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Typology refers to the Christian concept of Old Testament scenes and characters ("type") as foreshadowing those in the New Testament ("antitype") and was a commonly used device within the broader artform of Christian iconography. It was typically illustrated through the juxtaposition of imagery from the former with that of the latter (type and antitype), for example the depiction of David's fight with Goliath mirrored by Christ's resistance to Satan.

Typology was a popular and enduring form of religious illustration and was ubiquitous across Western art throughout the Middle Ages.

Levitical sacrifices as types of Jesus

Allusions and paronomasia of meaning

The narrative accounts of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus in the The Gospels, and in particular the Epistle to the Hebrews, feature numerous direct and indirect quotes and allusions to prophetic types seen in the Old Testament sacrifices commanded in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. Typology includes the paronomasia of the meaning of the particular Hebrew words for the various sacrificial offerings: bulls, bullocks, lambs, goats, doves, pigeons, fine flour, bread, wine, and even the act of laying hands on the sacrifice.

The everlasting covenant of sacrifice perpetually continued in the Eucharist

Christians who believe that the Eucharist manifests the Real presence of the Lord Jesus Christ[1], see in the Levitical sacrifices a foreshadowing of the banquet of real communion with the living substance of the body and blood of the Lord, as St. Paul so eloquently expressed in his First Epistle to the Corinthians[2], and explicitly pointed out by the writer to the Hebrews to those who doubt[3]. The New Testament presents Jesus as the one true "apostle and High Priest of our confession"[4]. He is seen as the one perpetually enduring flesh and blood sacrifice for sin "slain from the foundation of the world"[5], "for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins"[6]. The giving of a portion of the sacrifices from the altar of sacrifice to the worshipers to be eaten as part of the sin offerings and peace offerings and votive offerings in the covenant of God is regarded by them as a divinely revealed type fulfilled in the divinely revealed antitype of partaking in the communion of the Lord's Supper the bread of life, the substance of the flesh and blood of Christ himself as promised by him in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John[7] as part of the New covenant of the Lord[8]. The sacrifice instituted by Christ Jesus at his Last Supper in the Upper Room (Latin, Cenacle), "this is my body, this is my blood", and permanently executed in a bloody manner "once and for all" on the Cross[9], is seen by them as perpetuated through all ages in all places with the offering also of incense in worship by the nations (Hebrew goiim "gentiles")[10], so that all believers in him may "believe without seeing" and still be able to "see the Son", "behold the Lamb of God", and "partake of the divine nature", by eating his flesh and drinking his blood in an unbloody manner as divine food given to them by him under the appearance of bread and wine[11]
—"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is the bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."
—"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle"[12].

Christians who believe that Jesus was speaking only metaphorically in a vividly symbolic figure of speech see the Old Testament bloody animal sacrifices offered with bread and wine in atonement for sin as a type of the antitype of their final fulfillment in the reality of his unique, "once and for all" bloody sacrifice of himself on the altar of his crucifixion on the Cross. The Eucharistic banquet of communion with him in the celebration of the Lord's Supper is firmly held by them to be a purely spiritual and symbolic memorial[13] of his Last Supper with the Twelve Apostles and representation of his sacrifice as an ordinance of the Christian Church[14] and witness of the New Covenant in his blood which completes, fulfills and does away with the ritual sacrifices of the Old Covenant of Moses and Israel. The sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving and good works in worship of God are still acceptable to Him[15]. But there remains no longer any sacrifice for sin[16]. If there was of necessity any need for a repetition of his sacrifice for sins, he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world[17]—"but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many"—"Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin"[18]. For this reason they see no need for priests offering ritual sacrifices on an altar, which of themselves cannot take away sins[19], and for this reason they see the doctrine of the sacrifice of Jesus repeatedly on an altar as the sin of falling away from Christ[20].

The eternal covenant of Levitical sacrifice

The Torah of Moses declares that the Law of the Lord is an "everlasting covenant", which was first established in Genesis with Noah and the bow of the Lord[21], with Abraham and the mark of circumcision in flesh[22], and with Moses and the descendants of Israel/Jacob with an everlasting priesthood[23] having everlasting ordinances and statutes of obedience and an everlasting statute of atonement for sins[24], and with David[25], a covenant that he commanded for "a thousand generations, an everlasting covenant"[26].

