3 Short Essays: Typology

[Note: This is 1 of 3 essays, submitted as part of a course in Hermeneutics with LST]

Intrinsic to the notion of Typology as an exegetical tool is the sense that God’s revelation has been progressive in nature, with later characters, events or institutions invoking a sense of Déjà vu and are said to be an “anti-type” or prefiguring the latter except now in a fuller sense (Sensius plenior). The New Testament writers, recognising then the pattern of God’s unfolding plan of salvation refer
to and quote the O.T in their writing to support this biblical scheme of “promise and fulfilment”.

The word “Type” occurs prominently in Romans where Adam is recognised as a type of Christ [Romans 5:14], where in the case of the earlier character that disobeyed, death was brought into the world compared to Christ’s one act of righteousness in which he also acts as a covenantal head for all who are in him. Typology can also be observed at the core of the book of Hebrews where the whole argument of the Author is that the O.T contains “shadow[s] of the good things to come” [Hebrews 10:1]

However, there are debates about the legitimacy of N.T appropriation of the O.T (especially in the book of Hebrews), about whether Typology is prospective or retrospective, influenced by the Alexandrian school with its excessive allegorisation as found in the Platonic idea of ultimate reality. The prospective is truly the case though especially in the case of the book of Hebrews where the writer’s interest is in the confessed inadequacy of the old order in which Christ now finally comes to perfect. Grant R. Osborne*, offers two complementary factors that exonerate the writer of Hebrews of any Philonic accusations – first, that “the author does not try to go behind the Old Testament text or event but builds on the interpreted texts. Second, that the interpretive text do not replace the historical accounts, for the author has both in mind and adds his own often original contribution”.

* Grant R. Osbourne, The Hermeneutical Spiral. IVP USA; 2nd edition (4 Dec. 2006) Pg 342.


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