"When Noah built the ark…": Metaphor and biblical stories in Facebook preaching

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This article investigates the use of biblical stories and text in the preaching of Joshua Feuerstein, a popular Facebook evangelist, and focuses on how biblical stories are used to position the viewer in comparison to biblical characters and texts. Taking a discourse dynamics approach ( Cameron & Maslen, 2010 ), a corpus of 8 short videos (17 minutes 34 seconds) and their comments (2,295) taken from the Facebook are analysed first, for the presence of metaphorical language and stories taken from the Bible. Second, they are analysed for the role of metaphor in the narrative positioning ( Bamberg, 1997 ) of the viewer, particularly as it relates to Gibbs’s notion of ‘allegorises’, or the ‘allegoric impulse’ ( Gibbs, 2011 ). The corresponding text comments from the videos are then also analysed for the presence of the same biblical metaphor, focusing on how commenters interact with the metaphor and Feuerstein’s positioning of them. Findings show that biblical metaphorical language is used to position viewers and their struggles in the context of larger storylines that compare everyday experiences to biblical texts. This comparison can happen both in explicit narrative positioning of viewers with explicit reference to the Bible, and implicit positioning, through the use of unmarked biblical language. Analysis of viewer comments shows that use of metaphorical language is successful in building a sense of camaraderie and shared belief among the viewer and Feuerstein, as well as viewers with one another.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-102
Number of pages16
JournalMetaphor and the Social World
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


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