Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 11

On Biblical Typology and the Interpretation of Literature

Robert E. Reiter

College English, Vol. 30, No. 7. (Apr., 1969), pp. 562-571.

Stable URL:

College English is currently published by National Council of Teachers of English.

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at
http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained
prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in
the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.

The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic
journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers,
and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take
advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Mon Aug 6 23:46:51 2007
O n Biblical Typology and

the Interpretation of Literature

A RECURRIXG PHENOMESOX of literary one of many means toward understand-

scholarship is the "discovery" of a con- ing older literature. Northrop Frve's la-
cept which, though well known to writ- ment in A~zntomy of Criticism (prince-
ers of the past and extremely (though ton, 1957, p. 14) that "biblical tvpology
often subtlv) influential in their work, is so dead a language now that most
became, with the passage of time, no readers, including scholars, cannot con-
longer part of the intellectual milieu of strue the superficial meaning of any
the present. A classic example of such poem which employs it," might not bk
a "discovery" is A. 0. Lovejov's work as true now as a decade ago. But if, as
on "the Great Chain of ~ e i n ~ ;a" con- appears likely, scholars and critics are
cept so important for understanding going to continue their exploration of
Shakespeare and Milton that it is now biblical t v p o l o g ~in older English lit-
part of every teacher's lectures on those erature, it seems to me prudent for
poets (and others), no matter whether teachers of that literature to understand
the teacher holds "the Great Chain of just what biblical tvpology tradition-
Being" as a personal belief or not. An- aIlv is and what it is not, to see why
other example of a "discovery" in the p&ts of the Bible were generallv in-
continuing effort to understand older terpreted in the typical sense, to be
literature (i.e., pre-Enlightenment) in rigorous in applying the term and con-
something approaching the way its con- cept, and to grasp the wider implica-
temporary readers understood it, is bibli- tions of typological exegesis. What fol-
cal typology. lows is thus largely an essay in definition
The current scholarlv interest in bib- and explanation of a theological con-
lical typology is part of the larger effort cept for the use of teachers of literature.
of the past generation or so to compre- When one academic discipline takes
hend sixteenth and seventeenth century over the terms and concepts of another
literature under the aspect of 'Christian and e m ~ l o v sthem in a wav that is more

humanism" and to assimilate the "back- than analogous, it is necessarv to be very

ground" of those times. Although a careful about definitions. or biblical
knowledge of biblical typology is also typology, therefore, it is to exegetes and
crucial for understanding medieval lit- to historians of exe~esis D

that literarv
erature, I shall confine my literary ex- scholars must turn for their terms anh
amples in this essay to seventeenth-cen- concepts. I am aware, naturally, that in
tury authors. disciplines other than biblical exegesis
As a tool of literarv interpretation, "type" and "tvpology" have meanings
a knowledge of biblicai tvpologv is but auite differentefram those discussed be-

low. I am concerned only with typology

in the Bible, not in linguistics, in folk-
Robert E . Reiter teacl~esEnglish at Boston Col- lore, or in anything else. Nor am I con-
lege and has n special interest in the critical
problems posed b y the historical relations be- cerned with the legitimacy of using
tween literature and theology. typologv in contemporary biblical exe-

