Tag Archives: Aquinas

Where have all the Prophets gone?

The need for modern prophets in the age of spin.

Prophet is an old term used for people who have the capacity to discern between the lines. These people have the ability to discover and expose the truth where things appear unclear or hidden. They don’t take things at face value but look into the motivations behind the words. These type of people are independent, free-thinkers, who are devoted to the truth and are not bound to any particular brand, organization, or institution.

Today, the title of prophet is little used, and the noun journalist is preferred.

Unfortunately, the prophet as journalist is disappearing. It takes a lot of work to be a prophet and communicate to the masses. It is not simply an esoteric task that happens in an instant moment where someone is suddenly inspired. It takes time, research, networking, access to key persons and literature on a subject, and finding those that are in the know. It is a full time job which requires compensation and teamwork in order to succeed.

Newspapers, radio and television organizations supplied a highly developed journalism department backed by strong administrative and legal support. Today, this is no longer economically viable and the journalism that society has counted on for generations is dying. Those that do remain are forced to compete with the myriad of amateur perspectives posted on the internet. If they are not picked up by a major media outlet, their message can easily be lost. Most media channels, due to the present lack of a strong journalism department, simply restate whatever press release is given by a government or corporation.

There are many prophet/journalist wannabees who do proliferate the internet and many magazines with stories that are not grounded on truth but are written to either titillate or provoke, improve readership, their own image, or make easy money. These are false-prophets and are a different genre altogether. This further erodes public confidence in investigative journalism.

This is a dangerous time. With the erosion of the journalist role in society, governments and monolithic corporations can do or say whatever they want with impunity.

It takes a special person to be a prophet, and every society needs this type of function. It is an outside agent that calls against the excess of any social system. In the past it took the form of spiritual enlightenment where God reveals in a dream or circumstance to a person the most intimate things involving those that has significant importance. Such as the prophet Nathan being told by God of King David’s selfish act of murder to hide a secret liaison. However, this wouldn’t go over too well today in such a direct fashion. Or it could be, as Thomas Aquinas insists, the highest ability to gather all the information available; the words, the circumstances, the spirit, non-verbal expressions, testimonies, history, and any other finite detail, and make cohesive sense out of it all. Prophetic voices are needed on so many fronts from ecological, to medical, moral and economic concerns that have generational impacts.

However, this is not happening on any large-scale to counter the rhetoric being spewed by large institutions. This does not imply that institutions are inherently bad. The problem is the lack of accountability. The present social system is deeply flawed.

The Catholic Church continues to issue a prophetic voice to the nations, but this is not enough. The Occupy Wall Street movement is also a prophetic movement, albeit without the religious doctrine, on the corruption of the financial system, but is failing because of a lack of structural organization. The Muslim community is also issuing a prophetic voice — though because of the violent tactics used and misogyny within its circles, the West refuses to listen to moderates that have valid points. Organizations such as Sojourners attempt to regain the prophetic voice for Evangelicals, but it is relegated to being a special interest group. If the Evangelical Church refuses to acquire a prophetic voice, which should be a base of its activities, it will continue into its progression of being a superficial artifice. This lack of a prophetic voice will permit the growth of a society that no longer has the ability to discern good from evil.

The Evangelical Church, because of its heavy influence on American social life, which in turn effects the international psyche, needs to encourage prophets and the prophetic voice. It has the finances and resources to do such a thing. This would be a big factor in bringing accountability and justice throughout the world. It is hoped that the young people growing up in the Evangelical movement will embrace the prophetic role. It will not only change the world around them, but will also rescue the Evangelical Church from its current evacuation of young people from its ranks. ■

Thoughts on Ecstasy, Private Revelation, and Prophecy

The use of private revelations, ecstasy and prophecy in the 18th century European religious vernacular. What these words stood for, the growing opposition, and parallels to modern Christian mystics.

These states of Christian being had individual, group and societal effects. The perceived infusion of the divine impartation can be found in decision making on small personal things and large ones too. They had an impact in the larger political and community realm as well.

The following conclusions are from research derived from reading Medieval and Reformation literature on the subject along with these through historical narratives: William Lecky’s monumental work, History of the rise and influence of the spirit of rationalism in Europe, Volume 1 (1)William Lecky. History of the rise and influence of the spirit of rationalism in Europe, Volume 1. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1888., Paul Carus’ publication, The History of the Devil and The European Witch-craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries by Hugh Trevor-Roper.(2)Further details on Christian mysticism and how it affected the role of Patristics can be found in the following article, The Historical Rejection of Patristics and its Legacy. A third influence is my affiliation with the modern Charismatic and Pentecostal communities for over 30 years. Their modern experiences, especially those of the Charismatics, accidentally parallel those of the Medieval period. This creates a framework to address this subject.

These three books demonstrate that all of Europe, whether Protestant or Catholic, was immersed in a mystic lifestyle. This age cannot be understood without this as a central axis.

Private revelation is understood as a divine message. This revelation was imparted on a person by a dream or vision. The person does not necessarily have to asleep in bed for this to occur but could be wide awake. It could be the discerning of a devil or witch’s presence. The experience could outcome with a miracle or healing. The private revelation could be an inner locution (an inner voice). It did not necessarily have to be major, nor theologically deep. It often applied to the mundane things in life such as decision making in a business transaction, marriage, divine appointment of a leader, or family life.(3)Decision making such as marriage, appointments of leaders etc. is my own conclusions based on being within the confines of the Charismatic movement that practices private revelations. It may be my own bias but this is seen as a natural progression of private revelation.

Charismatics and Pentecostals still believe in private revelation but this term is not consistently nor universally applied. Most contemporary Christian mystics would say, “God spoke to me,” and add nothing more.

