This is my Body.
(Please note that my software
won't cope with Greek, so forgive the nonsense stuff in brackets!
If you are into Greek you can click here for a .pdf file of the article)
In answer to several requests, and as a specimen of the
work now in preparation by the same author on Figures of Speech used in the
Bible, the following is now published as a separate pamphlet.The Plan of that
work is as follows :
1. To give in its proper order and place each one of more than two hundred figures of speech, by name.
2. Then to give the proper pronunciation of its name.
3. Then its etymology, showing why the name was given to it, and what is its meaning.
4 And after this, a number of passages of Scripture, in full, where the figure is used, ranging from two or three instances, to some hundreds under each figure, accompanied by a full explanation.
Metaphor is one of these figures which is
defined, described, and illustrated in the last division of the work, and we
give the following extract from the MS., confining ourselves to one passage by
way of illustration, viz., Matt. xxvi. 26 : METAPHOR Met-a-phor.
Greek, µetaf??? (metaphora), a transference, or carrying over or across.
From µet? (meta), beyond or over, and f??e?? (pherein), to carry. We may
call the figure Representation or Transference. Hence,
while the Simile gently states that one thing is like or resembles another, the
Metaphor boldly and warmly declares that one thing IS the other. While the
Simile says all flesh is AS grass(i Pet. i. 24), the Metaphor
carries the figure across at once, and says all flesh IS grass
(Isa. xl. 6). This is the distinction between the two. The Metaphor is,
therefore, not so true to fact as the Simile, but is much truer to feeling.
The Simile says All we like sheep, while the Metaphor declares that we ARE the sheep of His pasture. While, therefore, the word resembles marks the Simile; represents is the word that marks the Metaphor. We have recourse to Metaphor when we say of a picture, This is my father,or This is my mother. The verb is means in this case represents; there may not be the least resemblance! The verb is always has this meaning, and no other when used as a metaphor. No other verb will do. Few figures are more misunderstood than the Metaphor. It is one of the few whose names are well known, and hence it has become a general term for any figure; and any figurative language is popularly called metaphorical. Few figures have been more variously defined. But all the differences of opinion arise from not separating the figure of Hypocatastasis (q.v.) on the one hand, or distinguishing Simile on the other. The same confusion is seen with reference to Allegory (q.v.). Let it then be clearly understood that a Metaphor is confined to a distinct affirmation that one thing is another thing owing to some association or connection in the uses or effects of anything expressed or understood. The two nouns themselves must both be mentioned, and are always to be taken in their absolutely literal sense, or else no one can tell what they mean. The figure lies wholly in the verb, or copula, which must always be expressed and never understood by Ellipsis. For example, All flesh IS grass. Here flesh is to be taken literally as the subjectspoken of, and grass is to be taken equally literally as that which represents flesh.. All the figure lies in the verb is. This statement is made under strong feeling, the mind realising some point of association, but instead of using the more measured verb, resembles, or is like, which would be truer to fact, though not so true to feeling, the verb is is used, and the meaning of one thing is carried across and transferred to the other. It is not, as some might think, a mere Hebrew idiom to use is for represents, but it is a necessity of language arising from the actual condition and character of the human mind. We must, therefore, banish the popular and loose way in which the words metaphor and metaphorical are used, and confine the figure strictly and exclusively to this its one true and proper representation. [other examples given] ... Matt. xxvi. 26, This is My body (t??t? ??t? t? s?µ? µ??, touto esti to soma mou).
Few passages have been more perverted than these simple
words. Rome has insisted on the literal or the figurative sense of words just
as it suits her own purpose, and not at all according to the laws of philology
and the true science of language. Hence the Latin idiom, agere
penitentiam repent, has been rendered literally in all her versions from
the Vulgate, in various languages, do penance, except when God is
said to repent! Rome dared not translate "agere penitentiam" literally in these
cases, which proves her design in thus systematically perverting the Word of
God, and the false doctrine is thus forced into the words under a show or
semblance of literal translation.
