Typology: A Summary Of The Present Evangelical Discussion -- By: W. Edward Glenny

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 40:4 (Dec 1997)
Article: Typology: A Summary Of The Present Evangelical Discussion
Author: W. Edward Glenny

Typology: A Summary
Of The Present Evangelical Discussion

W. Edward Glenny*

* Edward Glenny is director of postgraduate studies at Central Baptist Seminary, 1250 West Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55411–2587.

The issue of what constitutes typology surfaces regularly in discussions of continuity and discontinuity and of the relationship between the OT and NT. It is also a major component in defining what we mean by literal hermeneutics. John Feinberg has stated that the debate between covenant theologians and dispensationalists over what constitutes literal hermeneutics stems from three fundamental and interrelated issues: “the relation of the progress of revelation to the priority of one Testament over the other, the understanding and implications of the NT use of the OT, and the understanding and implications of typology.” 1 Mark W. Karlberg concurs with Feinberg’s analysis: “Resolution of lingering differences of interpretation among evangelicals depends, to a large extent, on a proper assessment of the nature and function of OT typology.” 2

Others are even more outspoken on the importance of typology for understanding Scripture. Leonhard Goppelt argues that “typology is the method of interpreting Scripture that is predominant in the NT and characteristic of it.” 3 S. Lewis Johnson says that “one of the happiest results of twentieth-century scholarship has been the rediscovery of the importance of typology for the understanding of the Bible. I am hopeful that evangelicals, who so often follow rather than lead in biblical scholarship, will follow once again, for in this case surely modern scholarship is right.” 4

There are several reasons for the current revival of interest in typology by critical scholars. (1) Francis Foulkes suggests it is because of the renewed interest in Biblical theology. 5 G. P. Hugenberger gives more specific reasons.

He suggests that the revival of interest in typology has been caused by the need to account for this methodology in the NT’s use of the OT. Goppelt, Ellis and France are key figures here. (2) The stimulus for typology has come from OT theologians, like von Rad, Eichrodt and Wolff, who desire to make OT theology more relevant for Gentile readers to whom the OT cult and ritual do not apply. (3) The impetus may come from a growing awareness of the OT’s own use of typology as is seen in the works of Lampe, Fishbane, von Rad and Daube.

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