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Calvin on Typology

John Calvin’s essay “Christ Is the End of the Law” is included in Thy Word Is Still Truth, ed. Peter Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin. Calvin writes,

“For this is eternal life, to know the one and only true God, and Him who He sent, Jesus Christ, whom he constituted the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. This One is Isaac the well-beloved Son of the Father, who was offered in sacrifice, and yet did not succumb to the power of death. This is the vigilant Shepherd Jacob, taking such great care of the sheep He has charge over. This is the good and pitiable Brother Joseph, who in His glory was not ashamed to recognize His brothers, however contemptible and abject as they were. This is the great Priest and Bishop Melchizedek, having made eternal sacrifice once for all. This is the sovereign Lawgiver Moses, writing His law on the tables of our hearts by His Spirit. This is the faithful Captain and Guide Joshua to conduct us to the promised land. This is the noble and victorious King David, subduing under His hand every rebellious power. This is the magnificent and triumphant King Solomon, governing His kingdom in peace and prosperity. This is the strong and mighty Samson, who, by His death, overwhelmed all His enemies.”

HT: John Michael Larue

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Typology, Biblical Theology, and Theological Interpretation of Scripture

I want to use the topic of Typology to propose a way of thinking about the relationship between Biblical Theology (BT) and Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS). The prompt for this is an excellent review by Nicholas J. Moore of Richard Ounsworth’s book, Joshua Typology in the New Testament

Moore writes:

Ounsworth’s attention focusses briefly on Jude 5 and thereafter on Hebrews. He is careful neither to claim an explicit Joshua typology in either text, nor to posit an authorially-intended typology; rather, his concern is with what a plausible first-century audience might have been able to infer. Explicit Joshua typologies in Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Aphraates, Ephrem the Syrian, and Origen demonstrate the early development of this thought. The latter three could possibly have been prompted by Hebrews 3–4 given their inclusion of a comparison with Moses (cf. Heb 3.1–6), though this strikes me as too much of a commonplace in any conception of Joshua to be evidence of Hebrews’ influence.

Note that Moore seems to approve of the fact that Ounsworth does not “posit an authorially-intended typology.” Then consider the texts he cites that Ounsworth uses to show that a first-century audience would plausibly have been familiar with Joshua typology: Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Aphraates, Ephrem the Syrian, and Origen. These all come after Hebrews, and Barnabas was profoundly influenced by Hebrews (as, most likely, were the others). I wonder where those guys got the idea?

Is it not just as plausible that they learned it from Hebrews, and that the author of Hebrews intended it?

This point about authorial intent is what I’m proposing to be the difference between BT and TIS. To draw it out, a bit more from Moore. He writes in the next paragraph of his review:

The discussion of typology is particularly instructive, and by Ounsworth’s own admission ‘perhaps controversial’ (19). Following Frances Young, he seeks to allow a definition to emerge from NT instances of the τύπος word-group. He notes the polyvalence of this vocabulary, which can refer both to that which is formed by something, and to that which forms something else; a τύπος can thus be a ‘mediating mould’ (37), as for example a cast formed from a statue can in turn be used to make further statues. A survey of NT occurrences (Rom 5; 1 Cor 10; Acts 7; 1 Pet 3; Heb 8–9) identifies several key aspects: correspondences between historical events, personalities, institutions, etc. which are providentially created and may themselves be formative of further correspondences. Such a definition reveals the distinctive flavour of this formulation: the crucial ingredient is ‘an emphasis on divine causation or providence’ (51); typology is thus an ontological rather than a purely literary phenomenon (contra Young). The NT texts assume both the reality of the type and its divine causation in order to foreshadow the antitype: ‘the literal meaning [of the original event] is neither replaced nor effaced but extended’ (52). To be sure, such an event must be ‘inscriptured’ for the correspondences to be available and exploited, so there remains an inexcisable literary aspect to typology. Yet in laying stress on the fundamental importance of perception of divine providence behind historical events, Ounsworth’s account seems to me to be closer to the outlook of the NT.

What I want to highlight from this paragraph is the emphasis on the types being “providentially created,” and the statement that “typology is thus an ontological rather than a purely literary phenomenon.”

I take this to mean that God intended the type, and thus it was inscripturated. It seems from the lack of authorial intent that something like sensus plenior must be at work, where the human author spoke better than he knew. I submit that this way of thinking about typology comes at it from the TIS end of the spectrum. Something theologically significant is happening in the text, and the interpreter feels no compulsion to show that the human author intended it. Appeals to the divine author seem to suffice for TIS.

I have no intention of disparaging TIS or being unfair to it, nor am I trying to prescribe definitions. My intent is to seek clarity on the way these labels are being used, and to foster conversation on these issues.

The sticking point for me about this kind of reading is what Moore means when he writes, “The NT texts assume both the reality of the type and its divine causation in order to foreshadow the antitype.” Who is doing the assuming here? Coming from the perspective of BT, I would argue that the human author of the text intended to communicate the installation in the typological pattern to his readers. If we are not bothering with the intent of the human author, to whose assumption does the phrase “the NT texts assume” refer? The divine author?

