The Importance of Metaphor to Petrine Studies

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In this chapter, I propose a practical methodology for the study of First Peter‟s paraenetical metaphors that is almost totally based on the preceding theoretical and methodological discussion.443 Thus, there is little explanation here of the reasons for the steps recommended or questions to be asked. While I use all of the major steps treated below in the subsequent analysis of First Peter, I do not apply each of them in detail. Neither is it expected that readers will use every step for each metaphor analysis they may conduct. This model is meant to be rather comprehensive and transferable, without major adjustments, to other biblical or even non-biblical texts.
This section may seem to demand both too much and too little. On the one hand, not all of the questions listed or the instructions given can be satisfactorily dealt with in the analysis of every–or perhaps any–metaphor. On the other hand, not all the possible questions one could pose to any metaphor are listed. Not all duplication has been shunned, though I have attempted to avoid unnecessary redundancy. In a sense, metaphor analysis is like a careful examination of a multi-faceted diamond from many different but overlapping angles.
No claim is made that this is the final, perfect template applicable even to First Peter‟s metaphors, either in terms of content or structure. Such is probably an unattainable goal, but it is hoped that progress has been demonstrated here. Whatever else these questions may do, they should enhance the exegete‟s thoroughness of observation and provide guidance in interpretation.
No metaphorical study of First Peter is complete that does not give attention to all forms of similarity found within it. On the now generally agreed-upon assumption that First Peter is a coherent whole, its literal and figurative comparisons may be viewed as working together toward common ends. This includes the narrative examples to which the author points (OT prophets, angels, Noah, Sarah, and especially Christ), which involve literal similarities supportive of the figurative elements he employs.444 Fortuitously, Gentner provides a theoretical justification and methodological scheme by which they can be treated together. While there is merit in looking at this interaction topically, i.e., apart from the contextual flow of the text, its full importance can only by grasped in the sequential use of both forms of similarity in the epistle.
In Chapters 4-7, I will seek to show that First Peter engages in teaching as it seeks to foster positive change and to prevent negative change in its first listeners.445 It appears to exploit, perhaps intuitively, the power of metaphor and other forms of analogy in an attempt to effect genuine psychological changes that “offer a means of attaining a conceptual system richer than the initial system.”446 Each analogy lies somewhere on a continuum between communicating new information and reminding of familiar data. Even at the latter end of the scale, it can defamiliarize and stimulate creative thought, leading to a deeper understanding of current knowledge and its practical implications. For First Peter, I will argue, correct thinking and attitudes are foundational to successful Christian living.
When used in a text, metaphor is, by definition, cognitive/ideational and social/interpersonal, as well as textual. All three aspects are mutually necessary and mutually interpretive (even though separable for purposes of analysis). The analytic model presented here, as well as my selective application of it in subsequent chapters, deals with both semantics and pragmatics, though the former is my special concern.447 I may, occasionally, speculate about possible reader responses to First Peter, but my major concern is with the original meaning of its metaphors, with secondary interest in and occasional attention given to the author‟s apparent pragmatic strategy.
I do not try to develop a detailed taxonomy of the current state of its first listeners‟ possible knowledge, attitude, or conduct deficiencies that the epistle may try to correct. However, since teaching and learning are prime metaphor functions, one really does not understand at least the more interesting metaphors until one knows what knowledge change they are able or intended to effect. The meaning of the letter‟s metaphors individually and collectively constitutes, first, the theological basis for and, second, the nature of its paraenesis. Since it is, above all, a paraenetic text, understanding its meaning entails understanding the thoughts and behaviours for which it calls. The assumption of relevance adds to this the claim that the message was, to one degree or other, suited to its audience.
My focus on paraenesis also accents the power of metaphor as a tool of persuasion, which gives prominence to the pragmatic aspect as essential. To some degree, at least, I am investigating what metaphor does to First Peter and had the potential to do to its first hearers, as well as what the text does to it and how it does it. This is implicit in my emphasis on the textual sequence of the content of First Peter; I find the organization of the text to be a major and complex tool in the author‟s strategic attempt to influence his listeners. Following it reveals key aspects of his pragmatic strategy. Also, this is consistent with the fact that Troy Martin, my major Petrine dialogue partner, deals directly with both the meaning and use of metaphor relative to his postulated “journey” metaphor. Appropriately, also, one of the strengths of Gentner‟s model is its concern for both semantics and pragmatics. In terms of the latter, she has a special interest in how metaphors are developed and used to enable people to understand and influence aspects of their worlds.
As a guide to the process of interpretation, I will use “Man is a wolf” as my major illustrative metaphor. This may help the reader to recall the theory discussed in the first two chapters, where it was also used.
would, ideally, thoughtfully read through the questions under each heading before deciding precisely how they will implement each analytic step.

