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Typology

testament events typological christian

Typology, a method employed extensively by early Christian and medieval theologians, recognizes concordances between events described especially, but not exclusively, in the Old and New Testaments. Typological method posits that events ( types , from Greek: tupos , “mold”) from the Old Testament can be seen to prefigure occurences (antitypes) in the New Testament. Old Tes- tament figures and episodes were understood as foreshadowings of events to come, or to be completed, in the New Testament. These linkages served to underscore the Christian belief in the redemption of humankind through *Christ; such typological method holds that the New Testament is a fulfillment of the Old.

Early Christian authors (such as Saint *Augustine) and other early medieval the ologiansenergetically elaborated the concept of typology in their writings, providing the foundation for much continued discussion and connection making by numerous other writers

Typological schemes were exceedingly popular in medieval art, both in large- and small-scale media. Illustrated manuscripts (such as the * Bible moralisée, *Biblia pauperum , and * Speculum humanae salvationis ) are based on typological interpretations, with pictures from the Old Testament paired with New Testament scenes and explained in captions. For example, the brazen serpent which *Moses erected prefigures the *Crucifixion; Christ is the “New *Adam;” the Virgin *Mary is the “New Eve”; Christ’s *Resurrection is prefigured by *Jonah’s disgorgement from the whale; *Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son *Isaac is fulfilled and completed by the sacrifice of Christ. Typology is also applied in hagiography, in which events in *saints’ lives frequently mirror episodes in both the Old and New Testaments. The sacraments and liturgy of the Christian church are also typologically connected with Old and New Testament events, for example, the sacrament of *Baptism is prefigured by the *Crossing of the Red Sea, and the sacrament of Communion continuously mirrors and fulfills the sacrifice of Christ.

The catalogue of typological connections is lengthy and complicated, and theological advisors may have assisted in the creation of the more elaborate and erudite pictorial programs, such as found in twelfth-century Mosan enamels and Gothic stained glass windows. The concept of typology was an essential guiding factor in the choice, development, and evolution of early Christian and medieval iconography.

Tyson, Cicely (1939–) [next] [back] Tyndall, John

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