Bibliography of biblical and theological works using cognitive linguistics

Bibliography of biblical and theological works using cognitive linguistics by John Sanders

Updated May, 2023

The bibliography is organized as follows: (1) Biblical studies in general, (2) Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, (3) New Testament, (4) Bible Translation, (5) Christian Theology, and (6) Religious Studies and non-Christian Religions.

Biblical studies, general:

Bascom, Robert. “From the Embodied Mind to the Social Brain: the Negotiation of the Self and Translation.” The Bible Translator 64 (April, 2013): 11-35.

Botha, Willem J. “The Love Frame in the Bible. A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis” in Biebuyck, Benjamin / Dirven, René / Ries, John (eds.), Faith and Fiction. New York: Peter Lang, 1998 pp. 55-82

Charteris-Black, Jonathan, 2004. Corpus Approaches to critical metaphor analysis. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

DesCamp, Mary and Sweetser, Eve. “Metaphors for God: Why and How Do Our Choices Matter for Humans? The Application of Contemporary Cognitive Linguistics Research to the Debate on God and Metaphor,” Pastoral Psychology, vol. 53, no. 3 (January 2005): 207-238 [excellent study]

Feyaerts, Kurt. Ed., The Bible through metaphor and translation: a cognitive semantic perspective. Peter Lang (2003).

Harrison, Victoria, 2007. Metaphor, religious language, and religious experience. Sophia 46: 127-145. [On God as father]

Hogan, Karina. “Mother Earth as a Conceptual Metaphor in 4 Ezra,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73.1 (Jan. 2011): 72-91.

Howe, Bonnie & Green, Joel, eds., Cognitive Linguistic Explorations in Biblical Studies, (De Gruyter, 2014). [contains some of the best papers from the SBL CL group over several years]

Kövecses, Zoltan. “The Biblical Story Retold: A Cognitive Linguistics Perspective.” In Mario Brdar, Stefan Th. Gries and Milena Žic Fuchs, eds. Cognitive Linguistics: Convergence and Expansion. Amsterdam: Johns Benjamins (2011): 325-354.  [uses the Apostles Creed and biblical texts to analyze the key metaphors and metonymies used in the Christian story.]

Lundhaug, Hugo. “Conceptual Blending in the Exegesis of the Soul” [applies blending theory to this Nag Hammadi tractate in relation to a similar blend in some NT texts] in Petri Luomanen, Ilkka Pyysiäinen, and Risto Uro eds., Explaining Christian Origins and Early Judaism: Contributions from Cognitive and Social Science (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 141-160.

________.  Images of Rebirth: Cognitive Poetics and Transformational Soteriology in the Gospel of Philip and the Exegesis on the Soul. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies. Leiden – Boston: Brill, 2010.

Pohlig, James. “Cognition and Biblical Documents: Towards Overcoming Theoretical and Methodological Obstacles to Recovering Cultural Worldviews,” Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages (2003): 21-35. [Discusses the difficulties of applying cognitive linguistics to biblical texts.]

Sweetser, Eve and Mary Therese DesCamp, “Motivating Biblical Metaphors for God,” in Cognitive Linguistic Explorations in Biblical Studies, ed. Bonnie Howe and Joel B Green (Boston: De Gruyter, 2014), 7-24.

Wassell, Blake, E. and Stephen R. Llewelyn. 2014. “Fishers of Humans,” the Contem­porary Theory of Metaphor, and Conceptual Blending Theory. Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (3): 627–646.

Yri, Kjell. M. 1998. My Father Taught Me How to Cry, but Now I have Forgotten. The Semantics of Religious Concepts with an Emphasis on Meaning, Interpretation, and Translatabililty. (Acta humaniora 29). Oslo: Scandanavian University Press. [Examines the domains of salvation and destruction in Hebrew and how these have been translated into Greek (Septuagint and New Testament), Latin (Vulgate), Old Norse, modern Norwegian, and Sidaamu Afo (Ethiopian). Argues that salvation in the Hebrew Bible uses the source domain of military activity whereas Greek and Latin used the domain of health. Includes a chapter on issues surrounding translation and criticizes dictionary approaches to meaning.]

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament:

Basson, Alec. Divine Metaphors in Selected Biblical Hebrew Psalms of Lamentation. (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2006).

_______, “’People are Plants’—A Conceptual Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible.” Old Testament Studies, 19 (2006): 573-583.

