Ontological Metaphors for Moral Concepts in the Bible: Introduction


  • Eldar Veremchuk Zaporizhzhia National University, Ukraine




elaboration of metaphor, extension of metaphor, mapping, source domain, target domain


The article reveals the peculiarities of ontological mappings involving ethical concepts in the text of the Bible. The paper hypothesizes that ethical concepts as abstract phenomena are understood as physical entities and living beings, therefore there must be corresponding metaphorical projections, which underlie their conceptualization. The metaphor is viewed from two perspectives: within the classical and conceptual metaphor theories. From the perspective of the classical theory, metaphor is a literary expressive means, part of figurative language, which consists in using one word instead of the other for the sake of drawing attention or attaining poetic or elevated style. From the conceptual perspective, metaphor is a way humans perceive and conceptualize the objective reality by means of understanding complex abstract ideas or phenomena on the basis of some simple concrete things from the central life experience. This is carried out by means of projection of the source domain features onto the target domain, the latter being more complex than the former. Ontological metaphoric transferences with the target ethical concepts, which are found in the Bible involve two superordinate source domains: PERSON and THING. The extension of these two primary metaphors, which make up the central mapping is represented by a number of hyponymic domains, each of which is discussed separately. Besides the extension, the article pays special attention to the elaboration of metaphors, which involves the extension of the conceptual zone and projection of other source domain features, different from the central ones. The research infers the conclusion that the use of cross-domain mappings plays an important role in conveying ontological and deontological messages since such type of narrative helps to deliver the essential message to the broader audience most efficiently as the more complex moral implications expressed in this way are conceived through simpler ideas and notions.


Download data is not yet available.


Aristotle (1995). Poetics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Barstad, H. & Nielsen, K. (1989). There Is Hope for a Tree: The Tree as Metaphor in Isaiah. Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh.

Biblical Metaphor Annotated Bibliography. Access mode: http://biblicalmetaphor.com/, retrieved April 15, 2022.

Booth, W. C. (1978). Metaphor as Rhetoric: The Problem of Evaluation. In Sacks (Eds.), (pp. 49-72). Canada. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/447972

Bourguet, D. (1987). Des métaphores de Jérémie. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

Brueggemann, W. (2008). The Recovering God of Hosea. Horizons in biblical theology, 30(1), 43-57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/187122008X294349

Cazeaux, C. (2007). Kant, Cognitive Metaphor and Continental Philosophy. Abingdon: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203326831

Cicero (1942). On the Orator: Book 3. On Fate. Stoic Paradoxes. Divisions of Oratory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Cruz, J. (2016). Who Is Like Yahweh?: A Study of Divine Metaphors in the Book of Micah. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13109/9783666540479

Dille, S. J. (2004). Mixing Metaphors: God as Mother and Father in Deutero-Isaiah. London: Continuum.

Doyle, B. (2000). The Apocalypse of Isaiah Metaphorically Speaking: A Study of the Use, Function and Significance of Metaphors in Isaiah 24–27. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

Eidevall, G. (1996). Grapes in the Desert: Metaphors, Models, and Themes in Hosea 4–14. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Gibbs, R. W. Jr. & Lima, P. L. C. & Francozo, E. (2004). Metaphor is grounded in embodied experience. Journal of Pragmatics, Amsterdam, 36, 1189-1210. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2003.10.009

Haddox, S. E. (2016). Masculinity Studies of the Hebrew Bible: The First Two Decades. CBR, 14, 176-206. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1476993X15575496

Kövecses, Z. (2017a). Conceptual metaphor theory. In the Routledge handbook of metaphor. In E. Semino, & Z. Demjén (Eds.), (pp. 13-27). Abingdon: Routledge.

Kövecses, Z. (2017b). Levels of metaphor. Cognitive Linguistics, 28(2), 321–347. doi: 10.1515/cog-2016-0052. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2016-0052

Kövecses, Z. (2002) Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lakoff, G. (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor. In A. Ortony (Eds.), Metaphor and thought (pp. 202-251). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Lam, J. (2016). Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible: Metaphor, Culture, and the Making of a Religious Concept. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394647.001.0001

Lancaster, M. D. (2021). Meraphor research and the Hebrew Bible. Currents in Biblical Research, 19(3), 235-285. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1476993X20987952

Nwaoru, E. O. (1999). Imagery in the Prophecy of Hosea. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Sherwood, Y. (2018). The Bible and Feminism: Remapping the Field. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198722618.001.0001

Smit, P. B. (2017). Masculinity and the Bible: Survey, Models, and Perspectives. Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation, 2, 1-97. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/24057657-12340007

Spencer, F. S. (2017). Mixed Feelings and Vexed Passions: Exploring Emotions in Biblical Literature. Atlanta: SBL. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1w1vm30

Zimran, Y. (2018). The Notion of God Reflected in the Lion Imagery of the Book of Hosea. Vetus Testamentum, 68, 149-167. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685330-12341311




How to Cite

Veremchuk, E. (2022). Ontological Metaphors for Moral Concepts in the Bible: Introduction. Acta Neophilologica, 55(1-2), 177–191. https://doi.org/10.4312/an.55.1-2.177-191




Most read articles by the same author(s)