Religious Metaphor and Cross-Cultural Communication

Transforming National and International Identities



In studies of the rapid rise of Christianity in non-Western cultures, Philip Jenkins and others1 have noted serious and immediate challenges to communication related to language, intercultural difference, and regional and global identities. The growth of Christianity and Islam in Africa, Asia, and South America and the immigration of individuals and groups have placed culturally and linguistically diverse individuals and organizations in close contact, increasing the possibility of conflict and signaling an urgent need for effective communication. This need is particularly urgent for Latter-day Saints, considering the global nature of the message of the Restoration; the growth of the Church in non-Western cultures and in countries, such as India and Nigeria, that include hundreds of languages and cultures; and immigration patterns that affect congregations and communities.

The challenges of intercultural communication multiply in religious discourse, with its objective of translating abstract ideas into cultures and languages with sufficient power to transform individual, ethnic, and regional identities and to build cohesive communities of faith. Metaphor plays a primary role in this transformative communication. A powerful tool to abbreviate and facilitate communication, metaphor enables individuals to transmit abstract ideas quickly, efficiently, and memorably. Metaphor is not just a tool for efficient communication; it also guides thought, extends ideas, and influences behavior.2

Through its structure, metaphor signals a connection—often a grammatical equivalence—between language and identity in a process through which associative networks3 related to a target idea, or domain, are transformed by their collocation in selected characteristics to one or more source concepts, or domains. When metaphor is created, certain characteristics of the source domain are used to illuminate or illustrate aspects of the target domain. This relational structure can make an abstract idea concrete in a way that resonates in the hearer’s imagination and begins a process of transformation in perception and behavior.

Metaphor presents particular challenges for effective intercultural communication. Selected denotations and connotations of source concepts may not be present in other languages, even when those languages have similar source concepts. In addition, seemingly equivalent sources may include additional connotations that complicate the structure of the metaphor. Consequently, linguistic and cultural variables can make metaphor difficult to translate. Added difficulties in translating religious discourse are the need for forming a cohesive and unified body of believers and the constraint of sacred text—the requirement that the sacred word be transmitted with as little change as possible. In spite of these difficulties, metaphor helps enable the essential ontological function of transforming both ideas and individuals.

The effect of metaphor on cross-cultural communication is a subject not just for translators or for political, religious, and community leaders. It is a subject for each of us, not only because we are exposed daily to ideas and metaphors through which others seek to direct and influence our behavior or construct our identities, but also because each of us is, or at least has the potential to become, a global speaker and actor through the Internet and other means. Each one of us engages in cross-cultural communication, even within our own families and communities. The frequency of cross-cultural contact is rapidly increasing. In November 2007, a stake president in northern Italy revealed that the membership of his stake included fifty-seven nationalities.4 This recent phenomenon—of strangers from many cultures seeking to build unity and create community—affects more than just metropolitan Europe. A survey of a ward in downtown Provo revealed fifteen nationalities among the membership of the ward, and more if others in the community were counted who did not worship with that congregation.5 The subject of immigration, so hotly and often divisively debated today, suggests how frequently we come into contact with others from different cultures and languages and how urgently we need to find practicable solutions.

Cultural discourse involving such issues as immigration and politics is full of metaphor that unites groups into cooperative communities or divides them into competitive factions. Even daily language is full of metaphor. Metaphor affects us to the very core of our identities; the use of metaphor affects our beliefs and faith and, consequently, our actions. As we become aware of the complexity of metaphor—its structure, function, and power—we can act more thoughtfully, live more peaceably, and seek to unify the communities in which we live and work.

The Structure and Function of Metaphor

Metaphor is a means of representing and understanding one thing (perhaps a concept, an object, or an event) in terms of another. It involves linguistic and symbolic representation and imaginative and analogical reasoning. The structure of metaphor has been represented as including the tenor (the subject) of the metaphor and the vehicle (the presentation) of the metaphor.6 The vehicle involves “networks of associations”7 in which at least one network, or source domain, is mapped onto a target domain.8

When someone says (to use metaphor in a very simple form) that John is an ox, the speaker does not usually mean that John has four hooves, horns, and a tail; more often something like “John is strong or big like an ox” is intended. So the characteristics of size and strength are selected from the source domain and mapped onto the target domain, and the characteristics of hooves, horn, and tail are suppressed. Depending on the constraints of different contexts and uses of a metaphor, a variety of characteristics might be emphasized.

