A History of Glossolalia: Did it exist before 1879?

To find out if the words ecstasy or glossolalia existed before the 1800s and how these terms have developed over time.

As described previously in A History of Glossolalia: Origins, it was approximately 1830 that the introduction of tongues as glossolalia first occurred in German religious circles, but it was not universal. Neither was the concept found in the realm of English works until Farrar introduced it in 1879. The previous article cited tertiary source materials with few references to primary and secondary ones.

A further examination of the primary, secondary, and additional tertiary sourcebooks is required to substantiate the addition of glossolalia as a tongues doctrine after 1879. Indeed, after careful review of such materials, this was found to be true. The Gift of Tongues Project likes to substantiate all claims. Therefore, the rest of the document is for providing the actual evidence. The article then goes one step further to document how this influence affects us today.

Evolution of Dictionary Definitions

Glossolalia in foreign dictionaries published before 1879

Greek Dictionaries

The following Greek dictionaries were published before 1879 and demonstrate that the word ecstasy, glossolalia or a related synonym did not exist at all in any Greek dictionary published before 1879.

  • Stephanus Lexicon. This Greek dictionary of dictionaries has human language only — no reference to ecstasy or any other variant.

    Henrico Stephanus, or more properly Henri Estienne, was credited for compiling the most definitive Greek dictionary in the latter 1500s and it continued in popularity for centuries. This work still has value even for modern Greek Ecclesiastical translators. The 1598 version has an exhaustive list of which the word γλῶσσα and almost every variation of its form used. It simply states γλῶσσα being language. Ecstasy does not occur in any of its forms.1

  • The 1825 version of Cornellii Shrevelli’s Lexicon: Græco-Latinum. It simply used language with little else. 2

  • The 1836 version of James Donnegan’s, A New Greek and English Lexicon: Principally on the Plan of the Greek and German Lexicon of Schneider. Tongues primarily meant language but also could be an antiquated dialect or foreign expression.3

  • The 1858 version of the Greek Hesychii Alexandrini lexicon gave a simple definition with no reference to ecstasy or utterance, though it does relate to divination and Plato.4

  • The Tyro’s Greek and English Lexicon in 1825, simply defined it as “speech – the tongue – tongue piece,” 5 referring to a piece in a musical instrument.

  • John Grove’s 1830 Greek student dictionary, admittedly based on Schrevelii, stated, the tongue; a tongue, language, speech, converse; the tongue in the mouth piece of wind instruments.”6

Latin Dictionaries

The Latin translators typically used the noun lingua as the equivalent to γλῶσσα. The standard understanding of lingua in the Latin is language. Lingua does not have ecstatic utterance or heavenly language as part of its natural semantic range. An examination is necessary to find whether the Latin translators and dictionary editors added a glossolalia addition to their entries on lingua in any reference to the christian doctrine of tongues.

E.A. Andrew’s long-named 1852 dictionary: A copious and critical Latin-English Lexicon: founded on the larger Latin-German lexicon of William Freund L with additions and corrections from the lexicons of Gesner, Facciolati, Scheller, Georges, etc., contains a light and simple definition. They understood it as well to mean only as language and did not add a special category for the christian doctrine of tongues7

Rev. P. Bullion’s 1866 work, Latin-English Dictionary. Abridged and Re-Arranged from Riddle’s Latin-English Lexicon, Founded on the German-Latin Dictionaries of Dr. William Freund has many descriptors and at the very last, describes lingua meaning an obscure or unintelligible expression, but does not associate this with any christian rite.8

This Latin survey is brief and requires further study. The central focus here is on William Freund’s significant influence on Latin studies. The information so far demonstrates no awareness of glossolalia in the christian doctrine of tongues.

Syriac Dictionaries

The traditional Syriac word used for the New Testament passages containing γλῶσσα is ܠܫܢ leshan. Thesaurus Syriacus edited by R. Payne Smith, published in 1879, contains no reference to ecstatic utterances or heavenly language. There is no attempt to expand this word’s semantic range outside of regular language, speech, or pronunciation.9 Neither does a later editor in the popular revised version in 1903 change this stance.10

Glossolalia in Dictionaries Published Between 1880 and 1890

However, between 1880 and 1890, some cracks started to be revealed between traditional and contemporary dictionaries:

  • E.A. Sophocles 1887 Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine periods kept γλῶσσα as the traditional definition — a language, nation or people.11.

