Early Pentecostal Books on Speaking in Tongues

A brief survey of books on speaking in tongues from the early 1900s on speaking in tongues from a holiness/pentecostal perspective

Early Pentecostal Books

These books were selected because the authors were either contributors or eyewitnesses to the Pentecostalism of the early 1900s. This fits in with the goals of the Gift of Tongues Project which aims to make important works about speaking in tongues digitally available.

W. B. Godbey

“William B. Godbey was one of the most influential evangelists of the Wesleyan-holiness movement in its formative period (1880-1920).Thousands of people experienced conversion or entire sanctification under his ministry, and Godbey gained a reputation for having revivals everywhere he went.”(1)https://www.wesleyan.org/3836/william-baxter-godbey Mr. Godbey preceded the pentecostal movement by a few years but his thoughts of revival and tongues are important to note in the birthing of Pentecostalism. Godbey believed the supernatural gift of tongues was already in operation before Azusa. This is found in his book, Spiritual Gifts and Graces.

Spiritual Gifts and Graces. Cincinnati: M.W. Knapp. 1895

Pg. 42 “. . . Bishop Taylor is perhaps the brightest and most spiritual Christian in the world. He says this power to speak (Pg. 43) unknown languages is enjoyed at the present day by some of his missionaries in Africa. He speaks of a young lady whom he appointed to preach to a nation of whose language she was utterly ignorant. She began preaching through an interpreter, but when the bishop came round in two or three months, to his surprise he found her preaching fluently and powerfully in the native language without an interpreter. None of these gifts supersede our own efforts; but what little we do in the way of study bears an insignificant proportion to the magnitude of the Gift bestowed by the Holy Ghost. The Gift is destinied to play a conspicuous part in the evangelization of the heathen world, amid the glorious prophetical fulfillment of the latter days. All missionaries in heathen lands should seek and expect this Gift to enable them to preach fluently in the vernacular tongue, at the same time not depreciating their own efforts. Preaching through an interpreter conduces to the development of a humdrum style, unfavorable to spirituality. Hence the distressing inefficiency of many missionaries.”

T. B. Barratt

T. B. Barratt was a powerful Norwegian/British orator and writer. He was the intellectual and promotional person behind the Pentecostal expansion into Europe.

The following oration turned into a small book that “was specifically delivered to answer the criticism’s that had been made by the famed American Bible teacher, Dr. A. C. Dixon who had preached against ‘Pentecost’ the day before at The Tent of Meeting, Kristiania, on Friday 19th June, 1914.”(2)http://revival-library.org/shop/index.php/e-books/pentecostal-revival/other-pentecostals/product/329-t-b-barratt-the-gift-of-tongues

A lecture by Barratt put into print: The Gift of Tongues. What is it?

Address delivered in Möllergaten 38, Kristania, Saturday evening, June 20th, 1914

Pg. 20 “Then Dr. D. went on to say “When such ecstasy occurs, it must be interpreted or expounded. If we have a reason for getting up to such heights, when we are cooled down we can give the interpretation. This will keep you from fanaticism, and from going off at a tangent; and if you cannot explain it, keep quite; otherwise you may injure both yourself and others.” ”

“Dr. D. constantly imagines tongues to be only a high pitched speaking in ecstasy, and that we must be normal in order to acquaint our friends with what we have experienced and expressed with numerous wonderful exclamations.”

Pg. 21 “But this presentment of the ordinary speaking in tongues is mistaken. By the “ordinary speaking in tongues” I mean that which takes place when the “gift” is employed. By “the gift” I mean the tongues that continue after one has received the Baptism. Many speak in tongues only on the one occasion when the Spirit falls on them. Others retain the tongues, and from that hour forward speak in tongues whensoever the Spirit inspires them.

It is possible, as I have said, that occasionally there may be a “language of the Spirit” which only the Spirit can interpret, or a language which the angels speak (I Cor. xiii. I), or a human language also. “Divers kinds of tongues” are amongst the gifts. But Dr. D. is trying to exclude entirely all thought of human languages at Corinth. This he has not right to do.

Great theologians who have had nothing to with the “Pentecostal Movement,” think that the expression “tongues” means languages.

Dr. Fausset, one of the great commentators of the Church of England, says, touching I Cor. xiv., that “tongues means languages.”

“It cannot, as the theologian Neander imagined, mean ecstatic unintelligible rhapsodies,” he says.

But if is languages, there must also be interpretation (translation*) if it is to be understood, and not only exposition. There may be exposition also if God wills it.

Bishop Rördam is convinced that languages are here intended, and adduces verse 21 as a proof thereof. He says that this speaking in tongues was “a sign that the same Spirit who on the Day of Pentecost came upon the first Church was still present and working.”

Pg. 22 “People have obtained the idea that languages are not intended, he says, because of a mistaken application of the Greek word “glôssa.” If we had only “speak in tongues” (glôssais), there might have been some ground for thinking of a speech full of words and expression without any definite connection.

“But the Apostle generally uses the singular : speak in (a) tongue (γλωσση), which would have been meaningless,” he thinks if languages were not meant –“not to speak of the impossibility of conceiving that such speech could be a ‘grace-gift’ of the Spirit of God” (i.e., a speech which was not language) “and that anyone could expound it.”

So far Rördam.

We must in any case come to the conclusion that when Dr. D. tried to get rid of the expression “other tongues” at the expense of the expressions “tongues,” etc., or in other words tries to prove that “other tongues” means real languages whilst “tongues,” “divers kinds of tongues,” “unknown tongues,” etc., cannot be anything other than ecstatic disconnected exclamations, the view point in the matter is not perfectly correct.

The Bible represents the same kind of tongues in both Jerusalem and Corinth. If they spoke in ecstatic exclamations in Corinth, then they did so in Jerusalem also. Possibly they spoke both in language and in ecstasy in both places.

I do not think that all who spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem themselves knew what they said. Dr. Brown, in “The Portable Commentary,” maintains the same idea:

“It is next to certain that the speakers themselves understood nothing of what they uttered.”

Frank Bartleman

The popularity of the Azusa Street Revival would have never occurred without the prolific coverage by Frank Bartleman. William Seymour may be symbol for the restoration of the supernatural gifts, but Bartleman ensured the restoration message was frequently and consistently communicated in the major religious newspapers and periodicals. Bartleman was a Baptist turned Wesleyen and then finally an independent Pentecostal. His work How Pentecost came to Los Angeles has historical significance and is one of the main sources for understanding the Azusa Street Revival.

How Pentecost came to Los Angeles. Self-Published. 1925.

“Pg. 14 “G. Campbell Morgan’s little tract on the “Revival in Wales” spread the fire in the churches wonderfully. I did a great deal of visiting among the saints also, and began to sell S.B. Shaw’s little book, “The Great Revival in Wales,” among churches. God wonderfully used it to promote faith for a revival spirit. My tract work was continued among the saloons and business houses.”

Pg. 18 “I had written a letter to Evan Roberts in Wales, asking them to pray for us in California. I now received a reply that they were doing so, which linked us up with revival there.”

Pg. 22 “The revival spirit at Brother Smale’s rapidly srpead its interest over the whole city, among the spiritual people. Workers were coming in from all parts, from various affiliations, uniting their prayers with us for a general outpouring. The circle of interest widened rapidly. We were now praying for California, for the Nation, and also for world-wide revival. The spirit of prophecy began to work among us for the mightly things, on a large scale. Some one sent me 5000 pamphlets on “The Revival in Wales.” These I distributed among the churches. They had a wonderful quickening influence.”

Pg. 49 “God was working at “Azusa.” All classes began to flock to the meetings. Many were curious and unbelieving, but others were hungry for God. The newspapers began to ridicule and abuse the meetings, thus giving us much free advertising. This brought the crowds.”

Pg. 56 “Friday, June 15, at “Azusa,” the Spirit dropped the heavenly chorus” into my soul. I found myself suddenly joining the rest who had received this supernatural “gift.” It was a spontaneous manifestation and rapture no earthly tongue can describe. In the beginning this manifestation was wonderfully pure and powerful. We feared to try reproduce it, as with “tongues” also. Now many seemingly have no hesitation in imitating all the “gifts”. They have largely lost their power and influence because of this. No one could understand this “gift of song” but those who had it. It was indeed a “new song,” in the Spirit. When I first heard it in the meetings a great hunger entered my soul to receive it. I felt it would exactly express my pent up feelings. I had not yet spoken in “tongues.” But the “new song” captured me. It was a gift from God of high order, and appeared among us soon after the “Azusa” work began.”

Pg. 59 “We were delivered right there from ecclesiastical heirarchism and abuse. We wanted God.”

Pg. 65 “A. B. Simpson said: “We are to witness before the Lord’s return real missionary “tongues” like those of Pentecost, through which the heathen world shall hear in their own language ‘the wonderful works of God,’ and this perhaps on a scale of whose vastness we have scarcely dreamed, thousands of missionaries going forth in one last mightly crusade from a united body of believers at home to bear swift witness of the crucified and coming Lord to all nations.”

Pg. 71 “On the afternoon of August 16, at Eighth and Maple, the Spirit manifested Himself through me in “tongues.” There were seven of us present at the time. It was a week day. After a time of testimony and praise, with everything quiet, I was softly walking the floor, praising God with my spirit. All at once I seemed to hear in my soul (not with my natural ears), a rich voice speaking in a language I did not know. I have later heard something similar to it in India. In a few moments I found myself, seemingly without volition on my part, enunciating the same sounds with my own vocal organs. It was an exact continuation of the same expression that I had heard in my soul a few moments before. It seemed a perfect language.”

Pg. 72 “In the experience of “speaking in tongues” I have reached the climax in abandonment. This opened the channel for a new ministry of the Spirit in service. From that time the Spirit began to flow through me in a new way. Messages would come, with anointings, in a way I had never known before, with a spontaneous inspiration and illumination that was truly wonderful.”

Pg. 74 “I felt after the experience of speaking in “tongues” that languages would could come easy to me. And so it has proven. And also I (Pg. 75) have learned to sing, in the Spirit. I never was a singer, and do not know music.”

Pg. 76 “We will quote from well known authors some interesting extracts on the subject of “speaking in tongues.” Dr. Philip Schaff, in his “History of the Christian Church,” Vol. I, page 116, says: “The speaking with tongues is an involuntary psalm – like prayer or song, uttered from a spiritual trance, and in a peculiar language inspired by the Holy Ghost. The soul is almost entirely passive, an instrument on which the Holy Ghost plays His heavenly melodies.”

Pg. 77 “Conybear and Howson, commentators, write: “This gift (speaking in tongues) was the result of a sudden influx of the supernatural to the believer. Under its influence the exercise of the understanding was suspended, while the spirit was wrapped in a state of ecstacy by the immediate communication of the Spirit of God. In this ecstatic trance the believer was constrained by irresistible power to pour forth his feelings of thanksgiving and rapture in words not his own. He was usually even ignorant of their meaning.” Space forbids our quoting from other standard commentators on this subject. Many have written very illuminatingly on the same subject, and to the same general end as those we have quoted. We will quote from just one more writer.

Stalker, in his “Life of Paul,” page 102, has the following to say: “It (the speaking in tongues) seems to have been a kind of tranced utterance, in which the speaker poured out an impassioned rhapsody, by which his religious faith received both expression and exaltation. Some were not able to tell others the meaning of what they were saying, while others had this additional power; and there were those who, though not speaking in tongues themselves, were able to interpret what the inspired speakers were saying. In all cases there seems to have been a kind of immediate inspiration, so that what they did was not the effect of calculation or preparation, but of a strong present impulse. These phenomena are so remarkable that, if narrated in a history, they would put a severe strain on Christian faith. They show with what mighty force at its first entrance into the world, Christianity took possession of the spirits it touched. The very gifts of the Spirit were perverted into instruments of sin; for those possessed of the more showy gifts, such as miracles and tongues, were too fond of displaying them and them into grounds of boasting.”

Pg. 90 “ “We are coming back from the ‘dark ages’ of the church’s backsliding and downfall. We are living in the most momentous moments of the history of time. The Spirit is brushing aside all our plans, our schemes, our strivings, and our theories, and is Himself acting again…” ”

Stanley Howard Frodsham

With Signs Following: The Story of the Pentecostal Revival in the Twentieth Century

Mr. Frodsham stands at the forefront of the pentecostal movement from the very inception. His religious life as a Pentecostal began under the hands of A. A Body, who, along with T. B. Barratt brought the pentecostal message to Europe. Frodsham started a publishing ministry in Britain which led to his moving to the United States and taking the helm of the Assemblies of God magazine, Pentecostal Evangel. He soon became the General Secretary and directly involved with the Assemblies of God’s Statement of Fundamental Truths. This makes his work and history critically important.

“With Signs Following: the Story of the Pentecostal Revival in the Twentieth Century,” is unknown to many, but was once the definitive book on anything Pentecostal by a Pentecostal. First published in 1926, and revised many times, even after 1946, is a very good, well documented book for the first three quarters of its composition. Likely the best of any early Pentecostal histories. However, the last quarter had me confused. The first 17 chapters of the book documents people miraculously speaking in foreign languages, and then an unexplained shift occurs in his writing. He concludes at the end of the book that christian tongues is a secret speech, something between man and God.(3)Stanley Howard Frodsham. With Signs Following: the Story of the Pentecostal Revival in the Twentieth Century. Missouri: Gospel Publishing House. 1946. Pg. 269 The abrupt change in thought is more a mystery to me than the historical analysis that he documented. It is a question that the Gift of Tongues Project has invested a high level of resources to solve.

Charles Parham

Charles Fox Parham was a self-appointed itinerant/evangelist in the early 1900s who had an enormous early contribution to the modern tongues movement. It was his teaching and missional emphasis that encouraged a number of his followers, especially Lucy Farrow, and later William Seymour to go to California and become major patrons in the Azusa Street Revival. He is also the person who codified the Baptism of the Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues as a cornerstone identity in the pentecostal movement.

One of the major books that details Parham’s life and doctrine is his biography written by his wife. The Life of Charles F. Parham: the Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement

This book affirms Parham believed that speaking in tongues was the miraculous endowment of a foreign language. He solely believed this to be the definition and all others were false.

Pg. 116 — 117 “During the wonderful altar service, the audience, having been previously dismissed, moved quietly and informally about, hearing and witnessing the marvelous demonstrations of the power promised to believers. Sometimes as many as twenty various languages were spoken in one evening, not an unintelligent utterance of mere vocal sounds, but a clear language spoken with the intonations and accents only given by natives, who repeatedly gave testimony to that effect.

It was my privilege to be frequently in concourse with some professors from the city schools and colleges, all of whom spoke some foreign language and one of them spoke five languages. He said to him the most marvelous thing about the use of these languages was the original accent they (the workers) gave. They demonstrated that under instruction, it was impossible for an American to learn. They gave the REAL FOREIGN ACCENT SO PERFECTLY, that when he closed his eyes, it seemed to him as though he were listening to utterances from his native masters in the Old World.

To me this was very convincing, coming from those unbiased and competent judges. They oftimes interpreted for me when languages they knew were spoken. Many foreigners came to the meetings and were frequently spoken to in their native tongue, with the original accent that could not be perfectly acquired. This, more than anything else, convinced them that it was wrought by some power above the human. Their hearts were always touched and they frequently went to the altar for prayer, convinced that it was the real power of God.”

A persistent theme in this book was that speaking-in-tongues was not gibberish — a tome directly aimed at what Parham accused the Azusa Street Revival of doing:

Pg. 163 “I hurried to Los Angeles, and to my utter surprise and astonishment I found conditions even worse than I had anticipated. Brother Seymour had come to me helpless, he said he could not stem the tide that had arisen. I sat on the platform in Azusa Street Mission, and saw the manifestations of the flesh, spiritualistic controls, saw people practicing hypnotism at the altar over candidates seeking baptism; though many were receiving the real baptism of the Holy Ghost.

After preaching two or three times, I was informed by two of the elders, one who was a hypnotist (I had seen him lay his hands on many who came through chattering, jabbering and sputtering, speaking in no language at all) that I was not wanted in that place.

For more information:

Early Pentecostal Tongues: Notes and Quotes

A digest of early Pentecostal based newsletters.

As per the Gift of Tongues Project one out of the four aims is being fulfilled here: to provide the source texts in a digital format.

In the case of Pentecostal literature, there is an abundance of information that could take months or years to digitize. However, many of those works only have a small footprint on speaking in tongues that fits the criteria for further research. For the purpose of brevity and avoiding digitization of complete newsletters, important quotes from the early Pentecostal based newsletters have been identified and provided below.

Links to the majority of the originals can be found at Consortium of Pentecostal Archives.

Links to the CMA originals can be found at The Alliance archives.

There are a number of works that could not be posted because their difficulty to acquire. Three in particular: “The Way of Life” newspaper edited by A. H. Post. This newsletter was one of the earliest pentecostal newspapers, but unfortunately it has not been digitized and only available in microfiche 1600 miles away. Fortunately, we have one of the senior contributors to this work, Frank Bartleman, supply much of the same information in his own works. Bartleman is covered in this analysis. Also, what was posted in the “Way of Life” can be found in almost all the other newsletters during that period. The pentecostal newspaper system had an improvised form of syndication between each other and what was found in the “Way of Life” could be found in another like newspaper.

Frank Sandford’s “Tongues of Fire” newspaper is only available for physical observation at one institution, and this is too far a distance for research. This newspaper is not essential but would have given a better background to the rise of Pentecostalism and speaking in tongues.

“The Household of God” was an important early pentecostal periodical that had an article which contained a sampling of modern commentaries and the pentecostal reaction to speaking in tongues. I have been unable to find any digital copy of this work. Fortunately, the article was reprinted in another periodical.

The research demonstrates a unique facet of Pentecostalism. The newsletters are all drawing from a collective consciousness. There is no one person responsible for any major part of the movement. Any major character can be taken out and the movement would hardly be affected. The people involved in the pentecostal identity are deeply interconnected even though they are geographically isolated throughout the world and belonging to rival or different religious sects.

These newsletters were the grounds for pentecostal germination. A noted author may be picked up in one pentecostal newspaper, and all the other ones will follow suit with the same copy, more or less, albeit in their own style. The brief articles found in these newsletters often became the basis for later flyers and books. Many of the presuppositions found today in Pentecostalism can be traced back to these works.

Pentecostals in this era had an unwritten rule that ideas themselves were held in a communal trust. Anything related to the supernatural were not copyrighted nor owned by one person. Sometimes acknowledgement for a theological concept was attributed, other times not. Often an author’s work was edited, emendated or added without the author’s consent, but that was considered OK because it was a communal system of communication. The thought took precedence over the author.

The editors of the earliest pentecostal newsletters were the gatekeepers of this communal trust and ensured all topics stayed within the confines of the pentecostal identity.

The major goal of the Gift of Tongues Project is to trace the perceptions of speaking in tongues throughout the centuries. The perceptions need not necessarily align with reality. The realities, whatever they may be, are up to the reader to decide.

The pentecostal records were looked at with five questions in mind:

  1. Was the miracle of speaking foreign languages an absolute in earlier pentecostal practice?
  2. What did unknown tongues mean to the early Pentecostals?
  3. What factors influenced speaking in tongues to shift in definition to a divine language?
  4. Why did they follow the Higher Criticism hermeneutic on speaking in tongues?
  5. How did the Higher Criticism word glossolalia sneak into the pentecostal vocabulary?

As one can see there many assumptions here that require substantiation. These will be explained in an upcoming article summarizing this research. The following quotes assist in answering one or more of the above questions.

The baptism of the Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues is a doctrine unique to the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement that started in the early 1900s. An editorial decision has been made not to trace this doctrine. The final ambition of The Gift of Tongues Project is to find out why the traditional definition all but died in 1906 and why it was replaced by glossolalia. This is the final piece for the Project to complete.

The majority of the texts focus on the period between 1890 and 1920. Some do veer outside these boundaries, but the focus is on this 30 year time frame.

Please note that the following copy was digitized through manual keyboard entry and/or cut-and-paste from the automated OCR copy provided with the pdf. Although the text has been error checked, some minor errors may still exist. If you do find one, please let me know through the website comment section, the contact page, Facebook, or Twitter.

Table of Contents

  • Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly
  • Apostolic Faith Newspaper
  • Confidence
  • Christian and Missionary Alliance
  • The Bridegroom’s Messenger
  • The Assemblies of God Publication
    • The Weekly Evangel
    • The Christian Evangel
    • The Pentecostal Evangel
  • The Latter Rain Evangel
  • The Church of God Evangel
  • White Wing Messenger
  • The Bridal Call
  • The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate

Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly

“In 1882 Dr. A. B. Simpson, founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, began the denomination’s official magazine to inform people about worldwide evangelism efforts and motivate readers to become involved in completing the Great Commission.”(1)https://www.cmalliance.org/resources/archives/alliance-magazine Even though A. B. Simpson is not considered a founder or pioneer of the pentecostal movement, his contribution to the holiness movement and his desire for the renewal of the gifts were immensely important in the development of early Pentecostalism. The magazine was initially called the Christian Missionary Alliance Weekly and then changed to the Christian and Missionary Alliance and a number of other names over the years. It is currently called Alliance Life magazine. The Christian Missionary Alliance Weekly demonstrates that a grass roots movement for the revival of the supernatural gifts preceded Azusa. The restoration angst was bubbling within the holiness circles and was awaiting ebullience. Azusa was the point in time when all of this expectation reached its zenith. Important quotes from the era of the Christian and Missionary Alliance are listed separately later on.

