Interpreting Biblical Metaphors: Introducing the Invariance Principle

in Vetus Testamentum
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The scholarship concerning biblical metaphor has profited widely from the conceptual (cognitive) approach to metaphor, but a key principle from this approach, the Invariance Principle, has been widely overlooked as a valuable tool for the interpretation of biblical metaphors. The Invariance Principle allows biblical scholars to evaluate logically and with consistency the many varied interpretations that are often generated from exegetically difficult metaphors. This principle stipulates that the logical relationships of a metaphor’s source domain (the metaphorical elements) must correspond to the structure of logical relationships in the target domain (the literal elements). An extended analysis of the partridge metaphor in the riddle-based proverb of Jer 17:11 demonstrates how the Invariance Principle can be used to evaluate previous interpretations and to provide logical structure for generating a fresh interpretation to this proverb.

Interpreting Biblical Metaphors: Introducing the Invariance Principle

in Vetus Testamentum






DilleMixing Metaphors: God as Mother and Father in Deutero-Isaiah p. 59.


See CarrollJeremiah p. 357; Holladay Jeremiah 1 p. 499; Lundbom Jeremiah 1-20 p. 791.


See AllenJeremiah p. 201; William McKane p. 401. The Targum describes the partridge gathering eggs that it did not lay but explains the man as the one abandoning the wealth. The Peshitta (as with the lxx and the Targum) also describes the partridge gathering eggs but its grammatical ambiguity (as with the mt) allows for the man to abandon the wealth or vice versa.


CarrollJeremiah p. 357.


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