One last comment. The final sentence quoted above closes with the words, “Ounsworth’s account seems to me to be closer to the outlook of the NT.” Again, to whose outlook does this refer if not the human authors of the NT?

In What Is Biblical Theology? I argue that biblical theology is the attempt to understand and embrace the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. It seems that Moore is using this very criterion to evaluate the success of Ounsworth’s proposal, but he wants to use it without reference to authorial intent. Authorial intent may be out of fashion, but I contend that without it we lack meaningful standards by which to demonstrate or disprove interpretations. Appeals to what the divine author intended seem to be more open to operating at theological levels that hover above the text rather than being embedded in the words that communicate the intentions of the human authors.

What do you think? Is the distinction between appeal to human and divine authors a good way to describe the difference between BT and TIS? Am I missing something about whose assumptions and outlook are in view in the phrases “the NT texts assume” and “the outlook of the NT”?

PS: anyone concerned about supercessionism or replacement theology should read to the second to last paragraph of the review.

PPS: The intrepid Sam Emadi has shared with me his review of Ounsworth’s volume, which confirms my reaction to the avoidance of authorial intent. Watch for the review in the next issue of JETS.

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The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel

What is Typology? How do the biblical authors develop typological connections?

Can we read the Bible the way the biblical authors did?

These are some of the questions I seek to address in an essay that has just appeared in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. Thanks to the generosity of the editor, Steve Wellum (author of, with Peter Gentry, Kingdom through Covenant) and SBTS, I have permission to post a PDF of the essay here:

The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel,” SBJT 16.2 (2012): 4–25.

This essay has a history that I want to record. I can remember teaching the book of Acts in Sunday School at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville when I was a PhD student at SBTS. This was around 2002–2003. I needed the categories and language of typology, but I had neither. Over and over I felt that I could see Luke doing what I would now describe as typology, but I was at a loss to describe it well. It’s really wonderful what knowing the right word for the right thing will enable you to say.

In 2005 I began to work on a project that was eventually published as “The Virgin Will Conceive: Typological Fulfillment in Matthew 1:18–23,” pages 228–47 in Built upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew, ed. John Nolland and Dan Gurtner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008). As I was working on what Matthew meant when he claimed fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:18–23, I found my way into the field of typology, and what really introduced me to it was E. Earle Ellis’s Foreword to Leonhard Goppelt’s book Typos.

It was my privilege to preach through 1–2 Samuel at Baptist Church of the Redeemer from July 2006 to January of 2008, and as I worked through Samuel I saw many places where NT authors seemed to have been influenced by the patterns in the book of Samuel. In late January or early February of 2008, while teaching at SWBTS Houston, I was invited to present a Julius Brown Gay lecture at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. I decided to use my acquaintance with the book of Samuel gained from preaching the book and do more exploration in the field of typology, so I wrote the essay that is the subject of this post at that time. I presented it as a Julius Brown Gay lecture at Southern Seminary on March 13, 2008. The audio of that presentation (which is me basically reading most of this essay) is here. I was then invited to join the faculty of SBTS, which I was honored to do in August of 2008.

That winter Steve Wellum, editor of SBJT, wanted to publish “The Typology of David’s Rise” with a response from Robert Yarbrough. There was a mixup of communication (for which I’m happy to claim responsibility), and instead of giving Dr. Wellum this essay I wrote another one, “Was Joseph a Type of the Messiah? Tracing the Typological Identification between Joseph, David, and Jesus,” SBJT 12.4 (2008), 52–77. I’m sorry for the mixup in communication, but I’m grateful that I had an opportunity to explore these typological connections further. Writing “Was Joseph a Type?” certainly clarified my own thinking.

Writing is perhaps the best way to learn. Nothing clarifies a concept or thought process in your own mind like the challenge of thinking out exactly what you are trying to say and how to say it.

Because of the way that Earle Ellis introduced me to the subject of typology through his preface to Goppelt’s book and his many other writings, and in gratitude for the kindness he showed me when I was his junior colleague on the SWBTS faculty, I dedicated the lecture, now published as an essay, to him. He died on March 2, 2010.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be one of the faculty on SWBTS’s Oxford Study Tour in the summer of 2005, and Dr. Ellis led our tour of the British Museum. Jason Duesing took this photo of us at that time.

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Congrats to Andy Naselli on From Typology to Doxology

My good friend Andy Naselli recently completed his second Phd. The first one was done at Bob Jones in Theology and resulted in an important book entitled Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology. The second one was done at Trinity under D. A. Carson, and it has now been published as From Typology to Doxology: Paul’s Use of Isaiah and Job in Romans 11:34–35.

This book results from a whole host of good things: Andy is one of the brightest scholars I know, works as hard as anyone I’ve ever met, is one of the most organized men in the world, and he wrote this book on a superlative text under the supervision of the wise, learned, and godly Carson.

I was honored that Andy invited me to write a foreword for the published version of the dissertation, and I’m grateful for permission from both author and publisher to post that foreword here:

The book you hold in your hands deserves close attention for several reasons: it treats a climactic passage in what may be the most important letter ever written by one of the world’s most influential authors. Moreover, in Romans 11:33–36 Paul himself quotes two other great texts, the books of Job and Isaiah. In addition to the significance of the material treated, Andy Naselli’s treatment is notable: this book explains the use Paul makes of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:3 in Romans 11:34–35, and the explanation is as insightful and responsible as it is daring and exciting.

