Tag Archives: dogma of tongues

Closing the Gift of Tongues Project

The Gift of Tongues Project is drawing to a close, and now all that is left is to publish the results in a narrative form. There is certainly much more content that can and will be catalogued in the future, but there is more than enough information for readers to develop a comprehensive conclusion.

It has been a wonderful adventure of finding, collating, translating, and analyzing texts that so far have never made it, or least have been popularly been known, in the English language. The mission of this project was to trace the evolution of the christian doctrine of tongues throughout the centuries, and that has been accomplished.

If people knew their history, and had easy access to the ancient texts, which, until the digital revolution, was a near impossibility, or that more English translations were available than the small percentage that exists even now, there would be no tongues controversy. It is an argument developed and fostered by ignorance.

The next step in the Gift of Tongues Project is to take all the disparate and technical data listed, and make it into a coherent narrative.

The narrative is being developed for an upcoming book. An editor has been secured, and a publisher is yet to be announced.

The book will be different from the website. It is much less technical, but much more about connecting the dots between authors and movements, how the doctrine changed and evolved over time, and what antecedents have shaped our modern mystical view.

The information on the website will not be removed. The book and the site work hand in hand. The website is full of technical details, while the book is about making a coherent story out of this all.

Tertullian on the Doctrine of Tongues

Tertullian woodcut

When it comes to glossolalia and Tertullian, it is the making of a mountain out of a molehill.

It is unfortunate that the second century church leader, Tertullian, has been given a prominent seat on the subject, while authors such as, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, Gregory Nazianzus, The Ambrosiaster text, Epiphanius, Michael Psellos, and many more ecclesiastical writers who wrote specifically on the christian doctrine of tongues, have been largely ignored.

A critical analysis of Tertullian’s supposed reference to the christian doctrine of tongues supports such a claim.

There is one facet of this study that is indisputable — Tertullian believed the gift of tongues and interpretation, along with many other gifts, such as healing, were still operative during his time. However, he failed to specify if this was simply speaking a foreign language by those trained in such languages, a supernaturally inspired speaking in another language, or something else. He simply stated that it existed and added nothing more.

The oft-cited Tertullian text on the doctrine of tongues is found in Against Marcion Book V. 8:7-12, and it is not a strong connection. But for the sake of readers wanting to find out for themselves, a translation, and explanation have been provided. The actual translation and Latin text can be found by reading Tertullian on Tongues: A New English Translation. All the comments below are based on this text and translation.

Tertullian was a poster boy for the nineteenth century and later higher criticists who made the case that tongues was nothing more than religious frenzy, a glossolalic outburst that had antecedents in pagan Greek religions. The development of this modern doctrine is treated in greater detail in Introduction to the History of Glossolia. These are a series of articles which traces the inception of the doctrine of glossolalia in the 1800s, its overtaking the traditional Christian position, and its evolution. If one is to use a more comprehensive methodology and trace the christian doctrine of tongues using historical Christian literature from inception to the twelfth century, Tertullian’s contribution appears minimal.

The initial approach to including Tertullian in the Gift of Tongues Project was to post both the Latin text alongside an already published English translation by Peter Holmes. His translation was published in 1885 as part of the well-known series, Ante-Nicene Fathers, which today is easily available on the internet.(1)http://www.tertullian.org/anf/anf03/anf03-35.htm#P7138_2070665 However, it was found wanting from technical and readability perspectives. Ernest Evans updated the translation in 1972, and great improvements were made, but the portion relating to the supposed tongues speech still remained obscure.(2) Tertullilan. Adversus Marcionem. Edited and Translated by Ernest Evans. Glasgow: The Oxford University Press, 1972. Pg. 561 The goal of my translation was to make this portion of Tertullian clearer for the modern reader.

Tertullian on Tongues: A New English Translation is partially based on Holmes text, along with some help from Ernest Evan’s translation.

There are a number of differences.

First of all, Tertullian comes across in the Latin text as more combative against Marcion, even mocking. An attempt was made to make that more apparent.

Secondly, the translation of the Latin keyword lingua was changed from tongue to language. This makes it closer to the intent of Tertullian. This is an editorial decision made early on in the Gift of Tongues Project and is consistent with almost all of the translations found on this site. For more information please read, The Difference Between Language and Tongues.

Thirdly, the feature of Tertullian’s work is not about tongues but the role of women in the church and and how Tertullian felt that there was too much female authority in the Marcionite sect. He stated that women have the right to prophesy, but not to instruct; a practice which was happening in the Marcionite movement, and thus considered heretical. The address to languages in the church is happenstance.

Tertullian was positing that women could not be moral, political, or theological leaders in the church at large. He had a compromise and that was the office of prophecy. This was considered a high status in the Church and women could have a significant impact through this agency. Tertullian appears to be a misogynist in modern terms, but his concept of women being able to prophesy may have been revolutionary for his day. More research on this aspect needs to be done.

There are two key phrases that set-up the scenario and are difficult to translate:

Aeque prescribens silentium mulieribus in ecclesia, ne quid discendi, duntaxat gratia loquantur

and

ut semel dixerim nosse non debuit nisi in destructionem

Holmes has the first translated as: “when enjoining on women silence in the church, that they speak not for the mere sake of learning.”

His English translation really makes no sense. Why would women not be allowed to speak because they may learn something? This seems contradictory. Ernest Evans comes closer with his translation “when he enjoins upon women silence in the church, that they are not to speak, at all events with the idea of learning.”

It still lacks clarity, so my translation went to a more literal state, “this apostle recommends silence of the women in the Church, nor that women should speak anything specifically for the reason that a male is going to learn.” In other words women are not to instruct in the church. Perhaps this means women are allowed to instruct other women, but never to preach, educate, or lead a male or mixed gender audience.

The second phrase, “ut semel dixerim nosse non debuit nisi in destructionem,” is not as hard once the first difficulty above is understood. Holmes has, “let me say once for all, he ought to have made no other acquaintance with, than to destroy it.” This is a nebulous translation. Who or what is the person having an acquaintance with and what is to be destroyed? It is not clear. Evans somewhat clarifies it, “he had no right to take note of except for its destruction.” It is closer, but the antecedent is still wanting. My translation contains the following that hopefully clarifies Tertullian’s intent, “let me say once for all, that he ought not to know [what the woman is teaching] except for its repudiation.” The words in the square brackets do not exist in the Latin but put here so that the English reader understands Tertullian’s argument.

