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Typology

By bibicontrewras Apr 29, 2010 772 Words
Examine the concept of “typology” and discuss its influence on early Christian thought. Identify key specific examples of the utilization of “typology”.

Typology: is the study or systematic classification of types that have characteristics or traits in common.( Merriam-Webster 868) This system of groupings ,usually called types, the members of which are identified by postulating specified attributes that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive groupings set up to aid demonstration or inquiry by establishing a limited relationship among phenomena. A type may represent one kind of attribute or several and need include only those features that are significant for the problem at hand; because a type need deal with only one kind of attribute, typologies can be used for the study of variables and of transitional situations. “Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments”. (Merriam-Webster 868) Perhaps the single most important concept for understanding early Christianity is typology. No idea, concept, or viewpoint so exercised control over every aspect of the Christianity view; in fact, it is no exaggeration to say that once you master the dynamics of typology, you can at some level understand any aspect of early Christian culture: art, architecture, theology, political theory, poetry, and more.

As Christianity quickly became a religion of the Greeks and the Romans, that is, a non-Jewish religion, certain tensions began to grow between the cultures that the Greeks and Roman Christians grew up with and the Jewish culture and faith that are at the foundation of the thought of Jesus of Nazareth. (White 115) Paul of Tarsus is the earliest person to try to bridge the gap between the Judaism of Jesus of Nazareth and the culture of the European Christians. The Old Testament could therefore be seen in places not as a literal account, but as an allegory, or foreshadowing, of the events of the New Testament, in particular how the events of the Old Testament related to the events of Christ's life. Most theorists believed in the literal truth of the Old Testament accounts, but regarded the events described as shaped by God to provide types foreshadowing Christ. Others believed that some parts of the Bible are essentially allegorical; however the typological relationships remain the same whichever view is taken. The doctrine is stated by Paul in Colossians 2:16-17 - "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." No matter what you do or what you say if base on the life of Jesus Christ everything else do not matter. Typological it also finds expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Other example of typology is the story of Jonah and the fish from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament Jonah told the men aboard the ship to sacrifice him by throwing him overboard. Jonah told them by taking his life, God’s wrath would pass and the sea would becoming

calm. Subsequently Jonah then spends three days and nights in the belly of a great fish before he is spat up onto dry land. Typological interpretation of this story holds that it prefigures Christ's burial, the stomach of the fish being Christ's tomb: as Jonah was freed from the whale after three days, so did Christ rise from His tomb after three days. In the New Testament Jesus can be thought to invoke Jonah as a type: “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29–32 (see also Matthew 12:38–42, 16:1–4). Jonah called the belly of the fish the land of the dead. Thus, whenever one finds an allusion to Jonah in Medieval art or medieval literature, it is usually an allegory for the burial and resurrection of Christ. Another common typological allegory entails the four major Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel prefiguring the four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or the twelve tribes of Israel foreshadowing the twelve apostles. There was no end to the number of analogies that commentators could find between stories of the Old Testament and the New; modern topologists prefer to limit themselves to considering typological relationships that they find sanctioned in the New Testament itself, as in the example of Jonah above.

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