What Designates A Valid Type? A Christotelic, Covenantal Proposal -- By: David Schrock

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 05:1 (Summer 2014)
Article: What Designates A Valid Type? A Christotelic, Covenantal Proposal
Author: David Schrock

What Designates A Valid Type?
A Christotelic, Covenantal Proposal

David Schrock

Calvary Baptist Church, Seymour, Indiana


In the last decade a number of articles, chapters, and books have continued to debate the subject of typology.1 In particular, they have sought to answer the question: “What makes a person, event, or institution a type?” Or more exactly, “What designates a type hermeneutically valid?” For instance, in From Typology to Doxology: Paul’s Use of Isaiah and Job in Romans 11:34–35, Andrew Naselli laments the typological “abuses” some theologians have committed by “read[ing] a full-blown doctrine into earlier Scripture.”2 Against this anachronistic approach to typology, he gives four “clarifications” to secure a type’s “hermeneutical warrant.”3 In his clarifications

Naselli calls for methodological parameters for recognizing only those types which Scripture itself can validate.4 Writing as theologian, I affirm his concerns and aim in this article to present another methodological control unmentioned by him and most other biblical scholars—the progression of covenants developed in Scripture.

Following Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum’s approach that “the typological structures of Scripture are developed primarily through the covenants,”5 I will argue that, in addition to other hermeneutical “tests,” a type (e.g., person, place, institution, event, etc.) can only be verified when it is located in its covenantal context. Against a reading of Scripture that is satisfied with finding mere resemblances between type and antitype (i.e., “a doctrine of analogy”), I will argue that genuine types must arise from within the biblical text and be organically related to one another through the progressive covenants of the Bible.6 Consequently, what follows is a constructive effort to improve the best practices of biblical interpretation by paying greater attention to the biblical covenants. At the same time, this article stands against the intentional conflation of typology and allegory, what Christopher Seitz labels a “figural reading,” and what Hans Boersma, citing the “sacramental hermeneutic” of Henri DeLubac and Jean Daniélou, describes as a “return to mystery.”7

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