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Metaphor Recognition

This clearly essential first step can be performed on an intuitive basis with some measure of success if one assumes that all metaphors are, in some sense, “alive,” as CMT tends to do. In a different way, the same is true of SMT, since it calls for a focus on more obvious metaphors. The most basic issue is whether the statement makes the most contextually viable sense when given a literal or figurative meaning.449 Does the author signal the presence of metaphor?450 For example, are Source domain expectations broken (Wallington)?

Metaphor Selection

While a superficial analysis of every potential metaphor in First Peter could be attempted, practical factors call for a study with a more limited scope. My focus on paraenesis is one limiting factor. Beyond this, there seems to be wisdom in focusing on the most obvious metaphors in First Peter, so there will be only minimal reason to dispute the data selected. As an exception to this, the experimental use of CMT will expand the data to include conventional or lexicalized metaphors.
While textual context is decisive, the semantic or conceptual context per se merits consideration since, at the basic experiential level, we often perceive entities as gestalts and words often signify or activate schemas. It is, thus, important to ask if or how “the structure of abstract actions (such as states, causes, purposes, and means) are characterized cognitively in terms of image schemas.” Which of the metaphors reveal or consist of “schematized recurring patterns from the embodied domains of force, motion and space”?
For example, subsequent chapters will show that taking space seriously, especially the listeners‟ physical and metaphorical place in it, along with motion within space and the force(s) at work to cause or impede it, provides a potentially fruitful way of viewing First Peter‟s paraenetical statements, along with both literal and metaphorical indications of their “location.” One could, thus:

  • Consider all issues regarding the listeners‟ “positions” relative to all other entities, including time (time moving vs. ego moving).
  • Give special attention to metaphors most likely to be universal.
  • Focus on metaphors most central to the thought of First Peter, noting especially those located at key points in the text, especially in the letter opening or closing or part of a transition in topic, mood, etc.
  • Focus on metaphors apparently governing extended spans of text, perhaps the whole document.
  • Attend to previous suggestions by Petrine scholars (see Chapter One Section 2).

Focus on the Constitutive Elements of the Metaphor or Analogy451


Ask which of the two elements of the metaphor is the Source and which the Target (D‟Hanis).
This will be obvious in most cases, but premature judgments should be avoided.
Identify the metaphorical expression, carefully observing the vocabulary and grammar by which metaphorical meaning is expressed.452
Identify all metaphorical ideas or propositions.453
Subject each linguistic metaphorical expression to a propositional analysis.454

Preliminary analysis of the entity compared (Vehicle, Base, or Source)


In full realization that the same term may denote various of the following four options, ask which kind of structured conceptual representation is involved in the Source: entities, attributes, functions,455 or relations.456
Ask if a relation is a (a) first-order relation (i.e., the arguments are the objects) or (b) higher-order relation (i.e., other relations, such as cause and implication, are the arguments).457
Does the term for the Source concept denote a pre-existing category? If so, where is it on the continuum between entity and relational categories?458
Alternatively, consider the possibility that the Source denotes a newly generated, ad hoc category of which the Source is the prototypical member, which would then be applied to the Target (which is now classed as a member along with the Source; Glucksberg). Bear in mind, however, the excessive cognitive effort this may entail (Gentner).
Assuming that “concept categories involve prototypes and are organized by (at least) taxonomic relations” (CMT), seek to identify category prototypes459 and taxonomic relations and ask where the Source is situated “vertically” and “horizontally” relative to other concepts.
Does this Source constitute a complex event, object, system, or device with sub-elements or is it a component part of a complex entity?
Apart from textual context, ask if or how the Source concept may be mentally constituted as an image schema (from the embodied domains of force, motion and space).460 Ask if the Source potentially provides access to or contributes to the construction of richer knowledge schemas, scenarios, or mental models.461
Given the crucial role of concrete experience at the basic level of bodily living, ask if the human body (as a whole or its functions, parts, or products) is directly or indirectly implicated in the Source.462

