes beyond the text.
      • Allegory is not directly concerned with the significance of the historical realities. It’s interested in ascribing spiritual meanings to these historical realities.
    • Making connections between obscure and insignificant details.
  • Typology is best understood as a “prophetic paradigm” – A type is a historical event, person, or institution in the storyline of scripture that serves as an anticipatory (“prophetic”) model/pattern (“paradigm”) for a greater reality (antitype) in God’s story of salvation.
  • Typology is rooted in…
    • The overarching storyline of scripture – These Biblical events, persons, and institutions occur within the storyline of scripture. This story takes place within the context of the covenants, is propelled forward by covenant promises, and therefore has a built in sense of anticipation as the story heads towards fulfillment. Therefore, these Biblical persons, events, and institutions have a special significance as they occur in God’s unfolding plan of salvation with the anticipation of its climax.
    • God’s nature (e.g., His sovereignty, omniscience, etc.) and a theological understanding of history – God’s providence over and guidance of history means that history is significant. These historical events, persons, and institutions should be understood as intentionally designed and revelatory.
    • God’s unchanging character – Since God is consistently true to His character, God’s previous actions, institutions, and appointed individuals/offices reveal something of His unchanging character as it relates to God’s future actions, institutions, and individuals/offices.

Trust the New Testament; and Give It Logical Priority

I was having a conversation with some individuals yesterday regarding Old Testament hermeneutics and the relationship between the Old Testament and the New.

As we were discussing the interpretation of the Old Testament, and particularly an insistence on literal interpretation of the Old Testament, I brought up the fact that too often of this sort discussion neglects how the New Testament develops and progresses what the Old Testament said. Further, it ignores the New Testament’s very use of the Old Testament (e.g., citations, allusions, calling things “fulfilled,” etc.).

Although the New Testament doesn’t violate or contradict the Old Testament voice, it often interprets and applies the Old Testament in non-literal ways (if by “literal” we mean an exact correspondence in meaning). Again, I would argue that the New Testament doesn’t violate or contradict the Old Testament. But it does use it and relate to it in such a way that it develops it, complements it, and applies it in light of the progress and unfolding of God’s plan in Christ and the Church.

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An Ecclesiological Concern with Messianic Judaism

Let me be very straight-forward (as if that’s unusual).

Messianic Judaism is something that makes me feel… uncomfortable, not for ethnic or cultural reasons, but theological ones. I say “uncomfortable” because, although I’m not sure I could clearly articulate my thoughts very well at this point, I have a sense of theological uneasiness in regards to this movement. I may be able to identify some of my concerns, e.g., Messianic Judaism seems to be a practical outcome of viewing Israel and the Church as two separate peoples of God (clearly an unbiblical concept). But I need to do some more thinking about what’s causing this theological nervousness.

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Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy

In Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy, two prominent argument-themes emerge. For that sake of organization, I’ll present this review according to those two categories.

The Kingdom Pattern

The fact that God acts in the history of men and interprets his acts means that these historical events will form a pattern that relates to the purpose of God [pg. 42].

And the central pattern that spans Biblical history, for Goldsworthy, is the concept of kingdom [42].

For Goldsworthy, the kingdom of God involves (a) God’s people, (b) in God’s place, (c) under God’s rule [53-54]. Both the content of the central Biblical covenants and the goal of redemption history is this kingdom of God [53]. Therefore, as an implication, under various Biblical covenants and within various eras of redemption history, different forms or stages of development of this kingdom exist on a trajectory ultimately consummating in the final realization of this kingdom in the Jesus Christ.

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In Pursuit of Something More than an Analogical Interpretation

There has been some talk within dispensational circles lately about “Biblical theology[1] without typology” (see “Warrant for the Analogical Interpretation of Select Scriptures, Part I” and “Part II” by Mark Snoeberger). The following is a response to Snoeberger’s position.

For those unfamiliar to these issues, we might provide the follow basic definitions of analogical and typological interpretation. Analogical interpretation occurs when a biblical writer draws an analogy between and compares (or maybe contrasts?) a reality from previous revelation to a current reality. Typological interpretation is the interpretation of historical events, institutions, persons, things (type) recorded in previous revelation in terms of their prophetic correspodence to later realites (antitype). So for example, the Old Testament sacrifices anticipated and served as a type which was ultimately fulfilled in Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, the antitype.

Attempting to pinpoint the issue of debate

In fairness to Snoeberger, I want to represent his articles’ purpose accurately. It would seem that Snoeberger’s goal in these articles is to demonstrate that typology is not the only viable basis for valid biblical theology.[2] And he attempts to do so by demonstrating the warrant for an analogical New Testament (NT) use of the Old Testament (OT).[3]

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