Jesus' phrase 'this bread is my body'. Is this metaphorical or not? The question is frequently asked as though one's answer will settle an enormous theological controversy...as though, could we but acknowledge that phrases such as this one were metaphorical, we would be freed from the metaphysical difficulties which have troubled centuries of theological debate. But to think in this way is to fall back into the ornamentalist theories of metaphor against which we have been arguing from the beginning of the book. Even a conservative, catholic Christian could acknowledge that Jesus' phrase 'this is my body' is, or was, metaphorical but in doing so he would make a linguistic and not an ontological point. It would be analogous to acknowledging that the phrase 'there is a strong electrical current flowing through the wire' is, or was, metaphorical. The point at issue is not really whether we have metaphor here, but what the metaphor is doing: is it simply an ornamental redescription, so that Jesus has redescribed bread in an evocative way? or is the metaphor genuinely catachretical, not a redescribing but a naming or disclosing for the first time? It is one's metaphysics, not metaphor, which is at issue. To put it another way, the question is not simply whether we have a metaphor here or not, but what, if anything, the metaphor refers to or signifies.
Metaphor and Religious Language, (OUP, 1985).