When a metaphor is new, it can evoke a powerful imaginative response in hearers, transforming belief, knowledge, and understanding and motivating individuals to action. As the metaphor becomes more familiar, the structure of the vehicle blurs and the target can seem to assume a new identity. Its figurative or analogical relation to the selected characteristics of the source can be functionally forgotten, as illustrated in the examples below.

The structure and function of metaphor, both familiar and unfamiliar, can ignite a culminating energy, an energy that fuels imaginative discovery in self-perpetuating novelty or creative variation.9 It can recruit followers to a particular ideology or political belief. It can energize a scientific idea and enable the formation of the cultural alliances10 necessary to promote a scientific movement. Or it can effect a religious conversion, a radical transformation or turning of a soul to a newness of life.

Because metaphor is constructed on networks of associations in which characteristics are selected or suppressed, it is both relational and taxonomic. It organizes ideas, and it reveals or creates the relation between them. A metaphor is a way to organize or construct understanding of the world in particular ways. If understanding based on a particular metaphor is believed or given consent, consciously or unconsciously, the metaphor can guide or constrain behavior.

Examples of how metaphor can guide or constrain behavior are readily available. For instance, Darwin’s metaphor of natural selection organizes scientific perception and social policy around associative networks of the agentic selection of characteristics, competition over scarce resources, and the ideology of progress. The strength of the metaphor has guided scientific research for more than a century and marginalized other scientific perspectives. The strength of the metaphor and associated networks encouraged eugenics and governmental and social policies of population and reproduction control.11 It also helps create a language that “cast[s] a blanket of invisibility, or rather, of unspeakability, over certain distinctions, categories, and questions.”12 As the original structure and function behind the metaphor of natural selection are forgotten, claims and policies based on that metaphor begin to take on an aura of inevitability. Phenomena or events, such as cooperative behavior, that fall outside the associative network of the metaphor are forgotten or ignored.

Another example is the metaphor that represents DNA as a genetic blueprint. This metaphor organizes human perception of the function of DNA. The associative network of a blueprint fills lexical gaps. It has given rise to new understanding and has extended research programs. It helps illuminate the function of DNA. But the blueprint source domain also includes associative networks that, for better or worse, encourage and are taken to justify scientific and social endeavors to modify the blueprint and the living organisms that arise from it.

Propaganda is built on metaphor. Political slogans are built on metaphor. Factions arise on the basis of metaphor. But nothing disrupts propaganda, slogans, and factionalism more quickly than the destruction of the metaphors behind them. A soldier may be willing to shoot an enemy who has been characterized as worse than a vicious animal. An otherwise decent human being may be willing to persecute his neighbor for the same reasons. But if a soldier sees clutched in the hand of a dead enemy the photograph of a father playing with a child, he may no longer believe the metaphor that has enabled his warlike behavior.

Metaphor presents particular problems for intercultural communications. Some philosophers have spoken of the necessary and impossible task of translation.13 It has been suggested that a metaphor’s “tenor and vehicle are inseparable and without the sense of the particular metaphor one may not have the same sense at all.”14 Because of cultural differences, characteristics of source domains often vary from one language or culture to another. This variation is sometimes quite radical. In one culture, the metaphor “John is an ox” might quite clearly map the characteristics of size and strength onto the target domain. But in another culture, where the primary emphasized characteristic of ox may be food or tool for labor, the meaning of the metaphor may shift and have a radical effect on John’s well-being. John’s status might shift yet again in a culture where oxen are objects of religious adoration.

If a metaphor’s tenor and vehicle are inseparable and if metaphor guides or constrains or enables behavior, then the question is how translation, even intralingual and intracultural translation, is ever possible. Is cross-cultural communication possible? How can community—or, more important yet, the unity required in Zion—form across cultures and across languages in spite of the difficulties of translation, particularly the difficulties of translating metaphor?