Tertullian was mocking Marcion and previous English translations have downplayed this aspect. One of the important keywords that suggest the mocking is a proper understanding of amentia. Holmes has it as rapture, indicating the mind is in some joyful, exuberant state. Evans translated it as, “which means abeyance of mind,” suggesting that the mind in that moment is unoccupied and controlled by other influences. It seems unclear what he exactly means here. However, amentia has negative connotations. The text, id est amentia clearly comes across as condescending. The Lewis and Short Latin dictionary describes amentia as a negative mental state: “the being out of one’s senses, beside one’s self, madness, insanity.”(3) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3Damentia. and William Whitacker has it as, “madness; extreme folly, infatuation, stupidity; frenzy, violent excitement.”(4) From my digital application Latin Words for OS X based on William Whitacker’s Latin Dictionary. When I first read these dictionary entries, my mind immediately jumped to the Greek equivalents; the adjective used by Origen, μανικός, manikos, or the verbal form found in Michael Psellos’ work, μαίνομαι both which refer to people disposed to madness, frenzied, symptoms of madness, enthusiastic, or inspired. Both Origen and Psellos use the word distinct from the Christian experience and reserved it to exclusively describe the historical practices of the ancient Greek prophets and their peculiar acts of prophesying. Tertullian’s work is heavily structured on a Greek philosophical framework, and this was likely his intention too at the use of amentia. The second century writer, by use of this word, is making the case that Marcion’s practice does not have a Christian lineage, but the synthesis of ancient Greek religion, especially that of their prophets. It was folly, and one of the evidences among many that Marcion indeed was a heretic. It has little or no relation to the christian doctrine of tongues.

The most suitable translation for id est amentia is, “that is in madness.”

The understanding of amentia is dependent on the use of the subjunctive in this passage. Holmes has elected to understand it as a jussive, which forces the translator to subsequently understand amentia as an inspired state. Whereas, since Tertullian is mocking Marcion, it should be understood as a potential subjunctive.

Another set of critical words for those looking at the connection between Tertullian and the christian doctrine of tongues is si qua linguae interpretatio accessit. My translation reads, as if an interpretation of languages had occurred. Holmes translated it as, whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him. Tertullian was not attacking Marcion directly in this passage, but specific mystical practices performed by the female gender within his movement which was outside church tradition. Holmes ascribes it to Marcion directly, which cannot be established from the Latin text.

Holmes understood si qua to mean whenever which doesn’t fit here for a number of reasons. Si is about a condition that may or may not happen. The use of Whenever leads the reader to believe a durative process that happens throughout time, which doesn’t rightly fit into a conditional paradigm.

The use of qua here reinforces the idea of a conditional concept. Brad Inwood, author of Seneca: Selected Philosophical Letters has offered a clue as to how to understand this word in his analysis of Seneca in the first century. He suggests that Seneca used qua adverbally, referring back to Greek philosophy, and should be understood as tamquam(5) Brad Inwood. Seneca: Selected Philosophical Letters: Translated with Introduction and Commentary Oxford University Press. 2007. 85.33-5 which, according to Whitacker’s Words means, “as, just as, just as if; as it were, so to speak; as much as; so as.” It has already been noted before that Tertullian heavily utilizes a Greek framework to structure his writing, and this would be consistent for his usage.

The use of accessit in the text is another clue to this conditional clause. It is in the perfect indicative, which was a surprise, not in the subjunctive, which was to be expected. It is a simple conditional, which indicates a factual condition. Tertullian was drawing a caricature of the prophet(s) going into a state of madness, akin to those of the Greek prophets, and feigning the ability to understand different languages.

Another clue on his definition, and it is not a complete one, is his mention of Isaiah 28:11, that the Creator would speak in languages foreign to the Jews of Israel, and that the gift of tongues was a prophetic fulfillment of this. This statement restricts Tertullian’s view on the gift of tongues to that of foreign languages. However, he doesn’t elaborate whether it is a natural, supernatural or mystical ability to speak in foreign languages, and so it doesn’t give a complete picture.

Tertullian, wrote elsewhere about mystical events, especially in Treatise of the Soul, Book 9, where he described a woman endowed with mystical powers. He was not negative in any way towards this woman but simply was reporting these talents. He does not include in any description an ability to speak in tongues. Therefore, this passage has been left out of the Gift of Tongues Project.

A challenge in translating this text is the lack of manuscripts. The digital copies found on the internet do not list what manuscripts they are composed of, and some of the Latin words used, such as duntaxat, seem to be later additions. However, the Tertullian manuscripts, as compared to Gregory Nazianzus and other leading church fathers, are hard to find, and those that do exist, are found in expensive books. These books are not readily available in my regional university libraries. There have been moments in critical spots where seeing actual manuscripts would have been helpful, but did not do because of these limitations.

This study clearly demonstrates that the information supplied by Tertullian on the christian doctrine of tongues is not very valuable, nor is it a smoking gun. It is a slight reference, but nothing substantial enough to advance anyone’s cause. ■

References   [ + ]

Origen on Tongues: the Source Texts

In keeping with the Gift of Tongues Project which is to provide the original sources in a digital format, enclosed are the source-works of Origen relating to the doctrine of tongues.

For the full English list of translations and analysis please go to Origen on the Dogma of Tongues.

Origenis. In Jeremiam Homilia. MPG. Vol. 13. Col. 384ff.

Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡνίκα μὲν οὐκ εκινοῦντο ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὐκ ἐσκόρπισεν αὐτοὺς ὁ Θεός· ὅτε δὲ ἐκίνησαν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, καὶ εἷπεν ἄνθρωπος πρὸς τὸν πλησίον αὐτου, Δεῦτε, καὶ οἰκοδομήσωμεν ἑαυτοῖς πόλιν καὶ πύργον, οὐ ἔσται ἠ κεφαλὴ ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, φησὶν ὁ Θεὸς περὶ τούτων· Δεῦτε, καὶ καταβάντες συγχέωμεν αὐτῶν έκεῖ τὴν γλῶσσαν. Καὶ συγχεῖται ἕκαστος, καὶ ἐπὶ τινὰ τῆς τόπον διασκορπίζεται. Καὶ ὁ λαὸς δὲ ὁ τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ, μὴ ἁμαρτάνων μὲν,ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἦν. ἁμαρτήσας δὲ διασκορπίζεται ἔπειτα ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκουμένης, καὶ διασπείρεται πανταχοῦ. Τοιοῦτόν τί μοι νόει καὶ περὶ πάντων ἠμῶν. Ἔστι τις Ἐκκλησία πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου Σιὼν ὅρος, καὶ πόλις Θεοῦ ζῶντος Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουράνιος.