gesis. My purposes are explanatory and though the full salvific meaning of an
historical, not argumentative. event or person may not be apparent to
In traditional Christian biblical exege- contemporaries, this meaning can be
sis and scholarship, typology refers to understood bv later men because the
the historical correspondences in the meaning has been given by God. The
Bible between certain Old Testament theological principle underlving this
persons, events, or things (types) and view is the Old Testament concept of
the similar New Testament persons, God as a living God, one who can and
events, or things (antitypes) which they does and did act decisivelv in time for
prefigure. This terminology is found in the assistance of the peoplk he made his
the N e w Testament: Paul (Rom. own. The greatest intervention in history
5: 14) calls Adam the type ( t u p ~ s )of bv the God of Israel was the Exodus
Christ, and Peter (I Pet. 2:4) calls Christ from Egypt, which, along with the ex-
the antitype (antitupos) of the rejected periences of the forty years in the desert,
stone (Ps. 118:22; cf. Matt. 21:42-44, formed the most meaningful part of the
Acts 4:11, and Rom. 9 : 3 3 ) . The most historical basis of the Old Testament
common synonym for type in Western religion. Israel remembered the Exodus as
exegesis is "figure" (from figura). a precise historical event in which God
Though the terms can be used inter- manifested his power and his protection.
changeably, exegetical usage prefers It is this view of history, which gave
"type." The Old Testament rypes are meaning to the Exodus and to all of
real, historical persons, events, or things. Israel's history, that the New Testament
T h e Old Testament is taken seriously, writers also accepted.
and the types are not just types, but have The call of Abraham, the Exodus,
their own validity and existence inde- and the election of David, all of them de-
pendent of their antitype. Indeed, onlv if cisive interventions in history and like-
the types are valid (i.e., historical), can wise treasured memories in Israel, made
the antitypes be valid. The Old Testa- it apparent that God works in historv,
ment type, however, commonly typifies in real time, for his people. The promise
Christ only in certain and rather re- of a Messiah, which took on greater co-
stricted aspects. Thus Job is a type of gency and force after the Exile, would
Christ in his sufferings, not in everything be fulfilled in time with a similarly his-
that he did or was. (Whether the Old torical event. Now the early Christians,
Testament persons, events, or things especially most N e w Testament authors,
were really "historical" in the modern were brought up as Jews and therefore
sense is irrelevant. One must assume-or interpreted their history as pointing to
act "as if"-they were historical because and awaiting the Messiah. But since these
that is a given of typology.) Christians now believed that the Messiah
Biblical typology can be a way of had come, the N e w Testament looks
exegesis or a way of writing. Both de- upon Israel's history as God's prefigure-
rive from a specific view of history ment of the one historical event that
and from a specific attitude toward the gives everything its meaning. History, in
Old Testament. The N e w Testament au- the New Testament view, progresses
thors do not look upon history, specif- from the beginnings toward Christ and
ically Israel's history, as something that thence toward the Second Coming. The
happened once long ago with no further New Testament, in short, took over Old
relevance, nor as a series of endlessly re- Testament history and made it part of
curring cycles. History, rather, is mean- its own redemptive history.
ingful, orderly, and progressive. Events The most obvious evidence that the
happened by divine providence, and al- New Testament writers accepted Old