Friday, February 12, 1892. Vol. VIII. No. 7

“The Gift of Tongues” author unknown

“But does the Bible really warrant the expectation of the gift of tongues for the purpose of preaching the Gospel to the heathen? We must frankly say that we are not quite clear that it does, and yet we would not dare to discourage any of God’s children from claiming and expecting it if they have the faith to do so and can see the warrant in His word.

We believe that in some cases, in the apostolic times, this gift was bestowed for this purpose, and was so employed. We believe that on the day of Pentecost the people of all lands did hear the Gospel each in his own language; but we just as firmly believe that afterwards this gift was continued, not so much as a vehicle of evangelistic work as a sign of supernatural power and working, and that it was accompanied by the gift of interpreting, so that the foreign tongue had really to be interpreted to the hearers, or they would not have understood it. Therefore, it certainly was not intended in these cases to be the original channel for the preaching of the Gospel, but simply a sign of some supernatural presence in the heart of the speaker. Had it been designed directly to make the truth plain to a foreigner, there would have been no need for an interpreter, and no occasion for the apostle’s exhortation in Corinthians about disorder, confusion and discredit to the work of God through the unguarded use of this gift in their assemblies. The apostle says distinctly in this connection : “Tongues are for a sign, not to him that believeth, but to him that believeth not,” and he had rather preach one word for edification in a known tongue, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongues.

This gift, more than any other, was abused in the early church for the self-exaltation of those who received it, and it seems to have been largely withdrawn at an early period on account of this abuse. In modern times, it has been partially bestowed on special occasions to a few persons to show what God can do; and we should encourage those who a definite faith for this gift, even for the preaching of the Gospel, to claim it as boldly as they can.

Certainly we do expect, in every case where it is claimed by humble believing prayer, a supernatural assistance in acquiring the native language, and we should not be surprised in any case to hear of the direct bestowal of the power to speak an unknown tongues. But we are not prepared to teach this as a definite scriptural promise for all who go to preach the Gospel to the heathen, or consider a lack of faith on the part of any worker who has not received this special gift.”

Friday, July 1, 1892. Vol. IX. No. 1

Pg. 13 “Letter from Shanghai”

“And now I want to ask you a very serious question. Has not our Lord provided for every one of the numbered difficulties just enumerated? Does not Mark xvi: 17 cover the first, Mark xiii: 9-11 the second and third, and Luke x: 19 the fourth? While on the voyage I studied my Bible with reference to these very things, and it seems to me that I must expect these things to be literally fulfilled, or doubt God’s Word. I have said that I refused to doubt Him in even the very least things, and I cannot hesitate or go back now. I should like very much to have you stand with me on this matter before God, and “He faileth never.” Don’t think that I am asking you this for mere curiosity or idle talk, for I am in dead earnest. I feel that it must be that “these sign shall follow them that believe,” or I am not walking up to the light I have received. I do realize the Spirit’s leading, and I will not falter. We start for Wuhu to-morrow, May 6th, and reach there Monday, the 9th. The Lord has kept me in excellent health all the way. I never felt better physically, mentally or spiritually, thanks Him!

I have read the foregoing part of this letter to Christie and Baker Christie, of his own accord, desires me to say that he is led in the same way. Baker did not say anything, and I did not ask him, for I feel that I must keep my hands off, and let each be independent in following the Lord’s leading, He will take care of the whole matter. Pray much for Baker, as he is quite young in the life of faith; but so are Christie add I, for that matter. You can’t pray too much for all of us.

And now, dear ones, I want to say that while I am willing to shut myself up in my study, and say there until I have thoroughly mastered both languages, if the Lord says so: still I am gladly willing to start tomorrow for Thibet, should He so direct. I am determined to stand with my Lord though every earthly friend desert me and men and devils unite in opposition. What care I for tornadoes of opposition when I have His smile of approval. Do not think I am carried away by a false enthusiasm or desire to be prominent. Praise God, He has saved me from that! I write from the depths of a sincere heart.”

Wednesday, February 9, 1898. Vol. XX. No. 6

Pg. 126 “The Worship and Fellowship of the Church: Weekly Sermon — By Rev. A. B. Simpson”

“This surely settles the question. If more is needed to be said it would be sufficient to add that the apostle preached the Gospel to the people among whom he moved through the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew languages which he had himself acquired, and on one or two occasions his audiences were surprised to find that could speak their language through the large and liberal culture which he had received.

This gift of tongues being chiefly of the character of a sign was liable to great abuse and seems to have been early withdrawn from the primitive church. In modern times it has been revived, but with some liability to abuse.

The story of Edward Irving is well known. After a career of extraordinary brilliancy and power in his last days he adopted the theory that the supernatural gifts of the early church should be claimed in our own day, and there were undoubted instances not only of miraculous power, but especially of the exercise of the gift of tongues; but through the exaggeration of this gift and the strong temptation to use it sensationally, it became a source of much confusion and even ridicule, and a work that had in it undoubted elements of truth and power was discredited and hindered.

In our own day there is the same strained and extravagant attempt to unduly exaggerate the gift of tongues, and some have even proposed that we should send our missionaries to the foreign field under a sort of moral obligation to claim this gift, and to despise the ordinary methods of acquiring a language. Such a movement would end in fanaticism and bring discredit upon the truth itself. We know of more than one instance where our beloved missionaries have been saved from this error and led to prosecute their studies in foreign languages with fidelity and diligence, and their efforts have been rewarded by supernatural help in acquiring languages in a remarkably short time, but not in despair of proper industry and the use of their own faculties under God’s direction in acquiring these languages.”

Apostolic Faith Newspaper

“In September 1906, the Azusa Street Mission began publishing a newspaper, The Apostolic Faith. The paper contained news, testimonies, and sermons by Seymour and others. The Apostolic Faith was the instrument God used to spread the Pentecostal message around the world. At its height, the newspaper had a circulation of 50,000.”(2)http://www.azusastreet.org/TheApostolicFaith.htm

The newspaper covered tongues exclusively as a miracle of spontaneously speaking a foreign language enabling people to preach the Gospel to all the nations. There are so many testimonies reinforcing this fact that few will be documented here. The newspaper itself is actively engaged in the impact of speaking in tongues but does little theological reflection.

Contributors and published letters posted in the newspaper contains the central characters of the early pentecostal movement in the United States and throughout the world.

Sept. 1906. Vol. 1. No. 1

Pg. 4 “Brother and Sister A. G. Garr, former leaders of the Burning Bush work in Los Angeles, were powerfully baptized with the Holy Ghost and received the gift of tongues, especially the language of India and dialects. Bro. Garr was able to pray a native of India “through” his own language, the Bengali. Sister Garr also spoke Chinese. They left Los Angeles for the East in July going by the way of Chicago, where they met with the Burning Bush leaders, then on to Danville, Va., where they have preaching to hungry souls. From there, they will go on to Indiana, D. V.

In a letter from Bro. Garr we learn that God is honoring His precious gospel in a marvelous way, reclaiming, sanctifying and filling with the Holy Ghost nearly all the members of the old Burning Bush band. The brother writes that when they spoke in tongues the people had such confidence in their Pentecostal baptism that those who were such were immediately healed.”

Dec. 1906. Vol. 1. No. 4

Pg. 3 The conversion of G. B. Cashwell, “The first altar call I went forward in earnest for my Pentecost. I struggled from Sunday till Thursday. While seeking in an upstairs room in the Mission, the Lord opened up the windows of heaven and the light of God began to flow over me in such power as never before. I then went into the room where the service was held, and while Sister Lum was reading of how the Holy Ghost was falling in other places, before I knew it, I began to speak in tongues and praise God. A brother interpreted some of the words to be, “I love God with all my soul.” He filled me with His Spirit and love, and I am now feasting and drinking at the fountain continually and speak as the Spirit gives utterance, both in my own language and in the unknown language. I find that all has to be surrendered to God, our own language and all, and He speaks through us English, German, Greek or any other tongues in His own will and way.”

Feb. to March 1907. Vol 1. No. 6

Pg. 7 “The Holy Ghost has spoken five different languages through me since I got my Pentecost, some of which has been: Interpreted. I am glad the Lord knows all the languages of the nations.-W. A. Love.”

June to September 1907. Vol. 1. No. 9

Pg. 2 “ THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER AND SPEAKING WITH TONGUES IN CHICAGO. In our previous articles upon the above subject, we defined the definite conclusions at which we had arrived; and now after six months further study, we have -little to change as to our opinion of the movement. Last January we said we were satisfied that God had visited His people and that many were greatly blessed while others seemed puffed up and injured by their experience. We also stated that the Gospel Tabernacle as a church had set aside one evening of each week to pray especially that we might receive all that God was willing to bestow; and also that we might be delivered from all the deceptions of Satan, and the workings of the flesh. The result so far has been most satisfactory. God has met us and answered our prayers. On the 12th of June at the dose of our regular mid-week prayer meeting, nine of us tarried for a special season of waiting upon God. Vole had not proceeded far when one of our number (our class leader, a man of undoubted reliability and Christian experience), was praying with unusual earnestness amounting to intense supplication, when suddenly the Spirit seemed to fall upon us “as at the beginning;” for several were strongly convulsed, while the brother referred to began to speak in “unknown tongues” and “magnify God” with a loud voice. This altogether new experience made a deep impression, in all present, as it could not possibly be attributed to hysteria or any hypnotic influence. So great was the downpour of the Spirit that this strong man paced the floor glorifying God for fully an hour. By this time the sense of God’s presence was so great that another of our church officers said that he believed it was God’s will to bestow upon him a like enduement. This brought us once more to our knees, where we had not long remained when the Spirit again fell upon us. and this brother likewise burst into intense supplication, and a little later began to speak “in tongues” and glorify God, as the first brother had done. This so impressed us that we began to think that it was the will of God to visit the entire company. None of the others, however, were visited at this time, and at three o’clock in the morning we left the church. Again the following Friday evening as a company kneeled at the altar the Spirit fell upon one of our sisters; and again the following Sunday evening, upon one of the elders of the church. In each instance the recipient had the same experience as the first two. These things have made such an impression upon our people that the church has been greatly quickened, Those who speak in tongues seem to live in another world. The experience they have entered into corresponds exactly with that which is described in the 10th chapter of the Acts. The tongues they speak in do not seem to be intended as a means of communication between themselves and others, as on the Day of Pentecost, but corresponds more closely with that described in the 14th of 1. Corinthians, 2nd verse, and seems to be a means of communication between the soul and God. They do not speak in tongues in the assembly, but when in prayer; they become intense in their supplication; they are apt to break out in the unknown tongue, which is invariably followed by ascriptions of praise and adoration which are well nigh unutterable. The writer has about concluded that it is the “new tongues” spoken of in Mark xvi. 17 as one of the signs which are to follow them that believe, rather than the “Gift of tongues” which all evidently did not possess. We feel our spirits hushed into silence before God, at this wonderful manifestation of His presence in our midst. We have announced no extra meetings in the church, but every night prostrate forms may be seen waiting in silence before Him who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. There is no shadow of doubt left in our minds as to the Scripturalness of the experience, and we feel sure that no honest heart could find anything to criticize.

There are other cases at other points in our Chicago work equally satisfactory, and it is this more than any other thing that has influenced us in the selection of the Free Methodist Camp Grounds, as the place for our next annual meeting – The Christian Missionary Alliance.”


First named Confidence: A Pentecostal Paper for Great Britain, and then Confidence: A Pentecostal Paper for Great Britain and other Lands and then simply “Confidence”.

“Confidence was an early British Pentecostal periodical edited by A. A. Boddy, an Anglican rector who was baptized in the Spirit in 1907. Confidence records sermons and reports given at the conferences and revivals held at Boddy’s parish, as well as Pentecostal news from around the world.”(3)https://ifphc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publicationsguide.main T. B. Barratt, a powerful Norwegian/British orator and writer was the intellectual and promotional person behind the Pentecostal expansion into Europe. His contributions to the Confidence Newspaper along with A. A Body’s editorial skills, gave Confidence a slightly more critical and intellectual nuance to the movement.

August 15th, 1908. No. 5

Pg. 9 “We believe that the formation of any ruling body would not meet the approval of God’s baptized people, but that such an affiliation of Pentecostal Missions is desirable as will preserve and increase the tender sweet bond of love and fellowship now existing and guard against abuse of legitimate liberty.”

Pg. 11 “He told me he speaks in three tongues.” — I do not know who this is referencing but shows the concept of foreign languages is deeply instilled within the doctrine.

Pg. 23 The editor reprinted a work from the “Christian Missionary Alliance, 1908” on a Revival in South China: “The Spirit fell in a quiet Saturday night meeting, and without there having been any special exhortation or request in prayer on this line, a number “BEGAN TO SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES.” It was an entirely new experience, but a blessed one to many, both foreign and native brethren and sisters, old and young.”

October 15th, 1908, No. 7

Pg. 15 Smith Wigglesworth “The glorious remembrance of these moments is beyond my expression to give–when I could not find words to express, then an irresistable Power filled me and moved my being till I found to my glorious astonishment I was speaking in other tongues clearly. After this a burning love filled my soul.”

Pg. 21 A young Syrian women speaking in tongues. . . labelled Sept. 16, 1908 “Here, then, was a young Syrian girl speaking language after language,. . . I confess I did not know the languages spoken. . . At last God granted her the interpretation of much that was spoken, sentence by sentence.”

Nov. 15th, 1908, No. 8

Pg. 10 “In the Spring and Summer of 1906 God began to answer the very prolonged cry of some of His hungry children, a cry for a Pentecost with “Scripture Evidences.” One after another became at last conscious, as the mighty power of God came upon them, that they were speaking in divine ecstasy with a voice not their own, and in a language whether of men and angels they knew not, for until some received the gift of interpretation it was not known what they said. They were speaking mysteries to God for their own strengthening. (I Cor. Xiv., 2-4)”

Feb. 19th, 1909, Vol. II. No. 2

The Pentecostal Conference in Germany, December 8th to 11th, 1908.

Pg. 37 Pastor Barratt “What language or languages are spoken in tongues? The language often seems as real as any other. In the East one seemed to be surrounded by people talking in Tongues. Languages quite clear cut, with clear interpretation, are often heard, and some known languages are recognised from time to time.

Paul was not epileptic or insane when he said he spoke with Tongues more than all. He did not desire all his hearers should become insane, when he wished they were all he was.

The human mind may use expression stored up by previous experiences, but God brings them out and uses them.

We read of the Tongues of angels in I Cor. xiii., 1. No one knows how many languages and dialects there will be in heaven, but all will be easily understood, so there will be no difficulty.”

March, 1909. Vol II, No. 3.

Pg. 74 J. O. Lehman “South Africa. Johannesburg. “Speaking in Hindu.”

“God has been using some of us to speak in tongues to others which was their native language, and as a consequence they were converted. One incident was a dear young sister of about 18 years of age, who was under the power of the Spirit one evening during the meeting and spoke in tongues, and a Hindoo from India was there hearing her speak. He recognized that she was speaking Hindoo languages. He did not know enough of all these languages to get the connection of the message given. As he stood there eagerly listening an expression of joyful surprise suddenly flashed upon his face. There he stood with almost breathless silence taking in every word that was spoken. All at once he burst forth saying, she is now speaking my language. Then he said there is a beautiful message. She says, “We are not made for this world, we are too good for this world. This world is not our home. Our home is up in Heaven. We are NOT OUR OWN.”

May, 1909. Vol. II. No. 5

Pg. 118 Scandinavia — Pastor Barratt: “One young woman received her Pentecost in one of the better class houses whilst attending to her household duties, much to the consternation of her folks there, but to the joy of the friends. She spoke known languages, although unknown to herself.”

Pg. 120 “The Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the Sign of Tongues.”

“Should we connect this ‘Movement’ of the last two years with the approaching return of the Lord Jesus?. . . Yes; for in every land where this blessing has come there have been prophetic utterances, “Jesus is coming soon,” etc. It seems as if the Lord were giving His warnings to His own people.”

June, 1909. Vol II. No. 6

Results from the 1909 Sunderland International Pentecostal Congress.

Nothing mentioned about tongues in the congress.

Sept. 1910. Vol. III. No. 9

Starting to notice less emphasis on speaking in tongues, more stress on the administrative aspect plus guarding against false tongues.

Dec. 1911. Vol. IV. No. 12

Pg. 286 B. Jones a PMU Missionary in India wrote about having to learn the language through the long, arduous and traditional method of studying, which contradicts many writers who believed this was going to be supernaturally imposed. “I am now STUDYING THE LANGUAGE as hard as I ever can. I have a teacher who comes every morning at eight for two hours. I generally read with him for pronunciation, and for this it is and advantage to know Welsh, as many of the sounds are familiar. Then during the day I study grammar and a vocabulary by myself, and in the evenings Miss Elkington teaches me simple Bible stories. I do praise Jesus!”

June 1912. Vol. 5. No. 6

Much more pictures used and the emphasis is on missions. The price per copy has dropped. Are they losing subscribers now that the interest has subsided?

Pg. 125 Press Reports of the Fifth Sunderland Convention. (Pg. 127) Pastor Barratt spoke on Pentecost: “At the conclusion of Pastor Barratt’s remarks a remarkable manifestation took place, a woman in the audience breaking out into a lengthy series of utterances in a strange tongue amid intense excitement.”

Pg. 136 The paper reports on a Newcastle Newspaper called the Daily Chronicle where an article by Rev. A. Stanley Parker called “What is the Pentecostal Movement?” was posted. Rev. Parker was known by the Convention at Sunderland and was highly respected. The Confidence republished the article which states that it is one of three options.

  1. Possession of demons.
  2. Mere Gibberish – in this argument he cites Dr. Cutten “The Psychological Phenomena of Christianity”.
  3. The working of a divine spirit. Parker somewhat concludes that this the Pentecostal experience aligned with the Early Church in Apostolic days. “After 18 centuries has it suddenly been restored to the Church?” The Confident never answers any of these questions and leaves the reprint without comment.

Jan. 1913. Vol. VI. No. 1

Pg. 4 uttering in tongues — Chinese girl who did not know English spoke in purest English. Another example had a girl speaking in tongues, but no one knew what she was speaking.

Pg. 5ff The Baptism in the Holy Ghost. A Statement from Preston (Lancashire).

Pg. 7 “The Gift of Tongues. This was our stumbling-block and rock of offence. Prayerful examination of Scripture convinced us that our thoughts and objections were human. We saw that tongues were not used for preaching at Pentecost, nor at Cornelius house, nor at Ephesus. There were no sinners to preach at Cornelius’ house or Ephesus.

We saw that the tongues (in every case recorded) were used to magnify God and prophecy. “Speaketh unto God, not unto men,” I Cor. Xiv. 2”

Aug. 1913 Vol. VI. No. 8

Pg. 151 “Speaking in Tongues. (Mrs. Polman, Amsterdam)”

“How often did not we experience, when we were speaking in tongues, and were in intimate fellowship with God, that we were suddenly innerly enlightened as with a heavenly light, which was only limited by our body as by a thin wall, through which the light would soon flow? And how we saw by that light the power, the love, the wisdom had the riches which are in Christ. Human words are too poor to describe the blessedness and the glory which one feels in one’s innermost being in those moments. One is lost in God, swept up to heavenly places, and gives utterance in strange sounds, in an unknown tongue, which flow over our lips, now as shouts of joy, then as fervent utterances of love towards our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and then as petitions.

Our spirit is speaking, speaking to God. Oh, the holiness, the earnestness of these moments can only be understood by those who know this experience.”

Feb. 1914. Vol. VII. No. 2

Pg. 26 W.T. Dixon “About Tongues: A Word in Season.”

Pg. 27 “First, we have psychical tongues, then emotional tongues, and then tongues which are more directly spiritual. . . ”

psychical tongues. . . “They are the result of a certain mental condition created by the power of the will and mind in pursuit of manifestations.”

emotional tongues. . . “If such an emotion be the result of an influx of Divine and holy sentiment, which breathers the sweet odours of heavenly incense to the soul, they are truly of God and not in any sense despised.”

supernatural. . . “It is a speaking manifestation of Deity — a supernatural Spirit-given utterance to men clothed with power and authority from on high. It is not only where “unlearned and ignorant men” are given the tongue of the learned, but also the tongues of the nations and angels too, perhaps.”

>May 1914. Vol. VII. No. 5

Pg. 85 “Glossolalia in the Early Church. Historical descriptions from the late Dean of Canterbury.”

He directly quotes from Dean Farrar, (Frederic Farrar) Darkness to Dawn on the Christians in Rome being persecuted and speaking in tongues. However, the article fails to note that this is a work of fiction finely interwoven within history.

Pg. 88 recognizes and lauds his work on I Corinthians and continues, “Once more the Dean rightly dwells on the mystic character of “the tongue;” I also (this is worthy of special note) on the mixture of the different languages in “the tongue,” being, as it were, as he says, “the essence and idea of all languages.” Furthermore, how truly does he sum up the impression of the tongues upon the hearts of the hearers as being a blending of ecstatic worship, wonder, thanksgiving, and intercession, often untranslateable, but entering, and possessing with a like burden of worship, and intercession, the spirits of all who are “in the Spirit.”

