Christotelic hermeneutics and typology

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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have run across quite a few people advocating a Christotelic/two readings view and while affirming inerrancy, contra Enns, the idea bugs me. On the other hand there is the question of typology. How does all of this square with 1 Peter 1? Did Moses or the prophets write knowingly of typologies?
What say you? Especially @greenbaggins
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi Trent,
Part of the problem, as I think you are discovering, is that the terminology is used inconsistently. People do not always mean the same thing by "Christocentric", "Christotelic" or even "two readings", which means that follow up questions are inevitably necessary. Some people associate "Christocentric" with typology on steroids (what we might call "Christotelic maximalism, where, for example, each of the judges forms a positive type of Christ) and therefore call themselves "Christotelic", when all they mean is "Christocentric lite". But at the other end of the spectrum, some who call themselves "Christotelic" don't see Christ as present in any meaningful way in the OT, and think that the apostles are engaging in a new hermeneutic (2nd Temple Jewish) that makes OT texts mean something entirely different from what their authors originally intended. And even people like myself, who would describe myself as firmly Christocentric can meaningfully talk about "two readings", the first, the one that would have occurred to the original audience and the other that includes all that we can see with the benefit of subsequent redemptive history. The key for me is whether those two readings are in principle harmonizable or deeply contradictory. So the first audience of Genesis is the wilderness generation with Moses; it's a useful question to ask how Genesis addresses their specific questions and concerns (for example, the role played by Egypt). That will often help us to understand how Genesis addresses us and our own temptations, even though for us "Egypt" doesn't have the same significance.

I think your follow up questions are getting to the heart of the issue and are much more useful than vague labels. I would want to hear people affirm a) the original authors understood some of what they were writing (for example, David in writing Psalm 110 understood that there was a greater king yet to come); b) the original authors didn't necessarily understand everything they wrote (David didn't necessarily know about crucifixion when he wrote Psalm 22); c) there is a fundamental unity between what the prophets thought they were writing (limited though their understanding was) and its fulfillment in Christ, so that when the prophets in glory saw the unfolding of their prophecy in the person of Christ, they said "Wow! That all makes perfect sense now" and not "No! That's not at all what I meant."
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I think your follow up questions are getting to the heart of the issue and are much more useful than vague labels. I would want to hear people affirm a) the original authors understood some of what they were writing (for example, David in writing Psalm 110 understood that there was a greater king yet to come); b) the original authors didn't necessarily understand everything they wrote (David didn't necessarily know about crucifixion when he wrote Psalm 22); c) there is a fundamental unity between what the prophets thought they were writing (limited though their understanding was) and its fulfillment in Christ, so that when the prophets in glory saw the unfolding of their prophecy in the person of Christ, they said "Wow! That all makes perfect sense now" and not "No! That's not at all what I meant."
Thank you, Iain. Those three points seem very helpful. The first two are already a familiar way of thinking for me, but the third is particularly helpful. I appreciate the test of imagining the prophet in glory saying, "Wow! That all makes perfect sense now." That's a quick, useful exercise, and one that seems to fit 1 Peter 1:10-12 nicely.
 
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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think I would add much to Iain's piece, except maybe to point out (something with which Iain is already in print as being firmly in agreement with) the organic unfolding nature of Scripture means that earlier patterns foreshadow later patterns. Redemptive history implies typology, though there must be guards to prevent us from going in an A.W. Pink direction (he sees, I think, 90+ ways Joseph is a type of Christ, many of which are just plain fanciful). On the other hand I do not think we are limited only to the types that the NT explicitly sees. We can engage in the apostolic hermeneutic. That's not just a one-time, inspired deal. Funny this topic should come up. I just had a Ph.D. class on this very topic, the NT's use of the OT.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi Trent,
Part of the problem, as I think you are discovering, is that the terminology is used inconsistently. People do not always mean the same thing by "Christocentric", "Christotelic" or even "two readings", which means that follow up questions are inevitably necessary. Some people associate "Christocentric" with typology on steroids (what we might call "Christotelic maximalism, where, for example, each of the judges forms a positive type of Christ) and therefore call themselves "Christotelic", when all they mean is "Christocentric lite". But at the other end of the spectrum, some who call themselves "Christotelic" don't see Christ as present in any meaningful way in the OT, and think that the apostles are engaging in a new hermeneutic (2nd Temple Jewish) that makes OT texts mean something entirely different from what their authors originally intended. And even people like myself, who would describe myself as firmly Christocentric can meaningfully talk about "two readings", the first, the one that would have occurred to the original audience and the other that includes all that we can see with the benefit of subsequent redemptive history. The key for me is whether those two readings are in principle harmonizable or deeply contradictory. So the first audience of Genesis is the wilderness generation with Moses; it's a useful question to ask how Genesis addresses their specific questions and concerns (for example, the role played by Egypt). That will often help us to understand how Genesis addresses us and our own temptations, even though for us "Egypt" doesn't have the same significance.

I think your follow up questions are getting to the heart of the issue and are much more useful than vague labels. I would want to hear people affirm a) the original authors understood some of what they were writing (for example, David in writing Psalm 110 understood that there was a greater king yet to come); b) the original authors didn't necessarily understand everything they wrote (David didn't necessarily know about crucifixion when he wrote Psalm 22); c) there is a fundamental unity between what the prophets thought they were writing (limited though their understanding was) and its fulfillment in Christ, so that when the prophets in glory saw the unfolding of their prophecy in the person of Christ, they said "Wow! That all makes perfect sense now" and not "No! That's not at all what I meant."
I don't think I would add much to Iain's piece, except maybe to point out (something with which Iain is already in print as being firmly in agreement with) the organic unfolding nature of Scripture means that earlier patterns foreshadow later patterns. Redemptive history implies typology, though there must be guards to prevent us from going in an A.W. Pink direction (he sees, I think, 90+ ways Joseph is a type of Christ, many of which are just plain fanciful). On the other hand I do not think we are limited only to the types that the NT explicitly sees. We can engage in the apostolic hermeneutic. That's not just a one-time, inspired deal. Funny this topic should come up. I just had a Ph.D. class on this very topic, the NT's use of the OT.
I see. What of the claim that the Apostles were using second temple rabbinic hermeneutics? Would that be made up midrash similar to how Robert Gundry sees Matthew?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Trent, there are about 7 characteristics of 2TJ rabbinic hermeneutics: 1. kal-vahomer (lesser to the greater); 2. gezera-shewa (key-word exegesis); 3. deduction (specific to general); 4. several texts put together can furnish a conclusion; 5. general to specific; 6. analogy from another passage (situation, not verbal); 7. inference from context. As you can see, any kind of exegesis would share certain features of this kind of exegesis. These characteristics are not all distinctive to rabbinic. You can find examples of 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 in the NT writings, but the lack of 2 and 6 (6 is not typology, but analogy only) make NT exegesis different enough that it should not be called 2TJ hermeneutics. There is a further list of 4 categories of interpretation (literalist, midrashic, pesher, and allegorical) in rabbinic exegesis, only the first of which has any similarity to NT interpretation of OT.
 
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