Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Types & shadows

Steve is less than clear about his view of the interpretative relation of the NT to the Old.  If he would make his view plain perhaps we could avoid any further misunderstandings?  It appears now that while he accepts types I should not say he believes in “shadows” (although I shouldn’t have to say that nearly ALL CT’s do!).  As I review his posts I notice many assertions of what he doesn’t believe, but not much on what he does mean (beyond seeing certain recapitulative motifs in Scripture).  Does he believe ethnic Israel will get the land promised to them in blessing for (at least) “a thousand generations” (Psa. 105:8)?  Does he believe Ezekiel’s Temple is a physical temple like Solomon’s?  If not, what is it?  Does he believe the covenants God made to Abraham (Jer. 33:22, 26), David (Jer. 33:17, 21, 26), and Phineas (Jer. 33:18, 21) mean what they say, or did God intend to couch these promises as types to be properly understood many centuries later?  And how does he know?

1) I haven’t said much about the interpretative relation between the OT and the NT because I’ve been trying all along to reorient the discussion away from how the NT interprets the OT to how the OT interprets the OT.

2) I think it’s appropriate to use the NT to interpret the OT. But we don’t have to start with that. We can start with how the OT interprets itself. That’s because I don’t think the NT writers have a distinctive hermeneutic, in contrast to the self-understanding of the OT writers.

3) Henebury has a tendency to overinterpret some of my statements. I didn’t say I don’t believe in shadows. Rather, I said I haven’t been using that category in my discussion.

i) That’s in large part because the shadowy category is generally used to compare and contrast the old covenant with the new covenant, and the focus of my discussion is not on how NT writers view the nature of fulfillment, but how OT writers view the nature of fulfillment. I don’t think there’s a fundamental difference in perspective. I don’t think NT writers “redefine” or “reinterpret” the OT. Hence, my discussion has centered on how OT writers understand the relationship between promise and fulfillment.

ii)Moreover, types and shadows aren’t an artifact of covenant theology. It’s a NT category. So both dispensationalists and covenant theologians have to come to terms with that.

iii) Furthermore, types and shadows are not synonymous:

a) For starters, the shadowy metaphor is chosen, in part, because shadows have directionality. When a tree casts a shadow, the shadow points in some direction. So the shadowy metaphor can be used to suggest foreshadowing. A predictive, forward-leaning emblem.

b) Secondly, shadows have an ephemeral connotation. A shadow tends to evoke a shadow/reality contrast. The rising sun casts early morning shadows, but when the sun is overhead, the shadows vanish. The reality supplants the shadow. Light and shade are fundamentally antithetical. One is present to the degree that the other is absent. More of one, less of the other.

By contrast, it’s possible for type and antitype to coexist. David is a type of Christ, but David didn’t cease to exist.

If I were going to discuss the typological relationship between the old covenant and the new covenant, I’d have to do a certain about of sorting: what’s a type and what’s a shadow? But that’s a digression from my main point.

4) Regarding Ezekiel’s temple:

i) I’ve discussed that (among other things) here:

But I’ll make some additional points:

ii) Before we’re in a position to talk about the specific interpretation of Ezekiel’s temple, we need to understand the general function of temples–or sacred space. For Ezekiel’s temple is a particular instance of a larger motif.

iii) Apropos (ii), the purpose of sacred space is to furnish a meeting point or meeting place between God and man. A place where God can be present with his people (e.g. Ezk 43:7).

So a temple is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. What’s essential is not the particular form, but the underlying function.

iv) This, in turn, raises the question of the level at which that motif will be fulfilled (assuming we view Ezekiel’s temple as prophetic).

I don’t think of a physical building as a fulfillment. Fulfillment has reference the goal, the telos. A physical building is just a means of illustrating something else, something more ultimate. It’s not the principle.

v) In addition, as numerous scholars have pointed out, the archetypal temple in Scripture is the garden of Eden. And it’s not incidental that Ezekiel’s temple includes a new Eden motif (47:1-12).

In that respect, Ezekiel’s temple is retrospective rather than prospective. It looks forward by looking backward. Where the future and the past come full circle. Restoring what was lost. A recapitulation.

Of course, this isn’t a replica of the past. It’s not cyclical in that sense (pace Eliade’s myth of the eternal return). Paradise regained will be better than paradise lost.

vi) So we don’t have to go to the NT, to Rev 21-22 (for instance) to appreciate the emblematic significance of temples. That’s already in place with Eden, given intertextual links between Eden and the tabernacle. That’s the Pentateuch interpreting itself.

Mind you, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using Rev 21-22 as an interpretive lens to better understand Ezk 40-48. But you don’t have to begin with the NT.

vii) Keep in mind that visions are often analogical rather than representational. For instance:

Gen 37:5-7,9
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
Gen 41:1-7
 1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
 5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
Judges 7:13-14
13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”
 14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
Dan 2:31-35
 31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
Dan 7:1-8
 1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
 2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
 4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
 5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
 6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
 7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
 8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
Dan 8:1-10
 1 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. 2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4 I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.
 5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. 6 It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. 7 I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. 8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
 9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them.
Zech 4:1-3,11-14
 1 Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. 2 He asked me, “What do you see?”
   I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. 3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
11 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”
 12 Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”
 13 He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”
   “No, my lord,” I said.
 14 So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”

In all these cases, the fulfillment, the future counterpart, is analogical to the terms of the depiction. Not literally descriptive.

Why should I take Ezekiel's vision of the temple literally unless I take these other visions literally? For that matter, why should I take his vision of the temple literally unless I take his vision of the dry bones (Ezk 37) literally?

5) The land promises involve the same concept: sacred space. Eretz-Israel was “holy” in contrast to the neighboring lands. Cultic holiness.

So the land isn’t just a piece of real estate. Rather, it stands for the compresence between God and his people. That’s the level at which fulfillment operates. That’s the blessing. That’s the ultimate aim of the promise. To dwell with God.

6) I think that will have a concrete embodiment on earth. But it’s not as if, in the new earth, you will have a contrast between the sacred and the profane–where Jewish saints live on holy land while Gentile saints on unholy land. God will be present with his people wherever they live, in the world to come.

7) As to whether OT covenants “mean what they say, or did God intend to couch these promises as types to be properly understood many centuries later?”

i) To ask if they “mean what they say” is tendentious, for that prejudges what the author intends to convey. Both dispensationalists and covenant theologians think they mean what they say. That’s not the issue.

ii) Actually, dispensationalists drive a wedge between what the promises would mean to the original audience, and how they are properly understood many centuries after the fact.

Henebury is tacitly using his own century as the frame of reference. What is future to him.

But did the exilic community in Babylon think the fulfillment of Ezk 40-48 would be postponed until the end of the church age? Is that the “plain sense” meaning? 


  1. I would offer just three to contrast the two treasuries of the Lord:

    Deu_28:12 The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

    Jos_6:19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD."

    Now it could go at least two ways:

    Pro_19:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.

  2. This has been a really fine exchange, in my opinion. Thanks to both of the worthy interlocutors.