Pg. 89 “THE SAME SPIRIT. As we read this marvellously accurate portrayal or the manifestations accompanying the Glossolalia, it is difficult to realise that Dean Farrar had never been present at one of these latter day Pentecostal gatherings (having died several years, at least, before the present Revival of the “Charismata” in the Church), and the extract we have dealt with not only shows how faithfully and successfully he has delineated, from history, the true Scriptural phenomena of the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit, but the whole passage is, to our minds, a very convincing proof of how, whether we examine the manifestations and operations of the’ Holy Spirit in the Christian assemblies of the days of Nero, or of the Twentieth Century. . .”

December, 1914. Vol. VII. No. 12

Pg. 233 “Tongues in the Public Assembly. Conference of Leaders at the Sunderland Convention, 1914”

“Mr. H. Mogridge, of Lytham, said they had learned many things during the last six or seven years, and he had to admit that as a Pentecostal people, many foolish thing had been done and were being done to-day, but if they knew what the Word of God taught concerning the use of theis gift of God they would not have the interruptions that they often saw in their assemblies. They had received the spirit of love and power, and of a sound mind, with the gift of tongues and of prophecy and other blessings, and with these gifts there should also be in the assembly.


He had been very much grieved by the way the gift of tongues had been exercised in his hearing. Whey they heard a message in tongues and it was the same words over and over again and interpreted in a dozen different ways, he felt sure there was something wrong.

Again they had heard messages in tongues that had been short compared with the interpretation. The interpretation had been three times as long as the message, or more. He thanked God that He had left them in no kind of doubt as to this matter, but had put it very clearly and definitely in the Book what was the use and office of tongues in the assembly. In I Cor., xiv., 1, 2, they were told to follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that they might prophesy.”

Pg. 234 . . .“But the place for tongues is not in the public assembly, but in private, where they could speak to God. That was what the Word of God taught. In verses 18, 19 and 20, Paul said that he thanked God that he spoke with tongues more than all of them, but he spoke thus at the proper place and at the proper time; he didn’t speak in the public assembly to interrupt God’s servant when he was giving forth a message.”

. . .“The Rev. A. A. Boddy said they would all agree with the Scripture that Mr. Mogridge had quoted. In his zeal, perhaps he had stated the case from one side only. Perhaps they might have others now on the other side. They all might balance the statements somewhat.”

“Mr. Boddy remarked that among those present they might not all see eye to eye on the various questions connected with tongues, and they did not wish to shut out some of the children of God from fellowship because they might have other views.”

Christian and Missionary Alliance

July 27, 1907. Vol. XXVIII. No. 4

Pg. 44 “Notes from the Home Field”

The CMA visited the Gospel Tabernacle in Chicago in 1907 and found the results “most satisfactory.” They added more about speaking in tongues:

“These things have made such an impression upon our people that the church has been greatly quickened. Those who speak in tongues seem to live in another world. The experience they have entered into corresponds exactly with that which is described in the 10th chapter of Acts. The tongues they speak in do not seem to be intended as a means of communication between themselves and others, as on the Day of Pentecost, but corresponds more closely with that described in the 14th of I. Corinthians, and verse, and seems to be a means of communication between the soul and God. They do not speak in tongues in the assembly, but when in prayer; they become intense in their supplication; they are apt to break out in the unknown tongue, which invariably followed by ascriptions of praise and adoration which are well nigh unutterable. The writer has concluded that it is the “new tongues” as spoken of in Mark xvi, 17 as one of the signs which are to follow them that believe, rather than the “gift of tongues” which all evidently did not possess. We feel our spirits hushed into silence before God, and this wonderful manifestation of His presence in our midst.”

April 4, 1908. Vol. XXX. No. 1

Pg. 7 “Speaking With tongues: An Exegetical Study. By A. J. Ramsey”

Pg.9 “It is evident that the speaking “with tongues” at Corinth was an entirely different thing from the speaking “with other tongues” in Jerusalem on “the day of Pentecost.” This is clearly shown by the following facts: In Jerusalem the speaking “with other tongues” was speaking other languages that were understood by those who heard them-every one hearing in his own native dialect. It was addressed to man and understood by man. At Corinth, the speaking “with tongues” was not to man, and no man understood it (I. Cor. xiv. 2). This contrast is sharp, and very striking in the original. The words “understandeth” (I. Cor. xiv. 2), “heard” (Acts ii. 6), “hear” (Acts ii. 8), and “heard” (Acts x. 46) are translations of the same Greek verb, meaning to hear intelligently. The fact that the Corinthian “tongues” had to be interpreted in order to be understood, accentuates the difference between it and the “other tongues” (Acts ii. 4) which were understood by those who heard them, without interpreter or interpretation. An interesting item of circumstantial evidence is presented by the fact that the new languages in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Ephesus, apparently gave no trouble (the Holy Spirit gave them utterance) ; whereas the “tongues” at Corinth caused no little trouble and required careful control. The significance of this appears in the light of the fact that some of those who spoke new languages were Ephesians. If they had exercised the Corinthian “tongue,” and had continued therein, it is not likely that Paul would have omitted even a reference to it in his Epistle to the Ephesians, in view of the prominence given it in his letter to the Corinthians.”

The Bridegroom’s Messenger

“Bridegroom’s Messenger, a prominent early Pentecostal periodical, was first published in 1907 by evangelist G. B. Cashwell. Cashwell, along with A. G. Garr, Charles H. Mason, D. J. Young, and others, brought the Pentecostal message from the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles to the southeastern United States.”(4)https://ifphc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publicationsguide.thebridegroomsmessenger

Feb. 1, 1908. Vol. 1. No. 7

Under Questions and Answers: “This speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is not the gift of tongues. Those who speak in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance have not the power to control it at will, it seems that it comes at such times as they are in close touch with God, the Spirit takes their tongues and speaks through them, gives them utterance. Those who have the gift of tongues, seem to be able to speak different kinds of tongues, and seem to be able to speak at will.”

. . .“Does any one of them know what language he himself speaks? Answer. Not unless the Spirit interprets, or some one else who knows the language informs them. A study of I Cor 12 and 14 will show that the gift and interpretation are two separate things.”

March 1, 1908. Vol 1. No. 9

“Tongues are a sign to unbelievers. And so will the other gifts be. Surely to have one’s vocal organs used by the divine Spirit and express thought in languages never learned is an objective miracle which none can gainsay.”

“A History of Tongues” V. P. Simmons (Frostproof, Fla.)

Here is a list of what he covered:

  • Irenaeus; and then jumps to the Reformation and the Camisards — Quotes using the Library of Universal Knowledge, Vol. III, Page. 352 and Schaff.
  • Then mentions Schaff again the Quakers and early Methodists, but lacking data, these movements cannot be substantiated for tongues.
  • The Lasure movement in Sweden.
  • The Irish revival in 1859 — Schaff is cited once again
  • Edward Irving — Encyclopedia of Religious knowledge, Vol. II, page 1119
  • The Second Adventists
  • Charles G. Finney

This is from March 1, 1908. Vol 1. No. 9 but the same version is found in Dec. 1, 1907. Vol. 1. No. 3.

April 15, 1908. Vol 1. No. 12

“History of Tongues: Additional Testimony.”

Here is a list of the people and events covered throughout history:

    The Montanists — History of Universal Knowledge, Vol. 10, page 160-1. Also Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, page 1561-2, Third Edition; quotes Philip Schaff again
  • Tertullian
  • Cyprian

Jan. 15, 1909. Vol. 2. No. 30

“Tongues: Their Nature and Use According to the Commentators” as reprinted from the “Household of God.”(5) The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center describes “Household of God” as “an important early American Pentecostal periodical edited by William F. Manley. Manley, a Pentecostal pastor and evangelist, was active in the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles and traveled extensively. John J. Scruby of Dayton, Ohio, published the periodical. Household of God published numerous letters and articles by early Pentecostal leaders.”

“Many excellent Christians have faulted to see the hand of God in the present work of the Holy Ghost accompanied by speaking with tongues, and have set themselves in array against it.

Their only excuse is that the languages which have appeared are not Biblical, and therefore are of Satanic origin.”

The article then goes on to cite:

  • Adam Clarke on Acts 8:15; Page 363. “It was the miraculous gifts of the Spirit which were thus communicated; the speaking with different tongues, and those extraordinary qualifications which were necessary for the successful preaching of the Gospel.”

  • Matthew Henry on Acts 8:17-18 – nothing significant to quote here.

  • Dean Alford, Vol. 2, Part 1, Page 220ff “We gather that the two departments in which the gift of tongues was exercised were prayer and praise. . . that the gift of speaking in various languages was bestowed on the disciples for their after use in preaching the gospel, we are, I think, running contrary to the whole course of Scripture, and the evidence of the early fathers on the subject.”

  • History of the Christian Church, by Philip Smith, B.A., “The gift of tongues which was now used as a medium of instant communication was also a sign, and attestation of their commission from God, and as such it was accepted by those of the people who believed, and this continued to be its chief use in the Apostolic Church.”

  • Apostolic and Post Apostolic Times, by Lechler, Vol. 1, Page 27. “. . .and ecstatic flow of sounds, in uttering which the understanding of the speaker was in abeyance.”

  • Commentary on I Corinthians. Godet, Vol. 2, Page 265ff “The glossolaete addresses God, and that in a tongue which no man understands, so that what he says remains a mystery to all who hear him; speaking in a tongue is a sort of spiritual soliliqua. . . It is evident that the state of the glossolaete was that of an ineffable conversation with God. . . I can only therefore regard the gift of tongues as the expression in a language spontaneously created by the Holy Spirit, of the new views and of the profound and lively emotions of the human soul.”

  • Jameson, Faucette and Brown, Vol. III, Page 427. “It is next to certain that the speakers themselves understood nothing of what they uttered.”

  • Ten Epochs of Church History. John Fulton, D. D. “But the impression suggested by the glossolalia of I Cor. 12:14 is of another kind, that namely ecstatic adoration in praise or prayer addressed not so much to men as to God.”

  • Schaff’s History of the Christian Church. Vol. 1. Page 230ff

    . . .Page 230 “The distribution of the flaming tongues to each of the disciples caused the speaking with tongues. A new experience expresses itself always in appropriate language. The supernatural experience of the disciples broke through the confines of ordinary speech and burst out in ecstatic language of praise and thanksgiving to God for the great works He did among them. Acts 2:11; 10:46.”

    “It was the Spirit Himself who gave them utterance and played on their tongues as on new tuned harps, unearthly melodies of praise. The glossolalia was here as in all cases where it is mentioned, an act of worship and adoration, not an act of teaching or instruction which followed afterwards in the sermon of Peter.

    “It was the first Te Deum of the new born church, * * * It was intelligible only to those who were in sympathy with the speaker, while unbelievers scoffingly ascribed it to madness or excess of wine. * * *

    Page 232 “The speaking in tongues began, before the spectators arrived (on day of Pentecost), that is, before there was any motive for the employment of foreign languages.

    Page 235 “It was an act of self devotion, an act of thanksgiving, praying, singing within the Christian congregation by individuals who were wholly absorbed in communion with God, and gave utterance to their rapturous feelings in broken, abrupt, rhapsodic, unintelligible words. It was emotional rather than intellectual. * * * * the language of the spirit or of ecstasy as distinct from language of the understanding.”

Editors final comments at the end of the article: “Then said He unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Dan. 10:12.

Today many seem to have set their hearts to misunderstand. But Daniel set his heart to understand, and Moses turned to see the bush that burned, and each heard the voice of God. ”

Feb. 1, 1911. Vol. 4. No. 79

“Some Interesting Facts About the Pentecostal Movement”

Quoting V. P. Simmons previous work almost verbatim including Schaff’s citations until the 1900s where he adds more details. Simmons is not mentioned. This was done by an editor with the initials, E. A. S.

April 1, 1917. Vol 10. No. 198

Reprint of “Glossolalia in the Early Church.”

March 1931. Vol. 24. No. 279

Pg. 14 “Pentecostal Outpourings throughout this age” It appears to be an expanded version of the pentecostal themes espoused by V. P. Simmons. The narrative has not changed. The editors note this is a selected piece meaning they took from other authors and spliced them together.

  • Chrysostom
  • Irenaeous
  • Tertullian and the Montanists
  • Cites Gorres in La Mystique Divene about Pachomius that he miraculously spoke in the “Greek Language”
  • Dark Ages 12th-15th Waldenses and Albigenses
  • Cites Philip Schaff, History of Christian Church, Vol. 1, page 237, 1882 edition for the Camisards, Quakers and Methodists, the Readers (Sweden), and the Irvingites
  • Vincent Ferrer, Francis Xavier from the Catholic Encylopedia “is said to have made himself understood by the Hindus without knowing their language.”
  • St. Louis Bertrand, Martin Valentine, Jean of St. Francis, Jeanne of the Cross
  • Souer’s History of the Christian Church Vol. 3, Page 406, Martin Luther was a speaker in tongues.

The Assemblies of God Official Publication

“The Pentecostal Evangel, the weekly magazine of the Assemblies of God USA, has been one of the most prominent Pentecostal periodicals in the world. J. Roswell and Alice Flower started the publication in July 1913 as the Christian Evangel, which served primarily a small regional Pentecostal network of churches, known as the Association of Christian Assemblies. . . Publishing the Christian Evangel on a weekly basis was quite an undertaking. The name was changed to the Weekly Evangel in 1915. . . In 1919 the current title, Pentecostal Evangel, was adopted. The magazine returned to weekly publication in 1923.”(6)https://pentecostalarchives.org/collections/pentecostalEvangel/

The Pentecostal Evangel is categorized by its three different names.

1. The Weekly Evangel

April 22, 1916. Vol. 136

“Speaking in an Unknown Tongue” by John S. Mercer.

“Published in the interest of the General Assembly of God”

Pg. 6 “We quote as a text, I Cor. 14:2, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him; howbeit i the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” This is not a gift of different languages as some have believed, but is an emotional or heavenly language, in which the speaker speaks only to God, He speaketh not unto men but unto God. “No man understandeth him;” this part of the text shows that it is not an earthly, but a heavenly language, which is the reason that no man can understand it.

Montanus truly said that each human spirit is like a harp. . .”

“We take the following from the Pulpit Commentary on I Cor. 14:5: “We have seen all along–and history has in various ages confirmed the impression on every occasion where the gift of tongues have been reproduced in seasons of great spiritual revivals–that the external symptoms may be imitated.” And because there are some today, who live ungodly lives that imitate, and claim to have the gift of tongues, many have said, “The whole thing is of the devil.” ”

. . .“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God.”–(I Cor. 14:2) The language of which the apostle is here speaking seems to have been of a very peculiar sort–an unintelligible vocal utterance, that which is often manifested at this present day, in great spiritual revivals. We are constituted that when there rises up in our souls a strong rush of tender emotions we feel utterly incapable to put them into words. If expressed at all they can only be in the quivering lip, the gleaming of the eye and the convulsive chest. The groans, the sighs, the rapturous shouts cannot be interpreted.”

. . .“While the unknown “tongue” cannot be interpreted, yet it is a “gift,” a gift of the high type. Such has been manifested in all great spiritual revivals of religion. The Very Rev. H. D. M. Spence, D. D., says in the Pulpit Commentary, “In my younger days I have heard such untranslatable sounds under the mighty sermons of grand old Welch preachers. “The words imply that these, ‘tongues,’ unintelligible vocal sounds, are valuable.” I would that ye spake with tongues.”–(I Cor. 14:15.) “In the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” The mysteries are “things which are hidden from the hearers, and sometimes from the speaker himself.” (Alford.) And the “mysteries,” out of whose deep solitudes the voice comes, remain “mysteries” out of whose deep solitudes the voice comes, remain mysteries; neither word nor tone, neither look nor gesture, gives any solution of the meaning. The secrets have taken on sound, but the sense is concealed.

The Right Rev. Lord A. C. Hervey, D. D., Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, says in his exposition on Acts 2:4 in the Pulpit Commentary, “The ‘tongues’ were sometimes tongues of men, foreign languages unknown to the speakers, and of course unintelligible to the hearers unless any were present as was the case on the day of Pentecost who knew the language; the ‘tongues’ were sometimes languages not of earth but of heaven, ‘tongues of men and angels.’”

“Apostolic Faith Restored” by B. F. Wallace.

Pg. 5 “Here is a well authenticated case of glossolalia identical with the manifestation upon the day of Pentecost. The young man was, and is ignorant of the Syriac; he spoke-as the Spirit gave utterance. . .”

June 3, 1916. No. 142

Pg. 4 “The Works of God

“Article VII. — The Gift of Tongues, and the Pentecostal Movement.

“It is our privilege to offer a reprint of a letter published some time ago in England, which deals so satisfactorily with the wonders of the movement that we feel it will be a blessing to all who read it. The pamphlet from which this is taken belongs to the Free literature Series of the Confidence Press, Sunderland, England.”

Heavy emphasis on Conybeare and Howson’s “Life and Epistles of St. Paul”

Pg. 6 “ “Conybeare, in his “Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” speaks as follows about the Church of the Apostles’ day: –“The feature which most immediately forces itself upon our notice, as distinctive of the Church of the Apostolic age, as its possession of supernatural gifts.” Therefore the Church to-day is un-apostolic in at least this respect.”

. . .“Will the reader turn to I Cor. 14:2–“He that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not to men but to God.” As this is so, an “intelligible language is unnecessary.” Just as the baby’s cooing is perfectly intelligible to the mother, so the unintelligible, Spirit-given utterances of the believer are intelligible to His Father, and the child, unimpeded by the limits of human language, fully and freely communes with its God, and “He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit.” ”

The following quotation from Schaff’s book:

“Speaking in tongues, as described from the life by Paul, himself a master in it, is an involuntary spasmodic praying or singing in a state of spiritual ecstasy and of the deepest absorption in the mysteries of the divine life. It is an inward act of worship and an ecstatic dialogue of the soul with God in a peculiar language inspired by the Spirit.”>

The author then goes on to quote Conybeare in the “Life and Epistles of St. Paul.” Here is an extract of that quote: “Thirdly, we find that while under its influence, the exercise of the understanding was suspended while the spirit was rapt in a state of spiritual ecstasy by the immediate communication of the Spirit of God. In this ecstatic trance the believer was constrained by an irresistable power to pour forth his feelings of thanksgiving and rapture in words, yet the words which issued from his mouth were not his own, he was even usually ignorant of their meaning.”

Then the article proceeds to explain:

“In writing thus of the apostolic experiences of Schaff and Conybeare so accurately describe their speaking in tongues as it is enjoyed by Pentecostal people to-day that they might have been present at a Pentecostal meeting and heard it. What they so truly describe as the manifestation of the gift in apostolic day is just a description of its manifestation to-day, and they show, how then as now, the believer was edified by the gift. In addition, they also clear away SOME POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS on the subject of the gift of tongues. Just to mention one of these common errors to be corrected. We see that the belief that the gift was for the preaching of the Gospel to foreigner, is unfounded. Foreign people did certainly hear their own languages on the day of Pentecost (the disciples were not, however, on that occasion, preaching the Gospel but magnifying God–the common use of the gift) therefore the Spirit must have sometimes given a known language. This is the experience to-day, known languages are heard and have been identified by persons hearing them. Personally, I have heard an address delivered in Spanish and Portuguese under the inspiration of the Spirit. These languages were recognized by one of those present, who had a slight acquaintance with them. There are other thoroughly authenticated instances of the same thing. Scripture fully bears out the statements of Schaff and Conybeare as to unknown languages, i. e., languages unknown to any, even to those speaking them. Because they were unknown the gift of the interpretation of tongues was needed.”

June 10, 1916. No. 143

(Continued piece from above) “And now as to the other “use of the gift of tongues” given by the Apostle Paul. This is mentioned in I Cor. 14:20-22, where he states “tongues are for a sign to them that believe not.” Unbelievers are brought face to face with the supernatural and an evidence of the “powers of the world to come” is given them in this way. But it should be particularly noticed that we are not taught that they will be.”

2. The Christian Evangel: The Pentecostal Paper for the Home

“The Official organ of the General Council of the Assemblies of God” E.N. Bell, Stanley H. Frodsham editors.

August 22, 1914. No. 55

A reprint of “Glossolalia in the Early Church” — Historical descriptions from the late Dean of Canterbury.

Will not cover this here because it is found elsewhere. At the end of the article it has “C. E. D. de L. In Victory. Reprinted by “Trust.” Who C. E. D. de L is, I do not know.

1919, No. 300 and 301

Pg. 5 under Questions and Answers:

“Are not the “other tongues” in Acts 2:4 which men understood that day different from the “unknown tongues” in I Cor. 14:2 which “no man understands?

Please note that the word “unknown” in verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27 are printed in Italic letters. This is the Bible way of indicating that the translators have supplied the word to help out the sense and the original Greek does not have the word “unknown” in any of these verses nor anywhere in the chapter. So these tongues are not in the absolute sense unknown. These supernatural tongues are always unknown to the speaker of them, but these tongues in most cases could be understood if the foreigner happened to be present whose language was being spoken. Only when such are not present is it true no man understands. Now there is a hint by Paul in speaking of the tongues of angels in I Cor. 13:1 that now and then an angelic tongue may be spoken by one through the power of the Holy Ghost. Only in such, perhaps rare cases is it absolutely an unqualifiedly true that no man on earth could understand these tongues.

Note further that these same tongues are referred to as fulfilling Isa. 28:11 and that these are called also “other tongues,” 14:21. Hence both the tongues in Acts 2:4 and Corinthinas 14 are called “other tongues.”