Testament history and prophecy as pre- "prophecy" of Jeremiah has been ful-
figuring Christ is to be found in the filled, but that the Old Covenant of
wav they handle certain Old Testament Sinai was interpreted as a type, a pre-
events ;nd prophecies. By announcing figuring, a shadowv hint of a greater
that these prophecies had been fulfilled Covenant to come. .
in Jesus of Nazareth, and b v their inter- For the N e w Testament writers, the
pretation of certain events '(notably the life, death, and resurrection of Christ
Exodus), the N e w Testament writers set have the same determining importance
forth that svstem of correspondences be- for historv that the Exodus had for the
tween the Testaments that wre call typol- Old ~ e s t a m e n writers.
t Bv seeing in the
0gy. life and works of Jesus certain corres-
T o see how the N e w Testament writ- pondences to, and similarities with, Is-
ers related the N e w to the Old, it might rael's historv, the N e w Testament writ-
be helpful here to look briefly at just one ers developed typological writing and
Old Testament event, with its special typological exegesis. Typological writing
meaning, that is interpreted typological- here refers to the way some N e w Testa-
Iv in the N e w Testament. Since the Exo- ment writers apparently deliberately as-
dus was so important, some Old Testa- similated events in the life of ~ e s b sto
ment writers saw in it an analogue, a events of the Old Testament.
foreshadowing, of a still more perfect T h e clearest example of this kind of
liberation which God had in store for typological writing is in the Gospel of
Israel. A clear example of this specialized Matthew, which was probablv written
kind of Old Testament writing, which for an audience of Jewish Christians,
has been called "recapitulative proph- earl\? converts from Judaism.
ecy," is found in Jeremiah (31: 31-34): 1
; his infancv narrative, Matthew ex-
plicitlv stresses-the fulfillment of certain
Behold, the days are coming, says the obviobs prophecies (I1 Sam. 7: 12-16; Isa.
Lord, when I will make a new cove- 7: 14; and Mic. 5:2). This is not typol-
nant with the house of Israel and the ogy. But when Matthew tells of the flight
house of Judah, not like the covenant into Egvpt, an incident found only in
which I made with their fathers when his Gospel, and says that it fulfills the
I took them by the hand to bring them prophecv of Hosea 11: 1, "out of Egypt
out of the land of Egypt. . . . But this
is the covenant which I will make . . . I I called m v son," he begins to assimilate
will put my law within them, and I the life o f - ~ e s u sto the history of Israel's
will write it upon their hearts; and I deliverance from Egypt in fhe Exodus.
will be their God, and they shall be my Jesus' first public appearance in Matthew
people. . . . I will forgive their iniquity, is his baptism. Having come out of
and I will remember their sin no more. Egypt, Jesus passes through water and
(RSV) God is manifcsted. Jesus then undergoes
the fortv-day fast, corresponding to the
T h e Epistle to the Hebrews cites these forty years .in the desert (Exod. 16:35)
verses from Jeremiah to announce that and to the forty days that Moses spent
the N e w Covenant of Christ has been on the mountain (Exod. 24: 18; 34: 28).
established (Heb. 8: 8-1 3), and interprets After the fast, Jesus is tempted by Satan,
Jeremiah as ~ r o ~ h e s y i nthe
g N e w Cove- whom he refutes out of the Old Law
nant of Christ. Thus the author of He- of Sinai. These passages lead up to the
brews perceives a correspondence be- Sermon on rhe ,l4ount, in which Jesus
tween the Covenant of Sinai and the delivers the N e w Law from a mountain.
N e w Covenant of Jesus Christ. T h e im- T h e correspondence of events is unmis-
portant point here is not just that the takable, if w e grasp the typology at

