Thursday, June 07, 2012

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

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.



Kevin said...

"...introduces a number of significant problems."

Ack! Cliff-hanger! Such as?

turretinfan said...

Such as the problem that the symbols of Christ, like the law, the manna, the staff the budded, all are basically stuck inside Mary permanently.

Jacob said...

This was very good. Thank you.