The eighteenth century philosopher John Locke categorically railed against its effect. He called these types of persons enthusiasts:

Their minds being thus prepared, whatever groundless opinion comes to settle itself strongly upon their fancies is an illumination from the Spirit of God, and presently of divine authority: and whatsoever odd action they find in themselves a strong inclination to do, that impulse is concluded to be a call or direction from heaven, and must be obeyed: it is a commission from above, and they cannot err in executing it.(4)An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke. Book IV, XIX:5

Locke was outlining the problem of absolutism with the office of private revelation. If someone speaks out publicly with a private revelation, then it is an absolute thought that cannot be disputed. The disputation against such a revelation would then be arguing against God. A person or institution could act or behave irrationally with little or no accountability to anyone else because the motivation was perceived to be of higher origin. Locke attempted to outline a balanced approach on dealing with private revelations in his work, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

Private revelation would be especially problematic if leaders used it as a means to instruct the masses. The public would have no choice but give absolute consent to whatever the leader’s divine revelation consisted of.

Another practice was that of divine ecstasy. This is a state where the mind is either totally fixated on a religious subject such as the crucifixion of Christ, the love of God, the sign of the cross, the end-times etc. It typically was understood that the persons physical senses are totally overtaken by what is perceived as an external power. It may cause the person to go in a trance, or enter into a temporary catatonic state. The person is overwhelmed by the perceived presence of the divine.(5)Ecstasy A similar description is described in contemporary Pentecostal and Charismatic theological terms as spirit baptism or slain in the spiritslain in the spirit may be a closer parallel because it can occur on numerous occasions. This is unlike spirit baptism which Pentecostals and Charismatics teach can only happen once.

The sixteenth century Teresa of Avila was a religious icon celebrated throughout all of Europe. Her book, the Inner Castle, “forms one of the most remarkablespiritual biographies with which only the “Confessions of St. Augustine” can bear comparison,” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia(6)http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14515b.htm She popularized ecstasy throughout the international religious community. She described ecstasy in her book, The Inner Castle, as:

This supreme state of ecstasy never lasts long, but although it ceases, it leaves the will so inebriated, and the mind so transported out of itself that for a day, or sometimes for several days, such a person is incapable of attending to anything but what excites the will to the love of God; although wide awake enough to this, she seems asleep as regards all earthly matters.(7)The Inner Castle by Theresa of Avila. Chapter 4:18

St. John of the Cross echoed similar sentiments to that of Teresa, but added that the state of ecstasy provided knowledge beyond anything science could offer:

I was so far beyond,

So lost and absorbed,

I lost all my senses

I was of all sensing dispossessed;

And my spirit was filled

With knowledge not knowing,

Beyond all science knowing.(8)Nine verses made upon an ecstasy of high contemplation by John of the Cross. tr: Willis Barnstone 1968

The sixteenth century Stephanus’ Greek Lexicon devoted three columns to defining the word ecstasy,(9)Stephanus Vol. 3 Col. 570-572 This was not normative for Stephanus to devote so much page space. This long entry demonstrated how controversial and popular this noun had become.

Conyers Middleton, in his 1749 publication Free Inquiry, demonstrated that by his time the mark of a prophet was by the confirmation of an ecstatic experience. He attacked this correlation which was a direct reproach against the Church and Civil authorities:

For whereas the Montanists delivered their prophecies always in ecstasy, or with loss of senses ; it was then urged against them, “that this was the proof of a Diabolical spirit ; that the true Prophets never had such fits ; never lost their senses ; but calmly and sedately received and understood whatever was revealed to them.” And Epiphanius makes this the very criterion or distinguishing character between a true and false prophet ; that the true had no ecstasies, constantly retained his senses, and with firmness of mind apprehended and uttered the divine oracles. St. Jerome also declares, that the true Prophets never spake in ecstasy, or in madness of heart, like Montanus and his mad women, Prisca and Maximilla, but understood what they delivered, and could speak or bold their tongues, whenever they pleased, which these, who spake in ecstasy could not do. Eusebius also mentions a book of one Miltiades, written against Montanus, the purpose of which was to prove, that a prophet ought not to speak in ecstasy.(10)Conyers Middleton. A Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, from the Earliest Ages through Several Effective Centuries: By which it is shown, that we have no sufficient Reason to believe, upon the Authority of the Primitive Fathers, that any such Powers were continued to the Church, after the Days of the Apostles. London: R. Manby and H.S. Cox. 1749. Pg. 110

The Montanists were a critical piece of evidence by Middleton in demonstrating the improper use of the supernatural to communicate with and control society. It was a vanguard in the argument against the religious tyranny of the time.

Middleton’s diatribe set in motion new principles of thought that could now be expressed. Science no longer was a prisoner of prophecy, nor were the institutions of law, or civil duties, to be occupied solely by those people considered spiritually enlightened: spiritual absolutism could no longer dominate.

Evelyn Underhill was an English Anglo-Catholic writer in the early 1900s who devoted much of her intellectual pursuits documenting the concept of Christian mysticism. She wrote a comprehensive book entitled, Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness.(11)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Underhill She acknowledges the religious dimension of ecstasy but believed it to be a psychological contrivement:

“Such ecstasy as this, so far as its physical symptoms go, is not of course the peculiar privilege of the mystics. It is an abnormal bodily state, caused by a psychic state: and this causal psychic state may be healthy or unhealthy, the result of genius or disease. It is common in the little understood type of personality called “sensitive” or mediumistic: it is a well-known symptom of certain mental and nervous illnesses. A feeble mind concentrated on one idea—like a hypnotic subject gazing at one spot—easily becomes entranced; however trivial the idea which gained possession of his consciousness. Apart from its content, then, ecstasy carries no guarantee of spiritual value. It merely indicates the presence of certain abnormal psycho-physical conditions: an alteration of the normal equilibrium, a shifting of the threshold of consciousness, which leaves the body, and the whole usual “external world” outside instead of inside the conscious field, and even affects those physical functions—such as breathing—which are almost entirely automatic. Thus ecstasy, physically considered, may occur in any person in whom (1) the threshold of consciousness is exceptionally mobile and (2) there is a tendency to dwell upon one governing idea or intuition. Its worth depends entirely on the objective value of that idea or intuition.