work. T h e Sermon on the Mount is the a glimax and complement t o the Paschal
N e w Law, and the discourse, after the meal of the Old Law (Matt. 26: 17-28;
introductory beatitudes, begins with Mark 14: 12-25; Luke 22: 7-20; I Cor. 11:
"Think not that I have come to abolish 23-25). Christ, therefore, was considered
the law and the prophets; I have come the reality of which the Paschal Lamb
not to abolish them but to fulfill them." was the type.
Jesus, the prophet promised to Moses In addition to considering some as-
and of whom Moses was a tvpe (Deut. pects of certain Old Testament events
18:18), proclaims the N e w ~ a w (Heb. and things as types of Christ, some per-
8:8-13 and Jer. 31:31) after the new sons of the Old Testament, likewise in
Exodus announced to Hosea and Isaiah. certain and limited aspects, were under-
Moses and the Exodus are the principal stood to be types of Christ. It is the
Old Testament figures that Matthew persons, of course, who figure most
draws on for his typology. It is through prominently in biblical allusions in poet-
the implicit references to them that we ry of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen-
can suggest that Matthew saw certain turies. These persons were connected
events in the early life of Jesus as corres- with Jesus in the following ways: Adam,
ponding to Israel's experience in the Exo- in that, like Christ, he was head of the
dus and that he understood the Sermon race (Rom. 5: 14; I Cor. 15:45,47); Abel,
on the Mount to be the New Testa- in that he was a just man (Matt. 23: 35)
ment counterpart of the giving of the who offered an acceptable sacrifice
Law from Sinai. For Matthew, Jesus (Gen. 4:4, 5, 10; Heb. 11:4; Heb. 12:24);
thus both continues and brings to per- Noah, in that he preached repentance,
fection the history of Israel. mediated a covenant between God and
Another Exodus theme that appears man (Gen. 9:8-17; Heb. 11:7), and built
in the N e w Testament is the Paschal an ark (Gen. 6: 14), which itself was a
lamb (Exod. 12), which can be con- type of baptism (I Pet. 3:20-2 1); Mel-
flated with the comparison of the Suf- chizedek, in that he was a high priest
fering Servant to a sheep in Isaiah 53. who offered sacrifice of bread and wine,
St. Paul emphasizes the correspondence King of Salem (peace), and without gen-
between the Paschal Lamb and Christ, eration (Gen. 14: 18; Heb. 6: 20-7: 17);
"Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacri- Moses, in that he proclaimed a covenant
ficed" (I Cor. 5:7). The blood of the (Exod. 35: 1-2; Matt. 5-7 and 26:26-28),
Paschal Lamb spared the Israelites from gave the people bread (manna) to eat
the death of the first born in Egypt, (Exod. 16:4; John 6) and water to drink
and so roo it is the blood of Christ, (Exod. 17:6; John 7:37-38), and estab-
the new Paschal victim, that saves the lished a sacrifice (Exod. 24:6-8; Matt.
believers, who are the new Israel (I Cor. 26:28; Heb. 9: 11-28); David, in that he
1 1 : 25; Matt. 26:28; Mark 14: 23-24; Rev. was born in Bethlehem (I Sam. 16: 1;
5). Just as the N e w Testament writers Matt. 2:1), was a king ( I Sam. 16:13;
interpreted the death of Jesus in the I1 Sam. 5: 12; Matt. 27: l l ) , and was per-
light of the Suffering Servant of Deu- secuted (Pss. 3, 22, 109; Matt. 27:27-33);
tero-Isaiah, so too they interpreted the and Jonah, in that he was buried three
death of Jesus as the fulfillment of what days (Jon. 2: 1; Matt. 12:39-40). Of these
they believed to be implicit in the Pas- tvpes, Jesus applied only Jonah to him-
chal victim of Exodus 12. It is assuredly sklf. In the Pauline corpus, Adam, Mel-
not without typological significance that chizedek, and Moses are the most impor-
Christ, the new Paschal Lamb, estab- tant personal types of Christ.
lished a N e w Covenant in his blood and The matrix of the scriptural devel-
the new commemorative ritual meal as opment of typology is thus found in the

New Testament itself. Various passages ancient days." These words were under-
in the Old Testament announced a new stood to mean that the Messiah was to
Exodus and a new Covenant. These writ- be born in Bethlehem, and in his in-
ings were never interpreted to mean that fancy narrative Matthew refers to this
the events of the Exodus or of the verse (Aqatt. 2:4-7). T h e birth of Jesus
Covenant would occur again just as they in Bethlehem is considered to be the
had before, as if the prophet were sug- fulfillment of Micah's words. Now, in an
gesting a cyclical movement. Rather, in exegesis concerned with typology, the
the course of progressing revelation (see fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem
Heb. 1:l-2 and I Pet. 1:20), it was re- has a special significance because it was
vealed to certain men that God would also the birthplace of King David (I
act once more on Israel's behalf in a Sam. 16: 1 ) . The angel's words to the
way similar to that in which he had shepherds call attention to this corre-
acted years before. Likewise, the lives spondence by referring to Bethlehem as
and actions of certain Old Testament "the city of- avid" (Luke 2: 11). David
men were seen to have borne a special and ~ e s u stherefore,
, are linked by the his-
meaning in relation to the life and actions torical place of their birth. It is through
of Christ. T h e New Testament authors, real occurrences in time and place that
particularlv Matthew, John, and Paul, David and Jesus are typologically con-
apparently diligentlv searched the Scrip- nected. This is only one aspect of the
tures for passages relevant to the life of correspondences between the two; upon
the Messiah, found there the recapitula- others taken together there is built up
tive prophecies and the men and events the notion of David the King as a type
of Israel's historv, and incorporated them of Christ the King. (In Milton's ~ a r a -
into their understanding of Jesus. It is dise Regained the type of Christ most
thus in the hTew Testament itself, rather frequently mentioned is King David.
than in Philo Judaeus or in rabbinic Milton makes both Satan and Jesus to
exegesis, that we find the roots of the be verv much aware of the connection.)
typologv that was so deeply to influence The &egesis of prophecy, then, looks
theolog$ and literature. for a fact that will constitute its ful-
~ y ~ d l nowo ~ vmust be distinguished fillment; typologv, on the other hand,
from the fulfillment of prophecy and discovers fhat a fact of the past and a
from allegory, which are very different fact of the present so resemble each
things. ~ r o ~ h e cis vanother term subject other that a comtemplation of the cor-
to confusion, though the root meaning of respondence deepens one's understand-
"one who speaks for God to men" is ing of both facts.
fundamental to all senses of the word. llodern exegetes, as well as historians
I have alreadv discussed "recapitulative of exegesis, of dogma, and of literature
prophecy." he meaning of prophecv insist that tvpology not be confused with
I am concerned with now is the common allegory. ~ l l e ~ o rasy here used means
one of looking into the future and in an interpretation given t o passages of
some way making predictions about it. Scripture over and above their literal
An illustration of the difference between meaning and apparently quite indepen-
fulfillment of prophecv and true tvpol- dent of the intention of the original
ogy can be drawn from a consideiation author. Allegorical interpretation in this
of hlicah 5:2: "But you, 0 Bethlehem sense, therefore, is not to be identified
Ephrathah, who are little to be among with allegory in the works or explication
the clans of Judah, from you shall come of a poet such as Edmund Spenser, for
forth for me one who is to be ruler in he consciously intended the allegory.
Israel, whose origin is from of old, from Tvpologv, it has been noted, is rooted

