Thursday, August 23, 2012

What is Typology?

Here are a few answers.

J. I. Packer succinctly gives us the standard stuff:
Typology . . . looks into Old Testament patterns of divine action, agency, and instruction that [find] final fulfillment in Christ. . . .[1]
Peter J. Leithart says it in his own way:
 “Typology” is a loaded word. . . . I use the word not only to highlight the principle that the Old Testament points ahead to Christ, but also to describe the structure of the Old Testament itself. The Old Testament is composed according to a rhythm of “repetition with difference” that is a microcosm of New Testament typology. David is a “type” of Jesus, but he is also an “antitype” of Adam. When I speak of a “typological” understanding of the Old Testament I am further calling attention to the literary devices that the Bible uses to communicate its message. These are “typological” in the sense that they are the means by which the Bible presents the rhythms of history, as well as the means by which the Old Testament in particular points to Christ. . . .[2]
And D. L. Baker perhaps puts it most helpfully:
The fundamental conviction that underlies typology is that God is consistently active in the history of this world (especially in the history of his chosen people) and that as a consequence the events in this history tend to follow a consistent pattern. One event may thus be chosen as typical of another or of many others. 
A type is a biblical event, person, or institution that serves as an example or pattern for other events, person, or institutions; typology is the study of types and the historical and theological correspondences between them; the basis of typology is God’s consistent activity in the history of his chosen people.[3]

[1] J. I. Packer, From the Forward of The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1988), 8.
[2] Peter Leithart, A House for My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament (Moscow: Canon Press, 2000), 27-28.
[3] Quoted in Robin Routledge, Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 45. 

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