One of the most controversial and potentially difficult issues within the realm of biblical interpretation is that of typology. How are the people, places, events, and circumstances of the Old Testament text to be interpreted and understood insofar as their connection to subsequent people, places, events, and circumstances is concerned; especially as they relate to Christ and the church?
Greg Beale, in his forthcoming book, Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation (Baker Academic, 2012), provides a helpful definition for considering that which may be properly understood as having typological significance. He defines biblical typology as:
The study of analogical correspondences among revealed truths about persons, events, institutions, and other things within the historical framework of God’s special revelation, which, from a retrospective view, are of a prophetic nature and are escalated in meaning. (p. 14)
After defining biblical typology, he offers two helpful points of clarification regarding “escalation” and “retrospection”.
Beale notes, “By “escalation” is meant that the antitype (the NT correspondence) is heightened in some way in relation to the OT type. For example, John 19:36 views the requirement of not breaking the bones of the Passover lamb in the OT epoch to point to a greater reality of the bones of Jesus not being broken at the crucifixion…” Additionally, “…escalation would be the correspondence of God providing literal manna from heaven for physical sustenance and providing the manna of Christ from heaven for spiritual sustenance.” Clarifying “retrospection”, Beale says, “By “retrospection” is meant the idea that it was after Christ’s resurrection and under the direction of the Spirit that the apostolic writers understood certain OT historical narratives about persons, events, or institutions to be indirect prophecies of Christ or the church.” [Please read the qualification Beale cites regarding the “retrospective” characteristic of biblical typology, noted in the “Comments” section.]
While some interpreters are extremely leery of deeming anything in Scripture a “type” that isn’t expressly stated as such, Beale’s definition and subsequent study promises to be handled with scholarly precision and care, and, undoubtedly, a reverence for both God and his Word.
- WTSbooks.com has a sample chapter and audio lecture available, as well as some overall info on Beale’s forthcoming work.
- Amazon.com has the book for a deeply discounted pre-order price of $9.67 (Reg. $17.99)
- Baker Book House is offering the opportunity to win a copy of the book this week at their blog (Giveaway ends, Friday, August 17, 2012, at 6AM EST). I’m hoping to win a copy myself, so I can continue the study above! 🙂