In the hysterical patient, thanks to an unhealthy condition of the centres of consciousness, any trivial or irrational idea, any one of the odds and ends stored up in the subliminal region, may thus become fixed, dominate the mind, and produce entrancement. Such ecstasy is an illness: the emphasis is on the pathological state which makes it possible. In the mystic, the idea which fills his life is so great a one—the idea of God—that, in proportion as it is vivid, real, and intimate, it inevitably tends to monopolize the field of consciousness. Here the emphasis is on the overpowering strength of spirit, not on the feeble and unhealthy state of body or mind. This true ecstasy, says Godferneaux, is not a malady, but “the extreme form of a state which must be classed amongst the ordinary accidents of conscious life.”

The mystics themselves are fully aware of the importance of this distinction. Ecstasies, no less than visions and voices, must they declare, be subjected to unsparing criticism before they are recognized as divine: whilst some are undoubtedly “of God,” others are no less clearly “of the devil.” “The great doctors of the mystic life,” says Malaval, “teach that there are two sorts of rapture, which must be carefully distinguished. The first are produced in persons but little advanced in the Way, and still full of selfhood; either by the force of a heated imagination which vividly apprehends a sensible object, or by the artifice of the Devil. These are the raptures which St. Teresa calls, in various parts of her works, Raptures of Feminine Weakness. The other sort of Rapture is, on the contrary, the effect of pure intellectual vision in those who have a great and generous love for God. To generous souls who have utterly renounced themselves, God never fails in these raptures to communicate high things.”(12)http://www.sacred-texts.com/myst/myst/myst19.htm

The Catholic Encyclopedia was well aware of such an argument and countered:

“The rigid condition of the ecstatic’s body has given rise to a fourth error. Ecstasy, we are told, is but another form of lethargy or catalepsy. The loss of consciousness, however, that accompanies these latter states points to a marked difference.

(5) In view of this, some have sought to identify ecstasy with the hypnotic state. Physically, there are usually some points of contrast. Ecstasy is always accompanied by noble attitudes of the body, whereas in hospitals one often marks motions of the body that are convulsive or repelling; barring, of course, any counter-command of the hypnotist. The chief difference, though, is to be found in the soul. The intellectual faculties, in the case of the saints, became keener. The sick in our hospitals, on the contrary, experience during their trances a lessening of their intelligences, while the gain is only a slight representation in the imagination. A single idea, let it be ever so trivial, e.g. that of a flower, or a bird, is strong enough to fasten upon it their profound and undivided attention. This is what is meant by the narrowing of the field of consciousness; and this is precisely the starting-point of all theories that have been advanced to explain hypnotic ecstasy. Moreover, the hallucination noticed in the case of these patients consists always of representations of the imagination. They are visual, auricular, or tactual; consequently they differ widely from the purely intellectual perceptions which the saints usually enjoy. It is no longer possible, then, to start with the extremely simple hypothesis that the two kinds of phenomena are one and the same.”(13)http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05277a.htm

Another important contributor to the public’s supernatural sense was the office of prophecy. Thomas Aquinas had described it as the greatest gift because it could take all sensory data, whether physical, intellectual, or spiritual and make a cohesive meaning out of it.(14)See Thomas Aquinas on the Miracle of Tongues for more information Anyone who was conferred with such a gift, would rise to prominence. It was reserved for the blessed — which was typically assigned to Church representatives — persons who were central to the international, national, and local political mechanizations. This definition seemed to hold quite well in the Catholic realm but it was not universal within the Protestant world. The Huguenot Camisards, who lived in the mountainous south-central part of France called Cévennes, saw the prophetic rite as a God sanctioned directive for the overthrowing of a Catholic based Government.

The study of these three terms are preliminary. It is a good start but I am still not thoroughly convinced about prophecy or ecstasy. Prophecy from a Catholic point of view is understood, but the Protestant position is not clearly researched in this work and needs more attention. Why the term ecstasy got dropped from the religious vernacular and slain in the spirit or baptism in the spirit took its place, are not resolved.

References   [ + ]

The mysterious anaplêrôn of I Corinthians 14:16

The mysterious anaplêrôn in the Corinthian Church.

The Apostle Paul referred to the word anaplêrôn as part of the highly controversial gift of tongues passage (I Corinthians 14:16). Discovering the historical meaning to this word may offer a significant clue that may work towards unlocking the meaning of the this problem text.

The tongues passage is an age-old mystery that has never been completely resolved. Some think Paul referred to heavenly speech, or a form of glossolalia, while others thing he assumes it to be religious ecstasy. Another alternative was that he referred to something that was a liturgical rite.

A closer look at the meaning of anaplêrôn suggests that it was liturgical. The dominant dictionaries, Latin text, Jewish, and a text attributed to Cyril of Alexandria point to it being an occupation — someone who would take the speech, whether foreign, high-priestly, specialized or articulate, and transfer it into a language that the common person would understand.

However, there is significant tension here to establish such a concept; contemporary English Bibles do not support such a reading of I Corinthians 14.

This requires further inquiry to resolve the problem. It is necessary to backtrack and look at the historical evidence in two ways; first of all to trace the development of how the Greek word anaplêrôn has been traditionally transmitted through the English Bible translation history, and why it is translated the way it is, and secondly, develop a more clearer picture what the word anaplêrôn really means through the extensive use of dictionaries and ecclesiastical literature.

English translations clearly demonstrate that there was no office of the anaplêrôn at all. It was used in an adjectival sense that describes the state or character of the layperson. Here are some examples of how anaplêrôn was translated.

  • King James Version (Cambridge ed): “how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen.”

  • New International Version (1984): “how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen”.”

  • New American Standard Bible (1995): how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen “(1)The above three Bible samples taken from the Biblos website.