Bergmann, C. D.   Childbirth as a Metaphor for Crisis: Evidence from the Ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible, and 1QH XI 1–18 (BZAW, 382; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2008);

Brettler, Marc. Z. God Is King: Understanding an Israelite Metaphor (JSOTSup, 76; Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1989). [Discusses the aspects of the source domain which are and are not applied to God]

_______, “The Metaphorical Mapping of God in the Hebrew Bible,” Metaphor, Canon and Community: Jewish, Christian and Islamic Approaches. Ralph Bisschops and James Francis (Religions and Discourse 1; Bern: Peter  Lang, 1999), 219-32. [He is aware of conceptual metaphor theory but does not make use of it]

Brown, W. P. Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002)

De Joode, Johan. Metaphorical Landscapes and the Theology of the Book of Job. Brill 2018.

DesCamp, Mary Therese. Metaphor and Ideology. Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum and Literary Methods through a Cognitive Lens. Biblical Interpretation Series. Leiden – Boston: Brill, 2007.

Dille, Sarah. Mixing Metaphors: God as Mother and Father in Deutero-Isaiah (London: Continuum, 2004) [Uses conceptual metaphor theory]

_______, “The Rock that Gave You Birth” The Classical Bulletin 86, 1 & 2 (2010)” 37-65. [Discusses the different metaphors in Deuteronomy 32 and how commentators typically misunderstand the entailments of this use of the rock metaphor.]

Graham, Lloyd D. “Did ancient peoples of Egypt and the Near East really imagine themselves as facing the past, with the future behind them?” 2018, [Argues they did not and critiques the claims that some contemporary languages do.]

Hayes, E. R. The Pragmatics of Perception and Cognition in MT Jeremiah 1:1–6:30: A Cognitive Linguistics Approach (BZAW, 380; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2008)

Hermanson, Eric. “Recognising Hebrew metaphors: conceptual metaphor theory and Bible translation”.  Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages, 22 no 2 1996, p 67-78. [Surveys different Hebrew Bible scholars on metaphor then gives three principles for identifying conceptual metaphors in the OT. Applies them to Amos.]

Jäkel, Olaf. “How Can Mortal Man Understand the Road He Travels? Prospects and Problems of the Cognitive Approach to Religious Metaphor,” in Kurt ed., The Bible through metaphor and translation: a cognitive semantic perspective. Peter Lang (2003): 55-86. [He discusses the journey metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and concludes that the invariance hypothesis does not hold for it.]

Kamp, Albert. Inner Worlds: a Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Book of Jonah. Brill 2004.

King, Philip. “Metaphor and Methodology for Cross-Cultural Investigation of Hebrew Emotions,” Journal of Translation, Volume 8, Number 1 (2012): 9-24 [This article, based on his book (see below), focusses on conceptual metaphors for distress and how they differ from depression in English]

_______, Surrounded by Bitterness: Image Schemas and Metaphors for Conceptualizing Distress in Classical Hebrew (Pickwick, 2012). Solid use of methodology and engages the criticisms of James Barr. Covers verticality, containment, force, darkness, and bad taste. He does a good job of analyzing the different source domains and differences regarding mapped features when same domain is used. Analyzes the entailments in the mappings and notes similarities and differences cross-linguistically.

Kotzé, Zacharias. “A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Emotion of Anger in the Old Testament” HTS 60/3 (2004): 843-863. [Surveys the history of interpretation of divine anger (mainly European sources) and says a cognitive approach is needed]

_______, “Conceptual Metaphors for Anger in the Biblical Hebrew Story of the Flood,” Journal for Semitics 14/1 (2005), 149-164. [Argues that there is evidence that Gen. 6:6 should be interpreted as divine fury rather than grief.]

_______, The Conceptualisation of Anger in the Hebrew Bible. Ph. D. thesis (Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch, 2004). [Shows some key ways in which anger was understood differently than in modern English (e. g. the individual is not in control and anger was generally viewed as positive).]

_______, “Humoral Theory as Motivation for Anger Metaphors in the Hebrew Bible,” Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 23/2 (2005), 205-9

_______, “Metaphors and Metonymies for Anger in the Old Testament: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach,” Scriptura 88 (2005), 18-25. [Helpful summary of the range of body metonymies (e.g. red face, frothing) and metaphors (dessert wind and flash flood). Argues that the intense emotion depicted should not be reduced to an abstract principle of retribution.]

