Metaphors and Pragmatics: An Introduction to the Hermeneutics of Metaphors in the Epistle to the Ephesians -- By: Gerald A. Klingbeil

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 16:2 (NA 2006)
Article: Metaphors and Pragmatics: An Introduction to the Hermeneutics of Metaphors in the Epistle to the Ephesians
Author: Gerald A. Klingbeil


Metaphors and Pragmatics:
An Introduction to the Hermeneutics of
Metaphors in the Epistle to the Ephesians

Gerald A. Klingbeil

Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies
Silang, Cavite, Philippines

This article seeks first to understand recent methodological discussions in metaphor research in the context of biblical and theological studies. Metaphors are complex literary devices that require familiarity with the world view and historical context of the respective author of a particular ancient text and also communicate on an experiential level. The multiplicity and polyvalence of metaphors together with their ability to create tension requiring reorientation make them ideal rhetorical tools. In this sense metaphors connect perfectly with pragmatics, which does not focus upon form, significance, sounds, or structure but, rather, upon the strategies that authors employ to communicate effectively. Based upon these considerations, a metaphor map of the Epistle to the Ephesians is drawn, recognizing ten main metaphors with many more connected submetaphors. Finally, the study presents a concise evaluation of the metaphor map, focusing upon authorial strategies and the main metaphorical components such as “family,” “body,” and “position.”

Key Words: hermeneutics, metaphor, pragmatics, Epistle to the Ephesians, family, body, position, hierarchy

Introduction: Of Metaphors and Pragmatics

In the following article, I will focus upon two important elements that have featured prominently in the recent discussion of hermeneutics in general—and more particularly—in Pauline hermeneutics:1 that is, the

Author’s note: This study has been financed by a research grant provided by River Plate Adventist University during 2004 and is part and parcel of a large-scale research project entitled: “La iglesia, cuerpo de Cristo y plenitud de Dios (The Church, Body of Christ and Fullness of God),” involving 5 distinct research groups with some 15 specialists of distinct theological specializations, under the leadership of Dr. Mario Veloso.

characteristics and functions of metaphors and the importance of pragmatics in the hermeneutical process.2 Focusing upon the Epistle to the Ephesians, I will attempt to “draw” a metaphorical map of the letter, resulting in a comprehensive list of the metaphors used. This will be followed by a discussion of the pragmatic force (and reason) for using these metaphors and particularly their important interaction. Clearly, this is just a pilot project, since...

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