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Paul as Infant and Nursing Mother: Metaphor, Rhetoric, and Identity in 1 Thessalonians 2:5–8
Jennifer Houston McNeel
ECL 12
Publication Date
September 2014


Explore the significance of maternal metaphors in the writings of a first-century male missionary and theologian

Paul employed metaphors of childbirth or breastfeeding in four out of the seven undisputed epistles. In this book, McNeel uses cognitive metaphor theory and social identity analysis to examine the meaning and function of these maternal metaphors. She asserts that metaphors carry cognitive content and that they are central to how humans process information, construct reality, and shape group identity.


  • A focus on “identity” as the way in which people understand themselves in relation to one another, to society, and to those perceived as outsiders
  • Examination of metaphor as part of Paul’s rhetorical strategy
  • Integration of the work of philosopher Max Black with the work of cognitive linguists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

Jennifer Houston McNeel is Adjunct Assistant Professor in Biblical Greek at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

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