Prompt #1: Pick one of the gods in the Iliad. How is that god (as portrayed by Homer) like or unlike the LORD (as portrayed by Hosea)? I recommend focusing on one to two similarities, one to two differences, or one to two of each. Don’t be vague or basic. Don’t just say that they’re both divine or that LORD is more powerful. Probe deeper. Look at their specific character traits, capabilities, or motivations. Support every claim about your chosen Homeric god and the LORD with one or more well-chosen quotes from the corresponding texts (the Iliad and Hosea). Also, use your claims to support an ultimate choice: which god or God is more worthy? If both existed, which one would you rather worship, and why? (“Neither” is an acceptable answer, but you need to argue for it.)
Prompt #2: Pick one of the characters in the Iliad. How is that character’s code of living like or unlike the code of living that Jesus preaches in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)? I recommend focusing on one to two similarities, one to two differences, or one to two of each. Don’t be vague or basic. Don’t just say that they’re both codes about how to live or that Jesus’ code is nicer. Look at specific principles, motivations, and beliefs. Support every claim with one or more well-chosen quotes from the corresponding texts (the Iliad and Matthew). Also, use your claims to support an ultimate choice: which code of living would you rather follow, and why? (“Neither” is an acceptable answer, but you need to argue for it.)
A code of living means the key principles (such as honesty, loyalty to family, “looking out for number one,” or “He who dies with the most toys wins”) that an individual believes and follows. A code of living includes motivations—ideas about which goals are worth living for and which ones aren’t.
Prompt for Essay #2 (3-4 pages; see next page for more explanation):
Explain an example of typology in The Odyssey or The Aeneid. In other words, explain how a character, place, group, event, story, or saying in those books foreshadows a character, place, group, event, story, or saying in the Bible. We will talk about some examples of typology in class, but there are others. You are welcome to pick any that you find in the deep mines of The Odyssey and The Aeneid. Don’t feel enslaved to interpretations I have suggested in class. You can argue for other interpretations, even if they seem to contradict mine.
You are not limited to just one example of typology. You can tie together two or three if you wish. Just remember the space limitations.
If you think this whole idea of typology is absurd, you’re welcome to argue against one or more typological interpretations that I or your classmates have suggested.
Either way, this essay will involve quoting from both the Bible and The Odyssey or The Aeneid. However, there is one exception to the “use the Bible” rule. If you wish, you can argue that something in the Odyssey or Aeneid typologically foreshadows something in the Qur’an instead.
A Brief Explanation of Typology:
(This is heavily based on ideas that I first learned in this article: https://www.equip.org/articles/typological-fulfillment-key-messianic-prophecy/. Hank Hanegraff was not the first to come up with this idea, but I must acknowledge my debt to him.)
In Hosea 11:1, God says, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” In context, the “son” is clearly Israel. God is alluding to the Exodus—He called Israel “out of Egypt” when He plagued the Egyptians and brought His people through the Red Sea. This line does not seem like a prophecy of the future—rather, it is referring to the past.
But there is one problem—Matthew thinks the “son” in this verse is Jesus. Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 as if it is a prophecy about when Jesus’ parents flee with him to Egypt (2:15).
Is Matthew misinterpreting or contradicting Hosea? It would appear so—except that Matthew is using typology.
Typology means that a character, place, or event can be itself, but also symbolize or point forward to something else. For example, Abraham really tried to sacrifice Isaac, but that also symbolized how another Father would sacrifice His Son centuries later. Isaac, like Jesus, was a willing sacrifice who did not struggle. Isaac carried the firewood for his own altar up the mountain, just like Jesus carried his own cross toward the hill of Golgotha. (My pastor, Travis Cardwell, mentioned all these parallels in a great sermon.)
Think of typology like foreshadowing in a movie—little clues that do not make sense until the “big reveal” at the end; little phrases that mean one thing to us when we first watch it, and mean something new to us when we watch it again.
Matthew is showing us that Hosea 11:1 is typology. Did the “son” in Hosea refer to Israel? Absolutely! But the story of Israel also foreshadowed Jesus’ life.
A man named Joseph brought the Israelites to Egypt to flee a famine; another man named Joseph brought Jesus to Egypt to flee an evil king. God called the Israelites out of Egypt by appearing to Moses; God called Jesus out of Egypt by appearing to Joseph. The Israelites passed through the Red Sea and then wandered in the wilderness for forty years; Jesus passed through the river Jordan (where he was baptized) and then fasted in the wilderness for forty days.
Hosea may not have known that his words foreshadowed Jesus, but God, the true Author, knew.
Like Hosea, Homer and Virgil wrote words that foreshadowed Jesus, the New Jerusalem, and other elements of the Bible. Of course, they probably did not know this. But I suspect that God, the Author of history, used Homer and Virgil to prepare pagans to hear about the true and better “Odysseus” and the true and better “Rome.”
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