Metaphor in Religious Discourse

A foundational story of Christianity, as of many other religious traditions, is the story of Babel. This story details the confounding of language, which occurred perhaps, as Derrida notes, because of the desire of one people to impose by force their name or “their tongue on the universe.”15 The confounding of language requires, in the Christian tradition, the necessity of translation until a prophesied return of a pure language (see Zeph. 3:9). It suggests that no single language currently available is adequate, that sacred text in any language can be translated—perhaps must be translated—because by itself it does not communicate fully or adequately the name and the words and the knowledge of God.

The New Testament story of Pentecostal speaking in tongues (see Acts 2) further legitimizes for Christians the speaking of sacred words in any and in all languages.16 Thus Christians have a dual and perhaps paradoxical charge: to preach the gospel to all nations (see Matt. 28:19)—to teach each individual in a language that he or she understands—and at the same time to create a community in which there are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens” (Eph. 2:19). The Christian task is to bring all to a “unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:13), not through violent hegemony17 or the imposition of a single language, but through tolerating differences in language and culture enough that through effective translation the transformative power of the sacred word can be discovered or revealed. This community building through translation is not only the responsibility of priest and prophet and professional translator; it is the responsibility of each person seeking truth. In a world where distances between people have diminished dramatically through immigration, easy transportation, and the Internet, the urgency for clear, accurate, and truthful communication becomes the responsibility of each individual.

Achieving this type of communication is not an easy task. The transformative power of language rests in part on the principle or function of metaphor. One common religious metaphor maps characteristics of a source domain relating to sight or blindness onto a target domain that relates to belief, knowledge, or conversion. The conversion story of Paul, a story that involves renaming and transforming identity, enacts this metaphor. The metaphoric blindness that results in Saul’s intolerance and persecution of Christians becomes a physical blindness after his revelatory experience on the road to Damascus. His blindness is healed only as his conversion becomes complete (see Acts 9). Paul himself, in subsequent missionary efforts, uses a metaphor of blindness in his teaching as he works to transform the identity of his audiences through religious conversion (see Eph. 4:17–18; other occurrences of this metaphor include Deut. 16:19; 28:29; 1 Sam. 12:3; Ps. 146:8; Isa. 29:18; Matt. 15:14; 23:16–26; and John 9:39). In the effort to build Zion-like unity, each person must be aware enough to see beyond metaphors that blind, so to speak, and to use language, including metaphor, in a translational way that accurately shows relation.

The use of metaphor in scripture resembles the use of parables. Parable and metaphor both involve an analogical process that involves transference. In this process, concepts are placed parallel to each other, so to speak, and thus illuminate each other. They are set side by side, as implied by the word parable, and concepts and networks of association are mapped between them, transferring meaning from one network to the other. Thus, our understanding of one enriches our understanding of the other.18

The purpose of parable and metaphor in Christ’s teaching was to help hearers see, but only if they were prepared to do so (see Matt. 13:13–16). New understanding would then enable the transformation of behavior. The hearing of the word increases faith, which leads to repentance. For example, the parable of the good Samaritan reconstructs the content of the source domain of the traditional neighbor metaphor and, in its new mapping, outlines the moral responsibility of one individual toward another, regardless of the social relation of those two individuals. Of course, there is more to the parable than the reconstruction of the neighbor metaphor.19 The meaningful depth and richness of parables and their enabling metaphors was partly the point of the Savior’s statement recorded in Matthew 13:11–13, where he explained why he spoke in parables. But the lawyer who questioned the Savior understood the parable and its extended metaphor, at least as it illustrated an immediate answer to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).20 Whether the lawyer allowed the metaphor to shift his way of seeing others and interacting with them is not addressed in the Bible.

