Promise, Protection, and Prosperity. Aspects of the "Shield" as a Religious Relational Metaphor in an Ancient Near Eastern Perspective. An Iconographical and Textual Analysis

Arne Wiig

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis discusses the religious metaphorical use of different words for "shield" in the Hebrew Bible and Egyptian and Assyrian literature. The literary contexts in the analysis are delimited based on the observation that they share a similar view of divine intervention in war and an analogous view of the enemy. Using the defensive weapon that we today call the "shield" often meant the difference between life and death for soldiers in the ancient Near East. The primary use of the shield metaphor is primarily is as an effective "border" between "us" and "them." A god "being" his worshipper’s shield is a relational metaphor. Previous research on shields in the ancient Near East concentrated on cultural, philological, and archeological aspects. No researchers have performed a separate, monographical analysis of the shield metaphor. The purpose of this thesis is to broaden the modern reader’s perspective in understanding the original intent and understanding of the shield metaphor. The theoretical and methodological basis of this study is modern metaphor theory, particularly Eva F. Kittay’s perspectival theory, which is a further development of the interaction theory. The intratextual placement of the shield metaphor in the context is studied from a narrator-listener perspective to glean the narrator’s original intent. In particular, the study analyzes how a metaphor generates extratextual, or realitybased, and intertextual associations and connotations, and how a narrator’s awareness of these metaphorical effects control his choice of metaphor in a specific intratextual context. Another focus is the individual reader’s personal understanding, or implicit context, which always colors one’s understanding of a text. This study goes from practical shield use, to theoretical metaphor use, which means that we must first study the shield from a religious and cultural context. Then, the study examines perceptions of protection in general and military aspects of shield use. Both symbolic motifs on shields and iconographical depcitions of shields are analyzed. The text interpretations in this study center in particular on the practical use of shields as a "visual" example for the literary depiction of the interaction between god and man. The study concludes with an analysis of parallel metaphors and parallel metaphorical motifs in connection with the shield metaphor, highlighting central metaphorical concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Theology and Religious Studies
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1999 May 21
ISBN (Print)91-628-3554-8
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 1999-05-21
Time: 10:15
Place: Samarkand, Akademiska Föreningen, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Podemann Sørensen, Jørgen
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: Copenhagen


The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: History and Anthropology of Religions (015017025)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History of Religions


  • Theology
  • Assyria
  • Egypt
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Ancient Near East
  • relational metaphor
  • shield metaphor
  • Metaphor theory
  • shield
  • Teologi


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