  • A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Bing Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Nove Testamenti or better known as Thayer’s Greek Lexicon in the mid to late 1880s leaned more towards it being ecstatic, but not quite. This dictionary demonstrates the noun was in a transitory stage of redefinition.

    … as appears from I Co. xiv. 7 sqq,. is the gift of men who, rapt in an ecstasy and no longer quite masters of their own reason and consciousness, pour forth their glowing spiritual emotions in strange utterances, rugged, dark, disconnected, quite unfitted to instruct or to influence the minds of others: Acts x. 46; xix. 6; I Co. xii. 30; xii. 1; xiv. 2,4-6, 12, 19, 23,27, 39. The origin of the expression is apparently to be found in the fact, that in Hebrew the tongue is spoken of as the leading instrument by which the praises of God are proclaimed … and that according to the more rigorous conception of inspiration nothing human in an inspired man as thought to be active except the tongue, put in motion by the Holy Spirit…”12

    The dictionary went on to cite Meyer, Schaff, and Farrar to support its position. It may be one of the first major Greek-English dictionaries to introduce this concept in absolute terms.

Dictionaries After 1890

The doctrine of glossolalia became an important consideration after 1890 in all the significant dictionaries published after this period.

  • By 1926, at least one Syriac dictionary hesitantly includes the concept of ecstatic utterance as a debateable option.13

  • The most popular dictionary for Greek Bible students, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, promoted tongues as ecstasy. This dictionary has highly influenced scholars, ministers, and Greek translators for almost a century now. Though the first edition is not available for research, the second edition, published in 1979, reflects the evolution. It concluded strongly on the side of ecstasy with only one very brief reference to ecclesiastical usage:

    There is no doubt about the thing referred to, namely the broken speech of persons in religious ecstasy. The phenomenon, as found in Hellenistic religion, is described esp. by E Rhode (Psyche’ 03, Eng. trans. ‘25, 289-293) and Reitzenstein; sf. Celsus 7, 8;9. The origin of the term is less clear. Two explanations are prominent today. The one (Bleek, Henrici) holds that γλῶσσα here means antiquated, foreign, unintelligible, mysterious utterances (Diod. S. 4, 66, 7 κατὰ γλῶτταν=according to an old expression). The other (Rtzt., Bosset) sees in glossolalia a speaking marvelous, heavenly languages.14

    This lexicon goes into much further detail than the quote above. It graphs almost the entire history of the ecstatic tongues doctrine by listing the important authors’ names, their articles, and opinions. It leaves Patristic analysis and any other non-glossolalic opinions aside. German works, for the most part, are the only references. One of the more important ones was written by Erwin Rhode.

    A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature key-sourced Erwin Rohde’s work, Psyche: the Cult of Souls in its coverage of the christian practice of tongues. The book is an incredible description of classical Greek religion with a substantial portion that focuses on ecstasy and frenzy. Rohde himself did not make any correlation with that of the Corinthian tongues problem or Pentecost, but the reader could easily make the association.15

    The lexicon also does cite J.G. Davies 1952 opine, Pentecost and Glossolalia — a short treatise on why the miracle is not ecstatic but foreign languages. Davies article, however, is too concise and lacks any real historical contributions.16

  • There is arguably one exception to this influence and it is in a composition started in the 1990s. Franco Montanari, an Italian philologist among his many other accomplishments, published the monumental work, GI – Vocabolario della lingua greca. Later on, it was translated into English and named The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. His dictionary entry for γλῶσσα emphasizes human language/speech and nothing more. This result may be misleading. It appears the definition may have been borrowed from an older work without any revision.

    This explanation necessitates a backstory. Montanari felt that the previous ancient Greek dictionary editions were based on limited sources and scope.17 Instead of continuing the traditions created by Franz Passow’s Handwörterbuch der griechischen Sprache,18 Montanari wanted to start with little dependence on this framework and add word usage up until the sixth century AD for his definitions. His approach was a departure from the Greek dictionary tradition in the Western world that built upon Passow’s framework.

