Saturday, April 05, 2008

YHWH (Jehovah) and Theological Metaphors

Gerald O'Collins and Daniel Kendall argue that theological metaphors "refer to and describe reality." Concurring with Soskice, they reason that metasememes speak about one thing in terms that appear suggestive of another thing. For example, God does not instantiate the literal mind-independent properties of a crag, but the ancient Hebrew prophets articulate speech regarding YHWH in ways that appear suggestive of a rock. Likewise, YHWH is called "a sun and shield" in Psalm 84:11(12). Yet, he apparently does not exemplify the matter-of-fact predicates that structurally constitute the Sun or a shield. In these instances, the Bible writers presumably are employing tropes to speak about one entity (God) in terms suggestive of other entities (rock, Sun or shield). Metaphor seemingly permits the writers of Scripture to describe the supreme reality adequately, though indirectly. Far from being linguistically insufficient or vulnerable, theological metaphors seem to accomplish what "proper terminology" (De oratore 3.152-155) cannot achieve; they convey truths that non-tropic expressions attributing matter-of-fact properties to a particular subject are incapable of communicating.

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