The richness of biblical metaphors enables a resonance in readers in radically different times and places than those in which the metaphors were composed. Centuries removed from the cultural conflict between Samaritans and Jews, we may need a little explanation to fully understand the associative mappings in the neighbor metaphor. But the parable is easy enough to understand, at least on its most immediate level, and to adapt cross-culturally. Even without a knowledge of the ancient conflicts between Samaritans and Jews or an understanding of the wider resonance of the journey and affliction and other metaphors in the parable, we understand what it means to be a neighbor in the sense the Lord intended. Even across temporal and geographical distance, scripture continues to stir the imagination of readers in many languages and cultures, moving these readers to ponder and act in new ways, transforming patterns of living. Brown remarks, “The power of the metaphor . . . lies in its ability . . . to inspire new theological vision.”21 It inspires both vision and revision in many ways as we return to and reflect on the associative networks that make up the structure of metaphor.

Powerful metaphors illuminate the relation between humans and God. In Christian theology, this group of metaphors draws on family source domains to illuminate the father-child relationship between God and those who follow him and the brotherhood and sisterhood relationship between individuals. These metaphors fill lexical gaps; without metaphor it is difficult or even impossible to talk about or even think about certain relationships. The metaphors also organize behavior. If we truly consider strangers our brothers or sisters, then we are more likely to treat them in ethical ways, regardless of whether they have similar religious beliefs or similar cultural backgrounds.

Religious Metaphor in Intercultural Communications

Family metaphors—those relating to fatherhood and motherhood, sisterhood and brotherhood—generally have positive connotations. From associative networks related to these metaphors, individuals can gain insight into godhood and into the proper relations between the children of God. In an introduction to an anthology of nineteenth-century writer and theologian George McDonald, C. S. Lewis commented: “An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all [McDonald’s] wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relationship of Father and Son is of all relations the most central.”22 Some people, however, may not have had positive family experiences. For these people, family metaphors may not resonate as readily as for others or be as potent a force for transformation. To teach such a person using this metaphor, a careful explication is required, in which the characteristics of source and target domains are carefully explained. Other metaphors may be more suitable and may be found or created, or these people may require the reconstruction, through narrative, of suitable networks of association.

Other examples of intercultural variation are not difficult to find. The metaphor in Hebrews 6:19 that compares hope in Christ to an “anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” has a different signification in cultures that have no familiarity with seas, ships, and anchors. In these cultures, since the source domain is either unfamiliar or nonexistent, a translator faces a challenging dilemma. How does one represent the intention of the author and still ensure meaningful communication to the audience? A solution in the Mossi culture in West Africa, in which people are more familiar with deserts, animals, and the need for a reliable way to keep lifesaving animals from straying, has been to translate anchor in the biblical passage as a “picketting-peg for the soul.”23 This variation communicates accurate the ideas of steadiness, consistency, and reliability.

The associative networks in the metaphorical phrase “I stand at the door, and knock” (Rev. 3:20) are difficult to translate into the Zanaki culture in Africa, where, apparently, thieves knock on a doorpost of a house to see if anyone is home. (If someone responds to the knock, they flee.) Rather than knocking, friends stand at the door and call. The resident of the house, hearing a recognized and friendly voice, responds with an invitation to enter. Although similar words for knock exist in source and target languages, a straightforward or unexplained translation of the Bible into the Zanaki culture would be problematic. A solution, in lieu of an explanation that may be intrusive or infeasible, would be to translate the phrase as “I stand at the door and call.”24

Is something lost, something changed, in these translations? Yes, perhaps. Calling and knocking, an anchor and a picketting-peg are not referentially equivalent. Associative networks change in translation. If one language were truly the original sacred language, by itself fully potent and comprehensible, and the other merely a translation, this variation in meaning would perhaps be a problem. But the Babel story suggests that no original language is available to speak the full truth about God. Perhaps speaking of God in many languages adds aspects of truth that enrich human understanding and enhance the possibility of community. Perhaps we need the comprehensiveness of languages together to more fully comprehend God. This possibility suggests that we may jeopardize our own fullness of understanding if we insist solely on communicating in our native tongue. We may find that learning to speak to our neighbors and to hear their wisdom in their language will amplify our understanding and increase our wisdom.