The Greek has two words for “another” or “other.” One is ALLOS and the other is HETEROS. ALLOS means another of the same kind being discussed, while HETEREOS means another of a different kind of nature. When Jesus said He would send us “another comforter” He said , “Allos comforter,” that is another of the same class, same nature as Himself, another Divine Comforter, another person of the Godhead.

Now the Scriptures describe these other tongues not as allos tongues but always as “Heteros tongues,” that is these tongues are not natural tongues, but are a DIFFERENT kind, DIFFERENT in their very nature and origin. They originate in heaven, are supernatural tongues. This is true of both ghoe in Acts 2:4 and those in I Cor. 14:21. They both are heteros tongues, different from our natural tongue or language. But either those in Acts 2:4 or those in Corinthians may be understood if the proper foreigner is present, unless they should happen to be foreign tongues.

The tongues in Acts 2:4 and in Corinthians differ in their uses. When the first given as in Acts 2:4 and prompted only by the Holy Ghost they may all speak to magnify God and as the sign of the Holy Ghost has filled them and is using their tongues. Long years after, as in Corinth, we are to learn to regulate their use to the edification of the Church. The difference is in use and regulation.”

3. The Pentecostal Evangel: A Family and Missionary Paper, the Official Organ of the Assemblies of God

December 27, 1919. Volume 320 and 321

“They Shall Speak with New Tongues”

Pg. 3 “The ear of the Bridegroom is attuned to hear the cry of the bride, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” Amidst all the plaudits, the harmonious chants and glorious anthems of heaven, the loud hallelujahs and cries of “Worthy the Lamb,” way through them all comes the cry of the bride. “Come, Lord Jesus,” and that cry is not lost or swallowed up in its passage through the volume of sound from the throng around the throne.

To emphasize the cry, God has given the bride a new tongue to utter it, yea to whisper it, so the world shall not hear it, and the enemy cannot understand it. It is the language direct from the Throne and therefore it is bound to return to the Throne.

They spoke wonderful things on the day of Pentecost, but they are speaking more wonderful things in this latter Pentecost. They are speaking about the exodus. The first Pentecost inaugurated the church, the last is giving the finishing touches. It is necessary to the supernatural because the church is soon to be called into the supernatural. Don’t miss your share.”

Pg. 5 under Questions and Answers.

Re: a short history of speaking in tongues. “How did the church lose its supernatural power? Ans. The church has never entirely lost it. . .”

The church lost it through ritual, lack of closeness to God, sin and unbelief. . . Eusebius, Chrysostom, Irenaeous, Augustine. . . Early Methodists, some Quakers, Charles G. Finney, Dwight L. Moody. Edward Irving, Daniel Awry in Eastern Tennessee (1890s).

. . .“These Assemblies are opposed to all radical Higher Criticism of the Bible and against all modernism or infidelity in the church, against people unsaved and full of sin and worldliness belonging to the church. They believe in all the real Bible truths held b all real Evangelical churches.”

“The Modern Tongues Movement” Quotes encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 27, Pg. 9-10 11th edition and the Encyclopedia Catholica.

April 17, 1920. Nos 336 and 337

Pg. 7 “The Manifestation of Tongues”

“The Spirit speaking in the individual independently, for the time being, of his intellectual faculties, testifying of Jesus, and “declaring the wonderful works of God,” elevates the human soul to the highest possible plane of unison with the divine, thrilling it with holy joy, edifying and strengthening its hold on things infinite and eternal.

This is the true Christian glossolalia. And when the tongues employed by the Spirit in thus, “declaring the wonderful works of God” are addressed to men, and are real languages on earth, as on Pentecost, they constitute a marvelous sign which causes men to fear and tremble on account of this visible display of divine power and glory.”

. . .“With an understanding of the private use of the gift of tongues as a medium of expressing the heart’s deepest emotions, a greater field of usefulness opens before us, and Christian believers should have a greater interest in being filled with the Spirit and power for the accomplishing of divine work in the world than they have in merely–for their own comfort and satisfaction–getting rid of a troublesome inward disposition.”

June 9, 1923. No. 500

The article “Glossolalia (Speaking in Tongues) In the Early Church” was converted into tract form and advertised in this edition.

“The substance of this tract has been taken from “Darkness and Dawn” by Dean Farrar, and is based on a true account of the manifestations of the Spirit as they were seen in the Church in the days of Nero.”

Aug. 27, 1927 No. 712

An advertisement to sell Philip Schaff’s book and published by Gospel Publishing house.

“The Person of Christ”

By Philip Schaff

“The one question pushing its way persistently into the hearts and minds of men is ‘What think ye of Christ?’ A clear, concise and convincing answer is given to the world in the pages of this book. No man can afford to miss from his library or his life the ripened fruit of Dr. Schaff’s mind. He has entered the Holy of Holies and brought back to his fellow men a divine message. For the man who desires to know Christ and desires to be more like Him, and desires to lead others to Him, this book is one of God’s choicest gifts.”

May 27, 1939. No. 1307

Pg. 3 Ernest S. Williams, Superintendant, Assemblies of God. His thoughts on Dean Farrar’s “Darkness and Dawn”:

“. . .in which he describes first century Christianity, I was impressed with his description of a Christian meeting held in seclusion and secrecy in the vicinity of Rome in the days of Nero, and the similarity of a Pentecostal meeting at present in which the Spirit has His way. Then a fear came over me lest we, in our human anxiety to have everything done decently and in order, should quench the Spirit and lose our privileged simplicity. There were perhaps things of the flesh then as there are now; may we not grieve away the manifestations of the Spirit by trying to control what we fear may be of the flesh.”

The Latter Rain Evangel: An International Monthly Magazine

“The Latter Rain Evangel was published monthly by the Stone Church, the significant early Pentecostal congregation in Chicago founded by William Hamner Piper. The Stone Church hosted the second General Council of the Assemblies of God in November 1914 as well as the 1919 General Council.”(7)https://pentecostalarchives.org/collections/latterRainEvangel/

Nov. 1908

Contains a story of a person speaking in tongues which is accidentally the Hebrew language and converting a Jew. (Pg. 10; Pg. 14)

Dec. 1908 Vol 1. No. 3

“Confirming the Word with Signs Following: Jesus Saves, Heals and Baptizes”

F. F. Bosworth

“In almost every service God confirms His Word by causing some one to speak in other tongues, and also to interpret the words thus spoken. Both the unknown tongue and the interpretations have been identified by some in the audience. They have heard the gospel “ in their own tongue wherein they were born.” Miss Campbell has been understood several times as the Spirit has spoken through her in the unknown tongue. Last Friday night we conducted a service in LaPaz, Indiana, in the United Brethren church. Cod gave us a blessed service, and as Miss Lee was speaking the precious Holy Spirit spoke through her in German, every word of which was understood by a German lady in the audience.”

July, 1930. Vol. 22. No. 10

“The Baptism and Ministry of the Holy Spirit” by J. N. Hoover

Pg. 6 He describes some history and arrives at the Camisards, Quakers and Methodists and cites Schaff.

September, 1925

Pg. 22. A Pentecostal Meeting in the First Century — a reprint of Dean Farrar’s “Darkness and Dawn”.

The Church of God Evangel

The Church of God Evangel began in 1910 as The Evening Light and Church of God Evangel, but the title was shorted to The Church of God Evangel in 1911. Since its beginning it has served as the primary voice of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee).”(8)https://pentecostalarchives.org/collections/cogevangel/

Nov. 18, 1933. Vol. 24. No. 37

Pg. 5 “The Baptism with the Holy Ghost and the Evidence” by Paul H. Walker.

It is a long work by Church paper standards and goes into more detail than earlier papers have attempted to do.

Pg. 6 Another historical portrait.

  • Irenaeous
  • Chrysostom – the typical Pentecostal quote
  • Dean Farrar “Darkness to Dawn” Pg. 167-169 Persecuted Christians of Rome speaking in tongues
  • Tertullian
  • Augustine the false Samaritan story
  • The Encylopedia Brittanica “glossolalia (or speaking in tongues)”
  • Schaff History of the Christian Church – Methodists, Quakers etc. the same as other earlier Pentecostal reports.

White Wing Messenger

The White Wing Messenger is the official publication of the Church of God of Prophecy – a pentecostal denomination that started in 1903. The publication started in 1911 and is still being published today.(9)https://ifphc.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/early-church-of-god-of-prophecy-periodical-now-online-white-wing-messenger-1923-1954/

March 31, 1928. Vol. 5. No. 7

Pg. 3 “History of Speaking in Tongues” V. P. Simmons once again is reprinted in this magazine.

The Bridal Call: Western edition

April 1919. Vol. II. No. 11

Herman L. Harvey

Pg. 7 “It may be the spoken language of some nation or tribe in the earth, it may be the language of angels. The inspired Apostle speaks of the “tongues of men and angels,” leaving us such an inference.

It is clearly not the purpose of God to bestow a language that will work automatically upon heathen and sinners of other lands and tribes.

When the Spirit was first poured out in California a few years ago a sad mistake was made by some who acted upon the belief that all they had to do was to reach some heathen land and the language would be always the very dialect needed.

There is not record in the Bible of tongues for preaching in other languages after the day of Pentecost.”

Pg. 8 “. . . It should be said in this connection, however, that often the language spoken by Pentecostal saints is accommodated to the needs of some foreigner whom the message reaches in power.” He goes on to give examples of a person miraculously speaking in Greek, and another in Spanish.

Pg. 9 “With the gift of tongues we become more effectual intercessors for others than we could be without it.”

March 1920. Vol III. No. 10

Pg. 17 ff “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” A. B. Cox

Pg. 18. Cox has one of the more detailed histories of tongues. However, he fails to substantiate many of his claims. Some are false and have perpetuated into later works.

  • covers whether Wesley spoke in tongues, but doesn’t really answer.
  • dwells on the Wesley-Middleton debate and the Camisards.
  • Quotes from Augustine about the Samaritans with this direct but wrong quote from him “It is expected that the convert should speak in new tongues.” this has never been qualified, even by later Pentecostal scholars. It is believed today to be wrong.
  • Quotes Chrysostom about speaking in foreign languages.
  • He asserts that Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Jerome and most of the church fathers “believe that the disciples of Pentecost were miraculously and permanently endowed with the power of using foreign languages in their missionary work. Chrysostom thought each one was given power to speak the language in which field he was to work. While Augustine says that every one of them spoke in the tongues of all nations, thus signifying that the Catholic Church would embrace all the nations and could in like manner speak in all tongues. De Cia. Dei. xv., Chap. 49.”
  • Gregory of Nyssa and Nazianzus connects gift of tongues with Babel. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. 17 I.I., Page 384

“Beloved, we would be glad to insert more of the history of each one of these, but space will not permit, at this time to speak of many others who have written on this great subject, such men as Oshausen, Baumgarten, Thiersch, Lechler, Hackett, Glaag, Plumptre, Schaff, Schmiedl and Zeller. Encyclopedia Biblica, Vol. iv, Col. 4761 gives some information.
Also Professor Ramsey and Doctor Bartlet. “Ramsey, St. Paul the Traveler. page 30, also The Century Bible, “Acts of the Apostles,” Note C, page 385.”

Pg. 19 takes up more time with the Montanists, Irenaeous, and then jumps to the Reformation, Luther, Camisards — quotes Cutten “The Psychological Phenomena of Christianity,” Pg. 56 about the Camisards.

Pg. 20 and 21 are missing where the article ends.

The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate: the Official Organ of the Pentecostal Holiness Church

The Pentecostal Holiness Church was the result of the merger of a number of south-eastern US holiness turned Pentecostal groups in the early 1900s. It was founded by A. B. Crumpler and G. B. Cashwell.

Thursday, April 1,1920. Vol. 3. Number 149

“Pentecost in History” by W. H. Turner.

Pg. 6 skips from Irenaeous in the second century to the Camisards in the late seventeenth in his tracing speaking in tongues.

“Dr. Philip Schaff in both History of the Christian Church and Religious Encyclopaedia speaks of those same people as having spoken with tongues. In connection with the Irish revival, 1858, was manifested the speaking with tongues.”

Pg. 6-7 goes on at length to cover Edward Irving. Greenville, S. C., 1894-95; Texas 1900; Kansas 1903; Texas again 1905; 1906 Azusa; 1907 Cashwell in North Carolina, and then describes it going throughout the world. “Surely the time of His coming is near. Glory to God.”

References   [ + ]

Delphi Prophetesses and Christian Tongues

Did the ancient Greek prophetesses, especially the Pythian priestesses in Delphi, speak in tongues and the Christians later adapted it?

The alleged connection between the two is an important one in the speaking in tongues debate. A dispute which this article seeks to look deeper into.

The approach used to find an answer is to locate the primary Hellenistic texts that make this connection and evaluate them. English translations will be listed along with the majority having Greek or Latin sources paralleled with them. A short analysis will be provided. The reader is not required to know either one of these languages in order to examine the works and can easily skip over these foreign texts.

For those readers who want a quick answer and do not want to look into the details, the conclusion is no, the ancient Greek prophetesses did not speak in glossolalia. Many readers that habitually come to this website won’t take such a conclusion literally until substantiation is shown that the following will provide.

Here is an introductory video on the Delphi temple and how the Greek priestesses operated. It is an investigation into whether gases from the cracks in the temple caused the prophetesses to go mad and prophesy. It does not address glossolalia but covers almost every other aspect of the Delphic priestess role and provides a good background to the subject matter.

Table of Contents

  • The connection between ancient Greek prophetesses and glossolalia
  • The classical sources on alleged glossolalia
    • Herodotus The Histories
    • Plato
    • Virgil in The Aeneid
    • Lukan’s The Civil War
    • Plutarch’s Moralia
    • Strabo
    • Michael Psellos
    • Rohde’s Psyche: Cult of Souls
  • Conclusion

The connection between ancient Greek prophetesses and glossolalia

The christian doctrine of speaking in tongues has had three major movements over the 2000 years. The first one was the traditional one that lasted for 1800 years that it was either a miracle of speaking, hearing or both. The second one was far smaller in influence and began shortly after the Reformation called cessationism. This is a conservative Protestant faction that believes all miracles had ceased in the earlier church and thus any practice of speaking in tongues is false. This doctrine continues today. A third movement sprung up in the 1800s through the agency of German protestant scholars who used a groundbreaking methodology called higher criticism to interpret speaking in tongues. This resulted in a new doctrine called glossolalia. Instead of tracing the christian history of speaking in tongues through church literature and ultimately ending up at Pentecost, higher criticists took an entirely different path. They felt that most ancient christian literature was based on myth and could not be used as objective data. The better alternative was to trace speaking in tongues through classical sources such as Plutarch, Strabo, and others. Therefore, their history goes to ancient Greece before the advent of Christianity and focuses on the caves of Delphi and Dadona where the ancient Greek prophetesses would utter their prophecies.

Glossolalia is the dominant interpretational schema today. As outlined in the series, A History of Glossolalia, it has dominated the modern discussion so greatly that it has all but erased the memory of the traditional definition that existed for 1800 years. Glossolalia is found ubiquitously throughout the primary, secondary and tertiary literature. However, the Hellenistic sources used by higher criticists that trace back to the beginnings of Christianity or earlier have hardly been critically evaluated. The following is a collation and analysis of the major sources in Hellenistic writings on the Greek prophetesses allegedly speaking in tongues.

The connection between ancient Greek prophetesses and glossolalia

Herodotus The Histories

“The Histories. . . of Herodotus is now considered the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 440 BC in the Ionic dialect ofclassical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Western Asia, Northern Africa and Greece at that time.[citation needed]Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the West’s most important sources regarding these affairs.”(1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histories_(Herodotus).

Herodotus refers to the ancient Delphian prophetess speaking in hexameter verse(2) Hdt. 1.47 http://data.perseus.org/citations/urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0016.tlg001.perseus-eng1:1.47 see also Hdt. 1.65, 1.66, 1.67, 5:60, 5:61, 7:220 that was clearly spoken. The actual citations can be found in the footnote and there is nothing in any one of them that relates to tongues-speech. Therefore, the Greek will not be provided.


Plato is one of the most revered Greek writers and philosophers of all time. If one wants to substantiate any Greek theme and it is supported in Plato’s work, then the argument has a winning probability. In the case of an ancient Greek priestess speaking ecstatically in his work, there are only two references that are close. These are not substantial. He lived in the fourth-century BC.

The Phaedron

“Plato’s Phaedrus is a rich and enigmatic text that treats a range of important philosophical issues, including metaphysics, the philosophy of love, and the relation of language to reality, especially in regard to the practices of rhetoric and writing.”(3)http://www.english.hawaii.edu/criticalink/plato/ It is hard to see what the connection with glossolalia is here.

[244b] and the priestesses at Dodona when they have been mad have conferred many splendid benefits upon Greece both in private and in public affairs, but few or none when they have been in their right minds; and if we should speak of the Sibyl and all the others who by prophetic inspiration have foretold many things to many persons and thereby made them fortunate afterwards, anyone can see that we should speak a long time. And it is worth while to adduce also the fact that those men of old who invented names thought that madness was neither shameful nor disgraceful.(4)Plato in Twelve Volumes. Translated by Harold Fowler. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1925

[244β] Δωδώνῃ ἱέρειαι μανεῖσαι μὲν πολλὰ δὴ καὶ καλὰ ἰδίᾳ τε καὶ δημοσίᾳ τὴνἙλλάδα ἠργάσαντο, σωφρονοῦσαι δὲ βραχέα ἢ οὐδέν: καὶ ἐὰν δὴ λέγωμεν Σίβυλλάν τεκαὶ ἄλλους, ὅσοι μαντικῇ χρώμενοι ἐνθέῳ πολλὰ δὴ πολλοῖς προλέγοντες εἰς τὸμέλλον ὤρθωσαν, μηκύνοιμεν ἂν δῆλα παντὶ λέγοντες. τόδε μὴν ἄξιονἐπιμαρτύρασθαι, ὅτι καὶ τῶν παλαιῶν οἱ τὰ ὀνόματα τιθέμενοι οὐκ αἰσχρὸν ἡγοῦντοοὐδὲ ὄνειδος μανίαν:(5)Plato. Platonis Opera, ed. John Burnet. Oxford University Press. 1903


“Timaeus . . . is one of Plato’s dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character Timaeus of Locri, written c. 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. . .”(6)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timaeus_(dialogue) Plato is describing how the human mind can touch the divine. He believed a normal rational mind cannot connect and must be in an altered state to do such. Whatever vision, apparition or speech that occurs in an altered state must be interpreted by a person of a stable or rational mind. The speech itself that Plato refers to is not glossolalia or ecstatic speech, rather he relates the process required finding out the meaning behind the difficult imagery or words.

[71e] as good as they possibly could, rectified the vile part of us by thus establishing therein the organ of divination, that it might in some degree lay hold on truth. And that God gave unto man’s foolishness the gift of divination a sufficient token is this: no man achieves true and inspired divination when in his rational mind, but only when the power of his intelligence is fettered in sleep or when it is distraught by disease or by reason of some divine inspiration. But it belongs to a man when in his right mind to recollect and ponder both the things spoken in dream or waking vision by the divining and inspired nature, and all the visionary forms that were seen, and by means of reasoning to discern about them all

[72a] wherein they are significant and for whom they portend evil or good in the future, the past, or the present. But it is not the task of him who has been in a state of frenzy, and still continues therein, to judge the apparitions and voices seen or uttered by himself; for it was well said of old that to do and to know one’s own and oneself belongs only to him who is sound of mind. Wherefore also it is customary to set the tribe of prophets to pass judgement

[72b] upon these inspired divinations; and they, indeed, themselves are named “diviners” by certain who are wholly ignorant of the truth that they are not diviners but interpreters of the mysterious voice and apparition, for whom the most fitting name would be “prophets of things divined.”

For these reasons, then, the nature of the liver is such as we have stated and situated in the region we have described, for the sake of divination. Moreover, when the individual creature is alive this organ affords signs that are fairly manifest, but when deprived of life it becomes blind and the divinations it presents are too much obscured to have any(7)Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 9 translated by W.R.M. Lamb. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1925.

The Greek:

[71ε] ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἀληθείας πῃ προσάπτοιτο, κατέστησαν ἐν τούτῳ τὸ μαντεῖον. ἱκανὸν δὲσημεῖον ὡς μαντικὴν ἀφροσύνῃ θεὸς ἀνθρωπίνῃ δέδωκεν: οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἔννουςἐφάπτεται μαντικῆς ἐνθέου καὶ ἀληθοῦς, ἀλλ᾽ ἢ καθ᾽ ὕπνον τὴν τῆς φρονήσεωςπεδηθεὶς δύναμιν ἢ διὰ νόσον, ἢ διά τινα ἐνθουσιασμὸν παραλλάξας. ἀλλὰ συννοῆσαιμὲν ἔμφρονος τά τε ῥηθέντα ἀναμνησθέντα ὄναρ ἢ ὕπαρ ὑπὸ τῆς μαντικῆς τε καὶἐνθουσιαστικῆς φύσεως, καὶ ὅσα ἂν φαντάσματα

[72α] ὀφθῇ, πάντα λογισμῷ διελέσθαι ὅπῃ τι σημαίνει καὶ ὅτῳ μέλλοντος ἢπαρελθόντος ἢ παρόντος κακοῦ ἢ ἀγαθοῦ: τοῦ δὲ μανέντος ἔτι τε ἐν τούτῳ μένοντοςοὐκ ἔργον τὰ φανέντα καὶ φωνηθέντα ὑφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ κρίνειν, ἀλλ᾽ εὖ καὶ πάλαι λέγεται τὸπράττειν καὶ γνῶναι τά τε αὑτοῦ καὶ ἑαυτὸν σώφρονι μόνῳ προσήκειν. ὅθεν δὴ καὶ τὸτῶν προφητῶν γένος ἐπὶ

[72β] ταῖς ἐνθέοις μαντείαις κριτὰς ἐπικαθιστάναι νόμος: οὓς μάντεις αὐτοὺςὀνομάζουσίν τινες, τὸ πᾶν ἠγνοηκότες ὅτι τῆς δι᾽ αἰνιγμῶν οὗτοι φήμης καὶ φαντάσεωςὑποκριταί, καὶ οὔτι μάντεις, προφῆται δὲ μαντευομένων δικαιότατα ὀνομάζοιντ᾽ ἄν.

