Law, Religion, and Metaphor

in Günter Thomas and Heike Springhart, eds., Risiko und Vertrauen/Risk and Trust: Festschrift für Michael Welker zum 70. Geburtstag (Leipzig: Evangeliche Verlagsanhalt, 2017), 177-195.

17 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2018  

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: December 28, 2017

Abstract

This chapter explores the role of metaphors in shaping our thought and language in general, and in the fields of law and religion in particular. Drawing on modern cognitive theorists like George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, the article distinguishes and illustrates the roles of “orientation,” “structural,” and “ontological” metaphors in everyday life and language. Drawing on jurists like Robert Cover and Steven Winter, it shows how metaphors work both in describing the law in terms like “the body,” and in prescribing the foundational beliefs and values on which the legal system depends. Finally, the chapter explores the ample use of the sacred number three in the law, and speculates tentatively whether this legal appetite for “triads” might provide traction for the development of a Trinitarian jurisprudence. This chapter is dedicated to Michael Welker, a leading German systematic theologian and Christian philosopher, who has helped build a strong trans-Atlantic discourse on law and religion.

Keywords: metaphor; law and religion; George Lakoff; Robert Cover; the body of law; fundamental beliefs; constitutional law; triads in the law; Trinity; Trinitarian jurisprudence; Michael Welker; Sir Edward Coke

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Law, Religion, and Metaphor (December 28, 2017). in Günter Thomas and Heike Springhart, eds., Risiko und Vertrauen/Risk and Trust: Festschrift für Michael Welker zum 70. Geburtstag (Leipzig: Evangeliche Verlagsanhalt, 2017), 177-195.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3094037

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-6980 (Phone)
404-712-8605 (Fax)

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