By: Jay Dyer
The doctrine of typology is often overlooked as an apologetic principle. Apologetics generally consists of philosophical arguments, arguments from nature, arguments from mathematics, etc., but rarely considers argumentation from the texts of Scripture themselves. The reason for this is twofold, as biblical literacy is extremely low in our day, as well as the widespread false assumption of higher criticism that the texts are not inspired and are later interpolations and redactions. However, even the extremely late dating of most texts by heretical “scholarship,” still overlooks the profound prophecies that are fulfilled by Christ as the Messiah, while still other intertextual evidence reveals Jesus Himself using typology as an apologetic to convince others of His mission as Son of God.
While typology does assume some literacy of the whole of Scripture and Tradition, it can still be shown as a powerful testimony of the veracity, reliability and inspiration of Scripture. This is not to say that evidential proofs have an epistemic priority over a transcendental argument, but rather both evidential and transcendental arguments work together synergistically, provided the transcendental argumentation has been laid down as a foundation (as it is the more biblically consistent and faithful approach to interactions with unbelieving thought).
For a stellar patristic example of the usage of a transcendental argument directed against those who argued for sophism, skepticism and relativism, St. John of Damascus responds, in the beginning of his famous Philosophical Chapters:
“There are, however, people who have endeavored to do away entirely with philosophy by asserting that it does not exist and that neither does any knowledge or perception exist. We shall answer them by asking: ‘How is it that you say there is neither philosophy nor knowledge, not perception? Is it by your knowing and perceiving it, or is it by your not knowing and perceiving it? If you have perceived it, that is knowledge and perception. But if it is by your not knowing it, then no one will believe you, as long as you are discussing something of which you have no knowledge.” pg. 13
When that groundwork has been laid, the highly fruitful work of understanding typology can begin to form as further confirmation of the truth of our position. While this essay is obviously not comprehensive, the overview here will serve as a helpful introduction to some of the more certain examples, many of which are confirmed by later New Testament writers (and not merely by the speculation of some post-apostolic Church Fathers).
What will also become evident is the false dialectical divide of so-called “allegorical” exegesis set against the Antiochene literal, grammatico-historical exegesis. Indeed, the early Church’s encounters and debates with Hellenism were the source of a tremendous amount of confusion, but some prevalent errors and false assumptions will hopefully be corrected here:
- The New Testament approach to exegesis both confirms the historical and literal, grounding any allegorizing or typology in the actual, historical manifestation of those persons, places or events. Thus, it makes no sense to say Jesus is the Second Adam, if Adam was not an actual historical human person.
- Allegory itself when used in Scripture is based on the literal, historical persons, places and events. When St. Paul utilizes his famous allegory in Galatians 4:21 of the two cities, based on Hagar and Sarah, the entire allegory presupposes their actual, historical existence, as well as the accuracy of the events described in Genesis.
- The New Testament approach, in all places, confirms the accuracy, inspiration and inerrancy of the texts of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Thus, fanciful allegorizing as was seen in the heretic Origen, as well as his many inadvertent followers today in most churches, including “Orthodox” churches, who arrogantly and mistakenly think the “Orthodox” position is to “allegorize” any problem text away is made absurd. Origen was not merely condemned because of his Platonism and his version of the apokatastasis, but because his method of allegorizing ended up denying history and the Incarnation. Christianity is a historical religion, and all attempts, from Origen to higher criticism, to relativize history, the Law, the Prophets and the events of the Gospels leads to heresy and apostasy.
- The New Testament and Patristic Dogma is that the texts are inerrant and inspired (especially the autographa), and any attempt, outside of what are known as scribal and grammatical errors, leads to the eventual rejection of the religion as a whole (as history shows). Not one jot nor tittle will fail, according to God’s own pronouncement (Matt. 5:18), is the Orthodox doctrine of inspiration. Indeed, just as Christology is the model for all our doctrines, the synergism of Christ’s fully human phusis cooperating with the single divine Hypostasis that assumed that Nature, is the model for the human prophets and apostles: “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) The dogma of the Incarnation and the deification of all of the human faculties is the theological basis for how inspiration is possible and occurred, and a denial of inspiration inevitably leads to a denial of the Incarnation.
- The principles here have nothing to do with so-called “fundamentalism,” inasmuch as we are considering the hermeneutical principles of the Prophets, Jesus, the Apostles, and Fathers, who all partook of the same Spirit. “Fundamentalism” was merely a term used to oppose textual and doctrinal indifferentism and relativism, and is nowadays a meaningless terms used as a pejorative to discredit anyone skeptical of modernism. Hypocrites who toss this term around are often themselves fundamentalist modernists or liberals.