More recent translations have taken a less-literal approach to resolve this ambiguity:

  • New Living Translation (2007): “how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you?

  • New International Version (2008): “how can an otherwise uneducated person say “Amen”.(2)These two Bible samples taken from the Biblos website.

A closer look at the Greek unravels the mystery.

Ἀναπληρῶν is a participle based on the verb ἀναπληρόω. It is found in I Corinthians 14:16 as a present active masculine nominative singular. Some of the dictionaries support the English Bible translations, while others don’t.

  • Liddel-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon supports the contemporary English translations.(3)http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=anaplhrwn&la=greek This is not a surprise as this dictionary specializes in classical Greek sources. It does not focus on Biblical or Patristic sources.

  • Sophocles’ Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, captures the spirit of the English translation and offers this as his definition. “Locum impleo to fill the place, occupy the room of anyone.”(4)E.A Sophocles. Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1900. Pg. 149

  • Lampe’s A Patristic Greek Lexicon is very general and it agrees with the English Bibles above, or to a lesser degree, it could be someone assisting the lay-person in understanding.(5)A Patristic Greek Lexicon. G.H. Lampe ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1978. Pg. 117

The following dictionaries emphasize ἀναπληρῶν as someone assisting or attending to a layperson.

  • The Greek-Latin Dictionary, Stephanus’ Thesaurus Graecae Linguae, takes it as a person who helps complete a task. The ἀναπληρῶν is someone who completes, supplies, sometimes finishes, sits among the uneducated, and to satisfy the uneducated on the word.(6)Stephanus Vol. 1. Col. 506; my translation from the Latin.

  • The Dictionnaire Grec-Française also agrees with Stephanus. The ἀναπληρῶν is someone who provides information such as missing words, stands in for someone else, and carries out a task.(7)A. Chassang. Dictionnaire Grec-Française. Paris: Garnier Frères. 1865. No page numbers in book.

  • Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker’s (BAGD) “The Greek English of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,” suggests that the above English translations are weak.(8)BAGD 1979. Pg. 59 It surmises that ἀναπληρῶν is a person or position that is replacing or representing those of the lay population. It is independent of τοῦ ἰδιώτου the layman. It should not be used as an adjective that further describes a layman because these are different entities.

Perhaps clues can be found from translations based on the Greek.

The Latin:

I Corinthians 14:16 according to the Latin Vulgate shows and important clue:

“qui supplet locum idiotae.”(9)http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=1&b=7&c=14 — He who supplies the place of the uneducated.

The Latin clearly makes the passage to mean that ἀναπληρῶν and τοῦ ἰδιώτου are two totally different entities. The ἀναπληρῶν is doing something on behalf of the τοῦ ἰδιώτου.

However, the Douay-Rheims English translation of the Latin tends to obscure this, “how shall he that holdeth the place of the unlearned say, Amen.”(10)http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=1&b=7&c=14 This may be the start of where the ambiguity began in the English translations.

The Syriac text was looked at to see if it offered any clues to the Greek. It offers no insights and follows the Greek text literally.

ܗܰܘ ܕ݁ܰܡܡܰܠܶܐ ܕ݁ܽܘܟ݁ܬ݂ܶܗ ܕ݁ܗܶܕ݂ܝܽܘܛܳܐ ܐܰܝܟ݁ܰܢܳܐ ܢܺܐܡܰܪ ܐܰܡܺܝܢ

“How can one who occupies the place of the unlearned say Amen.” (Translated by George Lamsa)(11)http://dukhrana.com/peshitta/analyze_verse.php?lang=en&verse=1Corinthians+14:16&source=ubs&font=Serto+Jerusalem&size=100%

Another text consulted was from the great theologian and scholar, Franz Deilitzsch, who translated the New Testament into Hebrew in the late 1800s.

הָעֹמֵד בְּמַצַּב הַהֶדְיוֹט אֵיךְ יַעֲנֶה אָמֵן (12)This is from an 1878 version found at Google books. הברית החדשה There a number of versions floating around claiming to be his original copy. See my Facebook page for more info.

“How will he who stands in the position of the layman say amen.”

Deilitzsch didn’t seem to take any side to this. He seemed rather ambiguous.

There may have been a Hebrew connection to all of this.

Peter J. Tomson has proposed that the whole expression of ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου is the equivalent of the Jewish position of the שליח צבור Shaliach Tzibbur.(13)http://is.gd/cWvQkv A Hebrew-Roots based Christian website described this ancient position as this:

The shaliach tzibbur functions as the representative of the community who recites the prayers on behalf of the people. Some prayers are said by everyone, and some are recited aloud by the shaliach tzibbur, to which the congregation responds “Amen” (the chazzan (cantor) is specially trained in Jewish music (cantillation) and liturgy for this role).(14)http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Glossary/Hebrew_Glossary_-_Sh/hebrew_glossary_-_sh.html

A traditional Jewish website finds the historical origins of the Shaliach Tzibbur unclear. It may be a second to fourth century one and not earlier. It would not apply to what Paul wrote.(15)http://www.traditiononline.org/news/article.cfm?id=103893

It is apparent from Paul’s words and grammar that ancient Jewish liturgical customs are interwoven in his work. The “Amen” construct that Paul used in I Corinthians 14:16 suggests that the expression ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου is representative of an office, but something earlier than the Shaliach Tzibbur.

The idiom actually may be the evolution of the Jewish office of the מתורגםן, Meturgeman.

The Jewish Encyclopedia describes it as this:

The weekly lesson from the Pentateuch and the Prophets was read by a member of the congregation, and the meturgeman had to translate into the vernacular the Pentateuchal lesson verse by verse; . . . He did not limit himself to a mere literal translation, but dilated upon the Biblical contents, bringing in haggadic elements, illustrations from history, and references to topics of the day.(16)http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10742-meturgeman

The Meturgamen died out as an active part of the Jewish liturgy around 1000 AD. Epiphanius described something potentially similar to the Meturgamen being practiced in the early Church; see A Translation of Epiphanius on the Tongues of Corinth for more information.