Jeremiah declared the word of the Lord that he would "make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah"[27], but nowhere does the prophet say that the covenant they broke was cancelled or "disannulled"Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag Jesus himself declared, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach them so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."[28]

It is important to emphasize that the covenant God made with Israel at Sinai was binding only on the people of Israel. The Gentiles were not included.

Christian doctrine in the New Testament teaches that in the Person of the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior and only-begotten Son of God the Father[29], and in his blood sacrifice, all the sacrifices of the Levitical covenant, everlastingly established by an everlasting covenant for a thousand generations, everlastingly continue to be fulfilled in one unbroken eternal sacrifice without ceasing, forever, in the body of his one unique blood sacrifice of himself as High Priest and Head of the human race on the cross for the redemption of the sins of the whole world[30]. According to St. Paul, all who are united to him in baptism share in his eternal sacrifice to God[31] in being offered up to God as living sacrifices[32]. And in the communion of his body and the communion of his blood[33] all those who believe in him and eat his flesh and drink his blood according to his promise have eternal life[34], and according to St. Peter they partake of the divine nature[35], in a fulfillment of the eating from the altar of sacrifice under the Levitical covenant of Moses in the Tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem. The prayer of those who have been redeemed from the wrath to come on the ungodly[36] by "pleading the blood of Jesus" contains the reality of offering the full satisfaction of the sacrifice of Christ in atonement for their souls, in the continuously ongoing and unbroken eternal fulfillment of an everlasting statute of atonement for sins[37].

The types of the covenant of sacrifice fulfilled by the antitype of Christ

The Hebrew alphabet has no vowels. Every letter is a consonant. Many Hebrew words can be sounded in various ways by the speaker, allowing for latitude in interpretive readings by the speaker. This often presents opportunity to alter the meaning of the reading by changing the sound. Occasionally this can be done as a form of paronomasia as a form of humor, but more seriously to open up depths of meaning in the inspired text that traditional readings do not reveal. The ancient Hebrew text of the Torah which is read in the synagogue originally had no markings indicating how the words should be pronounced. The Hebrew scriptures normally read aloud with melodic intonation by cantors in the synagogue, who realized their obviously evident potential for clearly manifesting prophetic witness to the arrival of the Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, saw in the text opportunities to either support the claims of the Jewish Christians, that the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms testified to Jesus as the Anointed of God, the Prophet foretold by Moses, or to negate and even oppose them by the way the scriptures of Israel were read with intonated inflections that would not suggest such an interpretation. The leading scholars of Israel, distressed by the use of the Septuagint by the Nazarene sect to aid in converting the people to belief in Jesus of Nazareth, after the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem determined to reject it in favor of only those scriptures written in Hebrew or Aramaic which were written in Palestine before the time of Ezra and which they believed supported the Torah of Moses. Then after the development of the Talmud, scholars known as Masoretes set themselves the task of standardizing the intonation of the Hebrew text of the Torah in particular, and more generally the whole of the more clearly defined Jewish canon of the Tanakh, so that the people in the synagogue would be spared readings which sounded too clearly like prophecies of Jesus. For this reason various diacritical marks were added to the text of the scriptures indicating the traditional method of intonation and pronunciation in accordance with the traditional reading of Judaism. Also various corrections to the text were made, to remove all readings they considered to be corruptions of the text. The result is known today as the Masoretic Text. When the Torah, and in particular the book of Leviticus with its regulations of sacrificial offerings to God, is read with the consonantal text only, those established and accredited scholars who believe in Jesus and truly know the ancient Hebrew language are easily able to see even more clearly portrayed the vividly evident typology of Christ Jesus in the scriptures of Israel. The connotations of the words denoting each of the sacrifices of Israel as types of the expected Messiah of Israel are rich with meanings pointing to the Sacrificial High Priestly Lordship of Jesus as the true antitype of fulfillment.

bulls and bullocks

Leviticus 1:4-8.