Origenis. Selecta in Ezechielem. MPG. Vol.13. Col 773

Οὐ πρὸς τὸν λαὸν βαθύχειλον. Εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἦσαν _ξ ἐπιπολῆς ἔχοντες τοὺς λόγους αὐτων, ἀλλ᾽ἡ καρ_ _α αὐτῶν διὰ τὸ βάθος τῶν νοημάτων στόμα ἦν αὐτῶν. καὶ οὐκ ἄν σὺ εἰσεληλύθεις πρὸς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. Ἀλλ᾽οὐδὲ βαρύγλωσσοί εἰσι· βάρος γὰρ καὶ κομψόν τι οὐκ ἔχει στίβος ἡ γλῶσσα αὐτῶν, ἤτοι ὁ λόγος· εἰσὶ δὲ κουφόγλωσσοι· ὅθεν ἀναγκαῖόν σε βαδίσαι πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὑποκάτω βαίνοντας τῆς ἕξεως σου. Ἐν ἐπαίνῳ οὖν εἰρῆται ὁ Βαθύχειλος καὶ ὁ βαρύγλωσσος. εἴρηται δὲ ταῦτα. Καὶ ὅρα εἰ περὶ τῶν ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν, οἳ ἕτεροι εἰσι τοῦ οἴκου Ἰσραὴλ, ταῦτα προφητεύεται, ὧν οὐκ ἄν ἤκουσε διὰ τὸ ἑτερόγλωσσον αὐτῶν ὁ Ἐβραῖος προφήτης. Βαθεῖς δὲ χείλεσιν οἱ αὐτοὶ δύνανται λέγεσθαι διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐξ ἐπιπολῆς τὰ θεῖα καταλαμβάνειν γράμματα, ἀλλὰ πιστεύειν εἰς τὰ βάθη τοὺ νόμου.

Origenis. Homiliis in Acta Apostolorum. MPG. Vol.14. Col 829ff

Retyped from the copy found at: Documenta Catholica Omnia

Ἐκ τῆς εἰς τὰς Πράξεις ὁμιλίας δ’

Ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν Γραφὴν, ἣν προεῖτε τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον διὰ στόματος Δαυΐδ περὶ Ἰούδα· ἐν ᾧ ψαλμῷ τὰ περὶ τοῦ Ἰούδα γέγραπται. Εἴποι τις ἄν, ὅτι οὐ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον λαλεῖ· σαφῶς γὰρ τοῦ Σωτῆρός εἰσιν οἱ λόγοι λέγοντος· Ὁ Θεὸς, τὴν αἴωεσίν μου μὴ παρασιωπησης· ὅτι στόμα ἁμαρτωλοῦ, καὶ στόμα δολίου, ἐπ’ ἐμὲ ἠωοίχθη· καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς ἕως· Καὶ τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν αὐτοῦ λάβοι ἕτερος. Πῶς οὖν, εἰ ὁ Σωτήρ ἐστιν ὁ ταῦτα λέγων, φησὶν ὁ Πέτρος· Ἔδει πληρωθῆαι τὴν Γραφὴν, ἥν προεῖτε τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον διὰ στόματος Δαυΐδ; Μήποτε οὖν ὅ διδασκόμεθα ἐνταῦθα, τοιοῦτόν ἐστι. Προσωποποιεῖ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις· καὶ ἐὰν προσωποποιήσῃ τὸν Θεὸν, οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Θεὸς ὁ λαλῶν, ἀλλὰ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἄγιον ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ λαλεῖ· Οὕτω, κἄν προσωποποιήσῃ τὸν προφήτην, ἤ τὸν λαὸν ἐκεῖνον, ἤ τὸν λαὸν τουτον, ἤ ὅ τι δήποτε προσωποποιεῖ, τὸ ἅγιον Πνεῦμά ἐστι τὸ πάντα προσωποποιοῦν.

Origenis. Comment. In. Epist. Ad Rom. MPG. Vol. 14. Col. 1100-1101

A Portion from his commentary on Romans 6:13

[Col. 1100] « Propter inhabitantem Spiritum ejus in vobis. » Si enim Spiritus Christi habitat in vobis, necessarium videtur Spiritui reddi habitaculum suum, templumque restitui. Velim tamen hoc ipsum quod dicitur vel Spiritus Christi, vel Spiritus Dei, vel etiam ipse Christus in nobis habitare, quale sit intueri : utrumnam ex initio omnibus iste Spiritus datur, et postmodum pessimis et a Deo alienis actibus effugatur, secundum illud quod scriptum est : « Nom permanebit Spiritus meus in hominibus istis, quia caro sunt, » an vitæ merito, et fidei gratia postmodum datur, secundum ea quæ in Actibus apostolorum docentur, quia Spiritus sanctus tanquam linguæ igneæ venit super unumquemque eorum; vel certe sicut in Evangelio docemur, cum ipse Salvator posteaquam resurrexit amortuis ad discipulos dixit : « Accipite Spiritum sanctum, et insufflavit un unoquoque eorum. » Unde mihi videtur quod et meritis conquiratur hoc donum, et vitæ innocentia conservetur, et unicuique secundum profectum fidei augeatur et gratiæ ; et quanto purior anima redditur, tanto largior ei Spiritus infundatur. Quod autem dixit, « Non permanebit Spiritus meus in hominibus istis, quia caro sunt. » illuc respicit ut, quoniam anima eorum, repudiata Spiritus servitute, ad carnis servitia se tota convertit, etiam ipsa ejus cui se conjunxit carni, et cum qua unum effecta est, nomen accipiat. Diveris ergo modis haberi potest Spiritus. Vel Spiritus Christi habetur, secundum id quod supra diximus, ex inspiratione divina, ubi ait : « Accipite Spiritum sanctum, et insufflavit in eis, » et rursum eo modo qui in Actibus apostolorum dicitur gesum, ut diversis linguis loquerentur apostoli. Est et ille modus, qui in Regnorum libris refertur, cum dicit Scriptura : « Et insiluit Spiritus super Saul, et cœpit prophetare. » Est et ille adhuc alius modus, ut, cum Salvator post resurrectionem cum Cleopha et alio discipulo iter agens et aperiens eis Scripturas, ignivit eos spiritu oris sui, ita ut illi dicerent : « Nonne cor nostrum erat ardens intra nos, cum aperiret nobis Scripturas ? » Vis autem scire quia non solum Jesus loquens tradidit audientibues Spiritum suum, sed et qui in nomine ejus loquitur verbum Dei, tradit audientibus Spiritum Dei? Vide in Actibus apostolorum quomodo loquente Petro ad Cornelium [Col. 1101] repletur Spiritu sancto ipse Cornelius, et qui cum eo erant. Unde et tu si loquaris verbum dei, et loquaris fideliter ex conscientia pura, nec ipse redarguaris ex verbis tuis quasi qui aliter doceas et aliter agas, potest fieri ut loquente te auditorum corda sancti Spiritus ignis inflammet, et continuo concalescant et ardeant ad complenda universa quæ doces, ut rebus impleant quæ sermonibus didicerint, et « quæ sursum sunt » sapiant, « non quæ super terram. »