However, the Meturgamen, like the Shaliach Tzibbur, was an office that may not have existed during Paul’s time. An older title for the Meturgamen was the Maven(17)storahtelling.org but not much is known about this. It does suggest a more primitive form existed and this may be what the anaplêrôn identified with.

A strong clue can be found in the fifth century or later text attributed to Cyril of Alexandria. The writer believed the expression of the ἀναπληρῶν was an archaic way of explaining a function of the priest, prefect, or overseer to communicate in the language, thoughts, and speech that would be understood by a general audience.

The text described it as an office in the Church, ὅ γε μὴν ἐν τάξει τῇ τοῦ λαϊκοῦ κείμενος, ” the one who was appointed in the position of the laity.”

The Cyril text would suggest an English translation this way; “how will the person who helps the audience of the laypeople understand say the “Amen”?” Or as a paraphrase, “how would the person who takes a thought, speech, language, or argument, and clearly explains it to the regular common folk articulate in a way that they understand, say the “Amen”?”

If the office of the anaplêrôn existed, what happened to it? The word itself is not found in any later writings referring to any type of Church functions. However, this type of role is found in the office of the Reader, which is well documented. This portion is still under research.

References   [ + ]

Aquinas on Tongues: ICor 14:18-22

A translation of Thomas Aquinas on I Corinthians 14:18 — 22 from the Latin into contemporary English.

Translated from the Latin text: Reportationes 088 R1C cp 14 Pg. 389 lc4

I Corinthians 14: 18 – 22


Ic4. This apostle shows the excellency of the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues by the reasons which had been established on his own part. And concerning this he does two things: first he brings thanks concerning the gift of tongues which had been given to him by God. Secondly, he proposes himself as an example for them. Where it says, “But in the Church I wish, etc.,” He goes on to say, “I give thanks, etc.,” as if he was to say, “Therefore I do not despise the gift of tongues, because I say that the gift of prophecy is more excellent but [tongues] ought to be retaining a high value as well”. From which it says, “I give thanks, etc.,” Therefore it is about the one who is in the act of giving thanks. “In all things give thanks,”(1) Douay-Rheims (I Thessalonians 5:18). Or “I give thanks,” as if he is trying to say, “Therefore I do not despise the gift of tongues, as if one who is lacking in it, but on the contrary I have it.” And therefore he says, “I give thanks, etc.,” and not that they were to understand that all were speaking in one language.(2) The Aquinas text here is distancing itself from the traditional neo-tongues doctrine espoused by the 4th century writers and was a strong doctrine for almost a millennia. He says, “I speak with all your tongues,”(3) Douay-Rheims “The Apostles were speaking in a variety of languages,”(4) The Aquinas text differs from the Vulgate. The Vulgate reads “et coeperunt loqui aliis linguis” whereas the Aquinas text has, “loquebantur variis linguis apostoli”. (Acts 2:4).

“But in the Church,” He sets himself here as an example, as if he is saying: “if I have the gift of tongues as you also [have], you ought to do that which I do.” “But I wish,” that is rather I wish, “to speak in the Church five,” that is only a few words, “words with my sense,” that is with understanding, namely that I should understand and be understood. And because of this, “that I may instruct others also: than ten thousand,”(5) Douay-Rheims that it is in whatever great a number, “words in a tongue.,”(6) Douay-Rheims , seeing that [this type of] speaking is not for understanding in whatever way it is going to be done, as explained above. They are saying something with respect to the reason he says, “five,” because the apostle seems to prefer that he would rather wish to say one prayer for the purpose of understanding than many without understanding. But prayer, according to the grammarians, in order for this having to make perfect sense, it must have five [things], namely the subject, predicate, copula verb, the determination of subject and predicate.(7) Larcher has, “But according to the grammarians, if a statement is to have perfect sense, it should have five things: a subject, predicate, verbal copula, a modifier of the subject and a modifier of the predicate.” To others it appears better for that reason because it ought to be spoken with understanding, in order that others may be taught. Therefore he asserts, “five,” because the teacher owes five, namely:

  • The nature of belief, “These things speak and exhort,”(8) Douay-Rheims. The quotation in the Aquinas text refers to 2:11 but it is actually 2:15. (Titus 2:15).
  • What one is compelled to do: “Go ye into the world, etc.,”.
  • What one is compelled to avoid, namely sins. “flee as if from the face of a snake, etc.,” (Ecclesiasticus 21:2), “show my people wickedness, etc.,” (Isaiah 58:1).
  • One must be about hope, namely the eternal reward. “of which salvation they have inquired, etc.,” (I Peter 1:10).
  • One must be about fear, namely the eternal punishments, “go, those who must speak evil, into the eternal fire, etc.,”(9) Note how Aquinas has slightly altered the quoted texts of Ecclesiasticus, Isaiah, I Peter, and Matthew 25:41 (not 25:21 as the manuscript wrongly demonstrates) to favour his argument, though he does assume the reader understands what the right reading ought to be.

“My brothers, do not be unwilling, etc.,” He shows here the excellency of the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues, the reason having been established by the part of the unbelievers. He does two things in reference to this. First, he raises attention and answers those who have been attentive. Secondly he argues his proposition, where it says, “what is written in the Law?”(10) Aquinas has “in lege quid scriptum est?” whereas the Vulgate reads “in lege scriptum est quoniam…” This is the same as found in Luke 10:26. According to the first the apostle seems to exclude the cloak(11) Lewis refers to “Pallium” as “the philosopher’s cloak, a philosophic career or habit”. of excuse belonging to anyone who for that reason teaches rude and superficial things as if they show themselves as one’s preferring to live in simplicity, and for that reason the ones who do not care about the details do not arrive at anything that relates to the matter of truth. These ones possess the word of the Lord for this, “unless you be converted, and become as little children, etc.,”(12) Douay-Rheims (Matthew 18:3).

