Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Michael Austin


typology, Book of Mormon, history, rhetoric, narrative


Typology is one of those words whose meaning shifts dramatically with the position of its user. For religious believers studying the scriptures, typology is a mode of history-the belief that certain events and people should be understood as both fully historical and fully allegorical at the same time. To the unbeliever (or the believer in different things), typology is a mode of rhetoric-a connecting strategy that writers use to create retroactive links between otherwise unrelated stories or that readers use to infer connections between otherwise unconnected things. Those in the first group see the repetition of key narrative elements from the Old Testament to the New Testament-say, birth narratives in which both Moses and Jesus escape from an infanticidal massacre ordered by a despot-as a fundamental part of how sacred history works ( see Exodus 1:22 and Matthew 2:16-18).