Video: Did the Scriptural Authors Intend their Figural Meanings?

Today’s question:

I’m wondering to what degree you believe that the original authors of the text(s) were deliberately employing [analogies, types, themes, metaphors, “word pictures”, etc.]? Was the intellectual complexity that you perceive present in the original authorship context, or has the Spirit has orchestrated a significantly bigger picture than those authors could have ever intended?

For example, on your recent answer to the Pool of Bethsaida question, you draw attention to and relevance from the 38-year infirmity of the healed man, and offer a many-minutes-long unpacking of the significance of that number and how it fits the oft-employed water theme in the book of John, etc. My question(s), as applied to this particular situation, would be something like the following:

– Was the man really suffering for exactly 38 years, or did John just pick a number that fit the metaphor he intended to convey?

– Did John know the significance of 38 years. Was he intentionally communicating as deeply as [you believe], or is that depth something the Spirit applies “at a layer above”, that is, across the larger biblical narrative?

See my discussion of John 5 here.

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Audio, Bible, Hermeneutics, John, NT, NT Theology, Podcasts, Questions and Answers, Scripture, The Gospels, Theological, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Video: Did the Scriptural Authors Intend their Figural Meanings?

  1. Mike Ford says:

    The OT authors and people did not necessarily realize any figural forces in the original event, but in the Divine Plan of Redemptive History, the earlier event (type) anticipated the later reality (anti-type) to come !!

    • I wouldn’t entirely agree with this, as there is a lot of typology internal to the OT narratives themselves (Jacob is a type of David, etc.).

      • Mike Ford says:

        I agree with this! I don’t get how this is at odds with my statement.

        Both Jacob (as Israel, the Abrahamic Covenant Bearer at the time) and David (as King of Israel) are “types” (i.e. prefigure) Jesus, so of course they are also “types” of themselves, since they both point to the same “antitype” who is Jesus.

      • Mike Ford says:

        Note that Luke 1:33, when the angel spoke to Mary about Jesus’ birth, says: “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom shall be without end”.
        Jacob, as the family father/head of the House of Jacob/Israel (i.e. his household) AND David, as Israel’s king, BOTH reigned over the house of Jacob, typifying Jesus to come!

      • Mike Ford says:

        Since Jesus’ 12 disciples were clearly intended to be the “antitype” of Jacob’s 12 sons, and since Jacob was the “head” of his 12 sons, as Jesus was “head” of the 12 disciples, how do you say Jacob is a “type” of David instead ??

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