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Biblical Typology

A system of biblical interpretation which features particularly in the NT treatment of the OT, and which has since been applied by some exegetes to the NT in turn. The term “typology” is derived from the Greek word typos, “pattern” or “figure” (cf. Rom. 5:14); the NT antitypon (cf. Heb. 9:24) means much the same thing. Typology and allegory* overlap to some extent, but typology is in general more historical in character; a “type” is accordingly an event, person, or object which by its very nature and significance prefigures or foreshadows some later event, person, or object. Thus Adam is explicitly described in Romans 5:14 RSV as “a type of the one who was to come” (i.e., of Christ), because of his special place in human history. The most fruitful OT source for NT typology was, however, the Passover and Exodus complex of events: cf. John 3:14; 6:31-35; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 10:1-5. Also used as types are Noah, Melchizedek, and Jonah. Galatians 4:22- 31, though not dissimilar, is described by Paul as allegory. Typology began in the OT itself, as in the treatment of the Exodus theme in Isaiah 43:16ff.; 51:10f., and continued into postbiblical Jewish and Christian exegesis, especially at Alexandria.

A.G. Hebert, The Throne of David (1941); G.W.H. Lampe and K.J. Woollcombe, Essays in typology (1957); J. Barr, “Typology and allegory” in Old and New in Interpretation (1966), pp. 103- 48.

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