Metaphor in the Bible


This seminar understands itself as continuing the tradition of the longstanding and prolific EABS seminar “Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible.” The new factor is the expansion of the subject unto the study of the New Testament. It is the goal of this research program to foster a dialogue and mutual enrichment between the study of metaphors in the areas of the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and of the New Testament. The seminar will focus both on the aspect of metaphor theories and on using multiple theories for the interpretation of metaphors in the Bible. In the comparison of the presence or absence of metaphors and their role and function in Biblical texts, we shall be looking for the specifics of the use of metaphor in particular time periods, genres, contexts or other traditions.

Metaphor, Biblical Poetry, Figurative Language, Linguistics, Literary Criticism


Reimund Bieringer
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Antje Labahn
Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertl/Bethel 
and North-West-University South Africa 

Danilo Verde Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Member Area

Warsaw 2019 Call for Papers

This year, the research unit “Metaphor in the Bible” inquires into the close interconnection between metaphorical language and the body. As Kövecses argues, “The human body is an ideal source domain, since, for us, it is clearly delineated and (we) believe we know it well” (2010: 18): we discuss the heart of the problem, give a hand to our colleagues, lend an ear to the indications of the head of the department, without necessarily being at his/her feet. The interconnection between metaphor and the body, however, goes far beyond the use of terms for body parts. According to Cognitive Linguistics, special cases of “embodied metaphors” are the so-called “primary metaphors,” namely those metaphors that are grounded in the sensorimotor system. For instance, metaphors such as intimacy is closenessand affection is warmthare grounded in the physical sensations accompanying experiences of affection with caregivers and/or partners. Bodily experiences are at the core of “image schemas,” namely skeletal conceptualizations underlying common linguistic expressions. Expressions such as “I am feeling up” and “I fell into a depression,” entail the conceptual schemas more is up and less is down that, according to Cognitive Linguistics, are grounded in the bodily experiences of standing up and falling down, looking upwards at adults and downwards at children, adopting a drooping posture in moments of sadness and an erect posture in moments of happiness, etc.

We invite proposals for three sessions. One is a joint session with the research unit “Literary Features” on the theme “The Body of God” in both the HB/OT and the NT. The other two sessions are open to papers concerning all aspects connected to the theme “Metaphor and the Body” in biblical literature and in the Ancient Near East. Applicants can draw on different metaphor theories (not necessarily Cognitive Linguistics) and are invited to specify in their abstracts the theoretical framework they use (if they use one), case study, main thesis, and the added value of their proposal to the state of the art.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 2-5 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.