in history, depends on history, and is man depended. The one man (Adam)
consequently faithful to it. Allegory, on making such an action is the type of the
the other hand, uses history only as a other (Jesus). But Adam's disobedience
starting point for an interpretation suited and sin are not types of Christ's obedi-
to the exegete's temper, even though ence and justice; this is rnanifestlv im-
orthodox exegetical theory always main- possible; for the amitype is always great-
tained the primacy of the literal level. er than the tvpe. From the typology of
In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul Adam and ~ h r i s texplained 'in Romans
presents an interpretation of the story 5 Milton derived the whole concept of
of Abraham and his two wives and two using the temptations in the desert for
sons which he calls an allegorv (Gal. Paradise Regained.
4:24). Sarah and Hagar are quite arbi- For Paul's exegesis in Romans 5, as
trarilv said to represent the two dis- always in typology, history is the kev-
pensations. Although two historical per- stone; in allegory, historv (a
sons are made to represent two historical event, or thing) is the pdint of depar-
covenants, the historicitv of both mem- ture for the exegete's fancies. This in-
bers of the allegory is n o t the basis of sistence upon history is possibly the
the relationship. The method was used richest, most val~able'as~ect of typolog-
on the same incidents by Philo Judaeus, ical exegesis. Bv using a typological
who went even furthe; in disregarding exegesis, the ~ e Testament
w writers and
historv bv making Sarah represent virtue the Fathers of the Church preserved
and kagar, education. Abraham, who Old Testament history and rendered the
represents the mind, has virtue for his world an enormous service, for an al-
wife and culture for his concubine! For legorized Old Testament would soon
Philo and for many Fathers of the have been forgotten as worthless, but
Church, particularly those associated an Old Testament whose historv was
with Alexandria, the persons, places, or preserved and taken seriously rkmains
events in a passage to be interpreted be- with Christians today.
came chiefly the jumping-off place for In the vears after the close of the
an interpretation which tends to ignore canon of ;he New Testament, tvpologi-
or dispense with the historicity or lit- cal exegesis was widely applied by those
eral level of the passage. theologians and exegetes whom we call
Paul's allegorical interpretation of the Fathers of the Church. In a sense,
Sarah and Hagar should be contrasted tvpological exegesis is a compromise be-
with his typological interpretation tween the extremes of allegorization and
(Rom. 5: 12-2 1) of Adam's role. T h e con- literalism in Christian exegesis of the Old
trast clarifies the difference between the Testament. T h e great theological prob-
two methods of exegesis. T h e correspon- lem of the second century was the Old
dence that Paul sets up in Romans be- Testament, and out of -the exegetical
tween Adam and Christ is so grounded battles of that period typology emerged
in the historical facts about each that the as the solution to the problem. That is
elimination of any of these facts de- why some parts of the Bible have long
molishes the relation between the two been taken in a typical sense. Without
persons. Adam is a type of Christ, ac- getting bogged down in the heresies and
cording t o Paul, in his oneness. Upon developing orthodoxies of the early
him, as head of the race at the time of Church, I shall briefly sketch the prob-
temptation, depended the future of man- lem and show how typologv answered it.
kind; so too upon Christ, the new h a d The earliest apostolic preachings were
of the race (Eph. 1: 10 and Col. 1: 15-20) delivered to Jews and included a sum-
at the time of temptation, the future of marv of Israel's religious history as lead-