- Inspiration, like Creation, the Trinity and Incarnation, are revealed doctrines. They are not attained or known by purely rational, secular or “scientific” proof, inasmuch as they are supra-sensory truths. This is precisely why higher critics cannot understand the things of Scripture – “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit.” 1 Cor. 2:14
- Our liturgies, as aspects of Sacred Tradition, confirm the inspiration and proper hermeneutic of the Old Testament, which also affirm the historical as the ground of the allegorical, anagogical and tropological readings. Even medieval Western theology understood this, in their “4 Senses,” as well as Jewish theology’s “PaRDeS.”
What did the Fathers say? Here is a brief sampling among hundreds of quotes which could be given, and it should go without saying the liturgical practice reflects the teaching of the Fathers. Note especially how the same heresy of yesteryear involving the Faith being merely a concoction of myths, Mithraism and other superstitions are the same boring, recycled ideas of the higher critics:
45. And this one may see from our own experience; for if when a word proceeds from men we infer that the mind is its source, and, by thinking about the word, see with our reason the mind which it reveals, by far greater evidence and incomparably more, seeing the power of the Word, we receive a knowledge also of His good Father, as the Saviour Himself says, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father John 14:9 . “But this all inspired Scripture also teaches more plainly and with more authority, so that we in our turn write boldly to you as we do, and you, if you refer to them, will be able to verify what we say. 3. For an argument when confirmed by higher authority is irresistibly proved.
-St. Athanasius, Ad Gentes, 45.
Now it is the opinion of some, that the Scriptures do not agree together, or that God, Who gave the commandment, is false. But there is no disagreement whatever, far from it, neither can the Father, Who is truth, lie; ‘for it is impossible that God should lie Hebrews 6:18,’ as Paul affirms. But all these things are plain to those who rightly consider them, and to those who receive with faith the writings of the law.
-St. Athanasius, Letter 19, Section 3.
But forasmuch as they pretend to charge me with cowardice, it is necessary that I should write somewhat concerning this, whereby it shall be proved that they are men of wicked minds, who have not read the sacred Scriptures: or if they have read them, that they do not believe the divine inspiration of the oracles they contain. For had they believed this, they would not dare to act contrary to them, nor imitate the malice of the Jews who slew the Lord.
-St. Athanasius, De Fuga, Section 2.
IV. And if we must also look at ancient history, I perceive that Enoch, Jude 14 the seventh among our ancestors, was honored by translation. I perceive also that the twenty-first, Abraham, Genesis 5:22, was given the glory of the Patriarchate, by the addition of a greater mystery. For the Hebdomad thrice repeated brings out this number. And one who is very bold might venture even to come to the New Adam, my God and Lord Jesus Christ, Who is counted the Seventy-seventh from the old Adam who fell under sin, in the backward genealogy according to Luke. Luke 3:34.
-St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 41, Section 4.
17. Have thou ever in your mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.
-St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 4.
16. Was it without reason that Christ was made Man? Are our teachings ingenious phrases and human subtleties? Are not the Holy Scriptures our salvation? Are not the predictions of the Prophets? Keep then, I pray you, this deposit undisturbed, and let none remove you: believe that God became Man. But though it has been proved possible for Him to be made Man, yet if the Jews still disbelieve, let us hold this forth to them: What strange thing do we announce in saying that God was made Man, when yourselves say that Abraham received the Lord as a guest? What strange thing do we announce, when Jacob says, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved? The Lord, who ate with Abraham, ate also with us. What strange thing then do we announce? Nay more, we produce two witnesses, those who stood before Lord on Mount Sinai: Moses was in a cleft of the rock Exodus 33:22, and Elias was once in a cleft of the rock 1 Kings 19:8 : they being present with Him at His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, spoke to the Disciples of His decease which fire should accomplish at Jerusalem. But, as I said before, it has been proved possible for Him to be made man: and the rest of the proofs may be left for the studious to collect.
-St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 12.
All Scripture, then, is given by inspiration of God and is also assuredly profitable 2 Timothy 3:16 . Wherefore to search the Scriptures is a work most fair and most profitable for souls. For just as the tree planted by the channels of waters, so also the soul watered by the divine Scripture is enriched and gives fruit in its season, viz. orthodox belief, and is adorned with evergreen leafage, I mean, actions pleasing to God. For through the Holy Scriptures we are trained to action that is pleasing to God, and untroubled contemplation….Here let us luxuriate, let us revel insatiate: for the Scriptures possess inexhaustible grace. But if we are able to pluck anything profitable from outside sources, there is nothing to forbid that. Let us become tried money-dealers, heaping up the true and pure gold and discarding the spurious. Let us keep the fairest sayings but let us throw to the dogs absurd gods and strange myths: for we might prevail most mightily against them through themselves.
-St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Bk. 4, Chpt. 17.