Some non-Western cultures are closer than Western cultures to the metaphorical mappings of the Bible. Without the trappings of modern convenience and with the daily requirements of obtaining food and water and the frequent occurrence of death, people in these cultures understand more readily the biblical metaphors of living bread and living water and life renewed.25 The same biblical metaphors may not resonate as readily for people who live with more modern conveniences or who are spared the daily struggle for survival.

Other meanings are hidden as associative networks change over time. For example, in modern English, even in religious cultures in which the metaphor has frequent use, the word sealed relates more readily to a canning process for preserving food than to a confirmation of ownership, a sign of royal approbation, or a mark of setting apart, as would be signaled by a wax seal confirmed with a signet ring.26 This meaning of seal works well as a metaphor for a mark of God’s approbation, whereas the canning process does not. The concept of preservation can add to our understanding of an ordinance sealed by God, but that understanding is incomplete without the idea of authorization or royal approbation. We benefit from the perspective gained from cross-cultural translation of scripture.

In his study of global Christianity, Jenkins, speaking of translation and the cultural adaptation process, notes, “Minor changes can have complex effects. While the Bible has Jesus declare, ‘I am the true Vine,’ some African translators prefer to replace vine with fig. This botanical change introduces a whole new theological meaning, since ‘this African tree represents the ancestors, and is sometimes planted on tombs.’ Jesus now speaks as the voice of death and resurrection.”27 In sharing this insight, Jenkins partly misses the point. In response to his analysis, a Christian might reply, “Of course Jesus speaks as the voice of death and resurrection. He always has.” Jesus has spoken with the voice of death and resurrection and continues to do so, but we can begin to hear and understand that voice more fully when we become willing to hear it through the experience and languages of others.

Variation in the source domain networks can be a problem or a resource. It can impede communication and divide a religious community, or it can enrich understanding and unite a community. The parable of the seven blind men and the elephant applies to this linguistic and community challenge. Just as the blind men feeling different parts of the elephant reveal different aspects of elephant physiology, all of them true, variations in metaphor may provide a more comprehensive understanding of a religious truth, of the reality suggested by the metaphor. As we encounter truth through many languages and cultures, we understand it more completely. The structure of metaphor illuminates relation; it becomes revelatory. Grace or community or family or other similar concepts are more completely revealed as various aspects of each concept are emphasized in multiple source domains from multiple cultures. In this way, not only is translation possible, but for a more complete understanding of truth we must always be engaged in such translation, willing to hear religious utterance in other languages and cultures and willing to share religious utterance in our own unique way. The Christian task thus involves not just tolerating linguistic and cultural difference, but seeking truth in translation. It involves the day of Pentecost and the city of Enoch, both of which relied on the power of language.28

Metaphor in a Narrative Context

Often the object of communication is not a fresh stream of new ideas, but the communication of a particular idea. This need is often urgent when a speaker or writer intends to encourage unified action among all members of a community. When an idea is accurately transferred from speaker to hearer and when both give assent to the validity of the metaphorical mapping, both speaker and hearer come together in a community of understanding.

One way to communicate the energy of a particular metaphor across cultures in an effort to create a unity of faith is to embed the metaphor in a narrative and explanatory context. In narrative, the speaker maps characteristics important to the metaphor and makes the metaphor the common domain of people from different cultures. The speaker outlines selected characteristics of the source domains and then maps those characteristics onto the target domain. With this sort of narrative context, the metaphor of “an anchor of the soul” can resonate even for listeners who have never seen the sea and have never needed an anchor. This method is often used in elucidating ancient concepts for modern readers.

Unfortunately, speakers to intercultural audiences sometimes fail to realize that, without proper explanation, variations in languages and cultures will make their metaphor difficult to comprehend, in varying degrees, to members of their audience. Thus their message is not adequately communicated. In such situations, audience members can be distracted by cultural details they don’t understand. For example, a Latter-day Saint in metropolitan London complained about the frequency of farming stories and metaphors in talks and Church magazines. “We don’t understand farms,” he said. “Large groups of Church members have always lived in cities. They don’t know anything about farms.”29