ing up to Jesus (Acts 2: 14-24; 3: 12-16; Opposed from its very beginnings to
7:2-53; 13:16-41). But Gentiles could any wholesale rejection of the Old Testa-
not understand that part of the preaching, ment, to any attempt at separating the
nor did it seem important, though it was God of Abraham from the God of Jesus,
obviously part of the Gospel message. and to any secret tradition of teachings
Israel's religious history could not mean onlv for an elite, the Church avoided
to a Greek slave in Rome what it meant interpreting the Old Testament in either
to Saul of Tarsus. T o preserve this a slavishlv literal or a wildly allegorical
feature of the apostolic preaching, there- fashion by employing typology, which
fore, while at the same time caring for bv treating the men and events of the
the Gentiles who had never heard of o l d Testament as tvpes of Christ and
kloses or the Exodus, some way had to his Church, preserved both the historical
be found to keep the Old Testament but realitv of the Old Testament and the
not the full rigor of the Law. perfection of the New. Typology
Various solutions were offered. T h e was the Church's answer to both ex-
most radical was that of Marcion, a tremes, to Alarcion and to the Gnostics.
heretic of the earlv part of the second In the study of literature of the six-
century, who interpreted the Old Testa- teenth and seGenteenth centuries, partic-
ment iiterallv and found it completely ularlv religious verse, the literary critic
opposed to the Gospel. H e accepted no empiow typology at second remove from
allegorical or typological interpretation the k h d of tvpology discussed above.
of the Old Testament. Marcion held an That exegetes of both the Reformed and
extreme anti-Judaism which rejected the Roman Churches of the sixteenth and
Old Testament and set up instead a seventeenth centuries employed typology
truncated New Testament canon. includ- in their writings is unquestioned. All one
ing only Luke and ten Pauline epistles, has to do is to begin reading some of the
from all of which he excised, according Scripture commentaries or sermons of
to his light, the "Judaizing" passages. the period. John Donne, for instance,
Marcion's rejection of the Old Testament, preached at Lincoln's Inn a sermon on
in effect, denied the teaching that Jesus Psalm 38:4 ("For mine iniquities are gone
was the Jewish Messiah and thus the cul- over mine head: as an heavv burden they
mination of Israel's religious historv. are too heavv for me") and interpreted
\\'hereas Marcion rejected the Old the text thus; "First then, all these things
Testament as fruitless for Christians, the are literally spoken of Dnuid; By appli-
Gnostics accepted it, but wholehearted- cation, of us; and by figure, of Christ.
Iv allegorized it. There is no one Gnostic Historically, David; morally, we, Typi-
&stem and Gnostics disagreed among cally, Christ is the subject of this text"
themselves. T h e v generally claimed the (Sermons, ed. Potter and Simpson, 11,
existence of a secret tradkion of teach- 97).
ings handed down to them from the The religious poets of the period-
Apostles-a tradition, however, which Donne, Milton, Herbert-would allude
was at variance with and superior to to an Old Testament person or event and
the open tradition of the Church. N o expect the reader to grasp the typologi-
Gnostic sect ever accepted the Old Tes- cal significance of the person or event
tament and the Mosaic Law as the work in the traditional typological interpreta-
of the same good God who in the New tion. T h e classic example of this is per-
Testament is the Father of Jesus. T h e haps George Herbert's "The Sacrifice."
Old Testament was therefore allegorized A lack of knowledge of the typological
on the basis of an exceedingly intricate sense of Scripture led William Empson
collection of ideas and fancies. to say some very silly things about the