It’s not hard to imagine a published dissertation being responsible and insightful, but daring and exciting? Indeed.

Exciting precisely because Andy Naselli dares to understand. The daring claims made here are that Paul gets the Old Testament right; that as Paul quotes the Old Testament, his citations invoke broader passages, and that the flow of thought in those broader passages corresponds to the argument Paul makes. Insight and courage ignite Naselli’s bold contention that Paul’s use of these texts cues us to a wider typological connection that Paul sees between what Isaiah said to the nation of Israel, the experience of Job, and what Paul says the Jewish people will experience in the future. The wood of Naselli’s scholarship, arranged with rigorous care, has been set aflame by his sympathetic analysis of Paul’s perspective, resulting in a sacrifice of praise with a pleasing aroma. Accounting for all the evidence, whether from primary sources or secondary literature, the blazing book yields light and heat.

How could Paul’s citation of Isaiah 40:13 be typological? Because as the quotation of Isaiah 6:9–10 in all four gospels and Acts indicates, the hardening that led to the exile from the land has not yet been lifted (cf. Rom 11:25). The prophesied new exodus and return from exile have been anticipated and inaugurated but not yet consummated. Anticipated in the returns to the land narrated in Ezra and Nehemiah; inaugurated in the death and resurrection of Jesus; there is a sense in which, having rejected the Messiah, Israel remains in exile. Paul is explaining in Romans 11 how God will keep his promise to restore his people, having made them jealous by those who are no people (cf. Deut 32:21 and Rom 11:13–14). The typological pattern of new exodus and return from exile evoked in Isaiah 40, then, is the pattern that will find its antitype, its ultimate fulfillment, when the Redeemer comes from Zion, banishes ungodliness from Jacob, takes away their sin, brings them into the new covenant, “and in this way all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26–27). Naselli also draws insightful parallels between the experience of Job and Israel in making the case that Paul’s use of Job 41:3 is also typological.

Andy Naselli shows that Paul’s use of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:3 demonstrates that God established a foundation of judgment on which he built a soaring tower of mercy for the praise of his glory in the life of Job and the history of Israel, and this pattern of events will be fulfilled in the future redemption of Israel to which Paul points. To put it another way, Naselli has demonstrated that Paul’s argument here is that God shows his glory in salvation through judgment.

This book deserves the attention of all who care to understand the passages examined here, and more broadly, how the New Testament authors understand the Old. This is an exploration of unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways (Rom 11:33), pointing to the one whose mind none has mapped, to whom none give counsel or bribes, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:34–36). Let me keep you from it no longer: God’s best to you in this insightful and responsible, daring and exciting read.

In my opinion you should buy this book right now and read it as soon as possible.

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What Makes a Translation Accurate?

What makes a translation accurate?

Its ability to preserve the way that later biblical authors evoke earlier Scripture. The Bible was written by at least 40 authors from Moses in the 1400s BC to John around AD 90. Everyone who followed Moses learned from his work, and the later authors made heavy use of what the earlier authors had written.

When we consider “accuracy” in a translation, one factor that should receive more attention is the question of whether the influence of earlier Scripture on later Scripture has been preserved. The biblical authors are not always engaging earlier passages in ways that are obvious. The authors of biblical narrative do more “showing” than “telling,” and the authors of biblical poetry and prophecy have very subtle ways of evoking the promises and curses, patterns and portrayals from the narratives.

There is, of course, a spectrum of opinion about how best to translate. Those who present a dynamic equivalent may “accurately” communicate the meaning of a particular passage in the language into which the Bible is being translated. But what if the translator did not see a subtle connection the biblical author made to an earlier passage of Scripture? This could result from the fact that while the translator may be an expert in the Psalms, he may not have spent as much time as he would like in Deuteronomy or Genesis. Or, what if the translator did see the re-use of words or even whole phrases from an earlier passage (or passages) but thought it was of no significance and so did not preserve it in his dynamic equivalent? Yet a third possibility is that the translator saw the connections, thought they were significant, but thought that clarity in the translation was more important than the preservation of intertextuality. If the translator does not present a formal equivalent, will readers of the translation have the opportunity to evaluate the significance of subtle connections to earlier Scripture?

The more dynamic a translation is, the more often one is faced with these questions. Consider, for instance, the possibility that there are connections at word and phrase levels between Genesis 12, Genesis 15, 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 72, Luke 1, and Galatians 3. Will these connections be evident if one scholar presents a dynamic equivalent rendering of the relevant statements in Genesis 12 and 15, then another scholar does the same for 2 Samuel 7, perhaps without concern for or knowledge of how Genesis 12 and 15 have been rendered? What if this process is continued by a third scholar working on Psalms, a fourth on Luke, and a fifth on Galatians? Then the dynamic equivalents of the various scholars are forwarded to a final committee. Will the committee be in position to bring all these dynamic equivalents together “accurately” to represent connections between these texts and the myriads of others whose influence is operative?

