Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 157:627 (Jul 00) p. 362
By the Faculty and Library Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary
Robert D. Ibach, Editor
“Typological Interpretation within the Old Testament: Melchizedekian Typology,” Chad L. Bird, Concordia Journal 26 (January 2000): 36-52.
Melchizedek appeared suddenly in Genesis 14:18–20 as a somewhat shadowy and mysterious figure about whom the reader would like to know more than is provided. The few things that are specifically mentioned concerning him invite curiosity. He has an intriguing compound name, derived from words for “king” and “righteousness.” He was both a regal figure (“king of Salem”) and a priestly one (“priest of God Most High”). Abraham himself deferred to him, paying tithes in acknowledgment of Melchizedek’s status and accepting his blessing. Nothing, however, is known of Melchizedek’s historical roots. The Book of Genesis, though elsewhere quite interested in such things, affords him no genealogy.
Melchizedek would probably have remained a minor figure in biblical history were it not for two important later developments. First, his priesthood provides the pattern for that of a messianic figure described in Psalm 110:4 as a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Second, the writer of the Book of Hebrews identified Melchizedek as a type of royal priesthood fulfilled in Jesus. The writer applied the language of Psalm 110:4 to Christ in order to demonstrate the superiority of His priesthood to that of the Levitical order. Thus Melchizedek serves as a type of a greater king-priest who was to come after Melchizedek. It is this typology that Chad Bird seeks to explore and elucidate.
Bird begins by reminding the reader that the Old Testament makes extensive use of typology, thereby laying a foundation for similar use made outside the Old Testament, notably in the New Testament. Perhaps the most familiar examples of the use of typological patterns on the part of Old Testament writers are those of the Exodus from Egypt (e.g., Isa. 51:9–11; 52:11–12), the negative example of Sodom and Gomorrah (e.g., Jer. 23:14), and Eden as a type of future blessings (e.g., Ezek. 36:33–35). Individuals also function as types in the Old Testament. Bird sees several different categories here: the person-type, where something about a historical individual is explicitly said to prefigure one to come who shares the name of the earlier individual (e.g...
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