The semantics of metaphor and parable: Looking for meaning in the Gospels

Anna Wierzbicka



Human communication relies largely on metaphors. This applies to literature, to politics, to everyday interaction, to religion and to ethics. Indeed we live by metaphors, as the title of the well-known book by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) suggests. Yet despite their vital importance the meaning of metaphors is often far from clear - even to those who use them. The problem is compounded in cross-cultural communication, because while the letter of the metaphor can often be translated, the translated version may be baffling or deceptive.


metaphor; semantics; Gospels

Full Text:



Albright, W. F. and C. S. Mann 1971. The Anchor Bible. Matthew: Introduction, translation and notes. New York: Doubleday.

Barclay, W. 1993[1975j. The Gospel of Matthew. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

Bauman, C. 1985. The Sermon on the Mount: The modern quest for its meaning. Macon, Ga. Mercer University Press,

Betz, H. D. 1995. The Sermon on the Mount: A Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, including the Sermon on the Plain (Matthew 5:3-7:27 and Luke 6:20-49). (Edited by Adela Yarbro.) Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Bonhoeffer, D. 1959[1937]. The Cost of Discipleship. (Trans. R. H. Fuller.) London: SCM Press.

Braun, H. 1969. Spaetjuedisch-haeretischer und fruehchristlicher Radikalismus: Jesus von Nazareth und die essenische Qumransekte. 2 vol. Tuebingen: Mohr [Siebeck],

Brown, R. 1966. The Gospel according to John (Romans 1-12). Garden City: Doubleday.

Abraham” he seems to be invoking Isaiah’s reference to Abraham as a rock from which the people of Israel will be hewn and contrasting the image of a “rock” (=Abraham) from which the people of Israel were hewn with that of any “stones” anywhere from which God can raise up true (spiritual) children to Abraham.

Bultmann, R. 1958[1926], Jesus and the Word. (Trans. L.P. Smith and E. H. Lantero.) London: Collins.

Clement of Alexandria. Stromata. In: Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (eds.). 1962. The Ante-nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. (Vol II) Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B.Eerdmans.

Funk, R, R. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. 1993. The Five Gospels: What did Jesus really say? New York: Macmillan.

Goddard, C. 1998. Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hunter, A. M. 1953. Design for Life. London.

Jeremias, J. 1966. Rediscovering the Parables. London: SCM Press.

Jeremias, J. 1971. New Testament Theology. (Trans. J. Bowden.) London: SCM Press.

Lachs, S. T. 1987. A Rabbinic Commentary. Hoboken, N.J.: KTAV Publishing House. Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago : The University Of Chicago Press.

Limbeck, M, A. Bausch, G. Hegele, P. Neumann and W. Schopping. 1987. Die bessere Gerechtigheit: Matthausevangelium. Stuttgart: Katolisches Biblewerk.

Limbeck, M. 1995. Matthaeus-Evangelium. Stuttgart: Katolisches Bibelwerk.

Luz, U. 1989. Matthew 1-7. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Meier, J. P. 1980. Matthew. Dublin: Veritas Press.

Montefiore. C. G. 1968 [1937]. The Synoptic Gospels. New York: KTAV Publishing

House. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Edition. CD ROM 1992.

Porpora, D. 2001. Landscapes of the Soul: The loss of moral meaningin America life. New York: Oxford University Press.

Riesenfeld, H. 1952. Die Perikope von der Ehebrecherin in der friiihkirchlichen Tradition.

Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 17. pp 106-111.

Sanders, E. P. 1977. Paul and Palestinian Judaism: Aion. London: SCM Press. Schechter, S. 1961. Aspects of Rabbinic Theology. New York: Schocken.

Sifre. 1986. A Tannaitic Commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy. (Trans. Reuven Hammer). New Haven: Yale University Press.

Strecker, G. 1988. The Sermon on the Mount. Nashville: Abingdon.

Tolstoy, L. 1958[1884], What I believe. In: Leo Tolstoy, A Confession. The Gospel ir.

Brief, and What I Believe. (Trans. Aylmer Maude.) London: Oxford University Press.

Weil, S. 1951. Waiting on God. (Trans. E. Craufurd.) London: Routledge and Kegar. Paul.

Wierzbicka, A. 1996. Semantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2392-1196 (online)

Partnerzy platformy czasopism