Typical or Allegorical?

Notes from James Durham:

If it be enquired in what Sense we call this Song figurative, whether as Typical, or Allegorical? The answering and clearing of this Question will further us in the Interpretation of this excellent Scripture. We shall therefore shew,

1. How Allegorical properly so called, differeth from Typical. And
2. Why we call this Song Allegorical, and not Typical.


Types suppose still the verity of some History, as Jona’s casting in the Sea, and being in the Fishes Belly Three Days and Three Nights, when it is applied to Christ in the New Testament, it supposeth such a thing once to have been: Allegories again, have no such necessary supposition, but are as Parables proponed for some mystical end. Thus, while it’s said, Matth. 22.2. A certain King made a Marriage, planted a Vineyard, &c. That place supposeth it not necessary as to the being of the Allegory, that every such a thing was, it may be an Allegory without that; but a Type cannot be without reality in the thing, or fact, which is made a Type.

2. Types look only to Matters of Fact; and compare one Fact with another (as Christ’s lying in the Grave for such a time, to that of Jona, who did ly so long in the Whale’s Belly) but Allegories take in Words, Sentences, Doctrines, both of Faith and Manners, as in the former Examples is clear.

3. Types compare Persons, and Facts under the Old Testament, with Persons and Facts under the New, and is made up of something that is present, prefiguring another to come: Allegories look especially to Matters at hand, and intend the putting of some hid Spiritual Sense upon Words, which at first they seem not to bear, whether the Allegory be only in the Old Testament, or only in the New, or in both, it looks to the Sense and Meaning, being so considered in its self, as the Words may best serve the Scope, and teach, or manifest the thing the Spirit intends, without any comparison betwixt this, and that of the Old Testament and New: Yea, an Allegory may be in Precepts, as Muzzle not the Mouth of the Ox, and cut off thy right hand, &c. which have an Allegorick Sense in them.

4. Types are only Historical, as such, and the Truth of Fact agreeing in the Antitype, make them up, it being clear in Scripture that such things are Types; for we must not forget Types without Scripture warrant: But Allegories are principally Doctrinal, and in their Scope intend not to clear, or compare Facts, but to hold forth and explain Doctrines, or by such Similitudes to make them the better understood, and to move and affect the more, or the more forcibly to convince, as Nathan made use of a Parable, when he was about to convince David, 2 Samuel 12.1,2, &c.

5. Types in the Old Testament respect only some things, Persons, and Events, as Christ, the Gospel, and its Spreadings, &c. and cannot be extended beyond these: But Allegories take in every thing, that belong either to Doctrine, or Instruction in Faith, or to practise for ordering ones Life.

Hence we may see, that Allegories are much more Extensive and Comprehensive in their Meaning and Application, than Types, (which cannot be extended further than some one thing) and so are much more Doctrinal, and concern both the Faith and Manners of God’s People much more, and may for that, more warrantably be applied, and made use of for these ends. (source)



  1. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert · April 19, 2014

    I like Grant Osborn’s book generally: Hermeneutical Spiral! (IVP, 1991). Note he has two chapters themselves, on both Prophecy and the Apocalyptic, (chapters 9 & 10). As he says, I prefer to use the term “analogous (or typological) fulfullment” to discribe promise-fulfilment. The terms “double” or “multiplex” are unnecessary, for the New Testament writers would see analogous situations in salvation-history and link them prophetically. Second, the key is the Jewish concept of the telescoping of time. In God’s acts within history a conceptual link would equate such analogous situations (2 Pet. 3: 8, “a thousand years was a day, ” amagamates past, present and future). Therefore, the New Testament could draw together Antiochus Epiphanes (past), the destruction of Jerusalem (present), and the eschaton (future).” (Page 213, chap. 10, Prophecy)

    • jm · April 21, 2014

      Great info!

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