Textual Analysis: Symbol Choice
Roderick Hart characterizes rhetorical imagery by movement. Persuasion aims to move auditors to agreement. Imagery, particularly metaphoric imagery, moves meaning from the literal to a range of relational possibilities. 1 Rhetorical critics have discovered how metaphorical concepts which relate one kind of thing in terms of another in an audience's experience can form a coherent system, structuring meaning toward that one relational concept. 2 The predominant metaphor can vision and reduce options. 3 At the same time, metaphoric concepts are never totally structured, only partially structured, because one concept can never be the other, only understood in terms of the other.
Metaphors have a special function in religious meaning. The sacred other can never be completely and literally described by terms of actual human experience. Nevertheless, humans construct images of God by describing the sacred in terms of another human experience. Metaphorical language attempts to make the complex and indiscernible more simple, more concrete, channeling the meaning in a certain direction. However, the channeling can never be complete because the term used to describe the other is never literally equal to the other. Humanly constructed images of the divine are also incomplete or "broken" because there will always remain a blockage between the sacred and human conceptions of it. Moreover, the infinite cannot be limited to one particular form. 4 A religious metaphor attempts to describe the sacred