This article deals primarily with presuppositions associated with allegory/figural reading and its relationship to what we might call the plain sense of Scripture. Paul's allegorical appeal in Gal 4:21–31 will serve as an illustration of the major themes addressed. This article seeks to place Paul's allegorical appeal squarely within the church's exegetical tradition of figural reading. Drawing on the terminology of Brevard Childs, it will query whether Paul's allegorical reading of the Sarah/Hagar story fits within the "family resemblance" of Christian reading of the OT. Two questions are central to this inquiry: (1) What is the relationship between typology and allegory? (2) What is the relationship between the sensus literalis and figural reading? Following from these two central questions is a third: Can Paul's allegorical reading be called a "plain sense" reading of the Genesis narrative?

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