Typology And Allegory: Is There A Distinction? A Brief Examination Of Figural Reading -- By: Brent E. Parker

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 21:1 (Spring 2017)
Article: Typology And Allegory: Is There A Distinction? A Brief Examination Of Figural Reading
Author: Brent E. Parker

Typology And Allegory: Is There A Distinction? A Brief Examination Of Figural Reading

Brent E. Parker

Brent E. Parker is a recent PhD graduate in systematic theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is assistant editor of Southern Baptist Journal of Theology and is the co-editor of and a contributor in Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenant Theologies (B&H Academic, 2016). He is also a co-editor for a forthcoming four views book on systems of theology (InterVarsity Press, forthcoming 2018). Dr. Parker is married to Kandace and they have two boys and are members at Clifton Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky.

Any study of typology in recent days must account for allegory and elucidate if any distinction should be maintained between the two. In this brief article, I will sketch out the recent emphasis on figural reading1 before critiquing this nomenclature and approach in the process of advancing four reasons that interpreters of Scripture should understand typology and allegory as separate literary phenomena. Scholars also need to take greater care with the terminology that is employed in the task of hermeneutics and interpretation in regard to typology and allegory.

The Case For Figural Reading: Blurring The Typology And Allegory Distinction

A current scholarly movement known as the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) classifies typology and allegory under the general heading of

figural reading.2 For most advocates of TIS, the distinction between typology and allegory is a modern convention and is not detectable in the writings of the early church fathers. John O’Keefe and R. R. Reno explain, “Allegory and typology are part of the same family of reading strategies, often referred to by the fathers as ‘spiritual,’ that seek to interpret the scriptures in terms of the divine economy.”3 In addition, fueled by recent patristic research, most notably by Frances Young, the once common hermeneutical distinctive between the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools in the fourth century—the latter school thought to exemplify allegorical interpretation and the former as champions of typology and the historical context of interpretation—has been demonstrated to be anachronistic and reductionistic.4 Young argues,

In practice drawing a line between typology and allegory in early Christian literature is impossib...

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