"There was a division among them." John 7:43; Luke 12:51; Matthew 10:34. The Hebrew words פר, פרר, פרא can mean bull, bullock, divider, defeat, to break, frustrate, divide. Jesus is the bull of sacrifice, and a divider.
See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

dust, bull

Genesis 2:7; 13:16; Leviticus 14:40-41; Psalm 22:1, 15; 103:14

"thou dost lay me in the dust of death"–"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"–"For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." The Hebrew word עפר can mean both dust, and bull. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

lamb, ewe lamb, sacrifice

Leviticus 1:11-12; 16:27; Exodus 29:38-42 30:10

"Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29b; 1 Peter 1:19; Acts 8:32-35. The Hebrew words כבש, כשב, כשבה can mean dominate(or), lamb, sheep (for sacrifice, for food), young ewe lamb (for sacrifice, for food). See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

Compare Luke 2:33-35; 19:25-26.

goat, sin offering

Leviticus 3:12-15; 4:24-25; 16:8-27; Numbers 18:17

"Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses"–"What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands" Matthew 8:17; 26:66-67. The Hebrew words שעיר, עז can mean buck, he-goat, he-goat for sin offering, food, sacrificial victim. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

Compare Matthew 27:3-10, 26.

dove, Jonah

Leviticus 1:14-17; 5:7-10; Jonah 1:17

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.... But he spake of the temple of his body."–"Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom"–"For as Jonas was three days and three in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." John 2:19-21; Matthew 27:50-51a; 12:40. The Hebrew words יונה, יין, תור can mean dove, pigeon, offerings, mourning, Jonah, banquet, grape, wine, seek out, search, turn, opportunity, adornment, estate, turtledove, a people, a bullock. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

Compare Luke 19:10; Deuteronomy 32:14; Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 63:1-5; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; Romans 13:17; 1 Peter 3:3-4; Ephesians 6:10-17

fine flour, chipped off, struck off, crushed, ground up, broken

Leviticus 2:1-3, 14-16; 16:12-13; 24:2; Numbers 8:4

"Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands"–"And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified"–"And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head.... And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head" Matthew 26:67; 27:26b, 29a, 30. The Hebrew word סלת means fine flour. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

  • 5560 סלת –fine flour, luxurious food, in king's household, flour (as chipped off) stricken off, ground up, broken.

Compare Isaiah 53:3-6.


Leviticus 2; Exodus 12:8

"I am the bread of life."–"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:35a, 51. The Hebrew words לחם, בית לחם, מצה mean devour, to use as food, eat, place of bread, unleavened bread, sacrificial meal, bread, food, flesh, meat, in sacrifices food (for man or beast). See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

  • 3898 לחם –devour, fight, wage war
  • 3898a לחם –fight, wage war
  • 3898b לחם –to use as food, eat, dine
  • 3899 לחם –bread, food, flesh, meat, in sacrifices, food (for man or beast)
  • 1035 בית לחם –place of bread, house of bread, bet lechem (Bethlehem)
  • 4682 מצה –unleavened bread or cake, sweetness, sweet, not bitter, not sour, sacrificial meal, peace offering

The Greek word φάτνη means manger. See Strong's Greek lexicon

Compare 1 Corinthians 11:24; 10:17; Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 24:30

wine, blood, blood of the grape

Deuteronomy 32:14 (32:7-14); Genesis 49:11; Exodus 29:39-42; Leviticus 17:11, 19 (Leviticus 1–20); 23:12-13; Psalm 80; Isaiah 65:8

"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom"–"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.... I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Matthew 26:27-29; John 15:1, 5. The Hebrew words תירוש, ייו, דם mean wine, banquet, grape, blood. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

Compare John 2:10; Matthew 9:17; Acts 2:13; Hebrews 13:10; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Psalm 104:10-16.

oil, olive oil, beaten, crushed

Exodus 27:20; 29:1-2, 40; 35:14; Deuteronomy 24:20-21

"Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane"–"and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" Matthew 26:36a; Mark 14:32; Luke 22:44b. The Hebrew שמן, כתית, זית words mean oil, beaten, olive. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

  • 8081 שמן –liquid (as from the olive, often perfumed), richness, anointing, fruitful, oil, olive
  • 3795 כתית –beaten (oil)
  • 2132 זית –an olive (as yielding illuminating oil), the tree, the branch, or the fruit, the olive berry

The Greek word Γεθσημανή means olive press. See Strong's Greek lexicon

  • Γεθσημανή –Gethsemane, oil press, olive press, a garden near the site of Jesus' agony—a combination of גת and שמן.