Origen on I Corinthians; Header 49

Claude Jenkins, “Documents; Origen on I Corinthians,” Journal of Theological Studies 10 (1909). Pg. 29ff and another version found in Catenae: Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum. Tomus V. J.A. Cramer. ed. Oxonii.1844. Pg. 249

Ζητοῦμεν ἐνταῦθα εἰ δύναταί τις ἐν τῷ βίῳ τούτῳ καὶ προφητείαν ἔχειν καὶ τὰ μυστήρια ἅπαντα γνῶναι χωρὶς ἀγάπης, καὶ ὅλως εἰ δίδοταί τινι τὰ μυστήρια πάντα γνῶναι· φησὶ γὰρ ὁ Παῦλος εἰ τις δοκεῖ εγνωκέναι τι, οὔπω ἔγνω καθὼς δεῖ γνῶναι· καὶ παλιν Ἐκ μέρους φησὶ γινώσκομεν καὶ ἐκ μέρους προφητεύομεν· ὅταν ἄν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον, τὸ ἐκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται. Τὸ δὲ`ταῦτα λέγειν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν παραπλησίων ἀποστόλων αὐτῷ δηλοῖ ὅτι οὐ δυνατόν ἐστιν εἰδέναι πάντα τὰ μυστήρια καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνὼσιν. πῶς οὖν ὡς δυνατοῦ ὄντος τοῦ εἰδέναι πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν καὶ πάντα τὰ μυστήρια ἐπίστασθαι ταῦτα φησίν ; ἐὰν ἴδωμεν τὸ προοίμιον τῶν λόγων ἐν οἷς φησὶ Καὶ ἔτι καθ’ὑπερβολὴν ὁδὸν ὑμιν δείκνυμι, καὶ νοήσωμεν τἰ ἐστιν ὑπερβολὴ, ταῦτα πάντα ἔσται σεσαφηνισμένα. ὐπερβολὴ τοίνυν ἐστὶν, ὡς καὶ Ἕλληνες <ὡ>ρίσαντο, λόγος ἐμφάσεως ἕνεκεν ὑπεραίρων τὴν ἀλήθειαν καὶ χρῶνται ἐκεῖνοι παραδείγματι, ὅτι λευκότεροι χιόνος λέγονταί τινες εἶναι· οὐχ ὅτι δυνατόν τι εἶναι λευκότερον χιόνος, ἀλλὰ καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν λέλεκται. καὶ ἔτι Τρέχουσι τινες ἵπποι ὥς ἄνεμος· οὐχ ὅτι δυνατόν ἐστι τὸ τοιοῦτον, ἀλλ᾽ἐμφάσεως ἕνεκεν, ἵνα τὸ τάχος τῶν ἵππων παραστῇ, λέγεται τὸ τοιοῦτον περὶ αὐτῶν. καὶ ἐν τῇ γραφῇ δὲ λέγεται τῶν Ψαλμῶν περὶ τῆς θαλάσσης ἀναβαίνουσι τὰ κύματα αὐτῆς ἕως τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ καταβαίνουσιν ἔως τῶν ἀβύσσων· ὅπερ ἀδύνατον, ἀλλ᾽ἐμφάσεως ἔνεκεν εἴρηται. καὶ ἐν τῇ νόμῳ δὲ εὐρήσεις γεγραμμένον τῆς ὑπερβολῆς τὸν τρόπον ἔνθα γέγραπται Εἴδομεν πόλεις μεγάλας καὶ τειχήρεις ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. πῶς δὲ τοῦτο δύναται εἶναι ; ἀλλ᾽ὑπερβολικῶς λέγεται, οὐ πάντως αὐτὸ τὸ δηλούμενον παριστῶντος τοῦ λόγου ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα δηλώσῃ τὸ μέγεθος τῶν κυμάτων ἤ τὴν ταπείνωσιν, καὶ τὸ μέγεθος τῶν τειχῶν, ἤ τι τούτοις παραπλήσιον. οὕτω καὶ ἐνθάδε ὔπόθεσιν λαμβάνει ὁ ἀπόστολος ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἐξετασθῆναι φύσιν χαρισμάτων φύσιν ἀγάπης. οὐχ ὅτι δυνατόν ἐστι εἶναι χάρισματα, καὶ ταῦτα τηλικοῦτον, χωρὶς ἀγάπης· ἤ ὅτι δυνατὸν ἐν τῷ Βίῳ τούτῳ είδέναι τινὰ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν χωρὶς ἀγάπης, ἤ ἔχειν πίστιν τηλικαύτην ὥστε ὄρη μεθιστάνειν· ἀλλὰ βουλόμενος παραστῆσαι ὅτι εἰ ἐν ζυγῷ τεθείη ἠ ἀγάπη καθ’ ὑπόθεσιν εἰρημένου τοῦ λόγου. δεῖ οὖν φησὶ μάλιστα ζηλοῦν τὴν ἀγάπην.
῎Αρα δὲ ἄγγελοι διαλεγόμενοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους ταύταις ταῖς γλώσσαις διαλέγονται αἷς καὶ ἄνθρωποι, ὥστε τῶν ἀγγελων τινὰς μὲν Ἕλληνας εἶναι τυχόν τινὰς δὲ Ἑβραίους καὶ ἅλλους Αἰγυπτίους ; ἤ τοῦτο ἄτοπον λέγειν περὶ τῶν ἄνω ἀγγελικῶν ταγμάτων ; μή ποτε οὖν ὥσπέρ εἰσιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις διάλεκτοι πολλαὶ, οὕτως εἰσὶ καὶ ἐν ἀγγέλοις ; καὶ ἐὰν ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῖν χαρίσηται ἀπὸ τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως ἐπὶ τὴν ἀγγελικὴν καταταγὴν<αι>, τοὺ Κυρίου μου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐπαγγελίαν λέγοντος ἰσάγελλοι ἔσονται καὶ Υἱοὶ Θεοῦ τὴς ἀναστάσεως υἱοὶ ὄντες, οὐκετι χρησόμεθα διαλέκτῳ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ διαλέκτῳ τῇ ἀγγελικῇ ; καὶ ὥσπερ ἄλλη διάλεκτος παιδίων καὶ ἄλλη τετρανωμένων τὴν φωνὴν, οὕτως πᾶσα ἐν ἀνθρώποις διάλεκτος οἱονεὶ παιδίών ἐστὶν διάλεκτος· ἡ δὲ ἀγγελικὴ οἱονεὶ ἀδρῶν ἔστι τελείων καὶ τετρανωμένων ; ἴσως δὲ κακεὶ κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς καταστάσεως καὶ διάλεκτοι εἰσιν. ἐὰν οὖν ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀνθρώπων λαλῶ καὶ`τῶν ἀγγέλων, ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω, γέγονα καλκὸς ἠχῶν ἤ κύμβαλου ἀλαλάζον. ὥσπερ ὅ χαλκὸς ἠχῶν ἄσημον δίδωσι φωνήν, ὥσπερ τὸ κύμβαλον τὸ ἀλαλάζον οὐδὲν τρανόν, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον χωρὶς μὲν ἀγάπης γλῶσσα κἄν ἀγγέλων ἐν ἀνθρώποις καθ’ ὑπόθεσιν ᾖ, ἀτρανωτός ἐστιν· οὐδὲν γὰρ ποιεῖ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἤτοι τῶν ἀγγέλων τρανῆ καὶ σαφῆ, ὡς ἡ ἀγάπη· ἀγάπης δὲ μὴ παρούσης τὸ λαλόυμενον οὐδέν ἐστιν.
Τίς δὲ ἡ διαφορὰ τῆς γνώσεως καὶ τῆς τῶν μυστηρίων εἰδήσεως ; περὶ δύο γὰρ πραγμάτων ὁ ἀποστολος λέγει. ἡγοῦμαι τοίνυν τὸ μὲν περὶ τῶν φανερῶν εἰδέναι τὴν γνῶσιν εἶναι γενικωτέραν οὖσαν τῶν μυστηρίων· ἐν μέρει γὰρ τῆς γνώσεως ἡ τῶν μυστηρίων ἐστὶν ἐπιστήμη· τὸ δὲ περὶ τῶν ἀπορρητοτέρων καὶ θειοτέρων εἰδέναι τοῦτ᾽εἶναι τὸ μυστήριον γινώσκειν, ὡς εἶναι γενικὸν μὲν λόγον τῆς γνώσεως οὐκέτι δὲ πάσης τῆς γνώσεως εἶναι τὴν κατάληψιν μυστηρίων περὶ ὧν λέλεκται Ἀλλὰ λαλοῦμεν Θεοῦ σοφίαν ἐν μυστηρίῳ τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην, ἤν προώρισεν ὁ Θεὸς πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς δόξαν ὑμῶν. ὅταν γὰρ εἰδῶ ταῦτα, τότε ἔχω τὴν γνῶσιν τῶν μυστηρίων.
Κἄν ἔχω πᾶσαν τὴν πίστιν ὥστε ὄρη μεθιστάνειν. γέγραπται ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ Ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ ἄρθητι καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ μεταβήσεται, καὶ οὐδὲν ὑμῖν ἀδυνάτησει. ὁ γὰρ ἔχων πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως ὅλην ἔχει τὴν πίστιν.

