The entire tradition of Christian thought, from its origin, cannot avoid the necessity imposed by the articulation of its own faith to enter into a hermeneutical horizon in relation to the Scriptures of Israel already given. The mere reference to the letter of the text kills; it is a sclerotic reification of meaning unless it opens up to the possibility of deferral illuminated by the Spirit. Hence, it is crucial to understand the features of the original Pauline hermeneutical intent – which coincides with typological exegesis – especially in its radical departure from the allegorical method, relevant instead to a Greco-Platonic heritage.
This is to show its influence on the early Christian orthodoxy as it formed through dialectical confrontation with dualistic heresies. Therefore, we will proceed through a systematic examination of the use of typological exegesis in the work of Irenaeus of Lyons, in order to weigh its value within his theological thought.
We aim to demonstrate both its essential irreducibility to Gnostic hermeneutical practices, which are tendentially allegorizing, and the degree of fidelity and distance from the original Pauline model – a central theme for understanding the distinction between early Christianity and its development into orthodoxy.