Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New
by L. Goppelt
Point: Appreciating the New Testament's use of typology will reveal how the NT author's understood redemptive history. Typology is more than merely making a few comparisons, or illustrating a point. The Old Testament finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. "There is no typology that by-passes Christ; he is the antitype of the entire OT" (116).
Path: Goppelt presents "a comprehensive and profound view of redemptive history" (198). He believes that this is not merely a justification of the NT use of the OT, but its very point of view. Through a study of the inter-testamental writings (which Goppelt believes to be ca. 150 B.C. to A.D. 100), part one addresses Palestinian Judaism. He moves from Palestinian Judaism to Hellenistic Judaism, and evaluates Philo and his predecessors. Part two studies typology in the New Testament. Goppelt reviews the typological understanding of Jesus Christ, the Church, and Paul. Hebrews is addresses by itself with its complexity of New Testament hermeneutics. The author works through the Gospel of John, and then summarizes the nature of OT typology in the NT. Part three ends the book with a look at apocalypticism and typology in Paul.
The author's conclusion is that Palestinian Judaism, in the path of the Pharisees, followed the literal meaning of Scripture (41). Although often associated with NT hermeneutics, Philo failed to properly appreciate Scripture. Goppelt believes that the proper understanding of Scripture can only be found through the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. "The final and decisive factor in the interpretation of biblical history and of Scripture in general appears to be the interpreter's relationship with God..." (58).
Typology is lens through which the New Testament authors viewed Jesus Christ and his work. It was not merely trying to explain an Old Testament event, institution, or individual. It compared Jesus and his work with parallels in the Old Testament "in order to discover what can be learned from this about the new and then, perhaps, what can be learned also about the old" (201).
The extensive work of the author is impressive. Many of the parallels made between the New Testament and the Old could go unnoticed. Goppelt has done a great service for Bible students by presenting a comprehensive and compelling argument for typology.
Questions: After reading this book, however, one is left with several questions. First, does he allow for the saturation of Scripture in the New Testament's writers' minds? It seems as though nearly every echo of OT thought constitutes a typological reference.
Second, is typology a human perception or a divine alignment? Goppelt states "The full meaning that the NT finds for Jesus Christ in his typological relationship to the OT can be appreciated only when we consider how Christ was viewed by his church, the ones for whom his ministry, as well as his suffering, death, and resurrection, were intended" (106). It appears that typology is in the eye of the beholder, rather than in the plan of God.
Third, in his view of Israel and the Church, is he allowing enough room for Romans 9-11? He sees Israel as being completely replaced by the Church, however he never really deals with the issues which Paul raises. An entire section is dedicated to the Church as the Spiritual Israel. But, is that allowing the New Testament authors to speak?
Personal App: Typology is not a hermeneutical method, but a spiritual approach to Scripture (223, 237). When reading the New Testament, the student must appreciate the typological hermeneutic of the writers.
This is a valuable work and deserves to be read.
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