The Categorical Distinction (Archetype/Ectype) in Lutheran Theology

I am going to work through more of this later. Fascinating.


I have written on the categorical distinction before.  Here I introduced Schilder’s thoughts on it.  Here you can find what S. G. De Graaf and F. M. Ten Hoor wrote on this subject.

The Lutheran theologian Francis Pieper discusses this as well in Volume 1 of his Christian Dogmatics.  This is how he introduces it:

Nothing must be injected into the corpus doctrinae [body of doctrine] of the Church which is not contained in Scripture.  And in order to accentuate this characteristic feature of the Christian doctrine, they have called objective theology theologia ektupos, ectypal, or derived, theology, that is, a reproduction, re-presentation, of the theologia archetupos, the archetypal, or original, theology, which is that knowledge of God and divine things originally found only in God, but which God has graciously communicated to man through His Word. (58)

It is interesting that Pieper locates archetypal theology in…

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2 thoughts on “The Categorical Distinction (Archetype/Ectype) in Lutheran Theology

  1. I wonder if Pieper’s notion of Scripture as archetypal fits better within a metaphysics of the Bible, along the lines of Wycliffe and restated, with greater potency, by Ephraim Radner. That is, the words of Scripture are in fact ontologically Real, and exist in the mind of God as eternal things, and not mere descriptions of eternal things. This weds spiritual and literal senses together, distinct and not different. I have pondered this, in relation of Maximus’ formula of Logos/logoi with a kind of Biblicist orientation towards metaphysics.

    As a side note, I’ve been greatly inspired by those “Arrows Against Greece” posts you have on the side. They’ve been useful as a lens for assessing historical theology, and were kind of cathartic for me, especially the bit about Christian education as a repristination of WASP education and the valorization of all things Greco-Roman.



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