Besides the investigation of the formation and usage of spatial metaphors in the text corpus of the early Christian authors, this project also examined the significance of deixis and the meaning of several prepositional phrases, e.g. “in Christ”, “to be in Christ”, “to be in the Lord”, “to be in the Spirit”, “to be under the Law”, “to be under Grace (charis)” and “to be in Grace” as a mixture of spatial and non-spatial entities.


  • Veranstaltungsprogramm


Taking cognisance of developments in the application of recent theory on cognitive metaphors for the analysis of discourse, the PI and the doctoral fellows in this project focused their research on interpreting narratives, arguments and exhortations using spatial metaphors to express early Christian concepts of salvation and ethos. As far as the concepts of salvation were concerned, the research group investigated the significance of deixis and the meaning and function of several “metaphorical” prepositional phrases in Paul’s arguments e.g. to be “baptized into Christ”, “to be in Christ”, “to be in the Lord”, “to be in the Spirit”, “to be under the Law”, “to be under Sin”, “to be under Grace (charis)”, “to be in Grace” and in the discourses embedded in the narrative of the Evangelist John e.g. “I am the way, the truth and the life”, “the Spirit dwells with you and will be in you”. Additionally, the project analysed the early Christian use of metaphor of the two ways in moral exhortation.

Doctoral research

Specific Topoi-funded Ph.D. projects were:

Darko Anev, (C-2-1-3) The problem with the interpretation of Jesus’ death in the Gospel of John
Hi-Cheong Lee, (C-2-1-1) Zwei Wege Metaphorik in der urchristlichen Literatur
Barbara Beyer, (C-2-1-4) ‘In’ Christus sein in den paulinischen bzw. deuteropaulinischen Briefen

Externally funded was the project of Annette Potgieter, Contested space: Paul’s metaphors of dominion in Romans 5-8.

After three semesters the progress in the dissertation projects of Anev, Lee and Potgieter have been evaluated positively by BerGSAS. For more detail, please cf. the description of their projects by the researchers themselves.


The outcome of this research project is published in monographs on the basis of methodologically innovative dissertations, illustrating the contribution adapted modern cognitive metaphor theory can make to improve the description, classification and interpretation when applied to ancient narrative, deliberative or exhortative Christian discourse.


Different measures were taken to achieve the above-mentioned goal. After a kick-off workshop in November 2013 on “Space and Metaphor in Cognition, Language and Texts” all doctoral students joined the reading group on “Approaches to Metaphors and Related Tropes” and in the winter of 2014/15 they took part in and contributed to a regular seminar on discourse analysis. In November 2015 the doctoral candidates organized and participated in a workshop on “Metaphors and other ways we choose by: A workshop in the study of metaphors in ancient and medieval texts”.

From the outset all doctoral researchers regularly participated in a doctoral colloquium where twice a year they present written sections of their research results for intensive interdisciplinary and international discussion by junior and senior scholars.

The projects were all well connected with external co-supervisors (Christiane Zimmermann, Kiel; Jan van der Watt, Nijmegen; Jan Stenger, Glasgow) and various researchers of ancient metaphor and on the theory of metaphor who participated in the workshops and conferences organised by the research group (C-2) Space and Metaphor, esp. Michal Beth Dinkler, Yale; Christine Gerber, Hamburg; Fabian Horn, München; Wolfgang Raible, Freiburg, Jan Steen Amsterdam). The outline of the theoretical discussions is documented in the resulting publications.

Related Publications (Selection)

Fabian Horn and Cilliers Breytenbach (Eds.), Spatial Metaphors. Ancient Texts and Transformations, Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2016

Fabian Horn, Cilliers Breytenbach, Camilla Di Biase-Dyson, Markus Egg, Therese Fuhrer, Verena Olejniczak Lobsien, Renate Schlesier, Jan Stenger and Beatrice Trînca, “Spatial Metaphors of the Ancient World: Theory and Practice”, in: Space and Knowledge. Topoi Research Group Articles, eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Volume 6 (2016), 453–480

Cilliers Breytenbach, “”Metaphorical’ Redefinition of Church Space through LXX-Texts on Christian Monuments in Asia Minor”, in: Markus Witte and Sven Behnke (Eds.), The Metaphorical Use of Language in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2015, 471–486