Such are the assumptions and presuppositions of faith as regards the Orthodox perspective regarding hermeneutics. With these starting points, the Scriptures come alive with persistent testimonies to the veracity of revelation and in particular the truth of the Faith as regards typology. Typology is an apologetic because it is prophetic – the prophetic encompassing both the moral preaching of the texts and exhortation, as well as the future, eschatological vindication arising from the various fulfillments. Thus, the Christological hermeneutic thus also includes the ecclesiastical hermeneutic of typological fulfillment (since history is moving by God’s providence to the eschatological vindication of God’s People as the meaning and telos of history – Eph. 1).
Μυστηριον of Striking Types
Properly interpreting the individual texts depends on the immediate, read in light of the whole – the wholes of biblical and canonical revelation, as well as the totality of the Orthodox Faith and Heilsgeschichte. The greater the exposure of the particular leads upwards towards the greater exposure of the whole, as a kind of reflexive, symbiotic initiatory process, leading up into a greater and greater divine illumination St. Gregory describes is in his Life of Moses. For our survey, it will suffice to touch on some of the more well-known.
“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”
The texts of Genesis 1 are recapitulated in John, which mysteriously reveals the Logos’ recapitulation of creation itself in His Incarnation, assuming human nature, and by extension, the renovation and transfiguration of the entire kosmos as Himself the Personal Macrocosmos. The Genesis text even reveals in a hidden sense a Proto-Triad of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Proto-Triad will be then be followed by the typology of the Protoevangelium in Genesis 3. St. John writes in his Gospel, echoing the original creation act though the Logos, including even the division of light and dark, which now take on the meaning of good and evil:
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
I wrote in my Logos, Creation and the Wisdom of God article:
“When St. John uses the term Logos as applied to Jesus, the formulation within the first few verses of the Gospel, as well as verse 14 of chapter 1 and the later references to “the Spirit,” form the nucleus of biblical Triadology in the Orthodox sense. Recapitulating the Genesis creation account, St. John explicitly identifies Jesus the Messiah as the pre-existent eternal God, over and above created reality. Jesus is the uncreated God in flesh, “tabernacled” among us as the “Angel of the Lord” guided and tabernacled among the Israelites (Ex. 13:21). Albert Barnes explains:
“The Hebrews, by expressions like this, denoted eternity. The eternity of God is described (Ps. 90:2), before the mountains were brought forth….There is but one Being that is uncreated, and therefore Jesus is divine. ‘Word,’ the term was used by the Jews who were scattered among the Gentiles, and especially those conversant in Greek philosophy…It was possible the doctrine of the gnostics had spread by the time of John. They were an Oriental sect that held that Logos or Word was one of the Aeons that had been created, and that this Aeon had been united to the man Jesus. If that doctrine had begun to prevail, it was of the more importance for John to settle the truth in regard to the rank of the Logos or Word…And now, Oh Father, glorify me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5).
John’s approach is diametrically at odds with gnosticism. Firstly, because in Gnosticism generally, creation is a cosmic accident. For St. John, the creation identified as “good” in Genesis 1 is the creative act of God, including the second Person of the Godhead, the Logos. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col. 1:16-17).
Protestant commenter Herman Ridderbos explains:
“In gnosticism God and the world are dualistic opposites. In the Johannine Prologue all things – the “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1) – have been made by the Word who with God and was God. John 1:14, 18 mentions the only begotten who made the Father known to us, and the reason for this mission of revelation is later found in the love which God, in Him, “loved the world” (John 3:16)….It is true that in both the Prologue and gnosticism that the word “world” is used to express a break between God and humanity. But in John human souls are not, as in gnosticism, imprisoned in preexistent particles of light in the darkness, and their salvation does not consist in their acknowledgment of their divine origin in the redeemer who comes to and in their being led by him out of this prison of flesh.”…
Thus, Logos is a doctrine expanded from earlier wisdom texts such as Proverbs and Wisdom, as well as the Genesis account, in chapter 1. The doctrine is not a borrowing from Oriental gnostic sects, and bears a striking dissimilarity to the Stoic and Platonic notions of the universal reason-principle. While Plotinus may have been influenced by the Christian Triadology, the doctrine of the Logos as a hypsotasis precedes the Enneads’ usage of “hypostasis,” precisely in its usage in Hebrews 1:2, “…The direct image (Eikon) of His Person (hypostasis).” Likewise, “Logos,” while sharing affinities with Stoic or Platonic ideas is directly associated by the Gospel writers from the earlier Wisdom texts as a divine Person, the Creator God Himself, as well as the Angel of the Lord. While the Greek philosophical schools may have pined after this deeper notion, they fell far short of what revelation would give in relation to the Logos.
Assumed in the doctrine of the Logos, as taught in John 1 is the corollary of the doctrine of the logoi, as outlined by St. Maximos, where the patterns and archetypes of Creation have their meaning and foundation in the one Logos. This is implicit in texts like Col. 1 and Acts 17, where ontological existence is conferred upon, and sustained, for all of created reality through the Logos. This Logos did not merely craft preexisting matter, but brought into being all that is, and by extension, will transfigure all reality into His Image, when He is in all and through all, as the Spirit works to complete this action within history (Rom. 8:22-24, 1 Cor. 15:28).”
