Methodological Questions: Conceptual Metaphor and Interpretation

One more week without a book review as I finish my paper for this week. They will return next week, I have Gaventa and Barclay to review. In lieu of the review, I am offering a look at my methodology for interpreting a passage with conceptual metaphors in view. This is still largely a work in progress, but this is what I am using to look into Galatians 4:1-7 in this paper. (Sorry if formatting is little strange had trouble importing the text)


With cognitive studies’ investigation of language as the mind’s means of communication providing the template for investigation, the words of a text may be examined as the text’s form of communication.


  • What conceptual metaphors shape the text?

    -What are the central topics and epistemological assumptions of the text?

    -Are there organizing principles or patterns in the text?

    -Is there an intended impact of the text?  How is the impact framed?

  • How are these conceptual metaphors grounded, structured, related to each other, and defined?

 -As far as it can be reconstructed, what is the historical, social, and cultural meaning of the conceptual metaphor?

-What is the textual meaning of the conceptual metaphors?  How are the conceptual metaphors framed in the specific                 text?  How is the text connected with what comes before and after, and to document as a whole?

-In biblical interpretation, this will mean examining beyond a particular book by turning to intertextual aspects:  Is scripture quoted in the text?  Are there allusions to other scriptures, scriptural themes, or stories? How do these impact the framing of the conceptual metaphors in the text?

-How do the conceptual metaphors (both empirical and implied) define the thought-world of the text?  Do they organize the text?  Provide a structure for the discourse?  Project a line of reasoning?

  • How does the context of the reader influence the text’s reception?

-How does the world constructed by the text correspond to the historical, cultural, and social norms?  What parts are highlighted?  What parts are forgotten/deleted?

 -How do the highlighted and neglected parts impact the reading? How does the text cue the reader to respond?

-How does the blending of the frames, textual world, historical context and reader’s context, influence the intended impact of the text?

  • How metaphoric blends lie behind the construction of the text and the story?

 -At what points do the conceptual metaphors collide?  How does blending conceptual metaphors integrate the different fields into a shared field of meaning?  Does blending result in the construction of new meaning?  How does blending create new meaning?  Does the new meaning generate new schemas which can reinterpret the past and/or provide new ideals for the present and future?

-Does blending create a story that produces transformation of the conceptual metaphors?

-How might a storied approach to hermeneutics provide new possibilities for highlighting the transformative role of the text?

  • What role does an informed imagination play in the reception of the story?

    -How does the reader receive the conceptual categories of the text?  How does the reader form conceptual categories for the objects, events, actors and stories revealed in the text?  How is one story projected onto another story?

-How might speech-act-theory, with its focus on the text’s locution, illocution, and perlocution open possibilities for interpretation to move through understanding towards embodiment?  Can an interpretative community, by recognizing all three aspects of a text as part of one interpretative process come to understand the act of reading as informing its imagination through a call to not simply understand but to be drawn into participating in the conceptual world constructed by the text?

What results is a hermeneutical method, which incorporates a text’s empirical historical setting, implied historical setting, and literary context with the personal and communal life of the reader.  It is a hermeneutical method that moves through understanding a text towards embodying a text; embodied biblical interpretation.


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