So the Metaphor, This is My body, has been forced to teach false doctrine by being translated literally. No perversion of language has been fraught with greater calamity to the human race. Tens of thousands have suffered martyrdom at the hands of Rome, rather than believe the blasphemous fable forced into these words. The exquisite tortures of the Inquisition were invented to coerce the consciences of men and compel them to accept this lie! Luther himself was misled, through his ignorance of this simple law of figurative language. In his controversy with Zwingle, he obstinately persisted in maintaining the literal sense of the figure, and thus forced it to have a meaning which it never has. He thus led the whole of Germany into his error! For while his common sense rejected the error of Transubstantiation, he fell into another, and invented the figment of Consubstantiation, and fastened it upon the Lutheran Church to this day.
What a solemn and instructive lesson as to the importance of a true understanding of the figures of language! The whole figure, in a metaphor, lies, as we have said in the verb substantive, IS; and not in either of the two nouns, and it is a remarkable fact that when a pronoun is used instead of one of the nouns (as it is here), and the two nouns are of different genders, the pronoun is always made to agree in gender with that noun to which the meaning is carried across, and not with the noun from which it is carried, and to which it properly belongs. This at once shows us that a figure is being employed when a pronoun which ought, according to all the laws of language, to agree in gender with its own noun, is changed and made to agree with the noun which, by Metaphor, represents it.
Here, for example, the pronoun, this (t??t?, touto), is neuter, and is thus made to agree with body (s?µ?, soma), which is neuter, and not with bread (??t??, artos], which is masculine? This is the case always in Metaphors, and a few examples may be cited here, instead of in their natural order and place. In Zech. v. 6, This is wickedness. Here this (fem.) does not agree with ephah (to which it refers), which is neuter (LXX.), but with wickedness, [verse 8, cjs] which is feminine. In Zech. v. 3, This is the curse. This (fem.) agrees with curse, which is feminine, and not with flying roll, which is neuter (to which it refers) (d??pa???, drepanon, LXX.). In Matt. xiii. 38, The good seed are the children of the kingdom. Here these (masc.) (??t??, houtoi) agrees with children of the kingdom (masc.), and not with seed (sp??µa, sperma) which is neuter. Luke viii. 14, These are they which having heard, etc. Here, these (masc.), (??t??, houtoi) agrees with the participle (?? ????sa?te?, hoi akousantes) they which having heard, which is masculine, and not with the seed (to which it refers), which is neuter.
All this establishes our statement that, in a Metaphor, the two nouns (or pronoun and noun) are always literal, and that the figure lies only in the verb. Another remarkable fact is that in the vast number of cases where the language is literal, and there is no Metaphor at all, the verb is omitted altogether. Even when a Metaphor has been used, and the language passes suddenly from figurative to literal, the verb is at once dropped, by Ellipsis as not being necessary for the literal sense, as it was for the previous figurative expression, e.g., in 1 Cor. xii. 27, Ye ARE the body of Christ. Here is a Metaphor, and consequently the verb is used. But in verse 29, which is literal, the change is at once made, and the fact is marked by the omission of the verb, [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?
Next compare other examples of Metaphors which are naturally used in the explanations of Parables. Note the Parables of the Sower, and of the Tares (Matt. xiii. 19-23, and 37-39).He that soweth the good seed IS (i.e., represents) the Son of Man.The field IS (i.e., signifies) the world.The good seed ARE the children of the kingdom.But the tares ARE the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them IS the devil. The harvest IS the end of the age. And the reapers ARE the angels. In all these (as in every other Metaphor) the verb means, and might have been rendered, represents or signifies. The Apocalypse is full of Metaphors, e.g. : The seven stars ARE (i.e., represent) the seven churches. And the seven candlesticks which thou sawest ARE the seven churches (i. 20). The odours ARE the prayers of the saints (v. 8). They ARE the spirits of devils (xvi. 14). The seven heads ARE (i.e. represent) seven mountains (xvii. 9), etc., etc. So in the very words that follow this IS (i.e. represents or signifies) My body, we have another undoubted Metaphor. He took the cup ... saying . . . this IS My blood. Here, thus, we have a pair of Metaphors. In the former one, this refers to bread, and it is claimed that IS means changed into the body of Christ. In the latter, this refers to the cup, but it is not claimed that the cup is changed into blood. At least, we have never heard that such a claim has been put forward. The difference of treatment which the same figure meets with in these two verses is the proof that the former is wrong. In i Cor. xi. 25 we read, this cup IS the new covenant. Will Romanists, in and out of the Church of England, tell us how this cup becomes transubstantiated into a covenant? Is it not clear that the figure in the words, This is My body, is forced into a. literal statement with the set purpose and design of making it teach and support erroneous doctrine?