    The Brill entry for γλῶσσα has a similar look and feel of the venerable Lidell-Scott-Jones dictionary19 which owes its roots to Passow. The LSJ contains word usage and definitions from literature that predates Christianity, and those citations that encroach the second-century AD are typically not from ecclesiastical works.20

    Neither his book nor LSJ makes any correlation with ecstasy.21 Montanari likely consulted LSJ on the word and let it pass with little change. In this instance, he failed to do any additional research that adds new information and correct this limitation of LSJ. The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek failed to cite even one Patristic writer. In this case, the new dictionary did not live up to its expectations.

    Brill’s lack of Patristic citation on this word reinforces the stereotype that the Church was silent on the issue.

The Evolution in Commentaries and Various Publications

Examining pre-1879 Commentaries for Glossolalia

It may not be convincing enough to follow only the dictionaries that a redefinition of the christian doctrine of tongues started in the early 1800s. Therefore, the same examination applies to commentaries.

A summary result is this: before the 1800s, commentaries do not have a single correlation between tongues, ecstasy, or with the Greek prophets. For example:

  • John Lightfoot’s 1660 A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – I Corinthians,22

  • Matthew Henry’s 1704, Commentary on the Whole Bible 23 and

  • John Gill’s 1775 Entire Exposition of the Bible,24 do not contain such a reference.

  • The British Empiricist, John Locke (1632-1704), relied on Lightfoot’s interpretation of Corinthians being a Hebrew language liturgy problem. He did not refer to any other interpretation.25

  • The 1752 edition of the Monthly Review, covered a book on Christian tongues and concluded that it had ceased its purpose at Pentecost. There was no reference to any other explanation. Almost thirty years later, the same periodic piece published in 1787 a book review that defined the gift of tongues as musical tones, of which the reviewer concluded, “We think it unnecessary to lay any of the Author’s arguments before our Readers; most of them are hypothetical and none of them satisfactory, while the original word militates to strongly against them.”26 The first article claimed the standard interpretation for the time, the second suggested any idea different from tongues as a foreign language was far too foreign for the public to consider. They were not ready for any deviation from the standard interpretation.

Examining Publications After 1879 for Glossolalia

The following is an analysis of commentaries, language aids, and some Bible translations after this period. The approach here is not to trace the linear development of the thought but to analyze the most widely used and trusted primary, secondary, and tertiary sourcebooks that most Bible researchers used to form a contemporary opinion.

The publications produced since the late 1800s and especially early 1900s lead one to think the following. The concept of tongues as an ecstatic utterance was the only historical and complete conclusion. The majority of these texts fail to be comprehensive and does not allow the reader to understand the different theories, ecclesiastical usage, and approaches to this complex subject.

The purpose is to trace the doctrine of tongues in popular literature from 1879 onwards and how the injection of ecstasy occurred. Another treatise was written on the comparative usage of Ecclesiastical literature in the primary sourcebooks and found at The History of Tongues as an Ecstatic Utterance: An analysis of Patristic Usage.

Language Aids

  • It became normative for the German interpretational system to appear in translator guides such as Max Zerwick’s, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, where the Greek student is advised to translate the glôssa of the Book of Corinthians as “ecstatic utterance.”27

  • This is not held so strongly by the competitor, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. It hardly states anything, referring one to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, which is pro-ecstatic and Hellenistic.28

Secondary Source Material

  • The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, an original German publication introduced to an English audience in the 1960s, takes on an approach established by August Neander in the 1850s with some additional appendages. Johannes Behm, the contributor for the Gift of Tongues, wrote in this dictionary:

    In Corinth, therefore, glossolalia is an unintelligible ecstatic utterance. One of its forms of expression is a muttering of words or sounds without interconnection or meaning. Parallels may be found for this phenomenon in various forms and at various periods and places in religious history.”29

    Behm then wrote a firm unsubstantiated assertion:

    “Paul is aware of a similarity between Hellenism and Christianity in respect of these mystical and ecstatic phenomena.”

