Light through a Prism: New Avenues of Inquiry for the Pauline Huiothesia Metaphors
This thesis utilizes a methodology developed from contemporary philosophical1 and cognitive approaches to metaphor theory to present a reading of the four υἱοθεσία metaphors in Romans and Galatians which attends to both their textual and extra-textual features. Earlier studies on the Pauline υἱοθεσία metaphors have tended to focus heavily on their background or have tended to synthesize the metaphors into a univocal “meaning.” However, contemporary theories of metaphor in a variety of fields, such as philosophy of language, cognitive and sociolinguistics, and communication and rhetoric, have shown metaphors to be creative, dynamic, and multivalent in meaning, and have also cast doubt on whether metaphorical meaning can be transferred from one context to another. Moreover, insights from cognitive approaches to metaphor have shown metaphors to be capable of influencing the perceptions, emotions, and identity of their readers or hearers. I argue that the combination of these diverse perspectives on metaphor complement each other to create a robust methodology for treating metaphors within the biblical text, which I have applied to the exegesis of the four υἱοθεσία metaphors in Romans and Galatians. This thesis has two foci: (1) to establish a methodology for reading biblical metaphors that appreciates both their textual and extra-textual elements, and (2) to utilize this methodology to read the Pauline υἱοθεσία metaphors in order to appreciate components of these metaphors that have not been previously identified, or have hitherto been neglected or ignored. After establishing the need for such an inquiry by reviewing recent studies on the υἱοθεσία metaphor in chapter one, the remaining chapters of the first half of the thesis (chapters 2-4) elucidate and defend the methodology I have developed by combining contemporary theories of metaphor from several other disciplines. The second half of the thesis is composed of three chapters, one devoted to each passage where υἱοθεσία metaphors occur (Galatians 4:1-7; Romans 8:12-25; Romans 9:1-5). 1 Throughout the thesis I will use the designation “philosophical” to denote theories developed primarily by philosophers of language, and occasionally to denote contributions from literary theorists which share much in common with theories drawn from philosophy of language. Although interpreters have tended to collapse the υἱοθεσία metaphors in Romans and Galatians into a single emphasis, or have tended to use one metaphor as the interpretive starting point to read the others, in light of the methodological considerations raised in part one, this thesis attempts to appreciate the different emphases of each passage and hold their meanings in tension. Utilizing the methodology developed in part one of the thesis, I show that the υἱοθεσία metaphor in Galatians 4:1-7 is primarily concerned with highlighting the gentile audience’s lineage through Christ and faith rather than through Abraham and law observance, focusing attention heavily on the vertical relationship between the believers and the Father. In contrast, the two υἱοθεσία metaphors in Romans 8 serve to highlight the eschatological and existential tension the believers experience, which is grounded in their reception of the Spirit. The final exegetical chapter argues that the υἱοθεσία metaphor in Romans 9:4 serves as Paul’s unique “reflection” of the Israelite sonship tradition seen in Old Testament and intertestamental texts. This “reflection” serves to highlight the intertwined relationship between the Israelites and the gentile believers, and draws attention to the consistent nature and character of God’s actions toward them both. The conclusion highlights the key contributions the methodology makes to the exegesis of the υἱοθεσία metaphors. In reviewing the ground covered in the first seven chapters of the thesis, I underscore the distinctive emphasis of each υἱοθεσία metaphor, showing that each metaphor possesses a nuanced implicative complex, which makes it much more appropriate to speak of a spectrum of meaning created by the υἱοθεσία metaphors rather than a univocal metaphorical “meaning” for the Pauline concept of υἱοθεσία. Within this spectrum of meaning, I also point out several key areas of commonality between the implicative complexes of the υἱοθεσία metaphors in Romans and Galatians, which shows that Paul’s uses of the metaphor are complementary, rather than contradictory, to one another. I also explore briefly how the υἱοθεσία metaphors are currently being used in contemporary contexts to support current practices of adoption, and the potential impact the transposition of the narratives of the Pauline υἱοθεσία metaphors have on how present-day Christians, especially in Western contexts, view the adoption of children.
Advisor: Trebilco, Paul; Baab, Lynne
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Theology and Religion
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: adoption; sonship; Pauline theology; metaphor; metaphor theory; Galatians; Romans
Research Type: Thesis