But the Apostle excludes this when he says, “do not become children in sense,”(13) Douay-Rheims that is do not become that type who speaks and teaches childish, useless, and stupid things. See the previous (remark in I Corinthians 13:11), “when I was a child, etc.,”(14) Douay-Rheims . But what must you do to become children? With affection, not with understanding. So he consequently says, “but in malice,”(15) Douay-Rheims whereby it ought to be known that children lack in actively thinking about evil and thus for that reason we ought to become children. “but in malice be children,”(16) Douay-Rheims and they are lacking in actively thinking about good, and so we ought not to be children, on the contrary, we ought to be perfect men. And so for that reason he says, “and in sense be perfect, etc.,”(17) Douay-Rheims that is you were to be perfect to discern [between] good and evil. From which it says, “But strong meat is for the perfect, etc.,” (Hebrews 5:14). Therefore it is not to be praised in your simplicity which is being opposed to wisdom, but simplicity which is being opposed to cunning. And for that reason the Lord says, “be wise as serpents,” (Matthew 10:16). “But I would have you to be wise in good and simple in evil,” (Romans 16:19).

Consequently when he says, what is written in the Law?” he is arguing for a purpose. Whereby it ought to be noted this argument, as is well known by a gloss, it was being distinguished by many parts, but according to the intention of the apostle it did not seem that it was to be applied in this topic except for one reason. And his reason is for the purpose of showing that the gift of prophecy is more excellent than the gift of tongues. It is such as this – all that is more valuable to this over the other is ordained first and better than that other which has been ordained for this. But nevertheless, the gift of prophecy is ordained for the conversion of the unbeliever than the gift of tongues, yet the prophets are more valuable for this than the gift of tongues, therefore prophecy is better. (18) I found this piece starting from “All that is more valuable…” as one of the more difficult portions to translate. Larcher departs from static to dynamic here and actually does not follow the Latin. “Whatever contributes more to that to which another is principally ordained is better than the latter; but the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues are both ordained to the conversion of unbelievers, although the gift of prophecy contributes more to this than does the gift of tongues. Therefore, prophecy is better. ” His translation here is not reliable though much more readable than my own. I think there is come copy missing from the Latin text. I am going to leave it in rough form because I am unsure at this point what to do with it.

In respect to this reasoning he does two things: With the first he shows the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy to what they are ordained for. Secondly he shows that the gift of prophecy is more valuable when it says, “if then the whole [Church], etc.,” in respect to the first he does two things. With the first he introduces authority.

With the second he argues by reason of authority at the proposition where it says, “wherefore tongues, etc.” In reference to the first it ought to be known that this is what he says, “what is written in the Law?”

It can be by the Law or by inquiry, as if he should say, “you ought not become children in senses but to be one who has become righteous,(19) The Latin is “perfecti”. Larcher translates it as “mature”. The Lewis and Short Dictionary has a number of definitions, including righteous, which they believe is found ecclesiastical literature. I am going with Lewis and Short. and this is to see and know the Law. From which place you are to be ones who have become righteous in senses, based on the fact that you know the Law, and in the Law, what is written about tongues? Some [tongues] are useless anytime for that to which they have been ordained, but clearly if I should speak in diverse tongues, specifically in the [tongue of the] people of the Jews, nevertheless man does not hear, etc.

It can be by the remissive Law,(20) “potest legi vel interrogative… potest etiam legi remissive” I am not sure what Aquinas is referring to here. It is some sort of religious or philosophical terminology I am not familiar with and can’t find any historical reference to it. It should not be taken literally, but I have no choice because I have no alternative. “what is written in the Law?” as if he is saying: “Refuse to be moved like children for something which is to be eagerly desired who do not discern either the good or the not so good. It should be that you eagerly strive and consequently should prefer the better good but be as ones who have become perfect in the senses, that is you should be able to discern between the good and the greater good and eagerly strive in such a way.

And this happens, if you think what is written in the law, “seeing that in other [tongues and other lips], etc.,” [along with the verse] (Wisdom 6:16), “To think, therefore, upon her, is perfect understanding”.(21) Douay-Rheims And he says, “in the Law?” one must not accept the Law strictly as the five Books of Moses only, as it states, “that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, etc.,”(22) Douay-Rheims (Luke 24:44) but for the whole Old Testament, as it states, “But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: they hated me without cause.”(23) Douay-Rheims (John 15:25). This is written yet in Psalms 24:19.(24) Larcher changes it to Psalms 25:19.

This authority is received from Isaiah 28:11 where our account has, “In the utterance of speech and in other languages he will speak to this particular people.” This then is written [in I Corinthians 14:21]: “In such other languages,” that is in the diverse kinds languages, and “in speech,” that is in the diverse idioms and ways [a language] is able to be pronounced, “I will speak to this people,” namely to the Jew, this was a sign specifically given for the conversion of the Jewish people. “and neither so will they hear,”(25) Douay-Rheims because in fact they did not believe in the sign which had been seen. “Blind the heart of this people, etc.”(26) Douay-Rheims (Isaiah 6:10).

But why did God give them a sign if they were not destined to be converted? There are two reasons. One reason is because although not all were converted, nevertheless some were. “For the Lord did not cast away His people, etc.”(27) Romans 11:2 in the Aquinas text has “non repellit dominus …” instead of “non reppulit Deus…” as found in the Vulgate. Paul is quoting Psalms 93:14. Another reason is for the purpose that their damnation to appear more just, until their wickedness appears more clearly. “If I had not come and spoken to them, [they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin.] etc.”(28) Douay-Rheims. The Aquinas text has, “si non venissem, et locutus eis non fuissem,” while the Vulgate reads, “si non venissem et locutus fuissem eis” (John 15:22).