    “b. If the judgement of Paul on glossolalia raises the question whether this early Christian phenomenon can be understood merely in the light of the ecstatic mysticism of Hellenism, the accounts of the emergence of glossolalia or related utterances of the Spirit in the first Palestinian community (Ac. 10:46; 8:15.; 2:2 ff.) make it plain that we are concerned with an ecstatic phenomenon which is shared by both Jewish and Gentile Christianity and for which there are analogies in the religious history of the OT and Judaism.”30

  • The same outlook was expressed by E. Andrews in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible:

    Such ecstatic speech as described above prevailed among the earliest Hebrew prophets, the professionalized nebi’im, who, as Yahweh enthusiasts, wandered about the country in bands, working themselves into religious frenzy by means of music and dancing… The word nabi, by which they were called, was probably suggested by their ecstatic babblings and their hith-nabbe, “prophesying,” may well have corresponded to the glossolalia, though scholars are not unanimous. In Hellenistic circles also, followers of the Dionysian cult, or of some mystery religion, under powerful emotional pressures of ceremonial rites, often slipped into ecstatic states bordering on frenzy, and expressed themselves in forms intelligible only to the initiated. Through the centuries glossolalia has frequently reappeared among Christian groups, the Montanists, the Camisards, the Irvingites, and many modern sects given to emotional extremes. The psychological aspects are patent.31

  • The 1993 compendium, The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, considered a “monumental work by an ecumenical group of scholars,”32 asserted that the origin of glossolalia in the Corinthian Church is found in the “Syncrestic piety of the Hellenistic Mediterranean world.”33

  • Even the encyclopedias had this new thought entrenched. The 1917 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia, played down the miraculous and described tongues in a weakly tone, concluding:

    It was the Holy Ghost who impelled the disciples “to speak,” without perhaps being obliged to infuse a knowledge of tongues unknown. The physical and psychic condition of the auditors was one of ecstasy and rapture in which “the wonderful things of God” would naturally find utterance in acclamations, prayers or hymns…34

    The article then contradicts itself at the end:

    Faithful adherence to the text of Sacred Scripture makes it obligatory to reject those opinions which turn the charism of tongues into little more than infantile babbling (Eichhorn, Schmidt, Neander).35

    There is hardly any reference to any of the Patristic writings on their conclusion either. This contradictory style of writing on glossolalia is confusing and offers the reader no sense of conclusion.

  • The 1987 version of Encyclopedia Britannica, claimed the gift of tongues to be, “utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious excitement… Glossolalia occurred in some of the ancient Greek religions and in various primitive religions.”36

  • The 1911 New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge vacillates in the definition, slightly mentioning the traditional stance without great success. The author then stated the gift of tongues along with St. Paul’s experience to be one of an ecstatic experience37 and then makes a correlation with the Greek religion.38

  • The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology has two distinct entries by two different authors. The first on Pentecost by the notable scholar and teacher, J. G. Dunn, and the second covered the term γλῶσσα by H. Haarbeck. Haarbeck’s background is unknown and assumed one of the original contributors to the book’s German parent, Theologisches Begriffslexikon Zum Neuen Testament.

    Dunn states:

    Significance of Pentecost for the earliest Christians. (a) Pentecost means first and foremost the outpouring of the Spirit promised by God for the end-time. Charismatic and ecstatic manifestations attributed to God’s Spirit were as distinctive and significant a feature of earliest Palestinian Christianity as of later Hellennistic Christianity. . . That the first Christian Pentecost was an ecstatic experience involving vision (sound like wind, tongues as of fire) and glossolalia is clearly indicated by the tradition in Acts 2: 1-13. In addition, the impression that the glossolalia included recognizable languages may well stem from those whose conversion to the new sect dated from that occasion (cf. similar claims in modern Pentecostalism. . .)39

    Dunn fails to cite a single Patristic author to strengthen his case.