This issue is ultimately a great motivation to learn the biblical languages! Most people will not have that opportunity. Will they have the opportunity to see more or less of the Bible’s inter-connectedness? Won’t more of the Bible’s inter-connectedness be preserved if the translation is presenting formal equivalence instead of dynamic equivalence? Because the influence of earlier Scripture is so often determinative for the meaning of later Scripture, I prefer more literal translations.

Originally posted at BibleGateway

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What difference does it make if we capitalize son in Psalm 2?

The promises to David from 2 Samuel 7:4–17 are clearly in view in Psalm 2, especially in verses 5–12. In 1 Kings 2:1–4 and several other passages these promises are specifically applied to Solomon. These promises are also significant in the accounts of kings such as Hezekiah and Josiah. There is a sense, then, in which the promises apply to the line of kings that descends from David. This line culminates in Jesus, in whom the promises are ultimately fulfilled.

The problem with capitalizing son in Psalm 2:7 is that it cuts straight from from 2 Samuel 7 to Jesus. It’s great to get to Jesus, but the short cut keeps readers from seeing the typological development that grows and deepens through the accounts of the sons of David. This can keep us from understanding what Jesus meant when he declared that one greater than Solomon had arrived (cf. Matt 12:42).

So capitalizing son in Psalm 2:7 gets the termination point right, but it can keep us from feeling the buildup of the development that swells and plunges between David and Jesus.

Originally posted at BibleGateway

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God: The Merciful Judge

This past weekend it was my privilege to be in Fayetteville, AR, at University Baptist Church. I spoke on the theme of God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology.

These talks seek to summarize the Bible’s big story, highlighting the promises that generate the typological patterns.

The talks are now available on UBC’s website, or you can use these links:

God:The Merciful Judge – Session 1 [ 47:38 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
God:The Merciful Judge – Session 2 [ 51:08 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
God:The Merciful Judge – Session 3 [ 45:19 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
God:The Merciful Judge – Session 4 [ 42:22 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
God:The Merciful Judge – Session 5 [ 38:30 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
The Doctrine of Election – A Q&A Panel Discussion [ 1:02:24 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
God:The Merciful Judge – Jeremiah 16 [ 48:16 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
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Jeremiah 7: Indictment of Unrepentant Israel (with some temple typology)

As I indicated in a previous post, it seems that Jeremiah 1:18–19 and Jeremiah 6:27–30 are bracketing Jeremiah 2–6 as a unit in which there is a progression from Israel’s sin to Israel’s rejection for their refusal to repent.

This would place Jeremiah 7 at a strategic juncture introducing the next section of the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah cycles through a call to repentance, an indictment of sin, and an announcement of judgment three times in chapter 7:




7:1–7, Israel Called to Repentance: You Trust in the Temple but Deny It with Your Actions 7:16, Don’t Pray for Them (Repent!) 7:21­–24, Repent of Your Worthless Worship: Your Deeds Nullify Your Sacrifices
7:8–11, Judah Breaks the Ten Commandments 7:17–18, Judah Worships Other gods 7:25–28, Israel Rejects the Prophets and Jeremiah
7:12–15, God Will Judge the Temple as He Judged Shiloh 7:19­–20, The Temple Will Be Judged and All Creatures Will Suffer 7:29–8:3, Judgment on the Generation of God’s Wrath

The first two statements of judgment (Jer 7:12–15 and 7:19–20) speak directly of the destruction of the temple.

The third description of judgment uses the imagery of the visitation of wrath enacted by Josiah in 2 Kings 23 to describe a future visitation of wrath. From the context, this visitation of wrath also pertains to the coming destruction of the temple, but imagery is used in Jeremiah 7:33 that will be used by John to describe the judgment Jesus will bring at his return in Revelation 19:17–19.

So a past visitation of wrath, what Josiah visited in 2 Kings 23, is being used to point forward to the future visitation of God’s wrath that Jeremiah is describing, which in part is the destruction of the temple that will happen in 586 BC. I say “in part” because another destruction of the temple will fulfill what Jeremiah is describing, the one Jesus spoke of in John 2:19–22, and both of these point also to the visitation of wrath Jesus will bring when he returns in Revelation 19.

Jeremiah is preaching in the temple (Jer 7:2), he indicts Israel for making the temple a den of robbers (7:11), and then he warns of the destruction of the temple (7:14). Jesus quotes Jeremiah’s “den of robbers” line when he cleanses the temple (e.g., Mark 11:17) because the wicked in Jesus’ day are like the wicked of Jeremiah’s day and because the judgment visited on the temple in 586 is a type of the judgment to be visited when Jesus, the replacement of the temple (John 2:19–22), dies on the cross.

In the midst of the third description of judgment, Jeremiah speaks of “the generation of his wrath” in 7:29. This is an interesting use of the word “generation,” and it supports the typological understanding of what Jesus says in Mark 13:30, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

The judgment Josiah enacted in 2 Kings 23 is used by Jeremiah when Jeremiah describes the “type” of thing God will do when he enacts judgment and destroys the temple. The judgment of God that will fall on the temple is also a type of the judgment of God that will be fulfilled when Christ dies on the cross, and Jesus will fulfill the pattern of Josiah when he visits judgment on the cosmic temple at his return.

