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Religion, Language, and the Human Mind$
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Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190636647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190636647.001.0001

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Metaphor in Religious Transformation

Metaphor in Religious Transformation

‘Circumcision of the Heart’ in Paul of Tarsus

(p.294) Chapter 12 Metaphor in Religious Transformation
Religion, Language, and the Human Mind

Ralph Bisschops

Oxford University Press

Interpreting sacred notions of the Hebrew Bible in a figurative sense was part of the hermeneutical manoeuvres of Early Christian writers. They proceeded by deliteralisation and metaphorisation. Paul’s notion of the ‘circumcision of the heart’, which is intimately linked to that of the ‘inner Jew’, was an attempt to internalise Jewish law-abidingness whilst abolishing its initial dignity. The chapter develops a two-phase model behind Paul’s metaphorisations. First the initial values (Jewishness and ritual circumcision) are projected onto a newly created target, namely inwardness. Subsequently, the original value is abolished. This process can be termed a value-shift, in contradistinction to similar instances which should be seen as value-extensions the source value being preserved and merely extended. . Corollaries of value-shift and value-extension are duty-shift and duty-extension. From a socio-religious perspective, metaphorisation goes along with a widening of the religious community. In the last resort, however, it reveals itself to be a moment in the genesis of new theological and even philosophical concepts such as inwardness as the locus of redemption.

Keywords:   Circumcision, metaphor, value-extension, value-shift, Paul of Tarsus, St. Paul, Cognitive Integration Model, internalisation, inwardness, metaphorisation, Christianity, Hebrew Bible, Judaism, cognitive semantics, diachronic semantics

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