_______, “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things in the Hebrew Bible: Insights from the Cognitive Linguistic Theory of Metaphor,” Old Testament Essays 17/2 (2004), 242-51  [source domain of heat used in OT for danger and destruction is not the same for English as used in sexual passion.]

Kruger, Paul  A 2000a. A cognitive interpretation of the emotion of anger in the Hebrew Bible.  Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages  26(1), 181-193. [Kotze (studied under Kruger) says Kruger relies too much on studies of anger that make the English conceptualization the norm.]

_______ 2000b. The obscure combination KBD MŚʼH in Isaiah 30:27: Another description of anger? Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages  26(2), 155-162.

Lam, Joseph Ching Po, 2012. The Metaphorical patterning of the Sin-Concept in Biblical Hebrew. Doctoral dissertation. University of Chicago.

Moore, Anne. 2009. Moving Beyond Symbol and Myth: Understanding the Kingship of God of the Hebrew Bible through Metaphor. New York: Peter Lang.

Platzner, Robert L. (1996): “In the Cleft of a Rock: Metaphors of Divine Concealment and Disclosure in the Hebrew Bible.” – L.A.U.D. 1996, Series A, Paper No 390. Duisburg University.

Schlimm, Matthew. From Fratricide to Forgiveness: The Language and Ethics of Anger in Genesis (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011). [Criticizes studies by Kotze and van Wolde on anger in Hebrew Bible and says the prototype scenario is more complex.]

Stein, David E. S. “Cognitive Factors as a Key to Plain-Sense Biblical Interpretation: Resolving Cruxes in Gen 18:1–15 and 32:23–33.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018).

Stienstra, Nelly. YHWH is the Husband of His People: Analysis of a Biblical Metaphor with Special Reference to Translation (Kampen, Netherlands: Kok Pharos, 1993). [Makes some use of early CMT.]

van der Merwe, C. H. J. “Biblical Exegesis, Cognitive Linguistics and Hypertext,” A. Lemaire (ed.), Congress Volume Leiden 2004 (VTSup, 109; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2006), 255–280.

_____. “A Cognitive Linguistic Perspective on Hinneh in the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth,” HS 48 (2007), 101-140;

van Hecke, Pierre. ed., Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible (Dudley Mass.: Peeters, 2005). [Chapters by Neilsen, Szlos and Eidevall use conceptual metaphor theory while the chapter by van Hecke uses conceptual blending to examine Hosea 4.16.]

_____. “To Shepherd, Have Dealings and Desire: On the Lexical Structure of the Hebrew Root rʿh.”  Feyaerts, Kurt ed., The Bible through metaphor and translation: a cognitive semantic perspective. Peter Lang (2003): 37-53.

_____. “Shepherds and Linguists. A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Metaphor ‘God is Shepherd’ in Gen 48:15 and Context.” In A. Wénin ed. Studies in the Book of Genesis. Literature, Redaction and History. (BETL 155). Leuven: Peeters (2001): 479-493.

van Wolde, E. J. “Cognitive Linguistics and its Application to Genesis 28:10-22”, in P. Chatelion Counet and U. Berges (eds.), One Text, A Thousand Methods: Studies in Memory of Sjefvan Tilborg (Biblical Interpretation Series, 71; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 125-148.

_______, “Crossing Borders: Speaking about the Beginning in Genesis 1 and John 1”, in W.G. Jeanrond and A.D.H. Mayes (eds.), Recognizing the Margins: Developments in Biblical and Theological Studies: Essays in Honour of Sean Freyne (Dublin: Columba Press, 2006), 91-111

_______, Job 28: Cognition in Context (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2003).

_______, Reframing Biblical Studies: When Language and Text Meet Culture, Cognition, and Context (Winona Lake, IN.: Eisenbrauns, 2009) [uses cognitive grammar approaches]

_______, “Sentiments as Culturally Constructed Emotions: Anger and Love in the Hebrew Bible”  Biblical Interpretation 16 (2008) 1-24 [shows the ways in which anger and love were understood differently from modern English (different frames and scenarios)]

_______, “Towards an ‘Integrated Approach’ in Biblical Studies Illustrated with a Dialogue between Job 28 and Job 38”, in A. Lemaire (ed.), Congress Volume Leiden 2004 (Vetus Testamentum Supl, 109; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 355-382.

