AskDefine | Define antitype

Dictionary Definition



1 a person or thing represented or foreshadowed by a type or symbol; especially a figure in the Old Testament having a counterpart in the New Testament
2 an opposite or contrasting type [ant: type]

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From αντί anti "against" + typus "figure, image, form, kind", from τύπος typos "dent, impression, mark, figure, original form", from root of τύπτειν typtein "to strike, beat".


  1. Something that is symbolized or represented by a type.


Related terms

Extensive Definition

For other types of typology see typology.
Typology is a theological doctrine of theory of types and their antitypes found in Scripture. What is referred to as Medieval allegory actually began in the Early Church as a method for synthesizing the seeming discontinuities between the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the Christian Bible (New Testament). While both testaments were studied and seen as equally inspired by God, the Old Testament contained discontinuities for Christians, for example, the Jewish kosher laws (see also Old Testament—Christian view of the Law). The Old Testament was therefore seen in places not as a literal account, but as an allegory, or foreshadowing, of the events of the New Testament, in particular how the events of the Old Testament related to the events of Christ's life. The events of the Old Testament were seen as part of the story, a prefiguration, with the events of Christ's life. The technical name for seeing the New Testament in the Old Testament is called typology. The doctrine is stated most succinctly by Paul in Colossians 2:16-17 - "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." It also finds expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews. See also New Covenant.
The development of this as a systematic view of the Hebrew Bible was influenced by the thought of the Hellenistic Jewish world centered on Alexandria, where Philo and others viewed the Bible in Platonic terms as essentially an allegory. The system was Christianised by Origen, and spread by figures including Saint Hilary and Saint Ambrose. Saint Augustine recalled often hearing Ambrose say that "the letter kills but the spirit gives life" and he in turn was a hugely influential proponent of the system, though also insisting on the literal historical truth of the Bible. Isidore of Seville and Rabanus Maurus were influential as summarizers and compilers of works setting out standardized interpretations of correspondences and their meanings.
Typology was very frequently expressed in art; many typolological pairings are found in sculpture on cathedrals and churches, and in other media. Popular illustrated works expounding typological couplings were among the commonest books of the late Middle Ages, as illuminated manuscripts, blockbooks, and incunabula (early printed books). The two most successful compilations were the Speculum Humanae Salvationis and the Biblia pauperum.
One example of typology is the story of Jonah and the fish from the Old Testament. Medieval allegorical interpretation of this story holds that it prefigures Christ's burial, the stomach of the fish being Christ's tomb: as Jonah was freed from the whale after three days, so did Christ rise from His tomb after three days, see also Bible verse |Matthew|12:38–42, , Bible verse |Luke|11:29–32. Indeed, Jonah called the belly of the fish "She'ol," the land of the dead, translated "the grave" in the NIV. Thus, whenever one finds an allusion to Jonah in Medieval art or Medieval literature, it is usually an allegory for the burial and resurrection of Christ. Another common typological allegory entails the four major Old testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel prefiguring the four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or the twelve tribes of Israel foreshadowing the twelve apostles. There was no end to the number of analogies that commentators could find between stories of the Old Testament and the New.
Other examples of types in the Bible:
  • While in the wilderness, Moses put a brazen serpent (a symbol of evil) on a pole which would heal anyone bitten by a snake who looked at it (Numbers 21:8). Jesus proclaimed that the serpent, was a type of Himself, since "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John 3:14) and "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2Co 5:21)
  • In a battle with the Amalekites, Exodus 17:11 states that "[a]s long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning." Commentators interpret Moses' raised hands as a type of Jesus' raised hands upon the Cross, for when Jesus' hands were raised as He died, a figurative battle with sin was waged, the end result being victory - that "all will be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)

See also

antitype in Danish: Typologi (Bibelen)
antitype in German: Typologie (Bibel)
antitype in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Typologia
antitype in Swedish: Typologi (teologi)
antitype in Chinese: 预表

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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