Some missing trees and a new doorstop: the dissertation

At long last, the dissertation is complete! It has morphed in seemingly innumerable ways since I began in 2013, such that it is completely unrecognizable with regard to the original research proposal I submitted to Cambridge aeons ago. But it is ready to mail in all its tree-killing glory.


Old Testament Conceptual Metaphors and the Christology of Luke’s Gospel

Some interesting statistics:

  • Final version number of my Word document: 139
  • Word count: 79, 941 (of permitted 80,000)
  •  Pages:
    • Prolegomena: 12
    • Content: 230
    • Bibliography: 90
    • Appendix (published articles that are “spin-offs” to thesis): 171
  • Number of chapters: 6
  • Number of pictures: about 20 (exciting stuff!)
  • Number of times I use the British academicspeak “suggest(s)” to soften a proposed conclusion: 73 (literally)
  • Font: SBL BibLit


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This study sits at the intersection of three sub-fields of NT scholarship: NT Christology (specifically Lukan), use of Israel’s Scriptures in the NT, and metaphor theory. It argues that the Gospel of Luke employs certain conceptual metaphors reflected in Israel’s Scriptures in a particular way to portray the identity of Jesus as both an agent of salvation and, more provocatively, the one God of Israel.

Chapter One presents an overview of prior scholarship on Lukan Christology and positions this study with respect to approach (titles, Religionsgeschichte, narrative, themes/motifs) and outlook (“low,” “high,” both). An outline of research on Luke’s christological use of the OT identifies the challenges arising when the typical criteria of biblical “intertextuality” (quotations/allusions/echoes) are strained. The chapter then articulates how conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) might provide a solution in certain cases.

Chapters Two–Five follow a consistent outline in analyzing Luke’s appropriation of OT metaphors in four christologically-significant passages: 1:68–69 (“horn”); 1:78–79 (ἀνατολή); 13:34–34 (“mother bird”); 20:17–18 (“stone”). The first section discusses background issues, challenges each metaphor presents on standard intertextual grounds, and prior scholarly interpretations. Section two uses CMT to explore how the source domain of each Lukan metaphor—HORN, DAWN/LIGHT, MOTHER BIRD, STONE—is mapped to various target domains in OT metaphors. Section three exegetes each Lukan passage in context to explore if and how these OT conceptual metaphors are re-mapped to Jesus. Section four assesses the christological implications of such re-mappings.

Chapter Six reflects on the broader significance of each chapter’s results. The divine OT metaphors mapping the source domains in question appear to be important ways of conceptualizing the identity of Israel’s God. It is suggested that the re-mapping of such divine metaphors to conceptualize Jesus’ identity within Luke’s Gospel implies a christological outlook best described as “divine identity,” though differing in certain respects from recent scholarship bearing that label.


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