In keeping with all this, the word “generation” does not refer to a group of people alive at a specific point in time but to “the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:3), the “crooked and depraved generation” (Phil 2:15), the “scoffers” (2 Pet 3:3) of all generations who gather together against the LORD and his anointed.

On Sunday, November 6, 2011, it was my privilege to preach Jeremiah 7: The Temple Sermon – Indictment of Unrepentant Israel at Kenwood Baptist Church.

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The Best Essay I’ve Ever Read on the Book of Ruth

Peter Leithart, “When Gentile Meets Jew: A Christian Reading of Ruth and the Hebrew Scriptures,” Touchstone, May 2009, 20–24.

Some highlights:

Christological reading that integrates the detailed studies of Jewish scholars has the potential to address some of the complaints against the historical practice of typology. Taking cues from Luke 24​, typological interpretation has traditionally plundered the Old Testament for shadowy types of Jesus.

This is consistent with the New Testament’s Christological use of the Old: Jesus is the Seed of Abraham​, Melchizedek, Moses, David, the sage-king Solomon, Elisha, a prophet like Jeremiah, and, above all, the Last Adam. What traditional typology has often missed, however, is the complexity of these Old Testament types. Each type is itself a rich tapestry of antitypes.

Jesus is David, but David himself is Adam, Jacob, Moses, and Israel. According to the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7), for example, David’s sons are sons of Yahweh; but Yahweh already has a son, Israel. Thus, David’s sons personify Israel, and a Davidic Christology is at the same time an Israel Christology.

To say that Jesus is the Son of David​ seems to give us only a skeletal royal Christology, but once we see that the figure of David is elaborated by overt or implicit typological links with earlier figures, we begin to put flesh on the bones. Jesus is not the “second Adam,” as if history skipped from Eden to Golgotha without anything intervening. Jesus is the Last Adam, the last of a series of increasingly complex Adam figures, and as such He embodies, and surpasses, them all.


At first, Ruth seems unpromising territory for a Christian interpreter. Ruth herself is mentioned exactly once in the New Testament, on page 1, in the genealogy that begins Matthew’s Gospel (1:5). After that, she’s ignored. Boaz gets (slightly) more exposure, gaining a place in Luke’s genealogy as well as Matthew’s (3:32). Beyond that, there are no explicit references to Ruth, nor does the New Testament contain any obvious allusions to Ruth’s story.


Moab is triply disqualified from association with Israel. Moab himself was the son of the incestuous daughter of Lot (Gen. 19); at Baal-Peor, Balaam unleashed the daughters of Moab into the camp of Israel to seduce Israelite men to fornication and idolatry, provoking Yahweh to bring down a plague that stopped only when Phinehas impaled a fornicating couple with his spear (Num. 25); and when Israel first passed through Moabite territory, the Moabites refused to offer bread and water (Num. 22:1–6; Deut. 23:4), but instead hired Balaam to spout imprecations.


Ruth the Anti-Type

Her redemption of the Moabite reputation has a double twist. When she sneaks onto the threshing floor the night after the harvest festival to find Boaz—a man old enough to call her “my daughter” (Ruth 3:10)—she is every inch the Moabitess. Like Lot’s daughters, she appears to be approaching a wine-filled “father” seeking a son; like the Moabite women who seduced Israel, she seems to be preying on an unsuspecting Israelite man, and we almost expect a Phinehas to loom up, spear poised.

Yet this Moabitess has already pledged herself to the Israelite widow, and all her Moabitish actions are acts of hesed (cf. 3:10). She does want a son from Boaz, but she acts out of loyalty to Naomi. Unlike her Moabite forebears who refused to bring food to Israel, Ruth is an inexhaustible source of bread for Naomi. Every time she leaves the city, she returns with baskets full of grain (2:17–18; 3:15, 17). This Gentile woman fills the empty Naomi (2:18).

Ruth is the antitype of Lot’s daughters and of the Moabite women at Baal Peor— anti-type because she plays against type, fulfilling the earlier history of Moab by reversing it. In a more straightforward sense, she is an antitype of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah who dressed herself as a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law in order to gain a son for her dead husband (Gen. 38).

Both Tamar and Ruth dress up and seductively approach a father figure to get a son, and, as the mother of Perez and Zerah, Tamar is in the same Davidic genealogy as Ruth. Judah had other sons, but Perez and Zerah, sons of incest, are the ones that figure in all the royal genealogies, all the way to Jesus. Tamar is the savior of Judah’s seed, and so is Ruth.


On Boaz “The Prototype”:

As he provides food for the hungry, and permanent land for Elimelech’s widow, he plays the part of Moses and Joshua. Reversing the inverted exodus at the beginning of Ruth, Boaz leads Ruth, and through her Naomi, out of the wasteland into a land of barley, wheat, and wine.

In this respect, Boaz also serves as a prototype of the future kings of Israel, who, according to Psalm 72, render justice to the poor and satisfy the needy. Boaz is Moses-shaped, and David, Solomon, and every faithful king of Judah is a Boaz. More fundamentally, Boaz is an Adam.

