Biblical Typology -- By: Charles T. Fritsch

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:414 (Apr 1947)
Article: Biblical Typology
Author: Charles T. Fritsch

Biblical Typology

Charles T. Fritsch

(Concluded from the January-March Number, 1947)

Principles of Biblical Typology

In this final lecture we propose to give a definition of the word “type” as we have been using it, to survey briefly the various schools of typology in the history of the church, and then to lay down certain principles which should help us to arrive at some agreement on this much disputed problem.

The definition which I propose for the word “type” in its theological sense is as follows: A type is an institution, historical event or person, ordained by God, which effectively prefigures some truth connected with Christianity. Let us take up each part of this definition seriatim.

Firstly, by defining the type as an institution, historical event or person we are emphasizing the fact that the type must be meaningful and real in its own right. As illustrations of this fact we need mention only the tabernacle, the exodus, and Abraham. In this respect a type differs from an allegory, a distinction which is not always observed. For an allegory is a fictitious narrative, or to put it less bluntly, in an allegory the historical truth of the narrative dealt with may or may not be accepted, whereas in typology, the fulfillment of the antitype can only be understood in the light of the reality of the original type.

Secondly, there must be a divinely intended connection between the type and the antitype. As Bishop Westcott says, “A type presupposes a purpose in history wrought out from age to age. An allegory rests finally in the

imagination….”1 This idea is of course closely bound up with the organic view of Scripture that was discussed in the opening lectures. The organic relationship between the type and antitype is just one of the many evidences of the organic relationship between the Old and New Testaments.2

Thirdly, the type is not only real and valid in its own right, but it is efficacious in its own immediate milieu. It can only effectively prefigure the antitype because it has inherent in it already at least some of the effectiveness which is to be fully realized in the antitype. For instance, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were efficacious in their day in so far as they pointed forward to the Lamb of God in whom the whole Old Testament sacrificial system was summed up. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was certainly effective for the Israelites of that time, but in the larger context of redemptive history it pointed forward to the redemptive act of the cross. The faith of A...

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