Printed from http://tektonics.org/typola.php
This item is written to offer a supplemental point to Glenn Miller's excellent item on typology and its use in the Biblical period. It is meant as a reply to the common charge -- most often associated with John Dominic Crossan -- that NT history was invented to some extent by early Christians who, being a tad upset over the loss of their leader, went back into the OT looking for answers and worked up a false or mutated history for Jesus based on their readings (i.e., the OT predicted a betrayal; hence Judas was invented).
Here is an example from another Skeptic, which was written as a response to my article on the death of Judas:
...King David's traitor was his counselor, Ahithophel, and following David's betrayal by this man, David prayed that God would relieve him of his burden, but told God that he knew that God would do whatever was God thought was right. This is almost certainly the antecedent story that Mark or his source used when he constructed the fictional story of Jesus praying at Gethsemane following his betrayal by Judas. Just as David did, Jesus asked God to relieve him of his burden (cup), but told God that he understood that God would do what he knew was right. Inerrantists can argue that Jesus' betrayal and prayer at Gethsemane was divinely prefigured in the life of David, but that's just too transparently hopeful and naive. The writers scoured the Old Testament for events in the life of the important figures, then adapted those stories to fit Jesus, all for the purpose of building faith and convincing the people that Jesus' life was prophesied...in the Old Testament, and David's betrayal was just one of them. Another example is Elisha's multiplication of the loaves, which Mark had Jesus do twice.
Much of the answer to this sort of thinking may be found in Miller's article located here, but we would also add a "social science supplement". As Malina and Rohrbaugh note in their Social Science Commentary on the Synoptics [293-4], there was a process of oral poetry in the ancient world, and this process offers a far better explanation for such correspondences to the OT text. They write:
To be able to quote the tradition from memory, to apply it in creative or appropriate ways to the situation of daily living, not only brings honor to the speaker but lends authority to his words as well. The song of Zechariah, the so-called Benedictus, in Luke 1:68-79 is an example. It is stitched together from phrases of Psalms 41, 111, 132, 105, 106, and Micah 7. The ability to create such a mosaic implied extensive, detailed knowledge of the tradition and brought great honor to the speaker able to pull it off. [Emphasis added.]
Socially, then, the Skeptic's answer is off the mark. Rather than arguing "that Jesus' betrayal and prayer at Gethsemane was divinely prefigured in the life of David", it is contextually more correct to suppose that Jesus, in light of his betrayal, composed a prayer that was stitched together from elements of the OT tradition; and rather than say that the NT writers "scoured the Old Testament for events in the life of the important figures, then adapted those stories to fit Jesus," it is contextually more accurate to say that the NT writers, especially one like Matthew who was well-trained in the OT traditions, scoured their memory for OT texts that could be adapted to describe the daily life of Jesus.
To say otherwise, and to accuse on such grounds the NT writers of inventing history, is to gratuitously assume Western reportage values upon people with entirely different means of communication.