Consequently when he says, “Therefore tongues, etc.” He proves with reason for the proposition by the authority which had been introduced as if he is to say, “by this it is clearly shown that the gift of tongues had been given. “Not for believers for the purpose of believing, because they already believe.”(29) The Aquinas text identifies this as actual Corinthian text, but I can’t find any reference to this in any Bible. A quick search on Google only returns Aquinas’ work on the subject. “Not according to your speech, [that we believe] etc.,” (John 4:42)(30) The NIV 2008, has a clearer reading, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe.” but for the unbelievers, that they be converted.

On the other hand two explanations are set by Ambrose in this place in a gloss, which are not literal ones.(31) They are not to be taken literally. One of which is that which he may be saying, like in the Old Testament I spoke to the Jewish people through tongues, that is through figures of speech, and through the lips, that is temporal good things(32) “temporal good things” “bona temporalia”…The Aquinas text here is doing a word play, linking the Jewish people to being like a child who lacks understanding. He just finished using bona (good) as a keyword a few paragraphs above relating to thinking as a child. to [the Jews] whom the promise is going to be acted on, so, until now in the New Testament, I speak also “in other lips”, that is in spiritual things, nor yet will they heed me in such a way, namely in reference to their multitude.(33) Aquinas believed that some Jews will heed and convert, but nationally and ethnically, they would not.

Therefore tongues have been given “not for believers but unbelievers” for the purpose of making specifically evident their unbelief.

The other [the second reason given by the gloss] is “in other tongues”, that is obscure and allegorical, “I speak” because they are unworthy. “They will not heed [me says the Lord]”, that is they will not understand. As a result he shows for what purpose prophecy is ordained to be, namely for the instruction of the faithful ones who already believe. “Prophecies which have been given are…”(34) The Aquinas text quotes I Corinthians 14:22 as “prophetiae datae sunt” but this does not exist in our Vulgate. “not for the unfaithful ones, who do not believe.” “Lord, who has believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1) but for the faithful ones, that they believe and may be instructed. “Son of man, I have made you a special envoy, etc.,” (Ezekiel 3:17)(35) Douay Rheims has it as “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman…” It is translated from speculatorem. Roman generals had speculatores as special bodyguards, adjutants and messengers. In this context Aquinas was promoting the idea that the prophet was a special messenger from God for the Church body. “When prophecy would have failed, etc., the people will be scattered.”(36) “cum prophetia defecerit dissipabitur”. No difference in the Latin between Aquinas or the Vulgate. Douay Rheims has it as “When prophecy shall fail, the people shall be scattered” “defecerit” is in the perfect subjunctive, and knowing Aquinas keen sense that prophecy is one the major spiritual disciplines, he would mean it to be that this statement is hyperbole – something to think about but never to happen.


For more information:

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Thomas Aquinas on the Prophet and “Imaginary Visions”

How to understand Aquinas’ use of imaginarius and imaginarias visiones in the office of prophecy.

The English translation of the Latin Imaginarius is typically imaginary, and imaginarius visiones as imaginary visions. However, this is not satisfactory. The use of the English word imaginary may mislead the reader. To many it means a personal fantasy, a child-like hallucination, an imaginary friend, or something that is totally cognatively disassociated. This is not what Aquinas intended.

Imaginarias visiones routinely occurs in many of Aquinas’ writings, however, this discussion will concentrate on the usage in his Commentary of I Corinthians, Chapter 14:1-4. The actual discussion is based on the Latin as found in Robert Busa’s, S. Thomae Opera. Fromman-Holzboog, 1980. An identical online edition can be found at the Vatican’s website, clerus.org.

Here is one of the better examples of Aquinas’ use of imaginarias:

secundum ergo hos modos prophetiae, dicuntur aliqui diversis modis prophetae. aliquando enim aliquis dicitur propheta, qui habet omnia ista quatuor, scilicet quod videt imaginarias, et habet intelligentiam de eis, et audacter annuntiat aliis, et operatur miracula, * et de hoc dicitur num. xii, 6: si quis fuerit inter vos propheta, etc.. aliquando autem dicitur propheta ille, qui habet solas imaginarias visiones, sed tamen improprie et valde remote aliquando etiam dicitur propheta, qui habet intellectuale lumen ad explanandum etiam visiones imaginarias, sive sibi, sive alteri factas, vel ad expondendum dicta prophetarum, vel scripturas apostolorum.

Now here is an English translation by Fabian Larcher, who is considered one of the leading authorities on Aquinas:

“Therefore, according to these modes of prophecy some are called prophets in various ways. For sometimes one is called a prophet, because he possesses all four, namely, that he sees imaginary visions, and has an understanding of them and he boldly announces to others and he works miracles. Concerning such a one it says in Num. (12:6): “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will appear to him in a dream, or will speak to him by means of a dream.

But sometimes one who has solely imaginary visions is called a prophet, but in an improper sense and very remotely so. Again, one is called a prophet, if he has the intellectual light to explain even imaginary visions made to himself or someone else, or for explaining the sayings of the prophets or the Scriptures of the apostles.”

Fabian left imaginarias visiones untranslated. This anglicization of a Latin word distorts the intention of Aquinas. Larcher demonstrates a real problem. If imaginarias visiones left unchanged does not represent Aquinas intent for the English reader, what alternative is there? This requires some further investigation. A good place to start is consulting an English dictionary.

The traditional definition, as found at Miriam Webster is:

“The act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

The focus on Miriam Webster’s definition is a person’s perception of reality, not what really is true, which goes against the sense Aquinas meant. However, the portion about how the mental image or sense is stimulated is closer to Aquinas’ intent. In Aquinas’ case, he is referring to a deity or an external influence that has planted inside a person a mental image. There is no modern English equivalent that aligns to what Aquinas is attempting to explain, partially due to the fact that most modern readers assign divine or mystic illumination in the realm of legend. A better English word that would reflect Aquinas’ intention would be illumination, which correctly signals an outside influence. However, the modern English word, illumination is the prodigy from the Latin word illuminatio. This is frequently used in Latin literature and has a slightly different nuance than our modern English usage. It just causes more confusion. So illumination cannot be used.