Weiss, Andrea, 2006. Figurative language in biblical prose narrative: metaphor in the book of Samuel. Boston: Brill.

New Testament:

Bisschops, Ralph. 2018. Metaphor in Religious Transformation: “Circumcision of the Heart” in Paul of Tarsus in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 294-332.

Fabricius, Steffi. 2018. Pauline Harmartiology: Conceptualisations and Transferences. Positioning Cognitive Semantic Theory and Method within Theology. Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Seibeck.

Howe, Bonnie. Because You Bear This Name: Conceptual Metaphor and the Moral Meaning of 1 Peter. Biblical Interpretation Series, 81 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006). [Excellent study on issues of meaning for modern readers with particular attention to moral topics.]

Green, Joel. Conversion in Luke-Acts (Baker, 2015). [Emphasizes the importance of embodiment. Great study of the journey metaphor in the Bible and concludes that for Luke-Acts conversion is a journey.]

Gupta, N. K. Worship That Makes Sense to Paul: A New Approach to the Theology and Ethics of Paul’s Cultic Metaphors (BZNW, 175; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2010). [Makes only very limited use of cognitive linguistics but does emphasize the role of the body in worship. Shows the positive values of cultic metaphors to transform the lives of the audience.]

Klingbeil, Gerald, 2006. Metaphor and pragmatics: an introduction to the hermeneutics of metaphors in the epistle to the Ephesians. Bulletin for Biblical Resarch. 16 (2): 273-293.

Liebenberg, J. The Language of the Kingdom and Jesus: Parable, Aphorism, and Metaphor in the Sayings Material Common to the Synoptic Tradition and the Gospel of Thomas (BZNW, 102; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2001);

Moore, Anne. Moving beyond symbol and myth xiv, 332 p. New York: Peter Lang, 2009.  [Views the kingdom of God as metaphor with three major images for God: (1) the covenantal sovereign of Israel, (2) the eternal suzerain of the world, (3) the king of the disadvantaged.]

Nielsen, Jesper. T. “The Lamb of God: The Cognitive Structure of Johannine Metaphor,” J. Frey, J. G. Van der Watt, G. Kern, and R. Zimmerman (eds.), Imagery in the Gospel of John: Terms, Forms, Themes, and Theology of Johannine Figurative Language (WUNT, 200; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 217-256. [Excellent insights using blending theory]

Robbins, Vernon. “Conceptual Blending and Early Christian Imagination” in Petri Luomanen, Ilkka Pyysiäinen, and Risto Uro eds., Explaining Christian Origins and Early Judaism: Contributions from Cognitive and Social Science (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 161-195.

Robinson, William. Metaphor, Morality, and the Spirit in Romans 8:1-17. Early Christianity and Its Literature. (Society of Biblical Literature 2016).

Sweetser, Eve. “An Eye for an Eye Versus Turning the Other Cheek: Moral Accounting in the Gospel of Matthew.” Downloadable at: Sweetser_Eye.pdf

Tappenden, Frederick. Resurrection in Paul: Cognition, Metaphor, and Transformation. Early Christianity and Its Literature. (Society of Biblical Literature 2016).

Von Thaden, Robert. Sex, Christ, and Embodied Cognition: Paul’s Wisdom for Corinth. Emory Studies in Early Christianity 16. (Blanford Forum, Dorset, UK: Deo pub., 2012). [Uses conceptual blending on 1 Cor. 6:12-7:7]

Zimmermann, R. “‘Du Wirst noch Größeres Sehen…’ (Joh 1,50). Zur Ästhetik und Hermeneutik der Christusbilder im Johannesevangelium—Eine Skizze,” Metaphorik und Christologie (Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann, 120; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2003);

_______. “Paradigmen Einer Metaphorischen Christologie. Eine Leseanleitung,” J. Frey, J. Rohls, and R. Zimmerman (eds.), Metaphorik und Christologie (Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann, 120; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2003);

_______. Christologie der Bilder im Johannesevangelium: Die Christopoetik des Vierten Evangeliums unter Besonderer Berücksichtigung von Joh 10 (WUNT, 171; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004)

Bible translation:

Feyaerts, Kurt ed., The Bible through metaphor and translation: a cognitive semantic perspective. Peter Lang (2003) [Contains several chapters dealing with translation issues. David Tuggy, “The Literal-Idiomatic Bible Translation Debate from the Perspective of Cognitive Grammar” summarizes CG and then says CG agrees with some aspects of the literalist model and some of the idiomatists model. Two are on the LXX, De Troyer “’And God was Created…’ On Translating Hebrew into Greek,” and Hauspie, “The Contribution of Semantic Flexibility to Septuagint Greek Lexicography”.]