Origen. Against Celsus

Please note the following texts are a revised version of the TLG text. It has been changed to conform to what is found in MPG Vol. 11.

3.46 — Origenis. Contra Celsum Lib. III. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 986.

Ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ μετὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν γεγραμμένα ἔλθῃς βιβλία, εὕροις ἂν τοὺς μὲν ὄχλους τῶν πιστευόντων τῶν παραβολῶν ἀκούοντας ὡς ἔξω τυγχάνοντας καὶ ἀξίους μόνον τῶν ἐξωτερικῶν λόγων, τοὺς δὲ μαθητὰς κατ’ ἰδίαν τῶν παραβολῶν μανθάνοντας τὰς διηγήσεις· Κατ’ ἰδίαν γὰρ τοῖς ἰδίοις μαθηταῖς ἐπέλυεν ἅπαντα ὁ Ἰησοῦς, προτιμῶν παρὰ τοὺς ὄχλους τοὺς τῆς σοφίας αὐτοῦ ἐπιδικαζομένους. Ἐπαγγέλλεται δὲ τοῖς εἰς αὐτὸν πιστεύουσι πέμψαι «σοφοὺς καὶ γραμματεῖς λέγων· « Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω εἰς ὑμᾶς σοφοὺς καὶ γραμματεῖς, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀποκτενοῦσι καὶ σταυρώσουσι. » Καὶ ὁ Παῦλος δ’ ἐν τῷ καταλόγῳ τῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ διδομένων χαρισμάτων πρῶτον ἔταξε « τὸν λόγον τῆς σοφίας » καὶ δεύτερον, ὡς ὑποβεβηκότα παρ’ ἐκεῖνον, « τὸν λόγον τῆς γνώσεως, » τρίτον δέ που καὶ κατωτέρω « τὴν πίστιν ». Καὶ ἐπεὶ « τὸν λόγον » προετίμα τῶν τεραστίων ἐνεργειῶν, διὰ τοῦτ’ « ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων καὶ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων » ἐν τῇ κατωτέρω τίθησι χώρᾳ παρὰ τὰ λογικὰ χαρίσματα. Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ τῇ Μωϋσέως πολυμαθείᾳ ὁ ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσι τῶν ἀποστόλων Στέφανος, πάντως ἀπὸ τῶν παλαιῶν καὶ μὴ εἰς πολλοὺς ἐφθακότων γραμμάτων λαβών· φησὶ γάρ· « Καὶ ἐπαιδεύθη Μωϋσῆς ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ Αἰγυπτίων. » Διὰ τοῦτο δὲ καὶ ἐν τοῖς τεραστίοις ὑπενοεῖτο, μή ποτ’ οὐ κατὰ τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ θεόθεν ἥκειν ἐποίει αὐτὰ ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὰ Αἰγυπτίων μαθήματα, σοφὸς ὢν ἐν αὐτοῖς. Τοιαῦτα γὰρ ὑπονοῶν περὶ αὐτοῦ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐκάλεσε τοὺς ἐπαοιδοὺς τῶν Αἰγυπτίων καὶ « τοὺς σοφιστὰς καὶ τοὺς φαρμακεῖς, » οἵτινες ἠλέγχθησαν τὸ οὐδὲν ὄντες ὡς πρὸς τὴν ἐν Μωϋσεῖ σοφίαν ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν Αἰγυπτίων σοφίαν.

7:3 — Origenis. Contra Celsum, Lib. VII. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 1424ff.