Adam as Type of Christ
Orthodox theology holds that Adam was made after the Prototype of Christ, Who would have become Incarnate regardless of Man’s Fall. The plan of creation was always for God to do “a new thing” and enter into a direct communion with Man, His highest creation, made a little lower than the angels, with the predestined goal of being raised even above the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Adam stood as the covenantal head of all his descendants and the steward of creation, and by heeding the Serpent, who had already fallen prior to Adam due to precisely to his envy over Man’s destiny, Adam reduced himself and his descendants to a spiritual and physical state of death, corruption and disordered passions.
Notice as well all these doctrines and types are rendered futile and meaningless if the historicity of Genesis is denied – Christ’s Incarnation is predicated on sharing the same nature Adam possessed in Eden – a historical, created human physis. This Ancestral Sin of Adam thus passed on to all his seed, which forms the basis for St. Paul’s characterization of Christ as the Second, or New Adam, who would restore all His seed. The “seed” is both Christ Himself as the promised descendant of Eve, as well as all those born of Him through Faith:
“12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” (Romans 5:12-18)
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)
“20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:20-26)
The Protoevangelium Seed of Mother Eve
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
The seeds mentioned above refer to those born of Adam and natural generation, subservient to the Serpent, who is the Angel of Death, contrasted to those born again of heaven, the Seed of Christ, the new Adam. The promise to Eve is that her descendant, 77 generations according to Luke 3:23-28, would be the Promised One to crush the head of the Serpent (destroy the power of death). The bruising of His heel refers to the bite of His suffering, burial and death, while His resurrection transfers the keys to death and Hades to Christ, in His human nature.
As Christ is the New Adam, so the Theotokos (St. Mary) is the New Eve, the new “mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Here is the mystery of John 19:27, where St. John as the image of the believer is told Mary is His Mother. Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant (Luke 1:35-38), bore God Himself and so, in contrast to the heresy of Nestorius, is properly called Mother of God (Theotokos) – because the single Person born of her, who assumed impersonal human nature, is God. And just as Eve was formed from the side of Adam, so the Church is formed from the wound in the side of Christ at the Cross (John 19:34, Eph. 5:31-2).
Just as Eve is the type of St. Mary, so Eden is the type of the Church, the meeting place of Man and God. As Eden was a garden full of imagery and symbols we read about in the text, so the Tabernacle and Temple of the Jews was a type of the eschatological Eden to come, the Church. In the Apocalypse, St. John sees the New Jerusalem as descending to earth as a reality, which is the Kingdom of God. The imagery and decor of the New Jerusalem in both Ezekiel and the Apocalypse include imagery that is Edenic, indicating the Church as Eden and New Jerusalem. Christ brought that kingdom in authority and power (1 Cor. 4:20), at His First Advent:
“28 “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-30).
“17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17-19)
A Kingdom of Priests After Melchizedek
The Kingdom of God was typified by the nation of Israel, the type of the Church. The kingdom, with its priestly cult and kingship, are both fulfilled in the Person of Christ, the Messiah who is prophet, priest and king all at once. As an extension of the Body of that King and Priest, the Church is also a kingdom of priests and prophets (Ex. 19:6 with 1 Peter 2:9, as applied to the Church).
The book of Hebrews explains and confirms many of these types, vindicating their historical realities. Moses, Melchizedek and the High Priest, were types of Christ:
“3 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:3-5)
“5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.”
6 As He also says in another place:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek”;
7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
The priesthood of Christ, superior to and fulfilling the priesthood of Aaron, is after the Order of Melchizedek, who offered “bread and wine,” a type of our Eucharistic Liturgy. Melchizedek, who was a mysterious figure whose priesthood preceded that of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Mosaic period, is also a type of Christ. The prediction of a Messianic Savior according to the Order of Melchizedek was promised long after the events in Genesis that describe Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18) in the Psalms, in 110:4. This also means the Law and Prophets utilized typology as a normative interpretive framework.
“19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6)
Jesus is the Presence, or Shekinah or ‘Kabod’ of God, mentioned so many times in the Law and Prophets. The divine Presence or Glory Cloud would at times overshadow the Ark, or the Temple or even at times, some of the prophets. When Moses went up Mt. Sinai to receive the Commands, the “back parts of God” (for us one of His divine energeia, the goodness of God (Ex. 33:19-22). This meeting of God “face to face” in Exodus was a type, according to St. Paul, and is now a present reality of theosis in Christ:
“12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:12-18)
In Part 2, we will continue examining many of the more popular types and see the marvelous harmony which both confirms the historicity of the texts, as well as their supernatural origins.