    Haarbeck covers the concept of tongues (γλῶσσα) in the next volume of the The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. He made considerable effort on connecting Paul’s reference to tongues’s as glossolalia and attempts to quietly address the modern charismatic extreme expressions. He did so in historic and archaic terms. Never on any occasion did he cite any Patristic reference to support his claims.40 41

  • The popular Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible in Five Volumes alluded to tongues and ecstasy though not overtly.42 A favorite of Evangelical Bible Students, The New International Bible Encyclopedia, gave prominence to the thought of tongues being ecstatic, citing influences of the Greek Delphic Oracles.43

Books Published in the 1900s and Later on Glossolalia

Commentaries and books, especially since the 1900s, promote tongues as an ecstatic utterance almost exclusively.

  • One of the most acclaimed commentators of the 20th century, Hans Conzelmann, paved the way for a broader audience to accept the new definition. In his, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, published in 1975, he contended that solving the Corinthian tongues is found in the prophetesses at Delphi:

    . . .that speaking with tongues is unintelligible to a normal man, even a Christian. On the other hand it must be meaningful, must be logical in itself. For it can be translated into normal language, which is again made possible by a special gift… If we could explain it, then we must set out from comparable material in the history of religion, above all from the Greek motif of the inspiring *pneuma*, which is expressed especially in Mantic sources, and is bound up more particularly with Delphi. The deity speaks out of the inspired.44

    When it came to Pentecost, he vacillated between ecstatic and real languages, mixing the two in understanding: “The Pentecost narrative alternates between an account of an outbreak of glossolalia and miraculous speech in many languages. Luke has fashioned it into its present form as an episode with a burlesque impact, a mixture of themes which lead to reflection. In addition to the meaningful event as such, the episode contains instructive material in the description of the scene itself.”45 He believed Luke lost “conception of the original glossolalia.”46

  • The New International Commentary on the New Testament, edited by the revered Evangelical F.F. Bruce, does not go so far to indicate Greek syncretism, but the tongues of Corinth were not human language.47

  • William Barclay, a popular commentator that has attracted a conservative audience, also did not accept the idea of the Greek influence but still thought ecstasy was the central core, it was “very common in the early Church. A man became worked up to an ecstasy and in that state poured out a quite uncontrollable torrent of sounds in no known languages… the very desire to possess it produced, at least in some, a kind of self-hypnotism and deliberately induced hysteria which issued in a completely false and synthetic speaking with tongue”.48

  • The NIV Application Commentary: I Corinthians significantly added to the idea that tongues and ecstasy are synonyms. The writer succinctly stated on the Corinthian tongues that it did “not imply that Paul recognized glossolalia as actual foreign languages spoken by people somewhere on earth, or even that they have a comparable linguistic structure,… Various Greco-Roman religions were well-known for their outburst of ecstatic speech and unintelligible repetition of “consense” syllables”.49

The Influence of Ecstasy/Glossolalia in Contemporary Church Discussions

A few examples on how the word ecstasy and associated terms have affected modern-day tongues perspectives within and outside the church.

  • The concept of ecstasy has been used by more conservative Christian leaders as an attack on Pentecostals and Charismatics. For instance, John MacArthur has argued that the Pentecostals have gone wrong by following ecstasy rather than biblical truth: “This was a very common practice in their culture. In fact, the term used in I Corinthians to refer to speaking in tongues (glossais lalein) was not invented by the Bible writers. It was a term used commonly in the Greco-Roman culture to speak of the pagan language of the gods which occurred while the speaker was in an ecstatic trance. By the way, this language of the gods was always gibberish. Beloved, as much as I wish it weren’t true, I’m convinced that what we see going on in today’s Charismatic movement is the same kind of situation that occurred in the Corinthian Church – and engulfing of the church in pagan religion.”50

  • The pagan Greek connection was also echoed by J.G. Dunn, who was previously cited. He is referred extensively by a selection of Pentecostal and Evangelical thinkers to affirm their doctrine of speaking in tongues:

    There are some indications that the Corinthian glossolalia was indeed ‘ecstatic utterance,’ measured in value by them precisely by the intensity of the ecstasy which produced it and by the unintelligibility of the utterances. …These features of Corinthian glossolalia are too reminiscent of the mantic prophecy of the Pythia at Delphi. . . and the wider manifestation of ecstasy in the worship of Dionysus, so the conclusion becomes almost inescapable: glossolalia as practised in the assembly at Corinth was a form of ecstatic utterance – sounds, cries, words uttered in a state of spiritual ecstasy.51

Glossolalia and the Modern English Bible

The idea of tongues as an ecstatic utterance entered into some Bible translations –though this is a minority. The majority of Bibles keep the traditional reading and do not introduce the new definition. The King James version remains unaffected with its problem of “unknown tongues” in the text, which has misled many an English reader for its original intention. Even though the adjective unknown was not initially written to express the concept of ecstatic utterances, it blends in quite well. The ubiquitous New International and New American Standard Bibles simply follow their traditional approach, which is neutral.