Hermanson, Eric. Translation in Zulu. (Stellenbosch, South Africa: Sun Press, 2006). [Doctoral dissertation. He makes use only of the 1980’s work in conceptual metaphor theory in order to deal with translating biblical metaphors into Zulu.]

McElhanon, Kenneth A. “When quality is in the eye of the beholder: paradigm communities and the certification of standards for judging quality.”  Journal of Translation 3.1 (2007): 25-39 [Different models of translation are motivated by different values]

_______, “From simple metaphors to conceptual blending: the mapping of analogical concepts and the praxis of translation.” Journal of Translation 2.1 (2006): 31-81

_______, “From Word to Scenario: the Influence of Linguistic Theories upon Models of Translation.” Journal of Translation 1.3 (2005): 29-67. [Deals with a wide array of topics including morality and truth]

Christian Theology:

Anthony, Buck. 2017. Towards a Cognitive Approach to Narrative and Theology. Master’s thesis at Trinity International University.

Antović, Mihailo. 2018. Waging War against oneself: A conceptual blend at the heart of Christian ascetic practice in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 386-406.

Barcelona, Antonio.  2018 Metaphor and Metonymy in Language and Art: The Dogma of the Holy Trinity and Its Artistic Representation in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 353-385.

________. 2003. “The Metaphorical and Metonymic Understanding of the Trinitarian Dogma.” International Journal of English Studies 3/1 (2003): 1-27. Also published in Metaphor and God-Talk edited Boeve and Feyaerts.

Boeve, Lieven. “Linguistica ancilla theologiae: The Interest of Fundamental Theology in Cognitive Semantics.” In Feyaerts, Kurt ed., The Bible through metaphor and translation: a cognitive semantic perspective. Peter Lang (2003).  [Gives 5 theses on how cognitive linguistics could be a handmaid to God-talk.]

Boeve, Lieven and Kurt Feyaerts, 2018. Religious metaphors at the crossroads between apophatical theology and cognitive linguistics: an interdisciplinary study in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 52-88.

_______. 1999. “Religious metaphors in a postmodern culture: Transverse links between apophatical theology and cognitive semantics” in Boeve, Lieven & Feyaerts, Kurt eds., Metaphor and God-Talk. New York: Peter Lang, Pp 153-184.

Chilton, Paul and David Cram. 2018. Hoc est corpus: Deixis and the integration of ritual space in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 407-436.

Chilton, Paul and Monika Kopytowska eds. 2018. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford) contains several chapters that use cognitive linguistics.

Fabricius, Steffi. 2018. Pauline Hamartiology: Conceptualisation and Transferences
Positioning Cognitive Semantic Theory and Method Within Theology. Mohr Siebeck.

Gomola, Aleksander. Conceptual Blending in Early Christian Discourse: A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis of Pastoral Metaphors in Patristic Literature. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018.

________. “The role of conceptual integration in Christian language on the basis of the use of the lost sheep is humanity blend in patristic writings.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018).

________. “Conceptual Blending with MORAL ACCOUNTING Metaphors in Christian Exegesis.” Cognitive Semantics 2, no. 2 (2016): 213–36.

_______. “From God is a father to God is a friend: conceptual integration in metaphors for God in Christian discourse.” In Cognitive Linguistics in Action: From Theory to Application and Back.  eds. Elzbieta Tabakowska, Michal Choinski, Lukasz Wiraszka.  Walter de Gruyter, 2010. Pp. 387-407.

Howe, Bonnie. “Cognition and the Crisis of Citizenship and Care.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018).

Johnson, Greg. (2003) “The Economies of Grace as Gift and Moral Accounting: Insights from Cognitive Linguistics.  Feyaerts, Kurt ed., The Bible through metaphor and translation: a cognitive semantic perspective. Peter Lang (2003). [Argues that the Grace is Gift metaphor presupposes the Moral Accounting metaphor but then interrupts it.]


