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Ephesians 5:31‒32 and the People of God

This paper looks to demonstrate that Adam and Eve’s marriage recorded in Gen 2:23 occupies a different conceptual domain to that of subsequent marriages described in Gen 2:24

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:31-32)

This statement in Eph 5 has all the characteristics of metaphoric structure mapping, in that it equates Gen 2:24 to Christ and the church. A metaphor is when A is declared to be B when it is not literally true. A NT example is Jesus’s claim recorded in John’s gospel, “I am the door” (John 10:9). Lakoff and Johnson say “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.” Kennedy believes that metaphor is the “greatest resource for the forceful expression of original thought”; and Caird that, “All, or almost all, of the language used by the Bible to refer to God is metaphor” and that comparison “comprises … almost all the language of theology.” Despite this, Macky claims his book is the first monograph-length investigation of biblical metaphor to be published.

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