poem, as Rosemond Tuve pointed out in of Paradise Regained, ("Recovered Para-

detail in her Reading of George Herbert. dise to all mankind,/By one mans firm
Only when a literary critic under- obedience"), the persons ("one man"
stands. the traditional tvpological inter- and "the Tempter"), the action ("all
pretation of Scripture can he grasp the temptation, and the Tempter foil'd"),
full implications of, say, the opening and the consequences ("the Tempter
lines of Paradise Regained: . . . defeated . . . and Eden rais'd in the
wast wilderness."). It is obvious simply
I who ere while the happy Garden sung, from the words used in the first seven
By one mans disobedience lost, now sing lines of Paradise Regained that the read-
Recovered Paradise to all mankind, er is to recall the fifth chapter of Romans
Bv one mans firm obedience fully tri'd and Paul's exposition there of the rela-
Through all temptation, and the Tempt- tionship between Adam and Christ.
er foil'd Therefore it can be said that hlilton
In all his wiles, defeated and repuls't, builds the opening lines of Paradise Re-
And Eden rais'd in the wast Wilderness. gained upon the theology of Romans.
Adam's t\7pological relation to Christ
With these lines must be compared the and the similarly typological relation of
opening of Paradise Lost: the two series of temptations allowed
Milton to take the incidents of Christ's
Of Mans First Disobedience, and the temptations as the subject of his poem
Fruit about recovered paradise. If we were
Of the Forbidden Tree, whose mortal
tast mentally to remove the Adamic typology
Brought Death into the World, and all from Paradise Regained, all that would
our woe, be left would be a longish narrative about
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man once incident in Christ's life, not a poem
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat. about paradise regained. T o make his
poem bear the weight of the salvific
Though neither is mentioned bv name, content that he needed, Milton deliber-
Adam and Christ are obviously ;he prin- ately constructed his opening lines on
cipal figures in the poems. A t the be- Romans 5, thus recalling to the alert
ginning of Paradise Regained Milton reader the theme (life and grace) and the
directly recalls to the reader his previous typology of that passage. The reason
poem, states that this new poem is about that Milton is able to attach so much
"Recover'd Paradise," and says that the meaning to Christ's defeat of Satan in
lost happy garden is to be recovered "by the wilderness is the tvpological relation-
one mans firm obedience fully tri'd/ ship between Adam and Christ. Only
Through all temptation." T h e disobedi- because of the typologv can the poem
ence of Adam is set over against the truly be called Paradise .~egained.
obedience of Christ. W h a t one lost the It is not that the critic interprets
other recovers. T h e comparison of Adam Paradise R e g a i ~ e d or any other poem
and Christ in terms of "one," and the typologically, but that he knows the
contrast of their actions (disobedience traditional typological meaning of the
and obedience) and of the results of these biblical persons or allusions in the poem.
actions (loss of Eden and recovered Sound scholarly methodology certainly
Paradise) include the points of compari- demands demonstration that the poet in
son and contrast that Paul employed in question was familiar with typological
Romans 5 to show that Adam was a type interpretation (it is hard to find one of
of Christ. the older poets who was not) and that
These opening lines state the theme the particular biblical person or allusion

