Janowski on metaphor
From Arguing with God: A Theological Anthropology of the Psalms by Bernd Janowski:
While we are used to separating strictly the concrete and the abstract, or to working with concrete objects like tree, throne, or mountain or with abstract concepts like life, kingdom, or place of the Deity, ancient Near Eastern cultures prefer to use “concepts that by themselves are concrete yet often indicate something extending far beyond their concrete meaning.”112 Ancient Near Eastern cultures did not distinguish between the concrete and the abstract, but upheld the interrelation between them by representing the “unity of reality” with the help of symbols.
Fretheim on Metaphor
Having noted the central importance of metaphor in any study of the God of the OT, a sketch of the meaning and use of metaphor which informs this discussion needs some attention.4 A basic definition tion of metaphor is in order, first of all. Black’s formulation is help- ful:5 “A memorable metaphor has the power to bring two separate domains into cognitive and emotional relation by using language directly appropriate to the one as a lens for seeing the other.” In other words, a conventional understanding of a matter (e.g., a body, a parent) becomes a window through which we can gain insight into another matter, usually less well known (e.g., the church, God). A metaphor always has a duality of association: the surface associations, drawn from life as experienced, and the analogical association. But insight into the latter can be attained and, indeed, retained only by reflecting on the former in relationship to it. Such insight comes, not only through observing what is similar between the two terms, but also through that which is different. Crucial to a proper understanding ing of a metaphor is the recognition of both similarity and difference.
Terence E. Frethheim. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Overtures to Biblical Theology) (Kindle Locations 155-162). Kindle Edition.