Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Bible is Hugely Typological

I've been reading Mike Bull's book Bible Matrix and it's got me thinking about Bible interpretation and symbols. Maybe because I'm a visual artist I tend to be attracted to biblical typology. Yes, there is a continuity of essence in biblical theology but the Bible does not come to us as a systematic theology. It's history; a history of full of symbols. And yes, many of those symbols have come to end because Christ has come. But understanding them in their historical-redemptive context, helps us better to understand what they have fulfilled. We shouldn't ignore what they were pointing too.

The Bible is hugely typological, i.e,. 7-day creation week, tabernacle and all the symbols therein, the temple, dietary laws, man himself is created as a symbol: "imago Dei." Indeed, all of creation is symbolic, "the heavens declare the glory of God." Paul calls the church the "body of Christ." The sun and moon are symbols that rule: "And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars."

Symbols that are repeated time and time again are like a musical refrain. If you watch The Empire Strikes Back and you hear that deep, dark, brooding, powerful tune: Dum Da Da Dum, Dum Da Dum, Dum Da Dum, you don't have to be a genius to know who's coming up in the next scene: Darth Vader'! The Bible has very similar patterns and to ignore them is to miss something. Why does Acts 15:29 say they were to stay away from things that were strangled? "I don't know....let's just skip over that part!" No, we can't do that. The writer had a reason for including that and our task is to understand why he said it.

Sure, typology can be overdone and has been abused, but typological patterns are there and they have something to teach us about covenant theology. Chiasms are there too and ought not to be ignored when doing biblical exegesis. Sorry, but if we ignore them we are not seeing the forest for the trees.

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