This is most striking in the threshing-floor scene in Ruth 3, when Boaz awakes from a deep sleep astonished to find a woman at his feet. He is an improved Adam, who feeds Ruth without seizing forbidden fruit, who protects his bride from want, who fathers the seed that produce the seed who will crush the serpent’s head.

Boaz is Adam, Moses, and Joshua. By conforming to the pattern of Boaz, David also becomes a composite of these types, and as Son of David, Jesus is all this and more. To say that Jesus is a greater Boaz doesn’t strike a note; it strikes a chord.


The typological redemption of Ruth follows this pattern: Naomi, the Jewish widow, is bereft; the Gentile daughter Ruth joins her; Naomi gets a redeemer when Boaz attaches himself to Ruth. The pattern is not “salvation, then incorporation of Gentiles” but “incorporation of Gentiles, then salvation.”


Leithart closes with this quote from de Lubac:

Scripture is like the world: “undecipherable in its fullness and in the multiplicity of its meanings.” [It is] a deep forest, with innumerable branches, “an infinite forest of meanings”: the more involved one gets in it, the more one discovers that it is impossible to explore it right to its end. It is a table arranged by Wisdom, laden with food, where the unfathomable divinity of the Savior is itself offered as nourishment to all. Treasure of the Holy Spirit, whose riches are as infinite as himself. True labyrinth. Deep heavens, unfathomable abyss. Vast sea, where there is endless voyaging “with all sails set.” Ocean of mystery.

Read the whole thing.

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Typology and Political Discourse

People notice patterns. We interpret the world in light of archetypes, repetitions, and symbols. The biblical authors made massive use of typological interpretation as they interpreted earlier Scripture, redemptive history, and the events they were either narrating (in the Gospels, for instance) or addressing (in the letters, for example).

Have you noticed how often this happens in political discourse? Just this morning Victor Davis Hanson blogged on “Our New Cold War.” He’s comparing the War on Terror to the Cold War between the United States and Russia.

It happens all the time. Those who like President Obama might regard him as the “new FDR,” while those who don’t like him might refer to him as the “new Jimmy Carter.”

Have you heard anyone refer to a current war as a “new Vietnam quagmire”?

Consider the “Tea-Party” movement. These people are identifying with early Americans who protested against what they thought was tyranny. Do you see the implications of their claims? They’re claiming to be on the side of freedom and American patriotism, and they’re identifying their political opponents with tyrants who practice taxation without representation.

My point here is not to engage these political issues.

The point I’m trying to make is that typological thinking is not some far-fetched, outlandish, bizarre activity that is foreign to the way people think today.

Why do I say that?

Because in biblical interpretation some people avoid typology as though it’s a gateway to allegory. Typology and allegory are not the same thing. People use allegory today, too, but for it to work the allegorical connections have to be understood.

Anyway, listen to the way people talk and you’ll hear typology all the time, though they might not use that word to describe what they’re doing.

If we want to understand the Bible, we have to understand typology.

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Is Eve a Type in 1 Timothy 2:15? Some Thoughts on Typology and Biblical Theology

A colleague asked me about Mary Kassian’s post “Women, Typology, and 1 Timothy 2:15,” which has now been reposted at the CBMW blog. My colleague’s concern was whether the appeal to typology was fanciful or legitimate. Here’s my response:

Earle Ellis (in the preface to Goppelt’s Typos) states that typology consists of historical correspondence and escalation. If I’m trying to determine whether there’s a typological relationship, I’m looking to see if the later biblical author is making a comparison with something earlier in the Bible by pointing out items of historical correspondence. From there I’m asking whether there is some escalation of significance, some kind of fulfillment, that the later biblical author is highlighting by reusing the earlier Scripture.

In 1 Tim 2:13–15 Paul is not pointing to a pattern of historical correspondence that is having its significance increased because of what is happening in the church at Ephesus. He’s giving a reason for the prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12.

So Paul is not teaching that Eve is a type of the church in 1 Tim 2:15, though he may be assuming that she is. This assumption can, and I think does, inform what he says, and it’s these kinds of assumptions that biblical theology is seeking to uncover, exposit, and use to get at what the biblical authors meant.

Paul made a comparison between Eve and the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” The typological connections in 2 Corinthians 11 include the church playing the role of Eve, while Satan’s servants play his role and disguise themselves as servants of righteousness the way he disguised himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14–15).

Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 11:3 is that he doesn’t want the church in Corinth to fail the way that Eve did, and he is assuming they know the story from Genesis 3. So he makes these comparisons between Eve and the church and between Satan and his servants (historical correspondence), and the assumption is that by re-living the pattern the church will heed the gospel, stick with Paul rather than the “super-apostles,” and be saved. The escalation comes in the church’s experience of the realization of what was promised in Genesis 3:15.

In 1 Timothy 2, having just referenced Eve in verse 14 with the words “the woman, having been deceived, fell in transgression,” Paul continues first with a singular in verse 15, “but she shall be saved,” apparently referring to Eve, before switching to the plural in the next statement, “if they continue in faith . . .”