  • The term “object” can refer to items normally recognized as distinct entities (like “rabbit”), parts of a larger object (e.g., “rabbit‟s ear”), or combinations of smaller units (such as “herd of rabbits”). The key issue is that the object is treated as a whole “at a given level of organization.” For example, “HIT (ball, table) and INSIDE (ball, pocket)” designates the action on the ball and the successful result (Gentner).
  • While entity concepts (“categories of concrete objects and animate beings”) gain meaning “by pointing to referents in the world,” relational concepts are meaningful because of their relationship to other concepts (Gentner and Kurtz, “Relational Categories,” 170).
  • Ask if the Base concept has (a) the greatest number of features in common with other members of the same category and (b) the least number of features in common with members of different but related categories. Also, determine the prototype effect: assuming a continuum between the best and worst examples in a category, rate the Source along this scale relative to the prototype.
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Sample questions include the following:
Is it objectified to aid in the conceptualization of external entities?
Are the effects on the body of various activities or experiences discussed in terms of description? (b) causation? or (c) evaluation?
Is there any indication of propioceptive body awareness, an intuitive sense of being a body, i.e., that we are a container; (b) kinesthetic awareness; (c) knowledge of our bodies at rest?
Is there any indication of having a body, i.e., of seeing oneself as others do and of thinking of our bodies as objects among the other entities we encounter?
Consider the benefits and risks of employing an etymological analysis of the Source term(s) (CMT).463

 Salience: identify typical features of the Source, including cultural aspects connected to it:

its most salient features apart from its participation in the metaphor.
Note the way the following items that increase salience may be featured in the text: prior context, conventionality, frequency, and familiarity (Giora).
Consider any prior knowledge of the Source that is assumed.
Ask if, apart from its textual context, the pairing itself suggests any apparently transparent Source meaning.
Beyond this, consider any relevant data (a) within the sentence containing the metaphor464 and (b) in prior or later groups of sentences that may modify this.465
Ask if, in first century Greek, the schema(s) reflected in a linguistic expression are the same as in modern English.
Is the Source primed in preceding context, resulting in a longer metaphor interpretation process (Kintsch)? If so, ask why listeners were presented with such a difficulty; e.g., is it a means of highlighting a subject or aspects of it?466
Ask what relationship the Source may have with other literal utterances in the epistle (a) that are not part of a metaphor and (b) that are Sources in other metaphors.
Ask about any consistency there may be between this Source and other Sources used in First Peter (cf. Barnden).467
The issue of emotion is treated in more detail later in this chapter but, here, consider the expected interpreter evaluation of the Source:

  • Consider word order: which part of the sentence is figurative? Note that only in metaphoric sentences where the beginning noun was metaphoric is processing time slower and, more importantly, accuracy of interpretation was also lower (Budiu).
  • Raluca Budiu and John R. Anderson, “Interpretation-Based Processing: A Unified Theory of Semantic Sentence Comprehension,” Cognitive Science 28.1 (2004): 1-44. This is especially important in cases of anaphoric metaphors (Raluca Budiu and John R. Anderson, “Comprehending Anaphoric Metaphors,” Memory & Cognition 30.1 [2002]: 164).
  • In a context of orality, one would normally expect an author to intuitively avoid such.
  • Rudolf Schmitt‟s step #2 (“Metaphernanalyse als sozialwissenschaftliche Methode. Mit einigen Bemerkungen zur theoretischen „Fundierung‟ psychosozialen Handelns,” in Psychologie and Gesellschaftskritik1 [1997]: 57-86). This is more difficult for an ancient language, but a reasonable attempt can be made; however, this will not be thoroughly attempted in this thesis. If a language-comprehensive study is contemplated, collect a lexicon of metaphoric Sources used for the specific topic (Schmitt‟s step #3).

1 Introduction: The Importance of Metaphor to Petrine Studies
2 Metaphor Studies and First Peter
3 Problems Related to Metaphor
CHAPTER 2  THE POSSIBILITIES OF METAPHOR: Insights from Selected Metaphor Theories 
1 Towards a Preliminary Definition of Metaphor
2 Localist Theories of Metaphor
3 Cognitive Metaphor Theory (CMT)
4 The Major Metaphor Model of This Thesis: An Adaptation of Structure Mapping Theory (SMT)
5 Summary
1 Introduction
2 Stages in the Metaphoric Analysis of First Peter‟s Paraenesis
1 Introduction
2 Analysis of First Peter 1:13a: “Girding up the Loins of Your Mind”
3.1 Preliminary analysis of the entity compared (Source)
4 Summary
CHAPTER 5 First Peter 1:1-12: Chosen and Reborn Aliens Protected through Faith by Father-God for a Joyfully Hoped-for Salvation 
1 Introduction
2 First Peter 1:1-2: the letter prescript
3 1:3-12: The Blessing Section
4 Summary
CHAPTER 6 First Peter 1:13-2:10 
1 Introduction
2 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 7 First Peter 2:11-3:12: Honour Everyone 
1.1 Fatherhood of God in 2:11-12
2 2:13-3:7: The Household/Domestic Code
3 3:8-12
4 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 8   First Peter 3:13-4:11 
1 3:13-22
2 4:1-11
CHAPTER 9  First Peter 4:12-5:11 
1 4:12-19
2 5:1-7
3 5:8-11
4 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 10 First Peter 5:12-14: Epistolary Closing
1 5:12-14

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