Other examples of Metaphor in this immediate connection are: i Cor. x. 16. The cup of blessing which we bless, IS it not (i.e. does it not represent) the blood of Christ, through which all blessing comes to us? The bread which we break, IS it not (i.e., does it not represent) the communion of the body of Christ? i.e. does it not signify the fellowship of all the members of Christs mystical body, who, being many, ARE one body (i Cor. xii. 12)? For we, being many, ARE one bread and one body, as i Cor. x. 17 declares. It is because those who eat of that bread do not discern or discriminate that one body (i.e., Christ mystical), that they are said to eat to their own condemnation; for they witness to the fact of that great mystery and yet are ignorant of its truth! And hence they condemn themselves.
Further, the verb, e?µ? (eimi), I am, or the infinitive of it, to be, means to be in the sense of signifying, amounting to. And that this is one of its primary senses may be seen from the following passages, where it is actually translated to mean and not merely to be: But go ye and learn what that IS (i.e., meaneth, as in A.V.), Matt. ix. 13. But if ye had known what that IS (A.V., meaneth), Matt. xii. 7. He asked what these things WERE (A.V., meant), Luke xv. 26. What IS this? (A.V., What meaneth this?) Acts ii. 12. Now, while Peter doubted in himself what this vision WAS which he had seen (A.V., What this vision should mean), Acts x. 17, etc., etc. On the other hand, if an actual change is meant, then there must be a verb which shall plainly and actually say so: for the verb to be never has or conveys any idea of such change. The usual verb to express such a change is ????µa? (ginomai), which means to be or become. Mark iv. 39, There was (i.e., there became) a great calm, and the storm was changed into calm. Luke iv. 3, Command this stone that it be made (i.e. changed into) bread. John ii. 9, When the ruler of the feast tasted the water that was made wine. John xvi. 20, Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. Acts xxvi. 28, Agrippa said, Almost thou persuadeth me to be (i.e., to become) a Christian. Rev. viii. 8, The third part of the sea became blood, and verse 11, Many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
In all these cases the verb is ????µa? (ginomai), to become: and if the Lord meant that the bread became His body, this is the verb He would have necessarily used. The fact that He did not use it, but used the simple verb, e?µ? (eimi), instead, i.e., is, proves conclusively that no change was meant, and that only representation was intended. Just as when we are looking over a map and say, This IS England, This IS America, This IS Palestine, etc., we do not mean that that piece of paper is England, but we mean that those marks upon it represent those respective countries. From all this it is philologically, philosophically, and scientifically clear that the words, This is My body, mean This [bread] represents My body. And as Professor Macbeth has put it, We trample on the laws of nature, and we trample on the laws of language when we force the verb is to mean what it never does mean.
And besides all this, to pass from the use made of this perversion, suppose for a moment that we grant the claim, and the words mean that the Lord Jesus then and there did transmute the bread into His own body (if we can imagine such an impossibility!), what then? Where is there a breath of His giving that power to any one else? Where is there one word about such a gift being conferred? And if it be claimed, as it is by some traitors in the Church of England, that the words, Do this, convey that power and authority, it could have been conveyed only to the eleven who were present. Where is there a breath about not only giving them power, but delegating it to them to give to others, and these to others again indefinitely? There is not one single word expressed or implied that conveys the idea that one iota of such power was conferred or delegated.
So that the whole fabric of transubstantiation rests on absolutely no foundation whatsoever! There is a missing link which is fatal to the whole position. And this, on the assumption which we have for the moment granted. But when it is seen that not only is there this missing link, which can never be supplied, but that there is also this claim which can never be substantiated, we have an explanation of the Metaphor which sweeps the dogma out of the Scriptures, and proves it to be a fiction which is the outcome of ignorance, and this by arguments that cannot be overthrown, and facts that cannot be denied.
Home | Links | Writings | Biography