If one searches the internet for a good definition, it is difficult to find. The majority of searches will direct one to readings of Aquinas’ actual texts with no variance in the English translations. They all read imaginary visions.

Teresa of Avila’s, The Interior Castle, has an editorial insert that provides some insight on how to understand it from a later Catholic perspective:

“AN IMAGINARY VISION OR LOCUTION is one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them. For, according to the Scholastics, the Imagination stands half-way between the senses and the intellect, receiving impressions from the former and transmitting them to the latter. This is the reason why imaginary Visions and Locutions are so dangerous that, according to St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and other spiritual writers, they should not only never be sought for, but as much as possible shunned and under all circumstances discountenanced. For the Imagination is closely connected with the Memory, so that it is frequently impossible to ascertain whether a Vision, etc., is not perhaps a semi-conscious or unconscious reproduction of scenes witnessed. It is here also that deception, wilful or unwilful, self-deception or deception by a higher agency, is to be feared. Hence the general rule that such Visions or Locutions should only be trusted upon the strongest grounds. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, (Summa theol. IIa IIæ, gu. 175, art. 3 ad q.) the visions of Isaias, St. John in the Apocalypse etc., were Imaginary.”

This definition is far from satisfactory. It does not define the word imagination for the English mind. It assumes the reader understands already its religious significance, which most do not. It also demonstrates a more formative doctrine has developed on the subject centuries later after the time of Aquinas.

The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought has one of the few concise definitions: “an inner picture observed by the mind’s eye” — though it once again does not indicate any role of the supernatural.

Evelyn Underhill described yet another definition in her book, Mysticism:

“. . . Imaginary Vision, as in “interior words,” there is again no sensorial hallucination. The self sees sharply and clearly, it is true : but is perfectly aware that it does so in virtue of its most precious organ – “that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.” Imaginary Vision is the spontaneous and automatic activity of a power which all artists, all imaginative people, possess. So far as the machinery employed in it is concerned, there is little real difference except in degree between Wordsworth’s imaginary vision of the “dancing daffodils” and Suso’s of the dancing angels, who “though they leapt very high in the dance, did so without any lack of gracefulness.” Both are admirable examples of “passive imaginary vision” : though in the first case the visionary is aware that the picture seen is supplied by memory, whilst in the second it arises spontaneously like a dream form the subliminal region, and contains elements which may be attributed to love, belief, and direct intuition of truth.

Such passive imaginary vision-by which I mean spontaneous mental pictures at which the self looks, but in the action of which it does not participate. . .”

Underhill gives some good direction here. However, she is appraising such a definition from a clinical perspective, undervaluing the spiritual or the divine influence in the process. The author may be correct in the final analysis that the imaginary vision is self-derived, but to Aquinas and others it was perceived that this external influence was real. One cannot give meaning to Aquinas without this fact.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas is more detailed in his analysis. He builds a larger framework concerning prophecy based on these key-words. However, once again, the word imagination fails to be properly qualified. It is assumed the reader understands its special semantic place in this teaching, which misses most modern minds.:

“Imaginary visions are produced in the imagination by God or by the angels when a person is either awake or asleep. According to the Gospel, St. Joseph was on several occasions supernaturally instructed in a dream. Although the divine origin of a dream may be difficult to discern, ordinarily when the soul seeks God sincerely, He makes Himself felt either by a feeling of profound peace, or by events that confirm the vision; thus in a dream a sinner may be warned of the urgent necessity of conversion.

Imaginary visions are subject to the illusions of the imagination and of the devil. We have three signs, however, by which to discern whether they are of divine origin: (I) when they cannot be produced or dismissed at will, but come suddenly and last but a short time; (2) when they leave the soul in great peace; (3) when they produce fruits of virtue, a great humility and perseverance in good.

A divine imaginary vision, granted while a person is awake, is almost always accompanied by at least partial ecstasy (for example, the momentary loss of sight) so that the soul may distinguish the interior apparition from external impressions; there is ecstasy also because a soul enraptured and united to God loses contact with external things. No perfect imaginary vision occurs without an intellectual vision, which makes the soul see and penetrate its meaning: for example, the former may concern the sacred humanity of Christ; the second, His divinity.

Imaginary visions should not be desired or asked of God any more than sensible visions; they are in no way necessary to holiness. The perfect spirit of faith and infused contemplation are of superior order and prepare the soul more immediately for divine union.(1)christianperfection.info

It is clear from at least Aquinas’ Commentary on I Corinthians 14 that imaginary vision means a divine source speaking to man inside his mind through a picture narrative. It is a pictorial vision.

How would this then affect the translation noted above on I Corinthians 14 above? A modified Larcher translation should read like this:

“Therefore, according to these modes of prophecy some are called prophets in various ways. For sometimes one is called a prophet, because he possesses all four, namely, that he sees pictorial visions, and has an understanding of them and he boldly announces to others and he works miracles. Concerning such a one it says in Num. (12:6): “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will appear to him in a dream, or will speak to him by means of a dream.”

But sometimes one who has solely pictorial visions is called a prophet, but in an improper sense and very remotely so. Again, one is called a prophet, if he has the intellectual light to explain even pictorial visions made to himself or someone else, or for explaining the sayings of the prophets or the Scriptures of the apostles.”

This is an important distinction that must be corrected in the English translations of Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas devoted a significant amount of space for defining prophecy in the book of Corinthians. It clearly demonstrated that it was an important subject for faith and piety during the 13th century.

This is also a reasoned defense for my translation and commentary of Aquinas’ Lectures on I First Corinthians Chapters 13-14.

Aquinas’ work on prophecy is a piece of literature that has withstood the test of time. It remains a more advanced version than what modern Pentecostalism has so far developed.

Further investigation revealed a family of words used by Aquinas on prophecy. This is covered in the following article, Aquinas on Imagination: Part 2.

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