was interpreted typologically in com- Church Fathers, o r Milton's contempo-

mentaries and other exegetical works raries did. O n the one hand, one has t o
that the poet had read o r could reason- be aware of modern biblical scholarship-
ablv be assumed to have read. F o r the much of which, curiously enough, em-
~ n g l i s hreligious poets and preachers of ploys typology as a w a y of understand-
the seventeenth century these demonstra- ing what the N e w Testament writers
tions are easily done. Nevertheless, the were doing-and on the other, t o realize
literarv critic should be certain that that the Higher Criticism and its suc-
when .he says "type" or "typology" he cessors have nothing to d o with the w a y
means it in the strict sense e m ~ l o v e db v John Donne read Exodus. Nevertheless,
exegetes and is not using it as a'vaiiant df as teachers and scholars. Adam or Noah
allegory, for, as I have been at pains t o can be just as much a type of Christ to
demonstrate, allegory and tvpology are us in the interpretation of literature as
verv different. he was to Paul, to Augustine, or to Mil-
1t might seem from the foregoing ex- ton, no matter h o w much w e might per-
planation of biblical typologv, and par- sonally dissent from the whole theory.
ticularlv the emphasis o n the historicitv ~ e n c using
e tvpology t o understand old-
of o l d Testament persons (especially e r literature i s not the ~ r e r oa ~
a t i vofe anv
Adam), that I am deliberatelv espousing one intellectual or reli'gious grouping of
a fundamentalist view of thk Bible and teachers o r scholars, any more than it
a particular philosophy of histom and would be necessary t o adhere to ancient
that those views must be accepted b y Greek cults to explain an allusion to Zeus
one using typology to interpret liter- o r Athena. ~ i b l & a ltvpology, in short,
ature. O f course, this is not so. Modern when used in its meaning is a
biblical studies have made it impossible necess,arv tool1 f o r understanding the
for us t o read the Bible, especially Gene- works of poets who themselves reid the
sis, in the same w a v that St. Paul, or the Bible typologicallv.
- -

Rather than load the foregoing essay with -- , Institutes of ihe Christian Re-
a mass of documentation, I offer here a ligion.
list of books which discuss in greater *Irenaeus. Against Heresies.
detail various aspects of biblical typology Luther, Martin. Conzmentary 072 the Epis-
and the interpretation of literature and tle to the Rovzans.
which I used in writing this essay. I have
starred those items which I find most use- 11. Modern works on typological exegesis.
ful to teachers and students of literature. Bultmann, Rudolf. History and Eschatol-
ogy. Edinburgh, 1957.
I. Classic works of typological exegesis. Cullmann, Oscar. Christ and T i m e . Trans.
(All these are available in various edi- F. V. Filson. Philadelphia, 1950.
tions and translations.) *Danielou, Jean. From Shadows to Reality.
Augustine. T h e City of God. Trans. Wulstan Hibbard. London, 1960.
, E7zrhiridion on Faith, Hope, "Grant, Robert M. T h e Letter and the
and Charity. Spirit. London, 1957.
. T h e First Catechetical Instruc- Kelly, J. N.D. Early Christian Doctrines.
tion. (De Catechizandibus Rudibus.) New York, 1958.
-- . *On Christian Doctrine. "Lampe, G. W . H., and K. J. Woollcombe.
. Reply
. . to Faustus the Mani- Essays on Typology. Studies in Biblical
chaean. Theology, No. 22, Naperville, Ill., 1957.
Calvin, John. Commentasies on the Epistle Milburn, R. L. P. Early Christian Interpre-
of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. tatio~zsof History. London, 1954.

111. Selected literary interpretations using "Gardner, Helen. T h e Business of Criticisnz.

typology. Oxford, 1959.
"Auerbach, Erich. "Figura," in Scenes fronz Lewalski, Barbara Kiefer. Milton's Brief
the Drama of European Literature. Epic. Providence, R. I., 1966.
Trans. Ralph Manheim. New York, 1959. "Manning, Stephen. W i s d o m and Number.
Frye, Northrop. "The Typology of Para- Lincoln, Nebr., 1962.
dise Regained," IMP, LIII (1956), 227- "Tuve, Rosemond. A Reading of George
238. Herbert. Chicago, 1952.