Luke and Typology
The study of church history has played a vital role in my faith. From experience, I heartily agree with what Justo L. Gonzales says in The Story Luke Tells: “it is history as the context of all of life” (1). “We have no more valuable resource for facing the present than the past” (2). History provides deep and vital knowledge about our present circumstances and precedents for how we might proceed. Luke, then, presents the story of Jesus in a way that connects followers of Jesus to the history of humankind. He presents his narrative as the culmination of all history by connecting Jesus back to Adam, applying to both of them the moniker “son of God” (9-10). Gonzalez believes Luke connects the story of Jesus to the rest of history, particularly that of Israel, through typology (17). Gonzalez reads Luke with an eye for these typologies, for example, the recurring theme of barren mothers in the Old Testament, culminating in the virgin birth of Jesus (16-17). Gonzalez finds typology in the Passover sacrifice pointing to Jesus’ own death (19) and Luke’s casting of Jesus as an Adam who succeeds where Adam failed (20-21). Gonzalez wisely points out that typology does not merely point forward to Jesus. In Luke’s narrative, Jesus fulfills the types of the Old Testament and creates a type for Christians which all readers are invited to enter into. For example, the trial and death of Stephen echoes the previous trial and death of Jesus (22). Luke ends his narrative on a cliffhanger (10), inviting the reader to join in the story and to continue it (13). Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection fulfill what God has been doing in human history and provides a framework for us to understand who God is in our present reality. Gonzalez’s reading of Luke takes into account the rich layers of tradition Luke drew from to explain the depths of what Jesus accomplished and also provides a call for us today to respond to the text and engage in its ongoing meeting.