Typology as Divine Disclosure: Relocating Biblical Types to Theology Proper

How can the myriad types and antitypes of Scripture be explained? Where should the study of typology first be located? One route is to locate typology in hermeneutics, as a literary technique. Writers used the images and conventions of previous writers for emphasis and continuity. More commonly, typology is seen as an explanatory similarity. In this case, it is located in spiritual history. As an example, Daniel must have styled his narrative after Joseph’s, not just because of the similar events, but also to signal to his readers to take away similar themes. By assessing typology this way, even commentators and biblical scholars with otherwise high views of inspiration miss the connection between God’s action in the world and the typological character in the text. Before it can be explained literarily, typology must be explained theologically.
In this paper, I will argue that typology must first be located in theology proper. Types reveal God’s own preferences for action and the continuity of his character. The reason similar storylines, characteristics, numbers, and images recur throughout the Bible is because God has preferred ways of working in the world, consistency in his disposition, and delights in his own manner of action. Things often happen in sevens, to take a numerical example, not just because of convention or symbolism, but because, we might say, God delights in sevenfold actions.
Because of the significant scope of assessing biblical typology, this paper will focus on the book of Revelation, the typological telos of the Scriptures; specifically, God’s sevenfold action, exodus typology, and the type-antitype relationship between Eden and the New Jerusalem. The results will be two-fold. First, it challenges scholars like Hamilton, Beale, Gentry, and Wellum, who require that the original text of a type-antitype pair gives an apparent warrant for future fulfillment. It is not the author, or the literary convention, that anticipates the antitype but the consistency of God’s own preferences for action. Therefore, while there may be an indication that an antitype is yet to come, there does not need to be. Second, it will open a pathway between typological texts and the nature of God by relocating typology to theology proper.

3 thoughts on “Typology as Divine Disclosure: Relocating Biblical Types to Theology Proper”

  1. God’s preferences
    The proposal seems to argue from Scriptural data to God’s preferences, perhaps missing that God may be communicating through various means in condescending to human fallibility.


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