Two newer English Bible translations have revised their translation with a glossolalia interpretation:

  • The New English Bible translates the tongues passages with the new definition, Acts 19:6 “and when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues of ecstasy and prophesied,”52 and I Corinthians 14:2, “When a man is using the language of ecstasy he is talking with God.”53

  • The popular Message Bible, I Corinthians 14:4ff “The one who prays using a private “prayer language” certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength.”54

An extensive review of study notes at the bottom pages of different Bibles is incomplete for this work, but those studied add to the mystique. The notes in many of these Bibles may have perpetuated the myth of ecstatic utterances. For example, the Harper Study Bible teaches in its notes that the phenomenon in Acts is languages. However, in Corinthians, “the tongues are described as ecstatic utterances not corresponding to any known languages but given direct expression to ineffable emotions with insights of the souls.”55 This whole realm remains unstudied.


The results of this study suggest that glossolalia and the associative definitions did not enter the tongues theology until later in the 1800s. After it took hold, the ancient traditional position was excluded. This change erroneously leads the reader or any ardent Bible student to think that there is no other option. It forces the reader to conclude the phenomenon as some form of ecstatic utterance or glossolalia.

The modern historians have also reframed the christian doctrine of tongues to fit into the glossolalia paradigm. Instead of tracing the tradition of speaking in tongues through church literature, the majority have chosen to follow the trajectory of classic Hellenistic literature instead.


The origins and transition of the doctrine of tongues from natural human language to ecstasy between 1820 and 1879 is not covered here, but can be found at The History of Glossolalia: Origins.

For further information:

