by Graeme Goldsworthy
The salvation-history approach is closely related to the revived interest in typology as a way of understanding the inner theological structures of the Bible. The connection was recognized by von Hofmann in his Biblische Hermeneutik (Noerdlingen, 1880; ET, Interpreting the Bible [Minneapolis, 1959], p. 135). The history recorded in the OT is the history of salvation as it proceeds towards its full realization. Hence the events recorded therein are to be interpreted teleologically, i.e. as aiming at their final goal, and thus as being of the same nature as the goal, though also shaped by their particular place in history. The typological principles applied by von Hofmann thus included the unity of salvation-history and the interpretation of individual events as part of the whole history (p. 145).
In broad terms, typology rests upon the recognition that the way God spoke and acted in the OT was a preparation for and anticipation of the definitive word and act of God in Christ. The nature of the anticipation can be variously understood. One view is that God acts in the NT in ways patterned by his actions in the OT. Thus his leading of people out of their captivity to sin and death shows some similarities to his leading of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. Another view is that the OT type predicts a fulfilling antitype to come. Typology is not the same as predictive prophecy, but nor is it simply the recognition of coincidences. In the purpose of God, he provides a preparatory shadow of the real saving events. The relationship between the type and the fulfilling antitype is such that grasping the shadow in the OT by faith, believing the promises of God, was the means by which the people of the OT grasped the salvation which is in Christ. Thus, von Rad is able to acknowledge on the basis of typology that ‘One must therefore … really speak of a witness of the Old Testament to Christ.’ (See ‘The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament’, in Westermann, The Old Testament and Christian Faith, p. 39.) The concepts of type and antitype express the organic relationship between the events of the OT and those of the NT: the former pattern and foreshadow their fulfilment in the latter. The heart of the antitype in the NT is the person and work of Jesus Christ, and especially the resurrection. Thus, both Peter and Paul can assert that Old Testament prophecy about Israel and its king is fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:29–36; 13:30–33).
Goldsworthy, G. (2000). Relationship of Old Testament and New Testament. In T. D. Alexander & B. S. Rosner (Eds.), New Dictionary of Biblical Theology