One systematic theology Ph.D. student who is thinking hard about the topic of typology is Brent Parker. Brent is a Ph.D. candidate under Stephen Wellum at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. At ETS this November Brent presented two papers (!), the first being “Typology in Theological Systems: An Evaluation of the Nature and Function of Typology in Covenant and Dispensational Theology” and the second being “The Nature of Typology and Its Relationship to Competing Views of Scripture.” The former is not quite ready for release (though we hope to see the fruit of it in the future). However, the second is and we would like to highlight it today.

Here is Brent’s introduction:

The nature and characteristics of typology continues to be subject of much debate. Douglas Moo finds that “typology is much easier to talk about than to describe” and he notes that “those who have attempted definitions do not always agree.” Indeed, even among evangelicals there is a wide diversity of views regarding the typological relationships within Scripture. Given the importance of typology to the unity of the canon, the unfolding of redemptive history (progressive revelation), the promise-fulfillment pattern, the study of the NT use of the OT, and to the discipline of biblical theology, the dispute and fundamental differences regarding typology are not likely to cease any time soon. There is a general scholarly consensus that typology involves the study of historical and theological correspondences between types – identifiable as OT persons, events, or institutions – and their counterparts in the NT (antitypes) such that a significant resemblance as well as an escalation (an a fortiori quality), or qualitative progression, is detected between the type and antitype. However, even with this broad construct, approaches to the nature of typology diverge based upon their presuppositions of Holy Scripture. Therefore, the focus of this paper is to demonstrate that competing views of typology are tied to competing views of the nature of Scripture including the relationship between the human and divine author. Not all proposals of typology are legitimate, a proper understanding of typology must do justice to the nature of Scripture as divinely inspired and infallible, the result of the concursive operation of human and divine action (2 Pet 1:20-21, 2 Tim 3:16-17). Furthermore, typological relationships must account for the form, shape, and self-presentation of Scripture. Since God’s plan comes to us as a progressive revelation, the plotline of Scripture with its eschatological nature and Christological focus must be accounted for. This requires that readers interpret Scripture within the Bible’s own “intrasystematic” categories – i.e. on its own terms and self-presentation. In other words, given the nature of the unfolding of revelation as presented in Scripture, biblical texts are to be interpreted within their textual, epochal, and canonical horizons.

The study of the relationship between typological perspectives and the nature of Scripture will proceed in three steps. First, the two central modern views of typology will be described. Second, the underlining presuppositions of Scripture of each position will be presented. A defense of a more traditional evangelical view of typology will then round out the study. Understanding typology properly is imperative for believers who should follow the NT writers in how they “saw in God’s previous dealings with his people patterns or types that corresponded to the climatic fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ.”

Read the entire paper: “The Nature of Typology and Its Relationship to Competing Views of Scripture.”