By maintaining the singular, “she shall be saved,” Paul keeps Eve in view, and I think this invokes the word about the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15, by whom Eve would be saved (if she embraced her role as a woman and gave birth to him). The switch to the plural indicates that what was true of Eve is true of all women. All women must embrace their role as women and bear children, and if they do so in faith they will be saved. The mention of salvation coming through childbearing may also invoke the OT theme of barren women giving birth to those who continue the line of promise.

Bottom line: while Paul isn’t teaching that Eve is a type fulfilled in the church, I do think (particularly on the basis of 2 Cor 11:3) that he is assuming that kind of relationship, and understanding that helps us see what he is saying.

And I agree with Schreiner and others on the point that Paul wants women to embrace what it means to be female, and he has chosen childbearing as an example of something that only women can do. This doesn’t mean that single women or barren women can’t be saved, but they should by faith embrace what it means for them to be women. If Eve and the other women in the line of promise had not borne children, the Messiah would not have come.

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Ezra 6:22, Darius King of Assyria? Error or Typological Biblical Theology?

Time was slipping away from me yesterday, so some parts of the sermon manuscript got passed over. For instance, in Ezra 6:22, the king of Persia, Darius, is referred to as “the king of Assyria.” Here’s how the part of the manuscript that got skipped read:

Ezra isn’t confused here about the identity of the king (cf., e.g., 1:2 “of Persia,” 3:7 “of Persia,” 4:3 “of Persia,” 5:13 “of Babylon,” 6:14 “of Persia,” 7:1 “of Persia”). The point of the reference to Assyria is the linkage of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, all of which represent the evil empire over against the kingdom of God. Those who oppose Israel are identified with one another, just as Ezra identifies his own generation with the generation who returned to the land and successfully rebuilt the temple.

Ezra knows that Darius is king of Persia and calls him that in Ezra 4:24, “until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” It’s possible that calling Darius the king of Assyria in 6:22 is merely an incidental way of referring to the territory or realm that was first ruled by Assyria, then Babylon, then Persia. But even that incidental conflagration has significance for our understanding of what Ezra took for granted.

I’m inclined to think that Ezra intentionally refers to Darius as king of Persia in 4:24 then as king of Assyria in 6:22 to make a point. Similarly, he has referred to Cyrus as king of Persia in 4:5 only to call him king of Babylon in 5:13.

The point Ezra is making by referring to King Darius of Persia as the king of Assyria in Ezra 6:22 represents a profound, yet subtle, biblical theological move that reflects the typological identification of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. The enemies of God and his people are distinguished from one another, but at the same time they are identified with one another because they are, in a sense, all the same.

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Review of Joel Kennedy’s The Recapitulation of Israel

Joel Kennedy. The Recapitulation of Israel: Use of Israel’s History in Matthew 1:1–4:11. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2.257. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008. 264pp. 9783161498251. $105.00 (paper). Published in Bulletin for Biblical Research 20.2 (2010): 268-69.

This book is a revision of a dissertation supervised by Francis Watson at Aberdeen. The subject of the book is “the Christological use of Israel’s history in Matthew 1:1–4:11” (3), and its “primary focus . . . is examining Israel’s history and the recapitulation of it in Matthew” (17). Though Kennedy defines “recapitulation as a particular subset of typology,” he thinks “at this point in the discussion, it appears best to step aside from trying to defend typology as a legitimate label for Matthew’s work” (21). He states that typology needs “further refinement,” and therefore his study avoids “the term typology and seek[s] to strictly examine Matthew’s text itself in regard to recapitulation” (22). Kennedy states, “The term most apt in describing [the] utilization of Israel’s history in Matthew is recapitulation, which includes repetition, summing up, representation, and embodiment” (23).

After the Introduction, Chapter 2 looks at Matthew’s Genealogy (Matt 1:1–17). Kennedy passes over Matthew 1:18–25, moving directly to what he refers to as the “Passive Recapitulation of Israel’s History” in Chapter 3 (Matt 2:1–23). Chapter 4 then treats the “Active Recapitulation of Israel’s History” (Matt 3:1–4:11).

Kennedy’s treatment of Matthew’s genealogy first discusses the multilinear and unilinear genealogies in the Old Testament, then proposes that unilinear genealogies can also be teleological when they aim to highlight a key figure at the climactic end of the genealogy, such as the genealogy in Ruth that concludes with David. He then shows that genealogies are compressed narrative summaries. All this sets up a useful discussion of the way Matthew uses the genealogy to present Jesus as the recapitulation of Israel. The sense in which Israel’s history is “passively” recapitulated is that Jesus relives and repeats it in the events that happen to him as a child. Kennedy reads Matthew 2 from the perspective that it is narrating the new exodus. Chapter 4 then discusses the baptism and testing of Jesus.

