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Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language Paperback – November 1, 1982

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (November 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800616871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800616878
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book is an eye-opener. The issues surrounding the uses of masculine and feminine metaphors for God can be complicated and emotional, but Sallie McFague tries to keep to the issues of metaphor and theology as suggested in the title. This book was written before her later book "Models of God" which refers back to this one several times. She does a fine job of showing us the power of metaphors to shape our thoughts and practices in religious matters. As a feminist she advocates reform rather than revolution, believing that there is room in the Christian tradition for equality of males and females. She says the governing metaphor of Christianity is liberation. Those who have not yet realized the governing role of metaphors in expressing and shaping our religious thought may find this book unsettling at first, but those who stick with the argument will be enriched. This is a smaller book than "Models of God" and worthy of careful attention.
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Format: Paperback
Why do we employ metaphors? Because we seek to understand that which is unknown in terms of that which is known. In this work, Sallie McFague endeavors to explain how we employ metaphors in order to better understand our relationship with God (who is ultimately beyond all human understanding). McFague stresses that metaphor always involves tension. That is, metaphor always has the quality of "is and is not," of "similarities and dissimilarities."

"We say that 'this' is like 'that,' but we also realize that it is not like 'that' and that other ways of linking up the similarities and dissimilarities are possible." (pg 34)

In the first part of the book, McFague discusses sacramental thought and how it differs from metaphorical thought. Here we learn that sacramental thought "does not think of 'this' as 'that,' but 'this' as part of 'that.'" (pg. 16)

Secondly, she discusses the metaphorical nature of Scriptures - especially, the parables of Jesus.

Then she discusses models in science and compares them with models in theology. Here McFague sheds light on the differences between scientific thought and religious thought. Those who are interested in the science and religious dialogue will find this section to be of particular interest.

Next, she discusses the traditional metaphor of God in Christianity as 'Father' and explains the social implications that this model has engendered. This section will especially appeal to those interested in feminist theology.

Finally, she discusses the metaphor of God as 'Friend.'

This is a very thought-provoking read, and it will alter the way you think about things. What I learned most from this book was that metaphor has the ability to elicit new theological insights and the theological insights we gain can only be limited by the number of metaphors we use.
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2014: Having stumbled across this book as part of my phd research into metaphor, I found this book to be beautifully written, intelligent, and profound. Written by a feminist theologian, I found McFague's insights to be refreshing, challenging, and glistening with ..well hope. Whilst my phd is in philosophy, situated within the school of psychology at Charles Sturt University (Australia), I found McFague's thoughts around metaphor pertinent to me within my discipline, but also as a respectful challenge to the status quo of the thinking of the mainstream church. This is a great read for the student of metaphor, the feminist, the pastor/minister/preacher at the local church….raising questions about the power of metaphor, and causing the reader to think. Cheers. Jodie.
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