The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues

The goal of this multi-article study is to find out and articulate Bede’s understanding of the Church rite of tongues.

The secondary purpose is to collate, digitize the Latin texts, and translate into English any works completed by the Venerable Bede relating to this doctrine.

There have been two discoveries so far in his texts that cover the Christian doctrine of tongues. Both concern Pentecost and I have yet to find any coverage on Corinthian tongues. Here are the two references:

  • Bede’s initial commentary on the Book of Acts chapter 2:1-18
  • Bede’s reflections on his commentary on the Book of Acts 2:1:18.

He finished his reflections commentary later on in his life and revised his explanation of Pentecost. The first time he thought it a miracle of hearing, likely because early on, his knowledge of Greek was limited and based it on Latin literature. His reflections emphasized it could be a miracle of hearing, speech, or both. However, it is very soft conclusion. He didn’t want to get into any disputation over it. This change is detailed in the conclusion.

The Venerable Bede was an 8th century monk, priest, astronomer, mathematician, historian, theologian, poet, and songwriter. He lived in Northumbria, which is now Northern England/South-Eastern Scotland.

Bede’s works are a standard above most Christian authors, and this is why he is credited with being a Doctor of the Church— a title rarely given.

The manuscript used for digitizing text, and the translations are from Migne Patrologia Latina. The text appears fairly straightforward. The presence of a few emendations of a later copyist/editor is noticeable. Word usage tends to be inconsistent, but then Bede is playing with an older language Latin text and is attempting to explain it in terms relevant to his audience. A closer look would be required to explain how much changes later copyists and editors have done to this work. However, it is safe to say the intent still belongs to Bede, and this work reflects a medieval mindset. Therefore textual criticism does not create any serious concerns.

The commentary does not always follow verse-by-verse. Bede, or the copyist/editors, ignore some verses because of its irrelevance. This English translation is an exact reproduction of 2:1-18.

The links below are the texts in the original Latin, translations into English, and additional commentaries.

Take advantage of the footnotes. There are important notes and information in them.

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