See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

  • 1660 גת –press, treading out (wine)-fat, olive press, wine press, for squeezing out liquid
  • 8081 שמן –liquid, as oil from the olive

incense, beaten small

Exodus 30:1-10; Leviticus 16:11-28; Numbers 4:16

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh"–"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."–"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." Matthew 2:11; John 19:1-7; Ephesians 5:2. The Hebrew words קטרת and דקק mean incense and crushed to powder. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

Compare Malachi 1:11; Psalm 141:1-2; John 12:3; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16; Philippians 4:18 (4:15-19); Hebrews 12:2-6; all of the Epistle to the Hebrews; Revelation 8:3.

Laying their hands on the sacrifice

Leviticus 4:3-12, 15-21; 8:14, 18, 22; 16:21-22; Numbers 19; Deuteronomy 21:1-9

"And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled."–"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." Matthew 26:57. The Hebrew word יד means hand and power. See Strong's Hebrew lexicon

Compare Matthew 21:46 KJV; 26:50; Mark 14:46; Luke 20:19; John 7:30; see 1 Kings 18:44-46 and Mark 1:12 together; 1 Chronicles 28:19 KJV.

See also


Biblical Canon

Bible: Melodies of the Old Testament


  1. Orthodox Christians believe in the reality of the Real Presence of Christ as a Mystery, and do not subscribe to the more theologically explicit Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. Both of them believe in the Real Presence of Christ, also the Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians and others.
  2. 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; 11:17-34
  3. Hebrews 9; 10:19-31; 12:18-29; 13:10-15
  4. Hebrews 3:1
  5. Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8
  6. Hebrews 9:22
  7. John 6:26-69
  8. Jeremiah 31:31-34
  9. Hebrews 10:12-14; Jude 3; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-30 "that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel".
  10. Malachi 1:11. See Strong's number 1471 גוי gôwy
  11. John 20:28-29; John 6:40; John 1:29; 2 Peter 1:3-4; John 6:53-57.
  12. John 6:52-58; Hebrews 13:10 (KJV). It is regarded as theologically significant that the word EATETH in the King James Bible version of John 6:52-58 is not a reading from the ordinary word phage "eat" in Greek, but is instead a reading from the unusual word trogo "chew, gnaw, crauch, devour" in the Gospel text. While the various forms of the Greek words for eating έσθίω esthio and φάγω phagō throughout the New Testament both admit a literal and figuratively metaphorical meaning, τρώγων trogon does not, being a literal, boldly intense, physical concrete term only, and not a figure of speech—in the New Testament it appears only here in the Greek text of John 6:53-58 as an emphatic statement by Jesus, and is found without exception in all of the extant [[Bible manuscript evidence|Greek manuscripts of this passage. See Strong's Concordance EATETH, number 5176 τρώγω trōgō (five occurrences).
  13. 1 Corinthians 11:24-26; John 4:23-24.
  14. 1 Corinthians 11:2 "ordinances" KJV; Hebrews 9:1; Romans 6:17
  15. Hebrews 13:15-16
  16. Hebrews 10:10-18
  17. Hebrews 9:24-28
  18. Hebrews 9:26b-28a; 10:18 KJV
  19. Hebrews 10:11
  20. Hebrews 6:4-6. The Greek word for "fall away" in Hebrews 6:6 is παραπίπτω parapiptō (Strong's number 3895), "to fall aside, apostatize". See Great Apostasy
  21. Genesis 9:16
  22. Genesis 17:7
  23. Exodus 40:15; Numbers 25:13
  24. Leviticus 16:34
  25. 2 Samuel 23:5
  26. 1 Chronicles 16:14-17. Taking the traditional meaning of a biblical generation as twenty-five years, God established the covenant with Israel for twenty-five thousand years.
  27. Jeremiah 31:31-34
  28. Matthew 5:17-19
  29. John 1:1-4, 14.
  30. Hebrews 10:1-14
  31. Romans 6:3-11.
  32. Romans 12:1; 15:16
  33. 1 Corinthians 10:15-18
  34. John 6:27-69
  35. 1 Peter 1:3-4
  36. Matthew 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:10
  37. Leviticus 16:34

External links

Type and Antitype, by Wayne Blank (keyway.ca)