  1. Lexicon GraecoLatinum Recentiss. Ad format ab Henrico Stephano etc. 1598. Col. 328
  2. As found in Lexicon Manuale: Græco Latinum et Latino Græcum. Revised and enlarged by Petrus Steele. American Edition. New York: Collins and Hannay. 1825. Pg. 110
  3. James Donnegan. A New Greek and English Lexicon: Principally on the Plan of the Greek and German Lexicon of Schneider. Second edition. Boston: Hilliard, Gray and Co. 1836. Pg. 329
  4. Joannem Albertum. Hesychii Alexandrini lexicon. Reprinted. Amsterdam: A.M. Harkert. 1965 (Microfiche of the 1858-1864 version). Pg. 136
  5. The Tyro’s Greek and English Lexicon: Or a Compendium in English of the Celebrated Lexicons of Damm, Sturze, Schleusner, Schweighaeuser. John Jones, LL.D. ed. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. 1825. Pg. 269
  6. John Groves. A Greek and English dictionary, comprising all the words in the writings of the most popular Greek authors. Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little and Wilkins. 1830. Pg. 126
  7. E.A. Andrews. A copious and critical Latin-English Lexicon: founded on the larger Latin-German lexicon of William Freund L with additions and corrections from the lexicons of Gesner, Facciolati, Scheller, Georges, etc. Vol. 1. New York: Harper. 1852. Pg. 888.
  8. Peter Bullion. Latin-English Dictionary. Abridged and Re-Arranged from Riddle’s Latin-English Lexicon, Founded on the German-Latin Dictionaries of Dr. William Freund. New York: Sheldon and Company. 1866 Pg. 542
  9. Thesaurus Syriacus. R. Payne Smith, ed. Tomus I. Oxonii. E Typographeo Clarendoniano. 1879. Pg. 1973
  10. A Compendius Syriac Dictionary. Founded upon the Thesaurus Syriacus of R. Payne Smith.. J. Payne Smith (Mrs. Margoliouth), ed. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press. Pg. 245
  11. E.A. Sophocles. Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1900 (Reprint of the 1887 version). Pg. 333
  12. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Bing Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Nove Testamenti. Translated Revised and enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D. New York: American Book Company. 1889. Pg. 118
  13. William Jennings. Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament. Revised by Ulric Gantillon. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1926. Pg. 113
  14. Walter Bauer, ed. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature: Second Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1979. Pg. 162
  15. A portion of Rohde’s masterpiece can be found here at Rohdes, Psyche: the Cult of Souls.
  16. Based on what I could glean from the first page of three found at Oxford Journals. They want too much money for such a small 3-page document, so this has to suffice.
  17. The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Franco Montanari Ed. Editors of the English Edition: Madeleine Goh and Chad Schroeder. Leiden|Boston. 2015. Accessed electronically via logos.com. See the book’s preface more information.
  18. First published in 1819 and more importantly the fourth edition in 1831. Passow passed away in 1833.
  19. The Brill Ancient Greek Dictionary entry for γλῶσσα was compared with the LSJ entry found online at perseus.tufts.edu
  20. The second century is where LSJ stops with its etymologies.
  21. As found in The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Franco Montanari Ed. Editors of the English Edition: Madeleine Goh and Chad Schroeder. Leiden|Boston. 2015. Accessed electronically via logos.com. “γλῶσσα, Att. γλῶττα -ης, ἡ see γλώξ ⓐ proper. tongue (anat.): τάμνετε μὲν γλώσσας cut the tongues (of victims) Od. 3.332, cf. 341 ⓑ usu. tongue as organ of speech, s.times speech: τοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ γλώσσης μέλιτος γλυκίων ῥέεν αὐδή from whose tongue flowed speech sweeter than honey Il. 1.249; γλώσσης χάριν for (the pleasure of) speaking Hes. Op. 709 Aeschl. Ch. 266; ἀπὸ γλώσσης by word of mouth, verbally Hdt. 1.123.4 Thuc. 7.10, or with words Thgn. 63 or by or according to words Aeschl. Ag. 813, or with freedom of speech, frankly. . . etc.” The closest mystical reference is towards the end of the citation. “obsolete or unusual or strange expression, gloss Aristot. Rh. 1410b 12, Poet. 1457b 4 etc.,” has no connection in this manner.
  22. John Lightfoot. A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – I Corinthians. Translator unknown. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. 1979. Pg. 28, 256ff
  23. Matthew Henry. Mathew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible. IV – Acts to Revelation. New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co. ND. Original Publish Date, 1704. Pg. 15-18, 572, 576, 581
  24. Gill’s Commentary found here
  25. Arthur Wainright ed. A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians. As found in The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke. John W. Yolton, gen. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ND. Pg. 241
  26. The Monthly Review. Vol. 77. London: R. Griffiths. 1787. Pg. 510
  27. Max Zerwick. A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. Roma: Editrica Pontificio Instituto Biblico. 1988. Pg. 525
  28. Cleon L. Rogers Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers III . The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. (Revised edition of Fritz Rienecker’s 1982 work. Linguistic Key to the New Testament) Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1998. Pg. 381
  29. Johannes Behm.γλῶσσα” as found in Gerhard Kittel, ed. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. G.W. Bromiley Trans. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. Vol. 1. 1964. Pg. 722
  30. IBID. Pg. 724
  31. E. Andrews. The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible. Vol. 4. New York: Abingdon Press. 1962. Pg. 672
  32. books.google.com/books?isbn=0802828035
  33. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Horst Balz, Gerhard Schneider ed. No Translator name is given. USA: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.: 1990. Pg. 253. Translated from the original: Exegetisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament.
  34. Found on the web newadvent.org.
  35. IBID newadvent.org.
  36. Encyclopedia Britannica. Vol. 11. Ed. 15. 1987. Pg. 842
  37. PKE Feine. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Samuel Macauley Jackson, ed. New York: Funk and Wagnalls. 1911. Pg. 36-37
  38. IBID. PKE Feine. Pg. 38
  39. J. G. Dunn. “Pentecost” as found in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: Translated, with additions and revisions, from the German Theologisches Begriffslexikon Zum Neuen Testament. Colin Brown, ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1976. Vol. 2. Pg. 785
  40. See H. Haarbeck’s, “γλῶσσα,” as found in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: Translated, with additions and revisions, from the German Theologisches Begriffslexikon Zum Neuen Testament. Colin Brown, ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1976. Vol. 3. Pg. 1080ff.
  41. As an example of quietly addressing the modern charismatic extreme expressions, “Paul nowhere intimates that glossolalia is an indispensable proof of the reception of the Spirit, or that the gift of glossolalia raises those members who have received it to a higher level of Christian living. Speaking in tongues must never contribute to the exaltation or self-assertion of pious people, but only to the glory of God. ([Ed.] On the need for interpretation ~ further Prayer, art. entynchano NT. In the case of the interpretation of tongues, it would seem that Paul is not thinking of interpretation in the sense of translating one language into another, which would presume that “tongues” had a coherent scheme of grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Rather, interpretation here seems to be more akin to discerning what the Spirit is saying through the one who is speaking in tongues.)” IBID The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Vol. 3. Pg. 1080
  42. R.A. Cole. “Tongues, Gift of” as found in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible in Five Volumes. Merril Tenney ed. Vol. V. NP.ND. Pg. 775
  43. Cecil Robeck Jr. “Tongues, gift of” as found in The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. NP. ND. Pg. 872
  44. Hans Conzelmann. A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. George W. MacRae, ed. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 1975. Pg. 234
  45. Hans Conzelmann. A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Trans. by J. Limburg, A. Thomas Krabel, DH Juel. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 1987. Pg. 15
  46. IBID Conzelmann. A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Pg. 15. I previously wrote that Conzelmann believed Luke promoted a naiive legend. This statement is incorrect and removed from the copy.
  47. F.W. Grosheide. Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. As part of The New International Commentary on the New Testament. F.F. Bruce ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. 1953. Pg. 317
  48. William Barclay. The Letters to the Corinthians. As part of The Daily Study Bible. Rev. ed. Toronto: G.R. Welch Co. Ltd. 1975. Pg. 127
  49. Craig L. Blomberg. NIV Application Commentary: I Corinthians. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. 1994. Pg. 293
  50. John MacArthur. Speaking in Tongues: The Truth about Tongues – Part 1. ND. Tape GC 187. http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg1871.htm
  51. J.G. Dunn. Jesus and the Spirit. London: SCM Press. 1975. Pg. 242
  52. The New English Bible. Cambridge: Oxford University Press. 1961. Pg. 217
  53. IBID. NEB. Pg. 296
  54. Bible Gateway website.
  55. Harper Study Bible: The Holy Bible RSV. Harold Lindsell, ed. New York: Harper and Row. 1946. Pg. 1714