ἡ μὲν οὖν φύσις ἥπατος διὰ ταῦτα τοιαύτη τε καὶ ἐν τόπῳ ᾧ λέγομεν πέφυκε, χάρινμαντικῆς: καὶ ἔτι μὲν δὴ ζῶντος ἑκάστου τὸ τοιοῦτον σημεῖα ἐναργέστερα ἔχει,στερηθὲν δὲ τοῦ ζῆν γέγονε τυφλὸν καὶ τὰ μαντεῖα ἀμυδρότερα(8)Plato. Platonis Opera, ed. John Burnet. Oxford University Press. 1903.

Virgil in The Aeneid

Virgil or more accurately, Publius Vergilius Maro, is a first-century BC ancient Roman poet. His alleged contribution to the tongues connection is small.

Then to Phoebus and Trivia will I set up a temple of solid marble, and festal days in Phoebus’ name. You also a stately shrine awaits in our realm; for here I will place your oracles and mystic utterances, told to my people, and ordain chosen men, O gracious one. Only trust not your verses to leaves, lest they fly in disorder, the sport of rushing winds; chant them yourself, I pray.” His lips ceased speaking.(9)Virgil. Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Translated by Fairclough, H R. Loeb Classical Library Volumes 63 & 64. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. 1916

And the Latin

Tum Phoebo et Triviae solido de marmore templum instituam, festosque dies de nomine Phoebi. Te quoque magna manent regnis penetralia nostris: hic ego namque tuas sortes arcanaque fata, dicta meae genti, ponam, lectosque sacrabo, alma, viros. Foliis tantum ne carmina manda, ne turbata volent rapidis ludibria ventis; ipsa canas oro.” Finem dedit ore loquendi.(10)Vergil. Bucolics, Aeneid, and Georgics Of Vergil. J. B. Greenough. Boston. Ginn & Co. 1900.

The question that surrounds Virgil is his reference to mystic utterances. What does he mean by that? The Latin translation is incorrect and should read, Here therefore I will place your lots and secret fates(11)https://2010bhslatinap.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/book-6-lines-64-82/ Regardless of the translation, it is a stretch to make this sequence out to be glossolalia.

Lukan’s The Civil War

Lukan was a well known poet who was a friend of the unstable and often cruel Emporer Nero. This relationship that brought him to fame also led him to the grave. He was ordered to death by Nero for treason. His work, De Bello Civili (On the Civil War), covered the war between Julius Caesar and Pompey. The important part of his work relating to speaking in tongues relates to his narrative on a Delphian priestess. He reported a story of Appius Claudius Pulcher coming to a Delphic priestess to find out the future, possibly if he should go to war. The priestess, named Phemenoe, fakes such a prophecy which Appius rightly identified. Appius seriously threatened her and forced Phemenoe to flee to the ancient prophetic cave. The inspiration the cave once offered had ceased for some time already but in this instance, Apollo returned and filled Phemenoe. She went into madness, raving, and uttered a prophecy. She foretold Appius was to die.

There is no reference to her being in a trance and uttering strange or foreign words at all. For the sake of substantiation, here is the English and Latin with what is the closest parallel.

At last Apollo mastered the breast of the Delphian priestess ; as fully as ever in the past, he forced his way into her body, driving out her former thoughts, and bidding her human nature to come forth and leave her heart at his disposal. Frantic she careers about the cave, with her neck under possession ; the fillets and garlands of Apollo, dislodged by her bristling hair, she whirls with tossing head through the void spaces of the temple ; she scatters the tripods that impede her random course ; she boils over with fierce fire, while enduring the wrath of Phoebus. . . first the wild frenzy overflowed through her foaming lips ; she groaned and uttered loud inarticulate cries with panting breath ; next, a dismal wailing filled the vast cave ; and at last, when she was mastered, came the sound of articulate speech : ” Roman, thou shalt have no part in the mighty ordeal and shalt escape the awful threats of war ; and thou alone shalt stay at peace in a broad hollow of the Euboean coast.” Then Apollo closed up her throat and cut short her tale.”(12)Lukan: with an English Translation by J. D. Duff. The Civil War. Books I—X (Pharsalia) (Book V) London: William Heineman Ltd. 1962. Pg. 249Ff

Latin Translation

165 Pectore Cirrhaeo, non umquam plenior artus
Phoebados irrupit Paean: mentemque priorem
Expulit, atque hominem toto sibi cedere iussit
Pectore. Bacchatur demens aliena per antrum
170 Colla ferens, vittasque dei Phoebeaque serta
Erectis discussa comis, per inania templi
Ancipiti cervice rotat, spargitque vaganti
Obstantes tripodas, magnoque exaestuat igne,
Iratum te, Phoebe, ferens. . .
190 Spumea tunc primum rabies vesana per ora
Effluit, et gemitus, et anhelo clara meatu
Murmura: tunc moestus vastis ululatus in antris,
Extremaeque sonant, domita iam virgine, voces:
Effugis ingentes, tanti discriminis expers,
195 Bellorum, o Romane, minas: solusque quietem
Euboici vasta lateris convalle tenebis.
Caetera suppressit, faucesque obstruxit Apollo.(13)Pharsaliae Libri X. M. Annaeus Lucanus. Carolus Hermannus Weise. Leipzig. G. Bassus. 1835

Plutarch’s Moralia

Out of all the literature referring to the rites of the Delphic priestesses, Plutarch contains the most information. Plutarch was a biographer and writer who lived in the middle to late first century (46 – 120 AD). His work, Moralia explored the customs and lores of his time. His thirty-odd years as a priest at Delphi may be the reason why he covers the topic of Delphic priestesses so often.

A drawback to Plutarch’s Moralia is that it is a large composition that would be time consuming to do a comparative analysis. Fortunately, an old series of publications entitled, Moralia, in fifteen volumes, with an English translation are digitally searchable at archive.org. This has immensely helped. A search in Volume 4 demonstrates that the office of the Delphic priestess was an important one in Greek society that required the prophetess to speak in direct terms. All the prophecies given were coherent and readily understood. There is no shadow of strange or incoherent language being spoken.

The Oracles at Delphi

Volume 5 continues with the same tone but gets far deeper. In Plutarch’s letter titled, The Oracles at Delphi, he writes that the prophecies given by the priestesses were done in prose and metre. He also believed it was done in a formal, eloquent style. Here are some quotes that demonstrate this.

“It is very pleasant to listen to such conversation as this, but I am constrained to claim the fulfilment of your first promise regarding the cause which has made the prophetic priestess cease to give her oracles in epic verse or in other metres.”(14) Vol. 5. The Oracles at Delphi Pg. 301

“those who do not believe that in his time the prophetic priestess used verse in her oracular responses. Afterwards, wishing to prove this, he has found to support his contention an altogether meagre number of such oracles, indication that the others were given out in prose, even as early as that time. Some of the oracles even to-day come out in metre…”(15) Vol. 5. The Oracles at Delphi Pg. 311

“Now we cherish the belief that the god, in giving indications to us, makes use of the calls of herons, wrens, and ravens ; but we do not insist that these, inasmuch as they are messengers and heralds of the gods, shall express everything rationally and clearly, and yet we insist that the voice and language of the prophetic priestess, like a choral song in the theatre, shall be presented, not without sweetness and embellishment, but also in verse of a grandiloquent and formal style with verbal metaphors and with a flute to accompany its delivery! What a statement, then, shall we make about the priestesses of former days?”(16) Vol. 5. The Oracles at Delphi Pg. 321

“And as for the language of the prophetic priestess, just as the mathematicians call the shortest of lines between two points a straight line, so her language makes no bend nor curve nor doubling nor equivocation, but is straight in relation to the truth…”(17) Vol. 5. The Oracles at Delphi Pg. 341

I don’t think it is even necessary to produce the Greek original text because Plutarch is very clear on how the prophecy was spoken. There is no ambiguity that it was clear, refined, and direct speech. But if some really want to read the Greek, a good start would be with a book called: Pythici dialogi tres.

On the Fame of the Athenians

Plutarch lifts a line from Aristophane’s comedy called, Frogs where he writes:

the ones who’ve never seen or danced
the noble Muses’ ritual songs,
or played their part in Bacchic rites
of bull-devouring Cratinus(18)https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/aristophanes/frogs.htm

and the Greek

ἢ γενναίων ὂργια Μουςῶν μήτ’ εἶδεν μήτ’ ἐχόρευσεν,
μήτε Κρατίνου τοῦ ταυροφάγυ γλώττης βακχει ἐτελέσθη

These lines appear to be an esoteric piece, except Johannes Behm cites them in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. He partially uses this to connect speaking in tongues with Hellenism.(19)Johannes Behm γλῶσσα, ἑτερόγλοσσος as found in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 1. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich eds. Trans. By Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. 1964 Behm cites the original Aristophanes text with only γλώττης βακχει and the actual footnote is very brief. It was hard to locate the actual source, so this required some guesswork. The above was the closest representation found. The Plutarch version had the best English translation, so it was utilized. These lines are a weak correlation. I don’t even know why this reference was included.


Strabo “(64 or 63 BC – c. 24 AD) was a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.”(20)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strabo Strabo seems to retell the same story by that of Plutarch. The Delphic prophetesses would go into a trance and prophesy in verse. These words then would be recorded by the priests.

9.3.5 They say that the seat of the oracle is a cave that is hollowed out deep down in the earth, with a rather narrow mouth, from which arises breath that inspires a divine frenzy; and that over the mouth is placed a high tripod, mounting which the Pythian priestess receives the breath and then utters oracles in both verse and prose, though the latter too are put into verse by poets who are in the service of the temple. They say that the first to become Pythian priestess was Phemonoe; and that both the prophetess and the city were so called from the word pythésthai,” though the first syllable was lengthened, as in athanatos, akamatos, and diakonos.

Here is the Greek.

φασὶ δ᾽ εἶναι τὸ μαντεῖον ἄντρον κοῖλον κατὰ βάθους οὐ μάλα εὐρύστομον, ἀναφέρεσθαιδ᾽ ἐξ αὐτοῦ πνεῦμα ἐνθουσιαστικόν, ὑπερκεῖσθαι δὲ τοῦ στομίου τρίποδα ὑψηλόν, ἐφ᾽ ὃντὴν Πυθίαν ἀναβαίνουσαν δεχομένην τὸ πνεῦμα ἀποθεσπίζειν ἔμμετρά τε καὶ ἄμετρα:ἐντείνειν δὲ καὶ ταῦτα εἰς μέτρον ποιητάς τινας ὑπουργοῦντας τῷ ἱερῷ. πρώτην δὲΦημονόην γενέσθαι φασὶ Πυθίαν, κεκλῆσθαι δὲ καὶ τὴν προφῆτιν οὕτω καὶ τὴν πόλινἀπὸ τοῦ πυθέσθαι, ἐκτετάσθαι δὲ τὴν πρώτην συλλαβήν, ὡς ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀθανάτου καὶἀκαμάτου καὶ διακόνου.(21)Strabo. ed. A. Meineke, Geographica. Leipzig: Teubner. 1877.

Michael Psellos

An eleventh-century AD Christian by the name of Michael Psellos, a statesman and lover of literature who lived in Constantinople, unearths a different interpretation.

And seeing that from the work of Apollo: the prophetess, by the mouth, the word follows, she became overcome around the tripod, she was pronouncing on the one hand to the Persians, and on the other to the Assyrians, and the Phoenicians — all according to metre and also rhythm which she had not known with beautiful language which she not had learned.

Psellos wrote that the Pythian prophetess was miraculously speaking in foreign languages. This is not consistent with any other interpretation. Psellos loved to play with ancient classical literature to parade his literary genius, but this doesn’t explain why he would do this. However, he felt that this was not the same phenomena as the christian rite of tongues. He believed the Apostles controlled what they spoke and were personally engaged. The Pythian priestess was out of her senses when she spoke.

This is an odd addition that needs more scrutiny, but it does not lead into the direction of glossolalia.

The Greek, English translation, and analysis can be found at Psellos on the Christian Doctrine of Tongues.

Rohde’s Psyche: The Cult of Souls

Erwin Rhode’s work, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and the Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, stands above any other work in its genre. He covers the ancient Greek religion in such vivid detail and clarity.

Although his work is a little over one hundred years old, it has withstood the test of time. It is not a widely known work outside of scholastic circles, but it deserves public praise.

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature: Fourth Revised cites Rohde to assert: “There is no doubt about the thing referred to, namely the broken speech of persons in religious ecstasy. The phenomenon, as found in Hellenistic religion, is described esp. by ERohde.”(22)Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian lterature: Fourth Revised. Translated by F.W. Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1979. Pg. 162 However, a closer analysis of the page numbers (289-293) cited in Rohde’s work does not validate such. There is no such connection or any concrete evidence for glossolalia. The closest reference found was this; “ In hoarse tones and wild words, the Sibyl gave utterance to what the divine impelling power within her and not her own arbitrary fancy suggested ; possessed by the god, she spoke in a divine distraction.”(23)Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and the Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, Books for Libraries Press 1972 edition, reprinted from the English translation of 1920. W.B. Hillis translator. Pg. 293 One has to be cautious with Rohde because he is writing with a narrative style and may have been too descriptive. He nowhere substantiates such a claim from authorities such as Herodotus, Plutarch or anyone else that the Sibyl did such types of discourse.


The works examined so far demonstrate there is no vital connection between the ancient Greek prophetesses and speaking in tongues. These stories definitely lack any features of glossolalia. The actual accounts from Lukan, Plutarch, Virgil, Plato, Strabo, Herodotus and Michael Psellos show no correlation at all. It would take a large leap to connect these two disparate genres together.

Perhaps I have missed something in this argument because of my lack of proficiency in the German language which most of the original discussions are found. Even so, this conclusion lines up with Christopher Forbes who is a “is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History, and Deputy Chairman of the Society for the Study of Early Christianity,”(24)https://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/department_of_ancient_history/staff/dr_chris_forbes/ at Maquarie University in Australia. He wrote a dissertation on this subject and converted it into a book called, Prophecy and Inspired Speech: In Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic Environment. In it he stated:

The obscurity of Delphic utterances is not a matter of linguistic unintelligibility at all. It is simply that some such oracles were formulated, at the level of literary allusion and metaphor, in obscure, cryptic and enigmatic terms. They were, in a word, oracular.(25)Christopher Forbes. Prophecy and Inspired Speech: In Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic Environment. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1997. Pg. 109

There is a potential parallel between the ancient Greek prophetesses and the Old Testament seers in their role and function in society. The prophetic dimension is an interesting set of readings. A comparative work between ancient Israel’s and Greece’s prophetic office is a worthy topic on its own but it does not fit into the tongues paradigm.

For more information:

References   [ + ]

A Summary of the Gift of Tongues Project: Pentecost

How the tongues of Pentecost has passed down through twenty-centuries of christian living.

Pentecost Graphic

People will always be inspired by the pentecostal narrative described in the Book of Acts and the mysterious tongues found later on in the New Testament epistle called I Corinthians. Those accounts have propelled many ardent students of the Bible and the christian faith to reproduce this phenomenon in their lives. The passion for a new Pentecost has cycled for twenty-one-centuries. How communities and persons perceived, practised and passed-on the right throughout these centuries is the goal of this study.

The christian rite of speaking in tongues has been controversial, especially over the last one-hundred years and is part of a growing movement throughout the world. Many have tried to explain this rite through experiential and psychological terms, but few have attempted an extensive study through historical literature.

This summary fills in the blanks of the historical record that have, up until now, been neglected.

This work is broken up into a three part series. Part I is tracing the evolution of Pentecost throughout the centuries. Part II covers how the purposed neglect of the historical christian accounts has significantly altered the modern definition. Part III is an in-depth look into the Corinthian tongues saga.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • What is speaking in tongues today?
    • The absence of historical literature in the modern tongues debate
    • The start and later acceleration of the Gift of Tongues Project
    • Glôssa better translated as language rather than tongue
  • Pentecostal Tongues
    • First to third-centuries
    • The golden age of the christian doctrine of tongues: the fourth-century
      • The connection between Babel and Pentecost
      • Hebrew as the first language of mankind and of Pentecost
      • Pentecost as a temporary phenomenon
      • Augustine on tongues transforming into a corporate identity
      • Gregory of Nyssa and the one voice many sounds theory
      • Gregory Nazianzus on the miracle of speech vs. the miracle of hearing
    • The expansion of the christian doctrine of tongues from the tenth to eighteenth-centuries
      • Later Medieval accounts of speaking in tongues
      • The legend of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues
      • Conyers Middleton on how miracles were no longer active in the church
      • The Camisards speaking in tongues as a sign of divine judgement
      • Early Protestant Commentaries on speaking in tongues
      • A history of unknown tongues in the English Bible
      • What about women speaking in tongues?
    • The shift from miraculously speaking or hearing a foreign language to glossolalia
      • The Irvingites and the renewal of tongues
      • Glossolalia entrenched as the foremost definition
    • The Holiness Movement’s definition of speaking in tongues
    • The birth of the pentecostal church and speaking in tongues
    • Why the pentecostal definition of tongues changed in the early 1900s
  • Conclusion


This summary is the result of the Gift of Tongues Project which is designed for the advanced researcher. The Gift of Tongues Project has attempted to identify, collate and digitize the source texts in the original Greek, Latin, with some Syriac, French and a sprinkling of a few other languages. English translations have been provided with almost every text, along with my own analysis. The Gift of Tongues Project differentiates itself from others because the source texts available on the website allow for you to research and draw your own conclusions. All the legwork is already done. All one has to do now is read instead of the time consuming and never ending task of finding the source files. Better yet, the majority is digitally searchable.

Speaking in tongues owes its heritage to a book of the Bible called the Book of Acts. This book was written by a first-century christian follower and a physician named Luke. He only wrote 206 words(1)According to the NIV English Bible to describe the formative event called Pentecost. Pentecost established the foundations for Messianic Judaism and its universal message. This event was described as the Holy Spirit arriving and causing the apostles and 120 others to instantly preach in diverse foreign languages that they did not previously study or know. This explanation is the standard one to help the reader to get started on the subject. The summary will proceed to demonstrate there are many alternative viewpoints.

Perhaps one could argue 800 words when you throw in the defense of the experience by Peter in Acts chapter 2 and the three other instances throughout the Book of Acts. Perhaps Paul could be credited with writing about Pentecost if his coverage in his first letter to the Corinthians contains a parallel, though Part III will show these are not connected. Why all the fuss over 206 words? If it was so important, why didn’t Luke go into much greater detail? This would have spared the modern day reader such a confusion. The clarification is going to take over 10,000 words and the parsing through a magnitude of documents found throughout the centuries to explain those few written words two thousand years ago.

Luke is vague on the actual mechanics and certainly short on details. This leaves his Pentecost and subsequent tongues narratives with many unanswered questions; did every inspired person speak in a single different language and together they were speaking the languages of all the nations? Was it one sound emanating and changed during transmission so that the hearers heard their own language? If it was a miracle of hearing, what was that sound? Were the people conscious of what they were saying or were they completely overtaken by a divine power and had no comprehension about what they were speaking? Was it a heavenly, non-human or prayer language? Did this miracle continue after the first-century? How did this tongues-event get passed down to the next generation? Did it become part of the church liturgy?

The various source manuscripts on the Book of Acts available today do not have any variance that brings about new clues. This necessitates digging deeper into other records.

The Gift of Tongues Project and this summary believe that Pentecostals and Charismatics have brought positive contributions to the greater society, and have made the world a better place. The purpose of this examination is not to attack or denigrate their character. The goal is simply to find the truth of the matter. Nothing more.

As a person who attends a charismatic church and involved in these type of communities for decades, I wanted the results to parallel their experiences. Unfortunately, the findings did not allow for this. Everyone who approaches the 2000 year narrative on speaking in tongues has to allow history to speak for itself – not to rewrite history to justify contemporary experience.

In comparison to the detailed articles posted within the Gift of Tongues Project, few footnotes will be given here, and some ancient authors and minor movements will be ignored. One can find substantiation at the Gift of Tongues Project webpage. Links to the Gift of Tongues Project pages will be highlighted throughout. The results are subject to change as new information comes forward.

This work traces the perception of tongues speaking through the centuries. Perception is not necessarily reality. On many occasions, the work will reference the perception with no remarks about the integrity of the event or person. This is up to the reader to decide.

What is speaking in tongues today?

Speaking in tongues is an inherent part of the present pentecostal and charismatic identities. This practice is one of the key features that distinguish them apart from other christian movements.

