Publication details [#11005]

van Noppen, Jean-Pierre. 1995. Spatial theography. 14 pp.


Descriptive theology ("theography") frequently resorts to metaphorical modes of meaning. Among these metaphors, the spatial language of localization and orientation plays an important role to delineate tentative insights into the relationship between the human and the divine. These spatial metaphors are presumably based on the universal human experience of interaction between the body and its environment. It is dangerous, however, to postulate universal agreement on meanings associated with spatial dimensions and directions, especially in the diachronic and diacultural situation of the Scriptures. Biblical and doctrinal theography offer two different views of space (an "experiential" and a "rational" one) which are not necessarily incompatible, but which reflect two different perspectives with different corollaries. Measurement of metaphorical meanings associated with different theographic utterances shows that certain spatial dimensions (here: height) may have lost some of their popular appeal and suggestive power (at least to a hypothetical 'secularized' audience), but the substitution of alternative spatial imagery (here: depth) does not allow to retrieve or replace allegedly 'lost' dimensions of meaning. (Jean-Pierre van Noppen)