Φησὶν οὖν· Τὰ μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς Πυθίας ἤ Δωδωνίδων ἤ Κλαρίου ἤ ἐν Βραγχάδαις ἤ ἐν Ἄμμμωνος ὑπὸ μυρίων τε ἄλλων θεοπρόπων προειρημένα, ὑφ’ ὧν ἐπιεκῶς πᾶσα γῆ κατῳκίσθη, ταῦτα μὲν οὐδενί λόγῳ τίθενται· τὰ δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν Ἰουδαίᾳ τῷ ἐκείνων τρόπῳ λεχθέντα ἢ μὴ λεχθέντα, καὶ ὥσπερ εἰώθασιν ἔτι νῦν οἱ περὶ Φοινίκην τε καὶ Παλαιστίνην, ταῦτά γε θαυμαστὰ καὶ ἀπαράλλακτα ἡγοῦνται. Λέγωμεν οὖν περὶ τῶν κατειλεγμένων χρηστηρίων ὅτι δυνατὸν μὲν ἡμῖν συνάγουσιν ἀπὸ Ἀριστοτέλους καὶ τῶν τὰ τοῦ Περιπάτου φιλοσοφησάντων οὐκ ὀλίγα εἰπεῖν εἰς ἀνατροπὴν τοῦ περὶ τῆς Πυθίας καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν χρηστηρίων λόγου· δυνατὸν δὲ καὶ τὰ λελεγμένα τῷ Ἐπικούρῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀσπαζομένοις αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν παραθέμενον δεῖξαι ὅτι καὶ Ἑλλήνων τινὲς ἀνατρέπουσι τὰς νομιζομένας καὶ τεθαυμασμένας ἐν πάσῃ Ἑλλάδι θεοπροπίας. Ἀλλὰ γὰρ δεδόσθω μὴ εἶναι πλάσματα μηδὲ προσποιήσεις ἀνθρώπων περὶ θεοφορίας τὰ περὶ τὴν Πυθίαν καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ χρηστήρια· ἴδωμεν οὖν εἰ μὴ καὶ οὕτως δύναται τοῖς φιλαλήθως ἐξετάζουσι τὰ πράγματα(1)προστάγματα ἀποδείκνυσθαι ὅτι καὶ τῷ παραδεχομένῳ εἶναι ταῦτα τὰ μαντεῖα οὐκ ἀναγκαῖον προσέσθαι ὅτι θεοί τινες εἰσὶ παρ’ αὐτοῖς, ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ ἐναντίου δαίμονές τινες φαῦλοι καὶ πνεύματα ἐχθρὰ τῷ γένει τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ κωλύοντα τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄνοδον καὶ δι’ ἀρετῆς πορείαν καὶ τῆς ἀληθινῆς εὐσεβείας ἀποκατάστασιν πρὸς τὸν θεόν. Ἱστόρητα(2)Ἱστόρηται τοίνυν περὶ τῆς Πυθίας, ὅπερ δοκεῖ τῶν ἄλλων μαντείων λαμπρότερον τυγχάνειν, ὅτι περικαθεζομένη τὸ τῆς Κασταλίας στόμιον ἡ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος προφῆτις δέχεται πνεῦμα διὰ τῶν γυναικείων κόλπων· οὗ πληρωθεῖσα ἀποφθέγγεται τὰ νομιζόμενα εἶναι σεμνὰ καὶ θεῖα μαντεύματα. Ὅρα δὴ διὰ τούτων εἰ μὴ τὸ τοῦ πνεύματος ἐκείνου ἀκάθαρτον καὶ βέβηλον ἐμφαίνεται, μὴ διὰ μανῶν καὶ ἀφανῶν πόρων καὶ πολλῷ γυναικείων κόλπων καθαρωτέρων ἐπεισιὸν τῇ ψυχῇ τῆς θεσπιζούσης ἀλλὰ διὰ τούτων, ἃ οὐδὲ θέμις ἦν τῷ σώφρονι καὶ ἀνθρώπῳ βλέπειν, οὔπω λέγω ὅτι καὶ ἅπτεσθαι· καὶ τοῦτο ποιεῖν οὐχ ἅπαξ που οὐδὲ δίς (ἴσως γὰρ ἔδοξεν ἀνεκτότερον τὸ τοιοῦτο τυγχάνειν), ἀλλὰ τοσαυτάκις, ὁσάκις προφητεύειν ἐκείνη ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος πεπίστευται. Ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ εἰς ἔκστασιν καὶ μανικὴν ἄγειν κατάστασιν τὴν δῆθεν προφητεύουσαν, ὡς μηδαμῶς αὐτὴν ἑαυτῇ παρακολουθεῖν, οὐ θείου πνεύματος ἔργον ἐστίν· ἐχρῆν γὰρ(3)Ἐρχῆν γὰρ τὸν κάοχον τῷ θειῳ Πνεύματι, τὸν συμβαλλόμενον εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ κατὰ φύσιν βίον, πολλῷ πρότερον παντὸς οὐτινοσοῦν τοῦ ἀπο τῶν χρησμῶν διδασκομένου, ἤ πρὸς τὸ λυσιτελὲς ἤ συμφέρον ὠφεληθῆναι. τὸν κάτοχον τῷ θείῳ πνεύματι πολλῷ πρότερον παντὸς οὑτινοσοῦν τοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν χρησμῶν διδασκομένου τὸ συμβαλλόμενον εἰς τὸν μέσον καὶ κατὰ φύσιν βίον ἢ πρὸς τὸ λυσιτελὲς ἢ πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ὠφεληθῆναι καὶ διορατικώτερον παρ’ ἐκεῖνο μάλιστα καιροῦ τυγχάνειν, ὅτε σύνεστιν αὐτῷ τὸ θεῖον.

7:9 — Origenis. Contra Celsum, Lib. VII. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 1433.

Ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ τὸν τρόπον τῶν ἐν Φοινίκῃ καὶ Παλαιστίνῃ μαντείων ἐπαγγέλλεται, φράσειν ὁ Κέλσος ὡς ἀκούσας καὶ πάνυ καταμαθών, φέρε καὶ ταῦτα κατανοήσωμεν. Πρῶτον δὴ λέγει πλείονα εἶναι εἴδη προφητειῶν, μὴ ἐκτιθέμενος αὐτά· οὐδὲ γὰρ εἶχεν, ἀλλὰ ψευδῶς ἐπανετείνετο. Ὃ δέ φησιν εἶναι τελεώτατον παρὰ τοῖς τῇδε ἀνδράσιν ἴδωμεν. Πολλοί, φησί, καὶ ἀνώνυμοι ῥᾷστα ἐκ τῆς προστυχούσης αἰτίας καὶ ἐν ἱεροῖς καὶ ἔξω ἱερῶν, οἱ δὲ καὶ ἀγείροντες καὶ ἐπιφοιτῶντες πόλεσιν ἢ στρατοπέδοις, κινοῦνται δῆθεν ὡς θεσπίζοντες. Πρόχειρον δ’ ἑκάστῳ καὶ σύνηθες εἰπεῖν· Ἐγὼ ὁ θεός εἰμι ἢ θεοῦ παῖς ἢ πνεῦμα θεῖον. Ἥκω δέ ἤδη γὰρ ὁ κόσμος ἀπόλλυται, καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὦ ἄνθρωποι, διὰ τὰς ἀδικίας οἴχεσθε. Ἐγὼ δὲ σῶσαι θέλω· καὶ ὄψεσθέ με αὖθις μετ’ οὐρανίου δυνάμεως ἐπανιόντα. Μακάριος ὁ νῦν με θρησκεύσας· τοῖς δ’ ἄλλοις ἅπασι πῦρ αἰώνιον ἐπιβαλῶ καὶ πόλεσι καὶ χώραις. Καὶ ἄνθρωποις,(4)ἄνθρωποι οἳ μὴ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ποινὰς ἴσασι, μεταγνώσονται μάτην καὶ στενάξουσι· τοὺς δέ μοι πεισθέντας αἰωνίους φυλάξω. εἶτα τούτοις ἑξῆς φησι· Ταῦτ’ ἐπανατεινάμενοι προστιθέασιν ἐφεξῆς ἄγνωστα καὶ πάροιστρα καὶ πάντῃ ἄδηλα, ὧν τὸ μὲν γνὠρισμα(5)γνῶμα οὐδεὶς ἂν ἔχων νοῦν εὑρεῖν δύναιτο· ἀσαφῆ γὰρ καὶ τὸ μηδέν· ἀνοήτῳ δὲ ἢ γόητι παντὶ περὶ παντὸς ἀφορμὴν ἐνδίδωσιν, ὅπῃ βούλεται, τὸ λεχθὲν σφετερίζεσθαι.

8:37 — Origenis. Contra Celsum, Lib. VIII. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 1573.

Εἶτ’ ἐπιλαθόμενος ὅτι Χριστιανοῖς λαλεῖ, τοῖς μόνοις τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ εὐχομένοις, καὶ συμφύρων τὰ ἑτέρων καὶ ἀλόγως Χριστιανοῖς συνάπτων αὐτά φησιν· Ἐὰν μὲν βαρβάρως αὐτοὺς ὀνομάζῃ τις, δύναμιν ἕξουσιν, ἐὰν δὲ Ἑλληνικῶς ἢ ῾Ρωμαϊκῶς, οὐκ ἔτι. Δεικνύτω γὰρ τίνα ἡμεῖς βαρβάρως ὀνομάζομεν ὡς καλοῦντες αὐτὸν ἐπὶ βοήθειαν, καὶ πειθέσθω,(6)Reg. et Basil: πυθέσθω μάτην καθ’ ἡμῶν ταῦτα εἰρηκέναι τὸν Κέλσον ἐφιστὰς(7) TLG has: <ὁ> ἐφιστὰς ὅτι οἱ (8) λόγιοι is understood here in at least one manuscript while TLG has πολλοὶ τῶν Χριστιανῶν οὐδὲ τοῖς ἐν ταῖς θείαις γραφαῖς κειμένοις ὀνόμασι καὶ τεταγμένοις ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοῦ χρῶνται ἐν ταῖς εὐχαῖς· ἀλλ’ οἱ μὲν Ἕλληνες Ἑλληνικοῖς οἱ δὲ Ῥωμαῖοι ῾Ρωμαϊκοῖς, καὶ οὕτως ἕκαστος κατὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ διάλεκτον εὔχεται τῷ θεῷ καὶ ὑμνεῖ αὐτὸν ὡς δύναται· καὶ ὁ πάσης διαλέκτου Κύριος τῶν ἀπὸ πάσης διαλέκτου εὐχομένων ἀκούει ὡς μιᾶς, ἵν’ οὕτως ὀνομάσω, φωνῆς τῆς κατὰ τὰ σημαινόμενα ἀκούων, δηλουμένης ἐκ τῶν ποικίλων διαλέκτων. Οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐπὶ πᾶσι θεὸς εἷς τις τῶν κεκληρωμένων διάλεκτόν τινα βάρβαρον ἢ ἕλληνα καὶ μηκέτι τὰς λοιπὰς ἐπισταμένων ἢ μηκέτι τῶν ἐν ἄλλαις διαλέκτοις λεγόντων φροντίζειν.

References   [ + ]

Origen on Tongues Updated

A brief explanation to the update and revision of Origen on the Dogma of Tongues

Origen on the Gift of Tongues, now renamed as Origen on the Dogma of Tongues, was one of the first articles generated when the Gift of Tongues Project began over a decade ago. It was a time when the internet had little or few resources to offer in relation to Patristics. Doing morphological analysis was an extremely time consuming work that was in the most part a manual process; the Origen texts kindly offered lots of new words which exacerbated these challenges.

Everything that surrounded this first Origen article was experimental; I was a newbie with translating the Greek and Latin Patristic texts, to building, designing and maintaining a website. It was at a time when foreign languages, the ones like Greek, Hebrew and Syriac who were not of the Latin character set, had a hard time displaying properly on the internet. Workarounds had to be made to accommodate this with varying levels of success.

Today, things have greatly changed. The internet now offers a wide array of digitized Greek dictionaries, significantly more manuscripts have been digitized and available on the internet, the proliferation of ebooks is starting to make scholars’ works more easily accessible for research, and a personal morphological/grammar database that I created to track problem words and grammatical points over ten years ago has over 3,000 entries. Combining all these factors together means that the speed and accuracy of my translation work is likely 50 times faster, more accurate and indepth than it was before.

As I looked at the original blog article regarding Origen on the Gift of Tongues, it demonstrated how far the Gift of Tongues Project has progressed and matured. However, the Origen article showed aspects of the Gift of Tongues Project’s early problems and was in dire need of meeting the current standards of translation, analysis, style, and delivery.

The article name too has changed from Origen on the Gift of Tongues to Origen on the Dogma of Tongues because the Gift of Tongues presents a modern bias that the ancient christian writers didn’t have. The Dogma of Tongues is much better suited to this approach. On the other hand, the title of this subject matter Gift of Tongues Project shall remain because if I used the name, Dogma of Tongues Project, although more true to the current approach, it would be a flop from a marketing perspective. It may have a substantial negative effect on prospective readers and the target audience. So the old title name for this subject will remain.

A thank you to Thomas P. Scheck for his English translation of Origen’s, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans in ebook format. Although I don’t know him personally, this book helped elevate the revision of my Origen article on tongues to a higher level. His translation is a monumental work.

Here is a link to the updated article: Origen on the Dogma of Tongues.

