Typology and Ethics
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Though little space has been given to typological interpretation in the modern age, Leithart’s reading of 1 & 2 Samuel, ‘A Son to Me,’  bucks the chronological trend.

Leithart desires that we read the ‘symbolic universe’ of the Bible better than we do. Typology is very much apart of the sensus literalis of the text (‘according to the letter’); and, in order to do anything theological or practical based upon the Bible we have to know the typological, since every appropriation or application we could ever dream connects to what the Scripture says — how it views the world.

It’s the reader’s duty to discover how our experiences relate to the biblical world, for the Bible, in its literary form, sets itself up as the ‘real world.’

Typological interpretation does not separate the historical, literary, and theological. Rather, they are all to be intertwined. To find typology between Christ and David is fairly easy, for the NT makes this claim time and time again. Yet, Leithart contends most Christological readings are “strained, artificial, and eisegetical” (11)

In contrast to the artificial and eisegetical, Leithart wants to show the typological is practical (18). Typology is not only made practical; it is the only possible basis for exegetical use of the Old Testament.

But, ‘What does story and metaphor have to do with ethics?’ (20) If typology does not seem practical, should we use “typology +”, an aesthetic typology that abandons the method for something else when things get ethical? Ought we turn to a psychological reading? Or, is typology sufficient to address the practical?

Typology innately is practical; and in some ways is quite close to analogy. It goes deeper than the ordinary person might realize.

The whole Book of Samuel is set up with David not reaching for Saul’s place, ‘harming the Lord’s annointed.’ He does not reach for the ‘forbidden fruit,’ taking the kingship prematurely. Though David wasn’t perfect later in his life and reign, his ascent was fairly flawless, a simple replay of the Garden of Eden — with David patiently waiting, unlike Saul and Adam.

Many diverse believers can appropriate that simple motif day to day — resisting the forbidden fruit. A young man or woman shouldn’t have sexual relations before marriage; an up-and-coming business professional shouldn’t seek to replace their boss too soon; an assistant pastor should not illegitimately override the authority of the lead pastor.

All this to say, a preacher can only urge someone to “Dare to be a Daniel” if there is some analogy between the two (24). As I will eventually show in these posts (through use of Leithart) — biblical typology is the foremost way to connect biblical stories to concrete action. This is how we will derive heartfelt Christian ethics in our world today — through a return to typology.

News Reporter
From Madison, Wisconsin. B.A. Biblical Studies: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. M.Div. Student at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *