Article published in:Metaphor in Religion and Spirituality
Edited by Stephen Pihlaja
[Metaphor and the Social World 7:1] 2017
► pp. 5–25
The light within
Metaphor consistency in Quaker pamphlets, 1659–2010
This paper contributes to the study of religious metaphor by combining discourse analysis with cognitive semantics. In particular, it engages in a diachronic study of 30 pamphlets written by British Quakers and addressed to the general public to investigate the consistency of metaphor use in that genre across three and a half centuries. Consistency is seen as metaphors recording the same source domains and/or scenarios and/or lexical realisations across time, with maximum consistency meeting all three criteria.Utilising the notions of genre and discourse community along with metaphor domains and scenarios, the analysis shows that among 19 metaphor domains that occur in texts from at least two different centuries, just under 60 per cent are highly or maximally consistent, with domains of maximum consistency being the largest group. The changing purposes of the pamphlet genre and the evolving social and historical contexts do not diminish this long-term metaphor consistency.This overall finding is explained with recourse to the dual-processing/representation theory of religious cognition, which posits a difference between theological and basic everyday representations and processing of God concepts. Quakerism shows an overall lack of abstract theology, with Quakers instead establishing various metaphors for God to express their lived experience of the divine. The remarkable consistency of metaphors in Quaker pamphlets suggests that Quakerism makes God concepts intuitively meaningful and relevant.
Published online: 20 July 2017
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