I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Friday, July 27, 2012


Hermeneutically speaking, I do not agree with the cloistering six-fold criteria that Roy B. Zuck offers in Basic Bible Interpretation for determining an authentic type-antitype instance in the NT.  A root cause for this disagreement is bound-up in the differences between much broader theological perspectives and their respective hermeneutical presuppositions.  Zuck, for instance, holds tight to a classical dispensational hermeneutic, which de facto places emphasis on the discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments.  Those holding to covenant theology, however, will naturally see more continuity between the Testaments (or, covenants, dispensations, etc.).  So, Zuck has a presuppositional bias against seeing many intra-covenantal correspondences that a covenant theologian would easily recognize.  

More specifically, the six-fold criteria Zuck presents[1] are not satisfied in many of the types Zuck  believes are valid.[2]  Number 14 in the list, for instance, the grain offering, conjoins Lev. 2 and Heb. 10:8 as type and antitype.[3]  Zuck denies a typical relation between Adam and Christ,[4] yet affirms as valid the typical relation between the OT grain offering and Christ!  I would love to see the line of inference justifying the latter, and that in strict conformity with the six-fold criteria.  Zuck says that Paul’s clear statement that Adam was a typos of Christ (Rom 5:14; cf. 1 Cor 15) is not to be taken in the technical sense, but he never says why.  This seems quite arbitrary.[5]  The two criteria that make Zuck’s model difficult for me are his personally understood view of typological prefiguring as a sub-set of prophecy (“A type is a form of prophecy.”)[6] and the sixth criterion, which is “[types] must be designated in the New Testament.”[7]  Regarding the former, if “predictive” could rather be understood as paradigmatic, I could find it must easier to agree with Zuck.  Concerning the latter, that the NT must designate a type, we have already seen that even when it does (e.g., Rom 5:14), one can arbitrarily deny it by disputing the technical sense of the term, as Zuck does with Adam-Christ.  Moreover, this stricture prevents all non-apostolic readers from learning how to read the OT from the NT authors.  Why can the clear types found in the NT not serve us as exemplar hermeneutical frameworks for reading and interpreting the OT in light of Christ ourselves?  They do!

Zuck’s six-fold criteria is, I believe, too rigid, and so impoverishes the horizons offered by typological reading-intepretation.  Or, as Edmund Clowney put is, “To conclude that we can never see a type where the New Testament does not identify it is to confess hermeneutical bankruptcy.”[8]  Lastly, one need only look at the dates of Zuck’s working-stock sources to discern that he is not in conversation with the growing bulk of solid scholarship on the topic of typology and its limits and utility.[9]  Thankfully, today Zuck’s tight strictures are a minority view.[10] 

[1] Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, Colorado : Victor 1991), 172—76, 179. 

[2] See his list of valid types, ibid., 179—80. 

[3] Ibid., 180.

[4] Ibid., 181.

[5] For some clear-headed examples of Adam-Second Adam typological interpretations, see, e.g., The Gaylin R. Schmeling, “Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament” as found at www.blts.edu/.../Typological%20Interpretation%20of%20Old%20Testament.pdf; Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament.  P & R Publishing: New Jersey (1988); Gregory K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2004). 

[6] Basic Bible, 173. 

[7] Ibid., 176, brackets added. 
[8] Preaching Christ in All the Scriptures (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books 2003), 31.

[9] Basic Bible, 174—75.

[10] Some examples might include the following, though there are many more.  Dale C. Allison, Jr., The New Moses: A Matthean Typology.  Fortress: Minneapolis, Minnesota (1993); G. W. H. Lampe and K. J. Woollcombe, Essays on Typology in Studies in Biblical Theology. SCM: London (1957); George Wesley Buchanan, Typology and the Gospel.  University Press of America: Lanham, Maryland (1987). 

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