Kidd, Erin. “The Subject of Conceptual Mapping: Theological Anthropology across Brain, Body, and World.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018).

Kidd, Erin S. and Jakob K. Rinderknecht, eds. Putting God on the Map: Theology and Conceptual Mapping.  Lexington Books, In Press.

Kopytowska, Monika. 2018. The Televisualization of Ritual: Spirituality, spatiality, and co-presence in religious broadcasting in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 437-473. [examines two Christian TV stations]

Long, Gary A., “’Yankee Go Home!’ The Cognitive Sciences and Implications for Western-Influenced Thinking and the Brain-Mind-Soul Problem” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 13.2 (2010): 180-212. [An evangelical who uses cognitive linguistics to argue against the common idea that we have mind-independent reasoning.]

Mason, Robert. Without Metaphor, No Saving God: Theology After Cognitive Linguistics. Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014. [Integrates work in CL (conceptual metaphor and blending) with work by Gerhart and Russell. Then uses this approach to understand language about God, the doctrine of analogy, and various controversies in Roman Catholic theology.]

_______ “Conceiving God: Literal and Figurative Prompt for a More Tectonic Distinction.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018). [critiques Sanders’s claim that some language about God can be literal.]

McElhanon, Kenneth A, “Cognitive linguistics, biblical truth and ethical conduct.” Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Vol. XIX, No. 1.2 (2007): 119-138.

Pasicka, Malgorzata. “Mundane Transcendence? Conceptualizations of Faith in Prosperity Theology.” In Cognitive Linguistics in Action: From Theory to Application and Back.  eds. Elzbieta Tabakowska, Michal Choinski, Lukasz Wiraszka.   New York: De Gruyter Mouton, 2010: 371-385. [Examines the key metaphors used by those in the prosperity gospel]

Rinderknecht, Jakob. “Church, Category, and Speciation.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018).

_______ Mapping the Differentiated Consensus of the Joint Declaration, Palgrave, 2016.  Uses cognitive mapping to explain the possibility of “differentiated consensus” in ecumenical dialogue found in the 1999 JDDJ between the LWF and the Catholic Church. It is a revision of “Seeing Two Worlds: The Eschatological Anthropology of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.” PhD Diss.  Marquette University, February, 2015.

Roberts, Jason. “Conceptual Blending, the Second Naïveté, and the Emergence of New Meanings.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018).

Sanders, John. Theology in the Flesh: How Embodiment and Culture Shape the way We Think About Truth, Morality, and God. Fortress, 2016.

_______ editor. “Cognitive Linguistics and Theology,” the topical issue of the Open Theology Journal, vol. 4 (2018).

_______ “Divine Agency as Literal in Cognitive Linguistic Perspective: Response to “Conceiving God” by Robert Masson.” Open Theology Journal vol. 4 (2018): 489-495.

______ “Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the Mormon Understanding of God” in Jacob T. Baker ed., Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology: Essays in Honor of David. L. Paulsen (Greg Kofford Books, 2012). [Discusses the emphasis on literal readings in Mormon and conservative evangelical thought using conceptual metaphor theory.]

_______“Theological Muscle-Flexing: How Human Embodiment Shapes Discourse About God,” in Thomas Jay Oord ed., Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick Publications, 2009). [Human sensorimotor capacities deeply constrain the way we can think about God.]

Schlesinger, Eugene. “Sacrifice, Metaphor and Evolution: Towards a Cognitive Linguistic Theology of Sacrifice.” Open Theology Journal, vol. 4 (2018).

Shaver, Steven. 2018.  Eucharistic Sacrifice as a Contested Category: A Cognitive Linguistics Approach, Alcuin/GROW Joint Liturgical Studies 85 (Norwich: Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2018).

_______ Radial Extension, Prototypicality, and Tectonic Equivalence.”  Open Theology Journal, vol. 4 (2018).
_______ Shaver, Stephen. Metaphors of Eucharistic Presence: Language, Cognition and the Body and Blood of Christ. Oxford University Press, 2022.

