Archive for the ‘Typology’ Category

Bede – the Ark of the Covenant, a Type of Christ and the Church

June 15, 2012

As mentioned in a previous post, contrary to at least one later Pope, Bede (A.D. 672-735) identifies the Ark of the Covenant with the human nature of Jesus.  The cited place I provided is not the only such place where Bede makes this identification:

And the priest who touched the ark of God with ill-advised rashness was to make expiation for the guilt of his audacity with an untimely death — which should cause us to consider that while any offender who approaches the body of the Lord is guilty of transgression, if that person has undertaken vows as a priest he will be punished with death for taken hold of that ark (namely, the figure of the Lord’s body) with less reverence than it deserves.

Bede, On Eight Questions, Question 8, p. 160 in “Bede: Biblical Miscellany,” Foley and Holder trs.

Bede then goes on to explain:

But according to the allegory, David signifies Christ and the ark significance the Church.

Bede, On Eight Questions, Question 8, p. 160 in “Bede: Biblical Miscellany,” Foley and Holder trs.

Bede goes on to give a lengthy allegorical discussion of the passage regarding retrieval of the Ark, in which he consistently refers the ark to the church.  For example he states the following:

Bede then goes on to explain:

Now the three months during which the ark tarried in [Gath] are faith, hope, and charity. For just as a month is filled with days, so does each one of the virtues come to its perfection step by step. These months do not end until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in.

At last, David returns to bring the ark into the city of David, because the Lord will turn the hearts of the parents to the children through the preaching of Enoch and Elijah.

Bede, On Eight Questions, Question 8, p. 163 in “Bede: Biblical Miscellany,” Foley and Holder trs.


Bede – the Ark of the Covenant, a Type of Christ

June 6, 2012

In general, the ceremonial law and its appointments all pointed to Christ and his work. Some of the early church fathers appreciated this more than others. On the other hand, Rome has tried to argue that some aspects pointed toward – you guessed it – Mary. For example, Munificentissimus Deus (Pius XII, 1950, defining the Bodily Assumption) repeatedly identifies the ark as a type of Mary (although, interestingly, Ineffabilis Deus by Pius IX in 1854 does not make this identification while defining the immaculate conception).

But what does Bede (A.D. 672-735) have to say. He declare the ark of the covenant to be a type of Christ:

Likewise, the ark, which has been brought into the holy of holies, is a type of the humanity assumed by Christ and led within the veil of the heavenly court, while the ark’s carrying-poles prefigure the preachers of the Word through whom [Christ] became known to the world. A golden urn containing manna was in the ark because all the fullness of divinity dwells bodily [Colossians 2:9] in the human Christ. In the ark also was Aaron’s branch which had flowered again after having been cut down because the power to sentence everyone belongs to him whose sentence was seen to have been removed in suffering’s humiliation. The tablets of the covenant were also there, for in it are hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Colossians 2:3]. Poles were fixed to the art for carrying it, because teachers who once laboured in Christ’s Word now rejoice in the present vision of his glory. For what one of these [preachers] said about himself – I desire to die and be with Christ [Philippians 1:23- he surely meant to be understood of all who share in his work.

Bede, Thirty Questions on the Book of Kings, Question 14, pp. 111-12 in “Bede: Biblical Miscellany,” Foley and Holder trs.

Bede’s analysis is certainly not the only patristic comment on the matter, but it is a very reasonable analysis, and at least fits well with the overall typology.  By contrast, replacing Christ with Mary – as in Munificentissimus Deus, introduces a number of significant problems.


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