How popular is speaking in tongues? A Pew Forum study has concluded one-quarter of all Christians are Renewalist Christians – a term given for those who emphasize miracles, supernatural occurrences, and oftentimes speaking in tongues within the Christian’s everyday life. Really, it is an umbrella term for Pentecostals, Charismatics, and those who remain in mainstream denominations influenced by Pentecostals and Charismatics. There are an estimated 584 million Renewalists in the world. Perhaps even more. (2)http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-movements-and-denominations/ This does not mean all those defined as Renewalists emphasize this doctrine and practice it. The same Pew study further demonstrates that no more than 53% of Renewalists speak in tongues in any country they examined. In most instances, it is less.(3)Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. October 2006. Pg. 16 My conservative estimate tallies about 150 million people consistently practising the christian rite of speaking in tongues throughout the world.

The Renewalist faith, with its emphasis on holiness, mysticism, independence, and easy adaptability to different cultures, is the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world. Their christian mystic framework along with its distinctive theology of speaking in tongues makes a historical study imperative.

What do Renewalists presently believe speaking in tongues to be? There is a general agreement that speaking in tongues is a supernatural phenomenon — one that cannot be measured or defined by science. Some Renewalists call it a heavenly language that only the individual, God, and a special interpreter understands. Others say it is a private prayer language or a form of exalted worship. There a those who just shrug their shoulders and say it is simply a God thing that defies explanation. A handful may say speaking in tongues is the spontaneous ability to speak a foreign language. Most Renewalists believe that speaking in tongues is a deliberate outcome of a controlled mind – in other words, they are not crazies or kooks whose erratic behavior is in an uncontrolled hallucinatory state. They are regular people like the helpful neighbor across the street, the taxi driver, teacher, dentist, nurse, plumber, politician, lawyer or construction worker. Renewalists are found in all walks of life.

A good example of a Renewalist speaking in tongues is found in this video clip of the late Kenneth Hagin. He was a highly respected and influential pentecostal preacher in the mid-1900s.

Hagin appears as an elder statesman. He has a father like persona that the people in the audience are attracted to and appreciate. The young lady who is a distance behind Hagin in the video approves his message with an accepting smile. About four minutes into the video, he utters, “Memen hatsu toro menge kanga deging bango ondu konste fre peffe hemo outse,” and then begins to laugh. The laughter implies an overabundance of a spiritual force that overwhelms the senses, forcing the speaker into an uncontrolled fit. The audience cheered Hagin for more.

This is a typical example, though speaking in tongues is not always done in a Sunday service. It is practised more frequently in weekday services, prayer sessions, pastoral settings, and special events.

A more contemporary example is Reinhard Bonnke. Bonnke is a German-born evangelist whose work in Africa, especially Nigeria has earned him the rank of one the top preachers of all time in respect to audience reach. The example here is his public speaking in tongues at a large indoor gathering somewhere in Asia. His Christ for the Nations website claims over 55 million documented decisions for Christ under his ministry.

Bonnke’s demonstration is not as obvious as Hagin’s. He mixes regular language and charismatic, excitable speech between short outbursts of tongues-speech. The audience is energized but not surprised by this presentation. This is quite common in renewalist circles.

The absence of historical literature in the modern tongues debate.

After an exhaustive approach of locating, digitizing, translating and analyzing two-thousand years worth of texts, the results of the Gift of Tongues Project has found one of the main challenges to solving this debate is overcoming the embedded ignorance of history.

This finding was not anticipated at the start. The Project assumed at the beginning there was little christian literature throughout the centuries to build a case. Rather, there is a substantial corpus of ancient christian literature on the subject. The discovery about the abundance on the subject has created two rival stories. The first allows the building of a compelling narrative on the doctrine of tongues throughout the centuries. The second is the narrative about the ignorance of christian literature over the last two centuries and how it has contributed to the modern definition. Both play an important story in the modern definition and I am not sure which one is more important. They share a complex interplay that is difficult to untangle. The solution decided about these two streams of thought is to give them separate articles, which has been done. This article focuses on tracing the practice of Pentecost through the centuries.

The start and later acceleration of the Gift of Tongues Project.

The Project was started in the 1980s, but little was done until the early 2000s. The initial goal was to parse through the collection of church writings found in the massive Migne Patrologia Graeca series and its Latin counterpart, Migne Patrologia Latina. There is no digital version of MPG available, so a page-by-page visual scan was required. This was a very time-consuming process – especially with over 135 volumes averaging 1200 pages each. This was a long process.

Thankfully the internet age came along. Museums and other institutions have posted many manuscripts online. Better manuscripts are now available than the ones found in MPG. The ability to do digital searches with Google’s search engine reveals even more texts. The Gift of Tongues Project is one of the direct benefactors of the digitization of libraries, museums, and institutions.

Glôssa better translated as language rather than tongue

Glôssa (γλῶσσα) is the pivotal key word for the doctrine of tongues in the original Greek text. This word is the central theme found in Paul’s address to the Corinthians and Luke’s description of the first Pentecost. This noun is further used by later Greek ecclesiasts and authors on the subject.

The challenge is how a contemporary researcher is to translate this word without a modern bias.

When the Greek keyword appears, or if it is found in a Latin text, which is lingua, my mind always wants to automatically translate it as tongue.

The word tongues, which is seldom used in our modern language to specifically mean a modern, regular or contemporary language, is usually understood to be something out-of-this-world, unusual or even weird. Sometimes it is used a synonym to language, but rarely in contemporary literature is it a predominant descriptor.

As I have worked over both Greek and Latin Patristic texts, from the likes of Greek writers such as Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanius, John of Damascus etc., to the Latin writers of Augustine, the Venerable Bede, Thomas Aquinas, the Ambrosiaster authors, and many more, they do not contain references to the gift being a strange, mystical or heavenly language that needs a new definition. It simply means a human language to them. To advance such a thought that it was different from a human language, they would have had to take extra steps to make it distinct. They never did.

Secondly, one must keep in mind that the noun language was the dominant English word used to translate glôssa/γλῶσσα before the introduction of the Geneva Bible in 1534.

See The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible for more information.

It would not be fair to translate the church fathers on the subject using tongues instead of languages. It significantly changes the nuance of the text when it is done.

One could argue that I am forcing my own interpretation on the text. However, it is believed that language is more accurate to what the writers meant.

This changes things considerably, instead of Acts 2:4 reading as other tongues the proper reading is other languages. The other tongues creates ambiguities that never existed in the Greek. Other languages immediately starts to clarify a difficult subject.

Pentecostal Tongues

The large corpus of material studied and compared demonstrate that the christian doctrine of tongues was related to human languages for almost 1800 years. The mechanics of how this happened differed, but was the common theme. There were no references to angelic speech, prayer language, glossolalia, or ecstasy until the nineteenth-century.

How it shifted from a concept of foreign languages to that of glossolalia is a major part of the story.

The Pentecost event as described by the writer Luke in the first part of the Book of Acts has far more coverage than Paul’s address to speaking in tongues throughout ecclesiastical literature. The ancient christian authors were split on the symbolism of Pentecost. Pentecost was either understood as a symbol of the Gospel becoming a universal message beyond the bounds of the Jewish community or a theological symbol for the Jewish nation to repent.

First to third-centuries

The earlier church writers who lived between the first and third centuries, did mention the christian doctrine of tongues such as Irenaeous, who stated it was speaking in a foreign language. There was also Tertullian who recognized the continued rite in his church but fails to explain anything more than this. Neither of these writers contain sufficient coverage in their text to make a strong case for anything other than its existence.

Origen, 184 — 254 AD

The debate inevitably leads to Origen – one of the most controversial figures on speaking in tongues. Modern theologians, commentators, and writers all over the broad spectrum of christian studies believe Origen supports their perspective. This has created an Origen full of contradictions. Origen was a third-century theologian that can be viewed as either one of the greatest early christian writers ever because of combining an active and humble faith with a deep intellectual inquiry into matters of faith. On the other hand, he was mistakenly labeled a heretic after his death for his limited view of the Trinity. He lived at a time the Trinity doctrine was in its infancy and wasn’t fully developed. His views didn’t correlate with the later formulation and he was posthumously condemned for this. After careful investigation about his coverage on speaking in tongues, Origen hardly commented on it. If one is to draw a conclusion with the limited coverage by him is this: he didn’t think there was anyone pious enough during his time for this task, and if they were, it would be for cross-cultural preaching.

The golden age of the christian doctrine of tongues: the fourth-century

Due to the devastating effects of the persecutions by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the third-century, there is hardly any christian literature to choose from the first to third-centuries. This dramatically changes in the fourth-century when Christianity becomes a recognized religion, and later the foremost one within the Roman Empire. This is where things get really interesting.

The fourth-century began to unfold greater details on speaking in tongues. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote that Peter and Andrew spoke miraculously in Persian or Median at Pentecost and the other Apostles were imbued with the knowledge of all languages. The founder of the Egyptian Cenobite movement, Pachomius, a native Coptic speaker, was miraculously granted the ability to speak in Latin.

The doctrine of tongues divided into five streams in the fourth-century. The first interpretation was the speaking in Hebrew and the audience heard in their own language. The second was Pentecost as a temporary phenomenon. The third was the one voice many sounds theory formulated by Gregory of Nyssa. Fourth, the transition of a personal to a corporate practice represented by Augustine, and last of all the tongues paradox proposed by Gregory Nazianzus. Some may reckon that two more belong here – the cessation of miracles and the Montanists. Both Cessationism and Montanism are perceptions developed during the eighteenth-century. These theories will unfold further down in the summary chronology.

Before winding down the path of these five options, it is necessary to take a quick look at the confusion of tongues found in the Book of Genesis. This story has an important relationship with the discussions to follow.

The connection between Babel and Pentecost

One would assume that the reversal of Babel would be one of the early streams of thinking about Pentecost. This proposition is surprisingly not the case. The idea that the ancient christian writers would connect the confusion of languages symbolized by the city Babel in the book of Genesis with Pentecost because both are narratives revolving around languages seems logical. The book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, has a brief narrative that described how mankind originally had one language. This oneness changed with their determination to build a tower to reach into the heavens which was stopped by the introduction of a plurality of languages. Although the text is minimal and lacking details, the text suggests some form of arrogance and self-determination apart from God. The tower also represented mankind’s ability to collectively do great evil. In response, God chose to divide the one language into many languages and scatter mankind throughout the earth in order to curb this amassing of power. The overall traditional record does not associate Pentecost as a reversal of Babel.

The connection between God giving the commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai would appear to be the better correlation. The old covenant, that is the law of the ancient Israelites, was spoken by God and heard by Moses, then later given in a written form. The Talmud states that God spoke this to Moses in 72 languages – a number understood to symbolically mean in all the languages of the world. The new covenant, the law of grace, was given by the apostles in fiery tongues on the Mount of Olives at Pentecost – these apostles and 120 more miraculously spoke in a whole host of languages. The Jewish community today annually celebrates the giving of the law of Moses and call this day Shevuot which calculates the same days after Passover as Pentecost does. However, this holiday is not an ancient one and does not trace back to the first-century when the first Pentecost occurred. Luke does not mention a direct connection to Shevuot and neither do any of the ancient christian writers.

The Babel allusion prevailed discreetly in later dialogues, especially two concepts. The first one related to which language was the first language of mankind, and how that fit into the Pentecost narrative. The second relating to the one voice spoken many languages heard theory.

Hebrew as the first language of mankind and of Pentecost

There is a substantial corpus about Hebrew being the first language of mankind within ancient christian literature and a tiny allusion to Pentecost being the speaking of Hebrew sounds while the audience heard in their own language. This position about Pentecost does not clearly flow throughout the seas of christian thought, only in the shadows.

The idea of Hebrew as the first language of mankind starts with the early Christians such as first-century Clement, Bishop of Rome, fourth-century Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, for at least part of his life (He changed his position later). The concept of Hebrew being the original language of mankind was repudiated by fourth-century Gregory of Nyssa and then endorsed again by the eighth-century historian and theologian, the Venerable Bede. In the tenth-century Oecumenius, Bishop of Trikka believed that Hebrew was a divine language, because when the Lord spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, it was in Hebrew.

The eleventh-century philosopher-theologian, Michael Psellos, referred to an ideology that placed Hebrew as the first common language. He alluded that Pentecost could have been the speakers vocalizing in Hebrew while the audience heard it in their own language. This was a reflection of a possibility in his mind, not a position he endorsed. Thomas Aquinas too mentioned this explanation, but quickly moved onto better, more rational theories.

The speaking of Hebrew sounds and the audience hearing in their own language was a small theory that never gained widespread attention. It was played about, but never became a standard doctrine with a vibrant local or international appeal.

See Hebrew and the First Language of Mankind for more information.

Pentecost as a temporary phenomenon

A writing loosely attributed to the fifth-century Pope of Alexandria, Egypt, Cyril of Alexandria, described Pentecost as the “changing of tongues.” Pentecost was the use of foreign languages at Pentecost as a sign for the Jews. This event was a miraculous endowment and those that received this blessing in @31 AD continued to have this power throughout their lives, but it did not persist after their generation.

Cyril represented the city of Alexandria at the height of its influence and power throughout Christendom. His biography concludes that he was deposed because of quarrelsomeness and violence. There are unsubstantiated claims that he was responsible for the death of the revered mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and scholar Hypatia. Although his history comes to a sad demise, his earlier stature and his near-universal influence requires careful attention on the subject of Pentecost. This may have been an older tradition passed down and reinforced by him, or his own opinion on the christian communities under his influence. It is hard to tell because there is little information about this theory before or after his time.

However, the theory can be traced to the thirteenth-century with no references inbetween. The celebrated scholastic writer and mystic, Thomas Aquinas, weighed in on the temporary question. Whenever a theological subject has been addressed by Aquinas, it is worth the time to stop and consider. There is no person in christian history that had assembled such a broad array of the various christian traditions, writers, texts, and Scripture into a systematic form of thought. Not only was Aquinas systematic, but also a mystic. The combination of these qualities gives him a high score in covering the doctrine of tongues.

He held a similar position on Pentecost to that of Cyril of Alexandria, though he does not mention him by name. He believed the apostles were equipped with the gift of tongues to bring all people back into unity. It was only a temporary activity that later generations would not need. Later leaders would have access to interpreters which the first generation did not.

Aquinas’ argument is a good and logical one, but the christian history of tongues does not align with this conclusion. After Aquinas’ time, there are numerous perceived cases of the miraculous endowments that contradict such a sentiment. Neither can Cyril’s thought be traced down through the centuries to numerous writers and be claimed as a universal or near-universal teaching.

The temporary idea of Pentecost was restricted to this miracle alone. There is no implied idea that this temporality extended to miracles of healing, exorcisms, or other divine interventions.

Augustine on tongues transforming into a corporate identity

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354 — 430 AD

The christian rite of speaking in tongues transferring from a personal to a corporate expression was espoused by Augustine Bishop of Hippo. This was created over his lengthy and difficult battle with the dominant tongues-speaking Donatist movement.

The Donatists were a northern African christian group; broken off from the official Catholic Church over reasons relating to the persecutions against Christians by edict of emperor Diocletian in the third-century. After the persecutions abated, a controversy erupted in the region over how to handle church leaders who assisted with the secular authorities in the persecutions. This became a source of contention and it conflagrated into questions of church leadership, faith, piety, discipline, and politics. One of the outcomes was a separate church movement called the Donatists. At the height of their popularity, the Donatists statistically outnumbered the traditional Catholic representatives in the North Africa region. At the height, it had over 400 bishops.

The Catholic Church was in a contest against the Donatist claims of being the true church. One of the assertions the Donatist’s provided for their superior claim was their ability to speak in tongues. This forced Augustine to take the Donatists and their tongues doctrine seriously and build a vigorous offense against them.

Augustine’s polemic against the Donatists has generated more data on the christian doctrine of tongues than any other ancient writer and gives a good lock into perceptions of this rite in the fourth-century.

Augustine attacked the Donatist claim of being the true church in a number of ways.

  • One was through mocking, asking when they laid hands on infants whether they spoke in languages or not.

  • Or he simply stated that the gift had passed. The cessation statement was one of many volleys that he made.

    This cessation needs further clarification. Augustine meant that the individual endowment of miraculously speaking in foreign languages had ceased from functioning. The corporate expression still remained. It cannot be applied to mean the cessation of miracles, healings, or other divine interventions. Augustine was exclusively referring to the individual speaking in tongues. Nothing more.

  • In other words, the individual expression of speaking in tongues changed into a corporate one – the church took over the function of speaking in every language to all the nations.

He described Pentecost as each man speaking in every language.

This transformation from individual to corporate identity was referenced by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth-century in his work, Summa Theologica, but built little strength around this theme. He left it as is in one sentence.

There is no question that the semantic range of this experience fell inside the use of foreign languages. He used the term linguis omnium gentium “in the languages of all the nations” on at least 23 occasions, and linguis omnium, speaking “in all languages”. Neither does Augustine quote or refer to the Montanist movement in his works.

The Bishop repeatedly answers the question “If I have received the holy Spirit, why am I not speaking in tongues?” Each time he has a slightly different read. What did he say? “this was a sign that has been satisfied” — the individual expression has been satisfied. He then offers a more theological slant in his Enarratio In Psalmum, “Why then does the holy Spirit not appear now in all languages? On the contrary, He does appear in all the languages. For at that time the Church was not yet spread out through the circle of lands, that the organs of Christ were speaking in all the nations. Then it was filled-up into one, with respect to which it was being proclaimed in every one of them. Now the entire body of Christ is speaking in all the languages.”(4)Augustine. Enarratio in Psalmum. CXLVII:19 (147:19)

One has to be very cautious with Augustine on this topic. He was pitting the Catholic Church as the true one because of its universality and inferring that the Donatists were not so ordained because of their regionalism. His answers were polemic than theological in nature.

Augustine’s polemical diatribes against the tongues-speaking Donatists never became a universal doctrine. The individual to the corporate idea has indirect allusions in John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria’s works, but nothing concrete. The concept faded out within a generation and references to him on the subject by later writers is not very frequent.

See Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost: Intro for more information.

Gregory of Nyssa and the one voice many sounds theory

Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa, 335 — 394 AD

Gregory of Nyssa represents the beginning of the evolution of the christian doctrine of tongues that has echoes even today.

Gregory of Nyssa was a fourth-century Bishop of Nyssa – a small town in the historic region of Cappadocia. In today’s geographical terms, central Turkey. The closest major city of influence to Nyssa was Constantinople – which at the time was one of the most influential centers of the world.

This church father, along with Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great were named together as the Cappadocians. Their influence set the groundwork for christian thought in the Eastern Roman Empire. Gregory of Nyssa was an articulate and a deep thinker. He not only drew from christian sources but built his writings around a Greek philosophical framework.

Gregory sees parallels between Babel and Pentecost on the nature of language but produces different outcomes. In the Pentecost story, he explained it as one sound dividing into languages during transmission that the recipients understood.

Gregory of Nyssa’s homily on Pentecost is a happy one which began with his reference to Psalm 94:1, Come, let us exalt the Lord and continues throughout with this joyful spirit. In reference to speaking in tongues, he wrote of the divine indwelling in the singular and the output of a single sound multiplying into languages during transmission. This emphasis on the singularity may be traced to the influence of Plotinus — one of the most revered and influential philosophers of the third-century. Plotinus was not a Christian, but a Greek/Roman/Egyptian philosopher who greatly expanded upon the works of Aristotle and Plato. He emphasized that the one supreme being had no “no division, multiplicity or distinction.” Nyssa strictly adhered to a singularity of expression by God when relating to language. The multiplying of languages happened after the sound was emitted and therefore conforms to this philosophical model. However, Nyssa never mentions Plotinus by name or credits his movement in the writings examined so far, so it is hard to make a direct connection. There is an influence here.

What was the sound that the people imbued with the Holy Spirit were speaking before it multiplied during transmission? Nyssa is not clear. It is not a heavenly or divine language because he believed mankind would be too limited in any capacity to produce such a mode of divine communication. Neither would he understand it to be Hebrew. Maybe it was the first language mankind spoke before Babel, but this is doubtful. Perhaps the people were speaking their own language and the miracle occurred in transmission. I think speaking in their own language is the likeliest possibility. Regardless, Gregory of Nyssa was not clear in this part of his doctrine.

This theory did not solely rest with Gregory of Nyssa. He may be the first to clearly document this position, but the idea was older. There are remnants of this thought in Origen’s writing (Against Celsus 8:37) – though it is only one unclear but sort of relevant sentence and hard to build a case over

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, pokes at this too, but is unclear. He mentions on many occasions “one man was speaking in every language” or similar.(5)Sermo CLXXV:3 (175:3) What does this mean? How can one man speak simultaneously in all the languages at the same time? Even if a person sequentially went through 72 languages speaking one short sentence, it would take over ten minutes and wouldn’t be considered a miracle – only a simple mnemonic recitation. Augustine didn’t make any attempt to clarify this statement. He was playing with the one voice many sounds theory in a polemical sense and altered the nuance. The idea shifted to the connection between oneness and unity, which in Latin, are similar in spelling. He wanted to emphasize that those who spoke in tongues do it for the sake of unity. He was arguing anyone who promoted speaking in tongues as a device to divide the church is a fleshly and evil endeavor.

The concept takes us to the fifth-century where Basil of Seleucia, a bishop of Seleucia in a region historically named Isauria – today a south central Turkish coastal town known as Silifke. Basil of Seleucia followed the literary trail of John Chrysostom and copied many of his traits, but in the case of Pentecost, he adds the one voice many sounds description.

See An analysis of Gregory of Nyssa on Speaking in Tongues for more information.

