triquetra symbolRomans 5:15: "For the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man [Adam], how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to many!"

Matthew 5:17: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

What is Typology?

The Greek word from which we derive our English word "type" means "a form or pattern." Typology is one of the basic ways in which New Testament Christians understood their relationship to the Old Testament. Typology asserts that in God's oversight of history, certain events or persons (types) prefigure later events or persons (anti-types): the former being the implicit shadow, the later being the explicit actual. Thus, Moses is understood to be a type of Christ because Christ is the New Lawgiver. Christ is also the Second Adam who brings salvation to a new redeemed race of people. Salvation for all humanity is prefigured by the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt.

Typology is more than allegory, for in allegory one object stands for or signifies another. For example, in C.S. Leiws' Pilgrim's Regress, Lady Kirk represents the Church. In typology, the two are more closely tied together in God's overall plan. They mutually explain each other. To understand Moses as a type of Christ is to do more than see Christ as analogous to Moses in different situations where both impart God's instructions; rather, it is to understand that Moses prepares for Christ, that Christ's law subsumes and fulfills the one given by Moses.

How is Typological Understanding Helpful?

A typological understanding is helpful for Christians thinking about literature in two ways, a strong version and a weak one:

1. Typological thinking helps create profound, poetic insights, such as those of John Donne or George Herbert. The poet is able to enhance the meaning of a poem because she plays off the rich relationship between type and anti-type. Thus, George Herbert can write in the poem "The Priesthood" of the Old Testament priests, of the "priesthood" of every New Testament believer, of the royal priesthood of Christ, and of the "priestly" role his poems serve in his worship of God as well.

2. In a more limited way, typological thinking helps us to realize that all truth helps prepare us for the worldview of the gospel. Thus, the Peace Child of the Nanaimo peoples helped prepare them for Christ the complete peace child. Of course, to some this can sound fairly dismissive, as if all human culture is waiting for a "Christian" completion. But if we remember that true Christianity will not be complete until it is made up of every tribe and ethnicity, then perhaps we can understand that this impulse is finally inclusive. "Old things are put away; All things become new." All things are fulfilled in Christ because they are renewed. The Peace Child of the Nanaimo helps us better understand Jesus.

Central Insight: Typology, besides being an important poetic technique, also reminds us that "all truth helps prepare us for the worldview of the gospel."

Suggestions for Application: Examine an explicitly typological image or character in the text, e.g. a Christ-figure. Alternately, argue for an implicit connection/ inticipation between a text's truth and the Christian worldview.