10 thoughts on “A History of Glossolalia: Did it exist before 1879?”

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  3. I’m a little surprised by the extensive research into commentaries several hundred years old followed by the comment that the original edition “BAG” is not available for research. Am I THAT old? I still use a well worn copy from my seminary days. I suppose I should secretly swap it for the 2nd Edition that someone donated to the church library. For what its worth, the reference to “ecstasy” comment is in the first edition (later printing) on page 161. Thanks for your work.

  4. Doing a study on the subject of tongues now, and one thing that strikes me the mst, is that much of the beliefs around tongues is based on pure assumption and speculation. How many actually consider the undeniable fact that the church at Corinth was very immature? They were backbiting, contentious, unloving, prideful and not able to receive siritual meat. They misunderstood and misused the Lord’s Supper, and thought of spiritual gifts as little more than a means to show themselves holier than the others. And ye, this is the church often lifted up for their use of tongues, even though Paul went to great lengths to discourage its use, and to put the focus on prophecy, (preaching the word). Tongues is never an ecstatic language, and the tongues referenced in 1Cor 14 is actually not a spiritual gift at all, but a language known by the speaker, but not those listening. It is all based on preachers adding to and taking from the Bible to fit this agenda of some special heavenly language, yet the Corinthians seemed not to have any spiritual gain from it at all, but to be spiritual babies.


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