Gregory Nazianzus on the miracle of speech vs. the miracle of hearing

Gregory Nazianzus
Gregory Nazianzus, 329 — 390 AD

Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus were acquaintances in real life, perhaps more so because of Gregory of Nyssa’s older brother, Basil the Great. Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great had a personal and professional relationship that greatly impacted the church in their dealings with Arianism and the development of the Trinity doctrine. Unfortunately, a fallout happened between Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great that never was repaired.(6)Frienship in Late Antiquity: The Case of Gregory Nazianzen and Basil the Great

Gregory Nazianzus recognized the theory of a one sound emanating and multiplying during transmission into real languages. He seriously looked at this solution and compared against the miracle of speaking in foreign languages. He found the one sound theory lacking and believed the miracle of speech was the proper interpretation. Perhaps this is a personal objection to Nyssa or a professional one based on research. There are no writings between Nyssa or Nazianzus that allude to a contested difference between them on the subject. Nyssa’s contribution to the christian doctrine of tongues has long been forgotten in the annals of history, but Nazianzus has survived. On the other hand, the theory itself posited by Nyssa never did vanish. These two positions by Nyssa and Nazianzus set the stage for an ongoing debate for almost two millennia.

Who is Gregory Nazianzus? Most people have not heard of him before but his contributions to the christian faith are many. This fourth-century Bishop of Constantinople’s mastery of the Greek language and culture is exquisite and hard to translate into English. Much of the wonder and power of his writing is so deeply connected with these two elements it feels like an injustice to translate. His works come across as dry and esoteric in an English translation whereas in the Greek he is a well-spring of deep thought. Many church leaders during his period preached and then published the homily. Nazianzus likely wrote first and preached later. His works do not come across as great sermons, but great works of writing. All these factors have contributed to him being relatively obscure in the annals of christian history – even though in the fourth-century he was on the same level of prestige as Augustine or John Chrysostom.

The description of Pentecost as either a miracle of speaking or hearing became the focal point of Gregory Nazianzus in the fourth-century when he wrote in one of his Orations that these both were potential possibilities, though he clearly believed Pentecost as a miracle of speech. Unfortunately, a Latin translator, Tyrannius Rufinus, misunderstood some finer points of Greek grammar when translating and removed Gregory’s preference of it being a miracle of speech and left both as equal possibilities. The majority of Western church leaders were unfamiliar with Greek and relied on Tyrannius’ Latin text. Tyrannius’ mistake created a thousand-year debate of the miracle being one of either speaking or hearing.

See Gregory Nazianzus on the doctrine of tongues intro for more information

The speech versus hearing argument was brought up again the seventh-century by the Venerable Bede, who wrote two commentaries on Acts. The Venerable Bede lived in the kingdom of the Northumbrians (Northern England. South-East Scotland). He was brilliant in so many areas. Astronomy, mathematics, poetry, music and a literature were some of his many passions. His writing is very engaging and fluid – a good read. His Ecclesiastical History of the English People makes him the earliest authority of English history.

Venerable Bede
The Venerable Bede, 673 — 735 AD

His first commentary delved deeply in the debate, and studying only the Latin texts, concluded it was a miracle of hearing. In his second commentary, he was not so convincing. He changed his mind, alluding Pentecost was a miracle of speech and conjectures it could have been both a miracle of speaking and hearing. The outcome didn’t really matter to him. Perhaps he took this conclusion to avoid saying he was initially wrong.

Another noteworthy discussion about the Nazianzus paradox was presented by Michael Psellos in the eleventh-century. His own biography is not one of the religious cloth, but civic politics. His highest position was that of Secretary of State in the highly influential Byzantine City of Constantinople. He was a Christian who had a love-hate relationship with the church. One of the lower moments in that relationship was his choosing Plato over Aristotle. The Church tolerated the non-christian writings of Aristotle, but frowned on Plato. Psellos studied theology but loved philosophy, and this was a continued source of contention.

It is surprising that his complex weave of Greek philosophy and christian faith in a very conservative christian environment did not get him into more serious trouble than he encountered. He was way ahead of his time. His approach to faith, Scripture, and intellect took western society five hundred or so more years to catch-up.

Michael Psellos was caught between two very distinct periods. He lived in the eleventh-century and still was connected to the ancient traditions of the church, but also at the beginning shift of intellectual and scholarly thought that modern readers come to rely on. He bridged both worlds. This is why his work is so important.

He thought highly of his opinions and liked to show-off his intellectual genius. After reading his text, it is not clear whether he was trying to solve the riddle of Nazianzus’ miracle of hearing or speech, or it was an opportunity to show his intellectual mastery. Regardless of his motives, he leaves us with a rich wealth of historic literature on speaking in tongues.

What did Psellos write that was so important? Two things. He first clears up the Nazianzus paradox stating that it was a miracle of speaking. Secondly, he particularly clarifies the similarities and differences between the ancient Greek prophetesses going into a frenzy and spontaneously speaking in foreign languages they did not know beforehand, and with the disciples of Christ who also spontaneously spoke in foreign languages.

Psellos had a detailed knowledge of the pagan Greek prophets and explains that the ancient female prophets of Phoebe would go in a form of frenzy and speak in foreign languages. This is a very early and important contribution to the modern tongues debate because there is a serious scholarly connection given to the ancient Greek prophets going into ecstasy and producing ecstatic speech with that of Pentecost. The christian miracle is named a synergism of the ancient Greek practice of ecstatic speech in order to make the christian faith a universal one.

Psellos may be the oldest commentator on the subject and must be given significant weight. His knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy and religion is unparalleled even by modern standards. It is also seven hundred years older than most works that address the relationship between the christian event and the pagan Greek rite.

He described the Pentecostal speakers spoke with total comprehension and detailed how it exactly worked. The thought process remained untouched but when attempting to speak, their lips were divinely inspired. The speaker could change the language at any given moment, depending on what language group the surrounding audience belonged to. He thought this action a miracle of speech, and sided with Nazianzus.

The total control of one’s mind while under divine influence was what differentiated the christian event from the pagan one. The Greek prophetesses, as he went on to describe, did not have any control over what they were saying. There was a complete cognitive disassociation between their mind and their speech while the Apostles had complete mastery over theirs.

Last of all Psellos introduces a concept of tongues-speaking practised in the Hellenic world that has to do with the use of plants to arrive in a state of divine ecstasy. He also quickly described pharmacology too in this context, but it seems the text infers it was used in the art of healing. His writing is somewhat unclear at this point, but there was a relationship between the two. Perhaps tongues speaking practised by the ancient Greeks was part of the ancient rite of healing. It is hard to be definitive with this because his writing style here is so obscure. He warns to stay away from the use of exotic things that assist in going into a state of divine ecstasy.

Thomas Aquinas tried to conclude the tongues as speech or hearing debate. Aquinas proceeded to use his argument and objection method for examining the Nazianzus paradox. In the end, he clearly stated it was a miracle of speech. His coverage was well done. However, this attempt was not successful in quelling the controversy.

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274 AD

Another aspect that Aquinas introduced was the relationship between the office of tongues and prophecy. The topic has lurked as early as the fourth-century but never in the forefront. Aquinas put the topic as a priority. Given that he was a mystic and lived in the world that heavily emphasized the supernatural, this comes as no surprise. He believed that the gift of tongues was simply a systematic procedure of speaking and translating one language into another. The process required no critical thinking, spiritual illumination, or comprehension of the overall narrative. He believed the agency of prophecy possessed the means for translating and interpreting but added another important asset – critical thinking. One must be cognisant of the fact that his idea of critical thinking is slightly different from ours. He includes spiritual illumination along with intellectual acuity as a formula for critical thinking. The prophetic person had the ability to understand the meaning behind the speech and how it applied to one’s daily life. Therefore, he felt prophecy was a much better and superior office than simply speaking and translating.

The expansion of the christian doctrine of tongues from the tenth to eighteenth-centuries

The tenth to sixteenth-centuries could be held as the golden age of tongues speaking in the Catholic Church, and arguably the biggest era for the christian doctrine of tongues. The next two-hundred years that reached into the eighteenth-century was the civil war that raged between protestants and catholics that put miracles, including speaking in tongues, in the epicenter. These eight-centuries were the era of super -supernaturalism in almost every area of human life. Speaking in tongues was common and attached to a variety of celebrity saints – from Andrew the Fool in the tenth to Francis Xavier in the sixteenth. This period had established the doctrine of tongues as either a miracle of hearing, speaking or a combination of both.

Later Medieval accounts of speaking in tongues

For example, the later legend of thirteenth-century had Anthony of Padua, a popular speaker in his time, spoke in the language of the Spirit to a mixed ethnic and linguistic gathering of catholic authorities who heard him in their own language. What was the language of the Spirit? This was never clarified in the text or by any other author and remains a mystery.

Vincent Ferrer in the fourteenth-century was a well-known evangelist, perhaps in the top 50 in the history of the church. He visited many ethnic and linguistic communities while only knowing his native Valencian language. His orations were so great and powerful that it was alleged people miraculously heard him speak in their own language.

There were also revisions by later writers to earlier lives of saints such as Matthew the Apostle, Patiens of Metz in the third, and the sixth-century Welsh saints, David, Padarn and Teilo. They were claimed to have spoken miraculously in foreign languages.

Speaking in tongues was also wielded as a political tool. The French religious orders, l’abbaye Saint-Clément and l’abbaye Saint-Arnould, had a strong competition between each other during the tenth and fourteenth centuries. L’abbaye Saint-Clément proposed their order to be the foremost because their lineage traced back to a highly esteemed and ancient founder. L’abbaye Saint-Arnould countered with St. Patiens who had the miraculous ability to speak in tongues.

The account of Andrew the Fool has an interesting twist in the annals of speaking in tongues. Andrew the Fool, often cited as Andrew of Constantinople, or Andrew Salus, was a tenth-century christian follower known for his odd lifestyle that would be classified under some form of a mental illness by today’s standards. However, many biographers believe it was a ruse purposely done by Andrew. There is a rich tradition of holy fools in Eastern Orthodox literature who feigned insanity as a form of a prophetic and teaching device. The story of Andrew the Fool’s miraculous endowment of tongues was used to facilitate a private conversation between Andrew and a slave while attending a party. This allowed them to talk freely without the patron of the party becoming privy to the conversation and becoming angry about the matter being discussed.

The legend of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues

Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier, 1506 — 1552 AD

The sainthood of Francis Xavier in the sixteenth-century, and the incredulous notion that he miraculously spoke in foreign languages brought the gift of tongues to the forefront of theological controversy. Protestants used his example of how Catholics had become corrupt, to the point of making fictitious accounts that contradict the evidence. A closer look demonstrated that the sainthood investigation process was flawed on the accounts of him speaking in tongues. On the contrary, a proper examination showed Francis struggled with language acquisition. His sainthood with partial grounds based on speaking in tongues was a later embarrassment to the Society of Jesus to whom Francis belonged to. The Society of Jesus is an educational, missionary and charitable organization within the Catholic church that was ambitiously counter-reformation in its early beginnings. The Society of Jesus still exists today and is the largest single order in the Catholic Church. The mistaken tongues miracle in Francis’ life also was a headache for the Catholic Church leadership itself. This led to Pope Benedict XIV to write a treatise on the gift of tongues around 1748 and describe what it is, isn’t and what criteria should be used to investigate such a claim. He concluded that the gift of tongues can be speaking in foreign languages or a miracle of hearing.

This treatise was a well-written and researched document. No other church leader or religious organization, even the Renewalist movement, have superseded his work in validating a claim for speaking in tongues. After his publication, the investigation of claims for tongues-speaking in the Catholic Church had significantly declined.

Conyers Middleton on how miracles were no longer active in the church

Conyers Middleton
Conyers Middleton, 1683 — 1750 AD

One of the assaults made by the earliest protestants was to deny the succession of catholic authority through the acts of miracles. The Catholic Church believed its leadership and structure was divinely ordained and confirmed through miracles and thus their authority was unquestionable. Protestant leaders naturally had to break this association to establish a new order. Their volley asserted that miracles had ceased earlier in the christian church and anything else after that period, including speaking in tongues, was false. The cessation of miracles was especially noted by Conyers Middleton in the eighteenth-century. This new theology was called cessationism. Cessationism became an independent doctrine that influenced not only the christian doctrine of tongues but the doctrine of miracles. There are still many ardent supporters of this belief in traditional and fundamentalist churches today but small in comparison to the renewalist movement.

Middleton cited fourth-century John Chrysostom to hold up this claim, though a closer analysis does not find this interpretation correct. Chrysostom didn’t believe miracles had ceased, rather he didn’t want miracles as a central part of the christian identity. Chrysostom still believed in miracles, especially those of exorcism, healings by being near the tombs or relics of the great saints, or through corporate rites of the church. However, he shied away from the idea of miracles. They brought up too much pride and interfered with personal growth. Neither did later followers of Chrysostom bring up the idea of cessation such as the fifth-century Basil of Seleucia, the eighth-century church leader, John of Damascus, or the eleventh-century highly-trained student from Constantinople and later archbishop of the Bulgarian church, Theopylacti of Ochrid.

Middleton was also the first one to associate Montanism with tongues.

Cessationism was never an absolute in protestant circles. Tongues speaking continued to have outbreaks. The Camisards and the Irvingites are two obvious examples among many. The Camisards will be immediately explained while the Irvingites will have to wait for a number of paragraphs.

The Camisards speaking in tongues as a sign of divine judgement

Camisards surprised by Catholic troops by Karl Girardet, 1842.
Camisards surprised by Catholic troops by Karl Girardet, 1842.

The Camisards were part of the Huguenot movement in the late 1600s and early 1700s in the rugged mountains of south-central France called Cévennes. The Huguenots were France’s version of the protestant faith. The Camisards spoke a language called Occitan which, at least in the 1700s, had a closer affinity to Spanish. The majority of Camisards were illiterate, uneducated, and didn’t know the French language.

The Camisards have a special narrative in the annals of christian history and it is a sad one. Their story would have been forgotten if their speaking in tongues and their habitual use of prophecy was their mark in history. They were subject to harsh and brutal persecutions by the Catholic dominated French authorities. It is estimated that 500,000 Camisards fled France or were killed.(7)Catharine Randall. From a Far Country: Camisards and Huguenots in the Atlantic World. Georgia, USA: The University of Georgia Press. 2009. Pg. 18 These pogroms are the more important story, but the persecutions opened new protestant expressions of piety that were unique, especially in the realms of speaking in tongues and prophecy.

These persecutions led to a heightened sense of mysticism among the Camisards. There are various accounts of Camisards, from infants to elderly women, apparently speaking miraculously in the French tongue. The Camisards believed this miracle as a sign of divine judgement against the French authorities.

Early Protestant Commentaries on speaking in tongues

Did the protestant writers during the Reformation recognize the doctrine of tongues as a heavenly language or some non-human entity? Protestant writers, most notably John Gill, John Lightfoot, Matthew Henry, John Locke, and Jean Calvin.(8)I should have Martin Luther here but have not studied his works All of these understood the christian doctrine of tongues in relation to a foreign language. Neither did the dictionaries before the late 1880s have any references other than foreign languages. They were unaware of the glossolalic alternative because the concept had not been conceived yet.

A history of unknown tongues in the English Bible

A relatively minor Bible translation polemic by the protestants against the catholic establishment in the 1560s has contributed greatly to the renewalist cause — a mainstay for their modern interpretation of tongues but taken completely out of context. This influence can be traced to the theologian, churchman, and reformist, Jean Calvin. Calvin, along with protestant thinkers from around the European regions came together in Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva offered protestant followers safety from the catholic authorities and allowed them to freely practice their faith without any hindrance. This city became the central hub for translators to develop fresh, local translations for their countries of origin – a practice seriously condemned throughout by the catholic dominated European countries but encouraged under the leadership of Geneva’s protestant rulers. A common system was devised by these multi-ethnic followers on how to translate the Scriptures into a local language and everyone reflected a certain Genevan protestant interpretation in their translation. For the most part, this was good, but in the case of the speaking in tongues passages of the New Testament, this created a new genre of interpretation that still stands with us today.

This new theological twist has to do with the addition of a single adjective being added to the English Bible; the word unknown or in some translations, strange, added to the noun tongues. This adjective did not exist in the original Greek or Latin. There is only one exception and that is Acts 2:4 where it does exist in the original Greek. Calvin knew that he was adding a qualified opinion, so did the rest of the translators, but felt compelled to insert it.

Jean Calvin
Jean Calvin, 1509 — 1564 AD

The adjective is found in one the earliest French Bibles La Bible de Genève. Calvin took this even further and named important tongues passages in I Corinthians as “langages incognus” (unknown tongues) in his commentary on I Corinthians (chapter 14 specifically). The typesetter of Calvin’s work put the word incognu in italics to denote that this adjective was an editorial decision indicating that it was not found in the original text.

The influence of the Geneva protestant leadership and the addition of the adjective influenced William Whittingham, among other English Protestant Reformists, forced to flee England. He oversaw the translation of the Geneva Bible into the English language. The translation utilized not only the French version but previous English Bible translations and the protestant commitment to sourcing the actual Greek and Hebrew texts.

The promotion of the Geneva Bible was highly successful in England and greatly displaced all other English Bibles. This is partly due to the fact that study notes, cross-referencing, pictures, the introduction of verse numbers, and easier to read fonts were major upgrades to the previous English versions. This also was the first mechanically produced book in England.

The Geneva Bible was an overwhelming success and a strong influence on the King James Bible that was published shortly later. The editorial idiom “unknown tongues” crossed over from the Geneva to the King James. This idiom, though used differently in alternative translations such as other tongues, or strange tongues is permanently etched on the minds of English Bible readers.

The King James rendering of other tongues has been an important building block for Renewalists such as the late Kenneth Hagin in the mid to late 1900s, who partially built his theology of tongues from this idiom and strengthened his idea of the rite being a private prayer language,(9)Kenneth E. Hagin. Why Tongues. Rhema Bible Church. 21st Printing. 1988 and forms one of the statements of faith held by one of the largest pentecostal bodies in the world, The Assemblies of God.

But why was it put there in the first place? We know from the writings of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth-century that unknown tongue meant any foreign language spoken that was neither understood nor explained. This definition became a rallying point of protestants against catholicism because the Catholics insisted that Latin was the sole language of legal and religious instruction and sacred universal language that could connect ancient thoughts and literature of the past with the present. It was a language considered to have the ability to communicate clearly heightened forms of knowledge and logic that other common languages did not possess. Authorities believed local vernaculars limited their societies intellectual and spiritual well-beings. Any resistance to such logic was met with harsh penalties.

The Protestants countered that Latin was a language and writing that few civilians and the large lower classes throughout Europe comprehended. This ignorance allowed for catholic authorities to control and direct harmful social policy without any opposition. The protestant revolution saw illiteracy as a barrier for social and religious good and used the unknown tongues as a Biblical basis to reject the Latin language and the catholic authority that rested behind it.

Jean Calvin wasn’t afraid to make this bold statement in his writings either. Jean Calvin was a preeminent foundational protestant leader a generation after Martin Luther. Being born and raised a catholic with protestant sentiments, highly educated from humanist based institutions, and a lawyer, Calvin was easily provoked against any sign of Catholic excess, including forcing Latin only in church and civil affairs. He didn’t clearly explain why he added the idiom “unknown languages” to his I Corinthian commentary. But then he didn’t have to, the evidence was manifestly clear that he believed that Latin was not to be the sole language of the church and he took great strides, even to add the adjective unknown to achieve his aims. This little insertion was a trumpet against the Catholic ears.

See Uncovering the Unknown of Unknown Tongues for more information.

What about women speaking in tongues?

Christine F. Cooper-Rompato compiled a detailed look in her book, The Gift of Tongues: Women’s Xenoglossia in the Later Middle Ages. She concluded that the miraculous gift was usually reserved for men to produce public conversions whereas with women it is often accidental, downplayed or semi-privately done. There are few documentations of women exercising this gift (Page 40).

This remains an area that the Gift of Tongues Project could use more research.

The shift from miraculously speaking or hearing a foreign language to glossolalia

The Irvingites and the renewal of tongues

Edward Irving
Edward Irving, 1792 — 1834 AD

No one can write about the evolution of the christian doctrine of tongues without referencing the Irvingite movement in the 1830s. This is a key moment in the doctrine of tongues. They are also the first large representation of speaking in tongues within the English protestant movement. The birthplace where both of today’s definitions are derived from – the mystical and the glossolalia versions. The international publicity created by the Irvingites stimulated the foremost religious thinkers of their day to explain the phenomenon in the most scientific, rational and common sense way. This started with leading German scholars and their opinions proliferated throughout the world.

Edward Irving was a presbyterian clergyman in London, England. He lived during a time where anti-establishment sentiment against the Presbyterians was high, and their followers, especially those of Scottish descent, were ready for an alternative. There was an openness to almost anything from Presbyterianism. Irving was a person of an exuberant and charismatic persuasions and appealed to these disenchanted masses.

The Irvingites represented an epoch where pockets of England were in a period of prophetic expectation and excitement — a sense that the end was drawing near and the supernatural gifts of the original Apostles would return. Speaking in tongues was one of the anticipated giftings to herald in the end. The angst was fulfilled when a Scottish woman in Edward Irving’s circle, attributed to Mary Campbell, started to miraculously speak in a foreign language. She believed that she spoke in the language of the Pelew islands – a very remote set of islands north of Indonesia and west of the Philippines. Some say she spoke Turkish, others Chinese. There were other unverified citations regarding people miraculously speaking in foreign languages in the Irvingite community.

