Friday, 1 May 2015

Scott Moringiello: Allegory and typology in Irenaeus of Lyon

Although “allegory” and “typology” are commonplace in discussions of patristic interpretation, Irenaeus’s use of these words may seem unusual and even contradictory. Scholars have claimed that Irenaeus eschews allegory, but then ends up using it in his own interpretation. I will argue that Irenaeus’s use of “allegory” and “typology” is in fact quite consistent. To do this, I will divide my discussion into two sections. First, I will examine those parts of the Adversus Haereses where Irenaeus discusses allegory specifically. Second, I will examine those places in the Adversus Haereses where Irenaeus uses the term typus. Irenaeus never offers us a formal definition of either allegory or typology, but he does not see allegory as compatible with reading the Scriptures according to the rule of faith. He does, however, think that reading the Scriptures with the rule of faith will enable readers to see types that foreshadow Christ.

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