Gregory Nazianzus on the Doctrine of Tongues Intro

This is the beginning of a multi-article series on the works of Gregory Nazianzus on the doctrine of tongues.

No discussion on the nature and purpose of ecclesiastical tongues should omit this church father. However, the majority of pentecostals and charismatics who take a very deep interest in this subject, do not even know who this church father was, let alone what he stood for. It should be mandatory reading for anyone studying this topic. His coverage forces the contemporary mindset, whether a Christian mystic, or liberal theologian to reconsider the historical evidence.

In Gregory Nazianzus’ work entitled, Orations, an entire chapter is devoted to the subject of Pentecost, which is typically labeled as Oration 41. There are especially two sections in this text outlining what the tongues miracle may have consisted of (Oration 41:15-16).

He wrote about two specific options — the miracle of the Apostles speaking in every language that they were not taught, or it was the apostles speaking in one sound, and the hearers miraculously hearing it in their own language. It could be a combination of both, but the text doesn’t guide the reader to this third alternative. It is difficult to know which one is the historic right one, or how popular the miracle of hearing doctrine existed, and who promoted it. This is the central part of the historic debate.

What this series is about

This study will delve into a number of texts to solve this problem and more. It will look at the history of this controversy. First by building a source Greek text by not only consulting the version and editors notes found in Migne Patrologia Graeca, but looking at older versions.

Secondly it will analyze and compare the ancient Greek text and commentary provided by as many ecclesiastical writers on the subject that can be found. Alex Poulos, in his own research on the subject, has found at least three later writers covering this text. This will provide much needed clues to the original text and how to understand it.

Thirdly, it will examine the Syriac texts of Gregory Nazianzus to find any further hints.

Last of all, it is to look at how the Latin Church Fathers and translators understood this text. The oldest text we have today is not in Greek, but in Latin by Rufinus, who wrote it in the fifth century — though what we possess today is likely revised and updated from the original. He also took some liberties to amplify the text where he saw fit. So it is not exactly a literal translation. This can be of benefit, as it may demonstrate how the doctrine had evolved. The study will also look at evidence from Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who indirectly asserted how Nazianzus ought to be read. The eighth century Venerable Bede weighed in on this riddle of how to understand this text, and offers some powerful clues. Jacobus Billius made a critical effort in the sixteenth century to understand by providing a Greek-Latin parallel text. His work was the basis for the Greek and Latin copy found in Migne Patrologia Graeca.

Who was Gregory Nazianzus?

Wikipedia has a good synopsis:

Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – January 25, 389) (also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen) was a fourth century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained speaker and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.(1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_of_Nazianzus

The old English translation of Nazianzus

An English translation of Nazianzus’ work, On Pentecost was completed in 1894 by Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow. It is easily available on the web.(2)Translated by Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

A.J. Mason, editor of the 1899 publication, The Five Theological Orations of Gregory of Nazianzus, concluded that it wasn’t a very good translation, and would not recommend it:

The scholarship of the only English translation with which I am acquainted, in Wace and Schaff Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, is unfortunately far below the level of that of Cyril in the same volume, and the student will do well to avoid a work which is only misleading.(3)The Five Theological Orations of Gregory of Nazianzus. A.J. Mason ed. London: C.J. Clay and Sons. 1899 Pg. xxiii.

In respect to Nazianzus’ Oration 41, the Browne-Swallow translation is reliable, but it is old.

This series will provide a fresh English translation of Gregory’s works as it relates to the tongues doctrine. This series follows the typical structure of Gift of Tongues Project. Both the Greek and Latin texts that the English was translated from are provided. Since there has been so much ignorance created by faulty or lack of translations in the tongues debate, these have been provided to ensure the historic record is clear.

Translating the Greek attributed to Gregory Nazianzus is difficult. He loved classical Greek and draws from a diverse Greek community.

A fresh translation of Gregory Nazianzus’ Homily 41: 15 -16

Alex Poulos has gladly provided his time and expertise to provide the English translation.

The Oration On Pentecost is traditionally held to have been spoken on May 16, 381 AD.(4)http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310241.htm What are the Orations? The Catholic Encyclopedia, found at New Advent’s website, gave a brief outline:

Both in his own time, and by the general verdict of posterity, Gregory was recognized as one of the very foremost orators who have ever adorned the Christian Church . . .Only comparatively few of the numerous orations delivered by Gregory have been preserved to us, consisting of discourses spoken by him on widely different occasions, but all marked by the same lofty qualities. Faults they have, of course: lengthy digressions, excessive ornament, strained antithesis, laboured metaphors, and occasional over-violence of invective. But their merits are far greater than their defects, and no one can read them without being struck by the noble phraseology, perfect command of the purest Greek, high imaginative powers, lucidity and incisiveness of thought, fiery zeal and transparent sincerity of intention, by which they are distinguished.(5)http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07010b.htm

Which Oration specifically is this homily?

There is also a conflict in which Oration number is which. The Migne Patrologia Graeca copy has the On Pentecost chapter at header 41. The Douay-Rheims Bible wrote in its commentary that this was header 44.(6)Holy Bible: translated from the Latin Vulgate. Douay, Rheims Translators. London: George Henry and Co. ND (originally published in 1582) Pg. 157(7) Thank you also to Áureo Ferreira who noted this in reviewing my previous online work on the subject So too does Billius’ Latin translation of Nicetas of Serrone’s coverage of the works of Nazianzus. (8)MPG. Vol. 127. Addenda: Expositio in Orationes S. Gregorii Nazainzeni XLIV. Col. 1477 and Billius’ Greek-Latin edition of Gregory Nazianzus(9) Sancti Patris Nostri Gregorii Nazianzeni Opera Græc•Lat. Jac. Billius Prunæus, S. Michælis in Eremo. Paris: 1630. Pg. 715 place it at chapter 44. A fourteenth century Greek text of Nicetas of Serrone’s placed On Pentecost at chapter 4.(10)Nicetas Heracleensis. Gregorius Nazianzenus – BSB Cod.graec. 140 Pg. 159 The Orations manuscripts contained in the British Library do not follow the same header format. There are some decorative enlarged letters that do imply a chaptering system, though it has not been identified into a logical sequence. It is clear that these texts do not follow what is found in MPG. It is not known whey there is a discrepancy between the numbering systems. However, since the MPG copy is the most ubiquitous, this chaptering and verse system will be followed.

Nazianzus’ doctrine of tongues can largely be found in his coverage on the event of Pentecost covered in Acts chapter two, and a few snippets found in other works. He does not quote or describe the problem of tongues in Corinth. Neither does he address or acknowledge the contributions of the Montanists, or any other group on the issue.

For further information:

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