The Irvingite explosion of speaking in tongues created a great deal of curiosity throughout London. The Irvingites were front page news. Big names that got drawn into the discussion were the likes of the Scottish philosopher and writer, Thomas Carlyle, the Duke of York, and members of Parliament. The manifestations also attracted celebrities, lawyers, doctors, students, and journalists.

Over time, the pressures confronting Irving to validate these experiences prompted him to make a subtle change. He stated he didn’t have any idea on how to define the gift of tongues and left it obscure.

The assertion about the Irvingites may be an over-generalization because the major addition to the doctrine of tongues begins a few short years before them, but without this controversial apocalyptic and tongues-speaking group, international inquiry to the doctrine of tongues would never have occurred. There would have been no catalyst for the intense evaluation of the christian doctrine of tongues that happened afterward.

The intellectual spirit of the age forced a review of the gift of tongues under a completely different set of rules. The most important one promoted that ancient christian literature was not considered a reliable source for defining the tongues of Pentecost or Corinth.(10)See the The Historical Rejection of Patristics and its Legacy This was especially found among the acclaimed German academics whose scholarly works dominated the religious academic world. They had relegated ecclesiastical literature to the realm of myths and legends. The results had only a few patristic citations, and these were weak ones – deliberately chosen to advance their thesis while discarding a much greater library of patristic references. Classical Greek sources such as the Greek prophetesses at Delphi were considered more trustworthy. This approach had serious consequences on the modern tongues debate and created a complex web that is difficult to untangle. This has proven more difficult than tracing the evolution from the fourth to twelfth-centuries.

Glossolalia entrenched as the foremost definition

German theologians dictated the intellectual side of the protestant world during the eighteenth-century with the likes of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher — the father of modern liberal theology, Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette – a rationalist thinker, and August Neander – a disciple of Schleiermacher and one of the most influential theologians in the nineteenth-century. Neander combined rationalism with a common-sense faith and acceptance of the supernatural.

Neander is especially noted because his coverage on the Pentecost was so effective that it permanently altered the definition. He wasn’t the beginning of the German intellectual pursuit of tongues and his story comes slightly later.

Augustus Neander
Augustus Neander, 1789 — 1850 AD

All these great theologians combined are part of a theological movement called Higher Criticism. Generally, it means a more scientific approach to interpreting Scripture: letting history, facts, textual creation and transmission, archaeology, third-party works such as Greek philosophers, be part of the theological and moral analysis for any given passage or book. A higher-criticism scholar is not required to follow christian tradition at all and may come up with an altogether different solution. The definition of higher criticism is fluid and depends on the scholar’s opinion. This is not necessarily a bad problem. This approach has helped stabilize the christian faith in a modern world.

Two understudies of these magnificent three had an initial impact on the modern definition of speaking in tongues. F.C. Baur who once was under Schleiermacher’s spell but found his theories wanting. So he adapted the theories of the controversial but universally discussed works of Georg Hegel. Hegel is an important figure in history but does not add to the speaking in tongues narrative except his influence on Baur’s methodology to the tongues issue. Lastly, Freidrich Bleek, who sought to find a system of interpretation that balanced rationalism with supernaturalism.(11)Old Testament Criticism in the Nineteenth Century: England and Germany Pg. 130

Baur and Bleek were the first known academics to publish a critical work on tongues and draw a conclusion of ecstasy or something non-human. This thesis started around 1830, just before the Irvingite movement’s break-out. Before these two scholars provided their alternative opinions, most commentators followed the standard protestant definition that speaking in tongues was the spontaneous speaking in a foreign language.

Bleek and Bauer’s contributions hardly gained a universal audience, but when the influential and distinguished scholar, August Neander, published his findings, this began to change. Neander believed that the miracle of Pentecost was speaking in foreign languages, but that faded out in the early church. The later editions of tongues speaking in the christian world were a spiritual language and the tongues of Corinth was a language of ecstasy.

These conclusions were picked up later by Philip Schaff and F.W. Farrar. Neither of these are household names today, but back in the late 1800s, they both had a powerful influence in the English speaking religious world. Philip Schaff was a German-born and trained historian who spent his later adult life teaching in the United States. His work, History of the Christian Church was an updated and modernized version of Neander’s original publication of a similar name. Schaff took the tongues issue quite seriously and in the first ever meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in the US which was held in January 1880, Schaff chose to publicly read his work, “The Pentecostal and the Corinthian Glossolalia.” He also delved into the Irvingite experience to find a rational explanation. He didn’t really know what it was but inferred it was a language of ecstasy.

Neander’s influence reached a larger audience and crossed into the English language when the writer, Anglican schoolteacher, later Dean of Canterbury, and pallbearer for the funeral of Charles Darwin, F.W. Farrar, published the popular book; The Life and Work of St. Paul in 1879. He wrote that Pentecost had nothing to do with foreign languages and was a language of the spirit. He is the one most credited, along with another author named Lily(12)whose work I cannot locate for introducing the word glossolalia into the English language.

See The History of Glossolalia: The Origins for more information

The formulation of tongues as ecstasy, utterance, and frenzy was clearly developing. There were still objections by traditionalists and some hurdles to pass through before it was adopted. These objections were relatively minor compared to the momentum the doctrine of glossolalia had accrued. The spirit of the times was decidedly shifting to the new definition.

The Holiness Movement’s definition of speaking in tongues

The following sections are preliminary as the research is not complete.

The holiness movement principally sprung up in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and pockets of Europe during the nineteenth-century wherever the Methodist style church message was conveyed. The movement itself influenced other mainline denominations and contained independent quasi-Methodist sects who emphasized empowered right-living after conversion. An attitude of anti-establishment, which seems to follow protestant sects, also pervaded the movement which reacted against status, prestige and religious formalities.

A surge of christian mysticism began to develop in the United States, Canada, and other holiness communities around the world in the late 1800s. The economic, social, political, and religious climate was ripe for this expression. A desire for the renewal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as outlined in the Book of Acts was eagerly sought for. This anticipation, combined with end-time angst, generated an apocalyptic feeling that God would soon restore the gift of tongues. This gift would allow missionaries to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth and usher in the new age. There were local accounts of speaking in tongues within small gatherings happening all over North America and Great Britain. Such as the 1859 Ulster Revival in Ireland, which emphasized the miracle of speaking in a foreign language and purposely distancing itself from the Irvingite experience. Nothing occurred on a national scale.

Although there are documented accounts of speaking in tongues during this period, the Gift of Tongues Project is not concerned about tracing every holiness movement. The goal is to find whether the definition remained static or changed. A review of the holiness movement so far demonstrates there was no change in definition that speaking in tongues was the miraculous endowment of speaking in a foreign language.

The birth of the pentecostal church and speaking in tongues

Charles Parham
Charles Parham, 1873 — 1929 AD

The holiness anticipation for the return of the gifts broke through on a national level with an event that happened under the leadership of Charles F. Parham, founder of Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. He was encouraged in the year 1900 during his stay at a holiness commune in Shiloh, Maine, led by the controversial and later imprisoned leader Frank W. Standford. Standford had an extraordinary emphasis on tongues speaking. Parham’s excitement was strengthened by the report of a missionary named Jennie Glassy who was supernaturally empowered to speak in multiple languages. She also had the unique supernatural ability to write in “in many letters of the Greek and Hebrew alphabet.”(13)http://www.fwselijah.com/glassey.htm

Parham brought this zeal back to Kansas and his Bible School. This all came together in 1901 when one of his students, Agnes Ozman, claimed to miraculously speak in Bohemian — evidence that the Holy Spirit had arrived and the end of the world was nigh. Speaking in tongues turned into an expectation that was methodologically applied. Parham qualified this process, calling it the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.

The students spread out their message of spiritual awakening with great zeal. One particular student of Parham’s was William Seymour who moved to Los Angeles to take a pulpit there. The spiritual hunger among certain holiness people of California matched the same passion happening all over the continent. Seymour preached the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial sign of the Holy Spirit and then a breakthrough happened. A person by the name of Edward E. Lee began to speak in tongues. This event spread throughout the holiness circles and caused a following that forced Seymour to rent a building at 312 Azusa Street. Thus, the Azusa Street revival was born in 1906 which symbolizes the birthplace of pentecostalism.

Azusa Street was not the only place that speaking in tongues was occurring but this was the location where the rite broke through internationally and gained universal attention. Azusa Street was the symbol of the holiness movement’s move into popularity.

The official publication of the Azusa Street church was called the Apostolic Faith. The first edition had in-depth coverage of the tongues revival, clearly marking it as the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages. The Azusa Street ministry saw this as a sign for spreading the Gospel to the furthest corners of the earth.

apostolic faith newspaper 1906
Cover page for the Apostolic Faith newspaper

There were serious problems hiding under the Azusa Street banner. Parham disagreed with his protege’s church. He thought the tongues outbreak was disingenuous and only gibberish – it wasn’t the real thing. Perhaps Parham’s assessment was correct, but his assertion may have been out of spite. He was banished from preaching or serving at Azusa and this refutation may have been an attempt to regain his lost honor. But a more serious problem arose; some endowed with the gift of a new language felt compelled to go the country that the language was spoken in. After costly preparation along with a long voyage, these missionaries dejectedly discovered that they had no immediate linguistic ability to speak with the native inhabitants. They were forced to either learn the language through the time consuming normal means or come back home in failure. This forced a review their christian doctrine of tongues.

What did these converts do to overcome such a dilemma?

Why the pentecostal definition of tongues changed in the early 1900s

They slightly changed the definition of speaking in tongues in order to adjust to this embarrassing reality.

This conclusion is asserted by an Assemblies of God teacher, writer, and professor, the late Gary B. McGee. He wrote a very factual account on the development and evolution of the doctrine of tongues in the pentecostal movement.

It is called, Shortcut to Language Preparation? Radical Evangelicals, Missions, and the Gift of Tongues.

It is a well-researched article with substantiated sources. This is one of the most definitive works found covering the subject from the late nineteenth century onwards.

He cites the most important leaders in the modern tongues movement, and how the original emphasis was on the supernatural acquisition of foreign languages. This mystical acquirement was hoped to be a solution for the common perception that language learning was a long process and a barrier to a rapid missionary expansion throughout the world.

McGee admits that somewhere between 1906 and 1907 the doctrine of tongues had changed from what was perceived as spontaneous language acquisition into worship and intercession in the Spirit:

Not surprisingly, though claims of bestowed languages had the potential of being empirically verified, such claims severely tested the credulity of outside observers. Corroborating testimony that Pentecostals preached at will in their newfound languages and were actually understood by their hearers proved difficult to find. By late 1906 and 1907 radical evangelicals began reviewing the Scriptures to obtain a better understanding. Most came to recognize that speaking in tongues constituted worship and intercession in the Spirit (Rom. 8:26; I Cor. 14:2), which in turn furnished the believer with spiritual power. Since on either reading–glossolalia for functioning effectively in a foreign language or for spiritual worship–the notion of receiving languages reflected zeal and empowerment for evangelism, most Pentecostals seemed to have accepted the transition in meaning.

It is surprising that an Assemblies of God teacher, representing the one of the largest and oldest pentecostal institutions in the world, admitting an important transition in meaning. He arrived at these conclusions without vigorous internal debate or opposition. I have yet to find scholarly pentecostal sources that dispute his claim.

Unfortunately, he failed to go into any details on what figures were responsible for this change, and how it became an entrenched doctrine in such a short period. The Gift of Tongues Project has yet to do extensive research on the subject.

Today the pentecostal definition of prayer language, heavenly language, or other tongues that are not of human origin, with some wiggle room that it possibly can happen as a foreign language has become a fixed doctrine and has not changed for over a 100 years. The academic definition too, that the christian tongues are glossolalia — that is a language imagined by the speaker, or expressions from a state of heightened emotion is now the standard textbook definition. The fundamentalist groups that simply believe tongues died out long ago in the early church are now a minority. Their argument is an echo of an earlier protestant era that is dying out.


After reading this, most readers will be surprised by the amount of information the church writers have produced over the centuries and the later movements created by their desire to recreate Luke’s account of Pentecost in the Book of Acts. No, the church wasn’t silent at all. The contemporary ignorance of historic literature and the lack of availability of ancient christian writings is a big culprit surrounding the contemporary issues of speaking in tongues.

As evidenced by the documentation shown above, the evolution of the christian doctrine of tongues has never been static. Pentecost has always been at the core of the christian identity and the desire for a fresh new Pentecost has been recreated throughout history – both in catholic and protestant circles. This is not restricted to regional or cultural dimensions. The concept as the miraculous ability to speak in a foreign language is the major stream along with the miracle of hearing being close behind as the standard definitions. The concept then extended to being one where it was either a miracle of speaking or hearing, then in the early 1800s, there became multiple explanations. One was that it was glossolalia – a made up language from a person in an exalted state. A third position was it could be all three together. In the early 1900s, another dimension was added. It could be a private prayer language, heavenly or angelic speech, or a form of worship.

For further reading:

References   [ + ]

An analysis of Gregory of Nyssa on speaking in tongues

Gregory of Nyssa on divine speech, human languages, and Pentecost.


Gregory of Nyssa, along with Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and Gregory Nazianzus, set the framework for the christian doctrine of tongues from the fourth-century and onwards. Although there are other narratives during this period such as John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Pachomius, these did not have the future impact on this doctrine as the above three accomplished.

The focus of this article is on Gregory of Nyssa. His name is hardly known, if at all, in chapels, streets, or coffee shops today, but in his time, he was a powerful writer, speaker, and teacher. His influence was widespread throughout all christendom.

Gregory of Nyssa was a fourth-century Bishop of Nyssa – a small town in the historic region of Cappadocia. In today’s geographical terms, central Turkey. The closest major city of influence to Nyssa was Constantinople – which at the time was one of the most influential centers of the world.

Gregory of Nyssa, along with Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great were named together as the Cappadocians. Their influence set the groundwork for christian thought in the Eastern Roman Empire. Gregory of Nyssa was an articulate and a deep thinker. He not only drew from christian sources, but built his writings around a Greek philosophical framework.

His theory of divine speech and human languages demonstrate an important perspective in the history of the christian doctrine of tongues.

Nyssa’s idea of divine and human language

Gregory wrote a detailed treaty against a man named Eunomius who had a large following in the christian community, but in matters of theology slightly changed some constants that better suited his philosophy of god and life. There were many subtle shifts that go beyond this study. However, the controversy brings to light Gregory’s views of speaking in tongues.

Eunomius brought up the question whether God spoke in human language, specifically the Hebrew language. Gregory answered by building his thesis around the confusion of languages written in the Book of Genesis. His observations gave a number of valuable thoughts. The first one being that language is a human invention allowed to grow and develop, and that God Himself does not speak in human language as His normal mode of communication.

As he wrote in Contra Eunomium:

So that our position remains unshaken, that human language is the invention of the human mind or understanding. For from the beginning, as long as all men had the same language, we see from Holy Scripture that men received no teaching of God’s words, nor, when men were separated into various differences of language, did a Divine enactment prescribe how each man should talk. But God, willing that men should speak different languages, gave human nature full liberty to formulate arbitrary sounds, so as to render their meaning more intelligible.(1)NPNF2-05. Gregory of Nyssa Pg. 276

Whenever Gregory referred to God speaking, he left the word ambiguous in Greek as voice (phônos — φῶνος).

The avid reader may find that the English translation of the treatise Contra Eunomium found in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. second series doesn’t prove this theory. This is a problem of the English translation which in other areas is a good one, but fails when it comes to differentiating between the Greek nouns, glossa which is the noun for language and phonos which means sound or voice (γλῶσσα and φῶνος).

Secondly, Gregory believed that there was only one language before the confusion of languages at Babel. What exactly this language was, he doesn’t know. He left this one ambiguous too, using voice again, rather than language in the majority of occasions, especially highlighted in this key passage “μιᾷ συνέζων φωνῇ πάντων ἀνθρώπων τὸ πλήρωμα,” “the aggregate of men dwelt together with one voice among them.” The word here for voice is φωνῇ not language as the original English translation of this text provided.(2)See a href=”http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf205/Page_276.html”>NPNF2-05. Gregory of Nyssa Pg. 276 for the full text

He didn’t believe man’s original language was the language of God because God did not use human language as the basis of His natural way of communicating. Aware that Hebrew was proposed as the first original language, he reckoned that Hebrew is neither the oldest language of the world and impossible for this to be the case.

But some who have carefully studied the Scriptures tell us that the Hebrew tongue is not even ancient like the others. . .(3)NPNF2-05. Gregory of Nyssa Pg. 276

Nyssa’s idea of Pentecost

Gregory does not make the Pentecostal event related in the Book of Acts as a reversal of Babel. Instead, he sees parallels between the two stories on the nature of language with different outcomes. In the Pentecost story, he explained it as one sound dividing into languages during transmission that the recipients understood.

The emphasis on God speaking in an ambiguous voice (φῶνος) remains consistent between the two stories:

For at the river Jordan, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, and again in the hearing of the Jews, and at the Transfiguration, there came a voice from heaven, teaching men not only to regard the phenomenon as something more than a figure, but also to believe the beloved Son of God to be truly God. Now that voice was fashioned by God, suitably to the understanding of the hearers, in airy substance, and adapted to the language of the day, God, “who willeth that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.(4)NPNF2-05. Gregory of Nyssa Pg. 275

Gregory believed the sound of God speaking at in the events of Jesus’ baptism, and the transfiguration was not a language, rather, it was a sound that had the ability to adapt during transmission into a targeted human language.

Now when one reads his accounts of Pentecost, this same formula is found with those imbued with the fiery tongues.

In his treatise Contra Eunomium he wrote:

We read in the Acts that the Divine power divided itself into many languages for this purpose, that no one of alien tongue might lose his share of the benefit.(5)NPNF2-05. Gregory of Nyssa Pg. 276

And then again in his homily De Spiritu Sancto sive in Pentecosten:

Consequently, the narrative of the Book of Acts says that while these people are gathered in the upper room, is the dividing up in each one the pure and supernatural fire in the form of languages according to the number of disciples.

So then these people are thus discoursing in Parthian, Mede, and Elamite in the other remaining nations, adapting their voices with respect to authority to every state language. Even as the Apostle says, “I wish five words to speak with my mind in the Church in order that I may benefit others than a thousand words in a tongue.” Truly at that time the benefit was the same language begotten into foreign languages so that the preaching to those ignorant of the truth would not be in vain when those preaching thwart them by a single voice. Now indeed while existing according to the same sounding language, it is necessary to seek after the fiery tongue of the Spirit for the illumination of those who dwell in darkness through error.(6) My translation from Migne Patrologia Graeca. Vol. 46. Col. 695Ff

Gregory of Nyssa’s homily on Pentecost is a happy tome which began with his reference to Psalm 94:1, Come, let us exalt the Lord and continues throughout with this joyful spirit. In reference to speaking in tongues, he wrote of the divine indwelling in the singular and the output of a single sound suggesting a miraculous multiplication into languages during transmission. This emphasis on the singularity may be traced to the influence of Plotinus — one of the most revered and influential philosophers of the third-century. Plotinus was not a christian, but a Greek/Roman/Egyptian philosopher who greatly expanded upon the works of Aristotle and Plato. He emphasized that the one supreme being had no “no division, multiplicity or distinction.”(7)As found in the Philosophy Basics website Nyssa strictly adhered to a singularity of expression by God when relating to language. The multiplying of languages happened after the sound was emitted and therefore conforms to this philosophical model. However, Nyssa never mentions Plotinus by name or credits his movement in Contra Eunomium so it is hard to make a direct connection. I believe that there is some influence here.

What then was the sound that the people imbued with the Holy Spirit were speaking before it multiplied during transmission? Nyssa is not clear. It is not a heavenly or divine language because he believed man would be too limited in any capacity to produce such a mode of divine communication. Neither would he believe it to be Hebrew. Maybe it was the first language mankind spoke before Babel, but this is doubtful. Perhaps the people were speaking their own language and the miracle occurred in transmission. I think speaking in their own language with a miraculous transmission is the likeliest possibility. Regardless, Gregory of Nyssa was not clear in this part of his doctrine.

The differing views between Nyssa and Nazianzus on Pentecost

Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus were acquaintances in real life, perhaps more so because of Gregory of Nyssa’s older brother, Basil the Great. Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great had a personal and professional relationship that greatly impacted the church in their dealings with Arianism and the development of the Trinity doctrine. Unfortunately, a fallout happened between Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great that never was repaired.(8)Frienship in Late Antiquity: The Case of Gregory Nazianzen and Basil the Great

Gregory Nazianzus recognized the theory of a one sound emanating and multiplying during transmission into real languages. He seriously looked at this solution and posited this against the miracle of speaking in foreign languages. He found the one sound theory lacking and believed the miracle of speech was the proper interpretation. Perhaps this is a personal objection to Nyssa or a professional one based on research. There are no writings between Nyssa or Nazianzus that allude to a contested difference between them on the subject. Nyssa’s contribution to the christian doctrine of tongues has long been forgotten in the annals of history, but Nazianzus has survived. On the other hand, the theory itself posited by Nyssa never did vanish. These two positions by Nyssa and Nazianzus set the stage for an ongoing debate for almost two millennia.

The story doesn’t end here. It is just the beginning. The debate continues to grow and the results are found in a series of articles on Gregory Nazianzus on the doctrine of tongues

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