A Church member from Germany but living in Provo, Utah, commented that she did not relate well to stories about pioneers. “The whole pioneer thing is still a mystery to me,” she said. “The pioneer story is not just a Mormon story; it’s also an American Western story. . . . I don’t think we see it as our story. . . . We know these stories, but we don’t own these stories.”30 She understood the stories, of course, on a basic level, but the intended metaphors relating to journey, survival, progression, and trust in God weren’t communicated well to her. She didn’t see a cultural connection to those stories. The metaphorical content of pioneering and farming stories can be made understandable to Church members who don’t have experiences with pioneer treks or ancestors who were nineteenth-century pioneers. But more explicit mappings of the metaphor may be needed to make its cross-cultural application more apparent.31

In a general conference address, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used the pickling process to illuminate the purifying, preserving, and transforming process of religious conversion.32 Because he explained the pickling process in detail, the metaphor communicated effectively cross-culturally. The metaphor was lighthearted, interesting, and instructive. But while the metaphor illustrated the purifying and transforming process of conversion, it was perhaps less effective in resonating in the lives of individuals and motivating action. Its diminished effectiveness was due in part to the lack of familiarity with the pickling process in many languages and cultures. The associated networks in some cultures were perhaps too mundane or even comic to inspire a sublime vision of conversion. In French, for example, the equivalent of pickle is cornichon, which is used familiarly as a name for a stupid person. While speakers of French in the audience understood the metaphor because of its narrative explication, the connotations of cornichon may have undermined the effectiveness of the metaphor for them.

In a different general conference address, President Thomas S. Monson drew on Tongan culture to construct a metaphor, even though only a small percentage of his audience was Tongan or from any related Polynesian culture.33 To make his metaphor effective, he provided a narrative context that created a source domain in the minds of his hearers. He told of a lure made of a round stone and seashells called a maka-feke. Tongan fishermen drop these lures from the sides of their boats and wait until an octopus latches onto the lure. Because the octopus refuses to let go, the fishermen easily haul in their catch.

Having outlined the relevant characteristics of the source domain, President Monson created an effective metaphor to discuss behaviors people grab onto and refuse to let go of until their lives are destroyed. Although the concept of a lure exists in all or in most cultures, very few listeners had ever heard of a maka-feke. Possibly President Monson or those who interpreted his speech could have found a similar metaphor in each target culture. But culture-specific adaptation was unnecessary. Because the speaker had outlined the parameters of the source domain and because the source domain did not have existing associative networks in other cultures, the metaphor was meaningful across cultures in more or less the same way. The audience could then be unified into a culture of people who understood this particular metaphor and who were likely to be moved to action by it. They could come together, no more strangers and foreigners, into a unity of faith.

The effective translation and globalization of metaphor holds a key to communicating ideas and building cooperative relationships between individuals and communities. But it is not just a tool for religious leaders, politicians, and social activists. The rest of us also communicate cross-culturally every day. Through the Internet and mobile communication devices, we continually are exposed to ideas and language from people all around the globe, and we frequently have the opportunity to share our own views in contributing to these global discourses. In addition, immigration patterns and political decisions have made neighbors of people from different cultures and languages.

Peaceful coexistence depends on our ability to speak, listen, and understand. Even intimate relationships, such as the relationship between husband and wife or parent and teenager, involve cross-cultural communication, and community can be either strengthened or diminished through metaphor. Metaphor is a neutral tool that can be used in positive and negative ways. We can each benefit by learning to see through metaphors that may mislead or manipulate and to use metaphors effectively that strengthen both community and interpersonal relationships.

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About the author(s)

Joseph E. Richardson, a freelance writer and editor, holds a PhD in English and has taught literature, ESL, and professional and academic writing classes in colleges and universities in the United States and Hungary. He has expertise in digital and print production, with an interest in cross-cultural communication, and has worked as a senior editor for the Curriculum Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has given corporate and academic presentations on cross-cultural communication and other topics in the United States, Hungary, Italy, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


1. Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Eugene A. Nida, God’s Word in Man’s Language (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1952); Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003); Lamin Sanneh and Joel A. Carpenter, eds., The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Andrew F. Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in Transmission of Faith (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996).

