Publication details [#63980]

Chiang, Wen-yu and Wen-Yi Huang. 2018. The kaleidoscope of divine images. Conceptual metaphors concerning God in gospel songs. Cognitive Linguistic Studies 5 (1) : 155–187.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Compared to metaphors about God in the Bible, those in other Christian contexts seem to receive little academic attention. To bridge this gap, this study examines metaphors gathered from gospel songs on Billboard and iTunes to analyze the abstract concept of God from a cognitive linguistic viewpoint through extending the framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The findings indicate that while diverse kinds of metaphors focus on the multi-dimensionality of God such as his characteristics (e.g., GOD IS A MAGICIAN and GOD IS A LOVER), outline (e.g., GOD IS A CONTAINER and GOD IS LIQUID), and supreme status (e.g., GOD IS HIGH), structural metaphors tend to represent the overwhelming majority and thus form the basis for the structural-metaphor-dominant phenomenon. In addition, the flawless figure of God is suggested to result from the PERFECTION image schema which is responsible for hidden aspects in related metaphorical structures. Furthermore, metaphors about divine images, having their mapping details enriched by biblical context, are suggested to possess recessive metaphor inheritance. Finally, the rhythm of ‘chain of metaphors’ is proposed to interpret how the spirit of the songs about the divine being are brought out. This study sheds light on overall understanding of the concepts of God in Christian culture, and contributes to the development of interdisciplinary studies concerning metaphor, religion, cognition, and culture.