My thesis research is on how Paul used metaphors to reshape identity and ‘convert’ the imagination (as Hays would say) of his churches. One can see an early attempt to explicate this in Paul Minear’s Images of the Church in the NT. I just saw announced a new book that goes even further than Minear to also look, not only theologically, but rhetorically at how Paul used ‘images’ or word-pictures to form his communities’ symbolic universe. See below.
In his letters to the early Christian communities, the apostle Paul left for Christians of all time an array of powerful images: from the pain of a thorn in the flesh to the tenderness of a nursing mother for her children, from the competition on an athletic field to the growth of an agricultural field. In The Power of Images in Paul, Raymond Collins explores how Paul uses the ordinary to describe what is extraordinary, how Paul skillfully uses a wide range of metaphors as a means of both persuasion and clarification. But this book is more than an analysis of Paul’s images themselves. Collins also examines how Paul deliberately draws from secular as well as religious and biblical themes in order to draw a culturally diverse audience into relationship with Christ. Entering Paul’s world with Collins, readers will better appreciate Paul’s use of metaphor and, more important, be persuaded as was Paul’s original audience of God’s unfailing love in Christ.
Though the book has not yet been released in the UK, the publisher (Liturgical Press) offers a free excerpt which includes the preface and introduction (see HERE).