Szumorek, Adam P. “Seeing and Showing the Unseen: Towards a Methodology of Utilizing Cognitive Linguistics in Biblical Preaching that Employs Metaphors and Images.” Doctoral Thesis University of Chester, UK, 2018

White, C. Jason. “Why It is Ok for Classical Arminians in the Wesleyan Tradition to be Open Theists.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, 55, no. 2 (2018): 144-164

______.“An Accommodating and Shunning Culture: Evaluating the Cultural Context of the Evangelical Theological Society in the United States.” Scottish Journal of Theology 65, no. 2 (2012): 192-2011 [Makes slight use of conceptual metaphor theory]

______. Doctoral dissertation McMaster University in Toronto (2016). The Literal vs. the Metaphorical: A Description, Critique, and Clarification of Classical and Open Theist Methodologies within Conservative Evangelicalism. (available at

Wren, Brian. What Language Shall I Borrow? God-Talk in Worship: a Male
Response to Feminist Theology
.  Wipfnstock 1989 [Makes limited use of Metaphors We Live By]

Religious Studies and Non-Christian Religions:

Bischopps, Ralph and James Francis. 1999. Metaphor, Canon and Community: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Approaches, Peter Lang.

Egge, J. 2013. Theorizing embodiment: conceptual metaphor theory and the comparative study of religion in S. Pathak (ed.), Figuring Religions: Comparing ideas, images, and activities (Albany, SUNY).

El-Sharif, Ahmad. 2018. The Muslim Prophetic Tradition: Spatial Source Domains for Metaphorical Expressions in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 263-293. [Discusses the Hadith literature]

_______. 2012. Metaphors we believe by: Islamic doctrine as evoked by the Prophet Muhammad’s metaphors, Critical Discourse Studies, 9:3, 231-245, DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2012.688209

_______. 2011. Doctoral thesis: A Linguistic Study of Islamic Religious Discourse: Conceptual Metaphors in the Prophetic Tradition

Gao, Xiuping and Chun Lan. 2018. Buddhist Metaphors in the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra: a Cognitive Perspective in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 229-262.

Hayes, Glen Alexander. 2018. The Guru’s Tongue: Metaphor, Imagery, and Vernacular Language in Vaisnava Sahajiya Hindu Traditions in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 186-209.

_______. 2012. Conceptual blending theory, “reverse amnesia”, and the study of tantra. Oxford Journal of Hindu Studies 5: 193-209.

_______. 2008. Using contemporary metaphor theory in the study of medieval Vaisnava Sahajiya texts. Journal of the Asiatic Society 50 (3): 75-92.

_______. 2005. “Contemporary metaphor theory and alternative views of Krishna and Rādhā in Vaishnava Sahajiyā tantric traditions.”  Alternative Krishnas, (Albany : State Univ. of New York Press), p 19-32.

Kowalewski, Hubert. 2018. Snakes, Leaves, and Poisoned Arrows: Metaphors of emotion in early Buddhism in Paul Chilton and Monika Kopytowska eds. Religion, Language, and the Human Mind (Oxford): 210-228.

Lu, Louis We-lun and Wen-yu Chiang, 2007. Emptiness we live by: metaphors and paradoxes in Buddhism’s Heart Sutra. Metaphor and Symbol 22 (4), 331-335.

Slingerland, Edward. 2011. Metaphor and meaning in early China. Dao: a Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1), 1-30.

______. 2004a. “Conceptual Metaphor Theory as Methodology for Comparative Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 72.1 March, 1-31. [Argues that religion scholars should make use of this theory because it is based in embodiment which is universal]

______. 2004b. Conceptions of the Self in the Zhuangzi: Conceptual metaphor analysis and comparative thought. Philosophy East and West 54 (3)” 322-342.

_____.  (2003). Effortless action: Wu-wei as conceptual metaphor and spiritual ideal in early

China. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Stec, Kashmiri and Eve Sweetser. “Borobudur and Chartres: Religious Spaces as performative real-space blends” in Sensuous Cognition eds. Rosario Caballero and Javier E. Diaz. Mouton de Gruyter, 2013,  265-291. [Examines this Buddhist temple and Christian cathedral in light of the metaphors, metonymies, and blends in the architecture and artwork.]

Sweetser, Eve. “Blended Spaces and performativity.” Cognitive Linguistics. 11, 3-4 (2000): 305-333. [Discusses some Jewish rituals as well as the Eucharist as a blend in part of the article]

John Sanders

John E. Sanders is an American theologian who is a professor of religious studies at Hendrix College. He has published on four main topics: (1) open theism, (2) Christian views on the salvation of non-Christians, (3) Christian views on the nature of hell, and (4) applying cognitive linguistics to theology.

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