2. See discussions in George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987); George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981); Janet Martin Soskice, Metaphor and Religious Language (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985); Mark Turner, The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

3. Or an “entire realm.” See Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language, trans. Robert Czerny (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977), 236. See also Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968), 71–74.

4. Alfredo L. Gessati, serving at the time as president of the Milan Italy Stake, in an interview with the author, November 2007, notes in author’s possession.

5. An informal survey of the Provo Sixth Ward, taken by the author in 2005. Nationalities included Russian, German, Mexican, Salvadoran, Peruvian, Ghanaian, Tongan, Cook Islander, Brazilian, Dutch, Korean, Armenian, Mauritian, English, and, of course, American. Others in the neighborhood included Chinese and Greek. Notes in author’s possession.

6. See I. A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric (New York: Oxford University Press, 1936), 96–97; Soskice, Metaphor and Religious Language, 39, 44–51.

7. Soskice, Metaphor and Religious Language, 49, see also p. 51.

8. See Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things; Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By; and Turner, Literary Mind, for discussions of source and target domains.

9. John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, vols. 9–11 of The Works of John Ruskin, Library Edition, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (London: George Allen; New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911), 10:208–209.

10. See Bruno Latour, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987), especially pp. 108 and 121.

11. Joseph E. Richardson, “John Ruskin and the Scientific Imagination” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 2002), 37–71.

12. Evelyn Fox Keller, Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender, and Science (New York: Routledge, 1992), 119.

13. Jacques Derrida, The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation, ed. Claude Lévesque and Christie V. McDonald, trans. Peggy Kamuf (New York: Schocken Books, 1985), 98; see also Paul Ricoeur, On Translation: Thinking in Action, trans. Eileen Brennan (New York: Routledge, 2006), 13–14.

14. Soskice, Metaphor and Religious Language, 48.

15. Derrida, Ear of the Other, 99.

16. See Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, 2d ed. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2009), 51, 53; see also Whose Religion Is Christianity? 97–98.

17. Derrida, Ear of the Other, 101.

18. On parables, see Turner, Literary Mind, 5–7.

19. For an extended discussion of this richness of meaning in this parable, see John W. Welch, “The Good Samaritan: A Type and Shadow of the Plan of Salvation,” BYU Studies 38, no. 2 (1999): 51–115; and John W. Welch, “The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols,” Ensign 37 (February 2007): 40–47.

20. The lawyer indicated his understanding in his response, recorded in Luke 10:37.

21. William P. Brown, Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 214.

22. C. S. Lewis, “Introduction,” reprinted in George MacDonald, Phantastes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1981), v.

23. Nida, God’s Word in Man’s Language, 46.

24. Nida, God’s Word in Man’s Language, 46.

25. Nida, God’s Word in Man’s Language, 35; Jenkins, Next Christendom, 127–29; 217–18.

26. Nida, God’s Word in Man’s Language, 54.

27. Jenkins, Next Christendom, 113; see also F. Kabasele Lumbala, Celebrating Jesus Christ in Africa (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998), 113.

28. When God called Enoch to preach the gospel, one of Enoch’s primary concerns was that he was “slow of speech” (Moses 6:31, see also vv. 27–30). The Lord responded to this concern by promising to fill Enoch’s mouth and give him “utterance” (v. 32). The power that Enoch subsequently had was in part a power in language (see v. 47 and Moses 7:13). The result of Enoch’s ministry was Zion, a place where the people of God were of “one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness” (Moses 7:18).

29. Interview with the author, November 11, 2007, notes in author’s possession.

30. Interview with the author, March 9, 2009, Provo, Utah, notes in author’s possession.

31. Nearly one month after my interview with this German sister, President Thomas S. Monson told a memorable story in general conference of a German woman’s pioneer journey of over one thousand miles, from East Prussia to western Germany, burying four children along the way. See “Be of Good Cheer,” Ensign 39 (May 2009): 91–92.

32. David A. Bednar, “Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign 37 (May 2007): 19–22.

33. Thomas S. Monson, “True to the Faith,” Ensign 36 (May 2006): 18–21.