This book makes an important contribution to the discussion of the use of the OT in the New. More work like this needs to be done, looking at the larger patterns and frameworks in the OT and then examining how these are used in the New. This goes far beyond citation formulas, verbal quotations and allusions, and other connections that are established at lexical levels. The kind of work that needs to be done, like Kennedy’s, is only possible from reading the texts in their original languages, gaining a thorough knowledge of the stories and patterns, and then engaging in slow reflection on textual connections. Too much work on the use of the OT in the New has been done without respect for OT context. Too many assertions have been made by NT scholars (and OT scholars too) whose conclusions betray simple failure to understand what either the OT or NT author was doing.

My only complaints about the present volume have to do with the way it tries to avoid the issue of typology. The attempt to circumvent the issue fails because though the word “typology” is avoided, the term that is used, “recapitulation,” is presented as a subset of typology. I cannot find a statement that differentiates between the two, nor do I see appreciable distinctions between what Kennedy calls “recapitulation” and what Allison, for instance, calls “typology” (Kennedy briefly summarizes Allison, with approbation, on p. 21). Connected to this is Kennedy’s dissatisfying decision to pass right over Matthew 1:18–25. The thesis of my essay (“The Virgin Will Conceive: Typological Fulfillment in Matthew 1:18–23,” in Built upon the Rock, ed. John Nolland and Dan Gurtner [Eerdmans, 2008], 228–47) fits perfectly, it seems to me, with Kennedy’s thesis, and he cites other essays from Built upon the Rock, so he had access to the volume. Perhaps the sticking point was the word “typology,” but in the absence of clear discrimination between that term and “recapitulation,” it seems that one word is merely standing in for the other. Many people have reservations about typology as a method of interpretation, but I do not think that using a different term for the same thing will alleviate those concerns. These complaints registered, let me say that this is an enjoyable and insightful volume that moves in a productive direction. Kennedy models an interpretive approach that will yield sound conclusions regarding how the New Testament authors understood the Old and presented their work as its fulfillment.

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And If We Refuse We’re Rebels

Erich Auerbach (Mimesis, 14-15) writes that the intent of biblical stories:

“is not to bewitch the senses, and if nevertheless they produce lively sensory effects, it is only because the moral, religious, and psychological phenomena which are their sole concern are made concrete in the sensible matter of life. But their religious intent involves an absolute claim to historical truth. . . . Without believing in Abraham’s sacrifice, it is impossible to put the narrative of it to the use for which it was written. . . . The world of the Scripture stories is not satisfied with claiming to be a historically true reality—it insists that it is the only real world, is destined for autocracy . . . The Scripture stories do not, like Homer’s, court our favor, they do not flatter us that they may please us and enchant us—they seek to subject us, and if we refuse to be subjected we are rebels.”

HT: A. Philip Brown II, Hope Amidst Ruin, 28 n. 23.

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Dale Allison on Jesus as the Embodiment of God’s Will

This is just a plug for anyone interested in typology to go read Dale C. Allison Jr.’s fascinating essay, “The Embodiment of God’s Will: Jesus in Matthew,” in the volume Seeking the Identity of Jesus.

This is an essay that will repay careful study, and I expect to cite it a number of times.

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Revelation 2:12-17, Repent of Nicolaitan Teaching

Sermon audio from yesterday morning (link fixed) here: Revelation 2:12–17, Repent of Nicolaitan Teaching

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Was Joseph a Type of Christ?

I think so, and I try to prove it in this essay: “Was Joseph a Type of the Messiah? Tracing the Typological Identification between Joseph, David, and Jesus,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 12.4 (2008), 52-77.

The gist of my article is this: From the reuse of key words and phrases (linguistic connections) and from parallels in significant event sequences (historical correspondence) we can see that the author(s) of the narratives concerning David in Samuel deliberately sought to point their readers to the narratives concerning Joseph in Genesis. Thus, the author(s) of Samuel saw Joseph as a type of David, and the two play similar roles in the outworking of salvation history. We find the same kinds of linguistic connections and parallels in event sequences between the narratives about Joseph and the narratives about Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled everything to which both David and Joseph pointed (escalation). Thus, Joseph was first a type of David, and then both Joseph and David were types of Jesus. In my judgment, this provides the necessary textual warrant to demonstrate both historical correspondence and escalation from Joseph through David to Jesus.

For the details, check out the essay: “Was Joseph a Type of the Messiah? Tracing the Typological Identification between Joseph, David, and Jesus.”

Here are my other attempts to exposit the typological interpretation practiced by the biblical authors in the Old and New Testaments:

The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel,” a Julius Brown Gay Lecture presented at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” March 13, 2008.

The Virgin Will Conceive: Typological Fulfillment in Matthew 1:18-23,” in Built upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew, ed. John Nolland and Dan Gurtner, 228-47. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

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Audio of “The Typology of David’s Rise to Power”

Dr. Moore has just posted the links to the text of Graeme Goldsworthy’s addresses on Biblical Theology given this week at SBTS, and he has also linked to the newly posted audio of the Julius Brown Gay Lecture I gave last week, The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel (right click, save as).

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The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel

It was my joy and privilege to present a lecture yesterday at Southern Seminary on the topic in the title of this post.

For those interested in the presentation, I will update this post with the audio if/when it appears on the SBTS website. For anyone interested in the bibliography and the sections I had to skip, here is the manuscript: The Typology of David’s Rise to Power.

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