Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible: Part 2

How the tradition of unknown tongues became entrenched in the English Bibles.

A comparison of six early English Bibles, the Latin and French Bibles on the key-Bible verses that relate to tongues-speaking.

This is a technical comparison. Results and commentary can be found at The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible.

Unknown Tongues, or similar, only occurs in specific passages of the Bible and possibly more. These are the potential ones listed below:

Acts 2:4, 10:46, 19:6, I Corinthians 12:11, 12:28, 12:30, 13:1, 13:8, 14:2, 14:4, 14:5, 14:6, 14:9, 14:10, 14:11, 14:14, 14:18, 14:21, 14:23, 14:26-28.

The best way to start comparing is to use the English Hexapla. It is a Bible published with all six versions printed in parallel columns. The Hexapla is considered a historic work utilized by the Church, theologians and clerks for centuries.

Two other sources are used for comparison. First, a Latin version is included underneath the texts as a point of reference. The Latin is supplied from the Vulgate as found at The Latin was not included in the Hexapla. I did not include the Greek text because very few leaders in this period were skilled in this language and so it has little influence. Also, by this period, and documented by the Council of Trent, the Latin Bible was the ultimate authority on Church doctrine.

Secondly, the French Bible de Genève is included. The English child, the Geneva Bible owes its style and nature from the Protestant French scholars. As one looks at the comparison, it becomes evident that the Geneva Bible is the text that accelerates the English Bible tradition of adding unknown to the noun tongues in key Bible passages. This French Bible of 1551 also contains the additional adjective.

Jean Calvin, the highly influential sixteenth-century French theologian and Reformer, is also listed. His commentary and Bible translations carry great influence on early Protestant thought. His contribution to the I Corinthians tongues sequence is especially important.

These passages were consulted to especially look for the word unknown or similar. The results do indicate when the tradition started, and how it developed. It doesn’t answer the question of why. These were the results.1

The English Hexapla2 is a parallel Bible of Six English Translations. They are the following:

  • Wiclif, 1380 (Short as W)
  • Tyndale, 1534 (Short as T)
  • Cranmer, 1539 (Short as C)
  • Geneva, 1557 (Short as G)
  • Rheims, 1582 (Short as R)
  • Authorized, 1611 (Short as A)

These works outside of the Hexapla have been added:

  • Protestant French Bible, 1551 (Short as P)3
  • Latin Bible, ND (Short as L)
  • Jean Calvin, 1565 (Short as J)4

One will quickly notice a pattern when observing these Bible verses. The Tyndale begins adding the adjective first in 1534 but not significantly. The Geneva Bible expands on this pattern in 1557 and the King James entrenched this phrase in 1611.

Out of the 21 usages that are quoted here:

  • The noun tongue is the predominant word to translate lingua in all the translations except for Wycliffe. Wycliffe is the oldest. Perhaps the word language was proper at the in the 1300’s, but in later translations, tongue was a better word for the time.
  • Tyndale, Cranmer and Authorized always use tongues to consistently translate the Latin word lingua.
  • Wycliffe and Geneva use language and tongue as synonyms. The Rheims also does this on one occasion.
  • Wycliffe translates 12 occurrences of lingua as language. This is over 57% usage. This occurs both in Corinthians and Acts.
  • The Geneva Bible translates 7 of them as language, including translating Barbarian twice as language. The word language as a translation of lingua is used only in Corinthians.
  • The first editorial insertion of an adjective before tongues occurs in I Corinthians 13:8 with the Tyndale and Cranmer versions. However, both these versions cease to do any interpolations after this.
  • The Geneva Bible adds the editorial insert of an adjective on 9 occasions. 6 times it uses strange and 3 times diuerse as the adjectives. All of them in I Corinthians.
  • The Authorized version only interpolates 6 times. On four occasions it mirrors exactly where the Geneva interpolates. I Corinthians 14:14, and 14:27 is the only places where the Authorized insert the interpolation where it does not occur in the Geneva. It always uses the word unknowen which does not occur in the 1560 Geneva. The 1599 Geneva edition changed the adjective to unknown on all occasions – though I am basing this on a website which may be unreliable.

The introduction of unknown tongue(s) to the English religious vocabulary can now be established. Although there are antecedents in the Tyndale and Cranmer versions, it is clear from this study that the word unknown tongue was popularized first in the Geneva and became entrenched in the Authorized King James version. Therefore, one can conclude that the idea of an unknown tongue was first introduced to the English Bible reader beginning in 1534.

If the reader is interested in the details of this study, and how the results were tabulated, they are given below:

Mark 16:17

Hexapla. Volume 1

  • W “…thei schuln speke with newe tungis”
  • T “…and shall speake with newe tonges”
  • C “…they shall speake with newe tonges”
  • G “…and shal speake with newe tongues”
  • R “ …They shal speake vvith nevv tonges”
  • A “…they shall speake with new tongues”
  • L “…linguis loquentur novis”
  • P “…ils parleront langages nouueaux”
  • J – Not found

Acts 2:4

Hexapla. Volume 2

  • W “…and thei biunnen to speke dyuers langagis as the hoi goost zaf to hem to speke”
  • T “…and beganne to speake with other tonges, even as the sprete gave them vtteraunce”
  • C “…and beganne to speake wyth other tonges, euen as the same sprete aue them vtteraunce”
  • G “…and began to speake with other tonges, even as the same Sprite gaue them vtterance”
  • R “…and they began to speake vvith diuerse tonges, according as the Holy Ghost, gaue them to speake”
  • A “…and began to speake with other tongues, as the Spirit gaue them vtterance”
  • L “…et coeperunt loqui aliis linguis prout Spiritus Sanctus dabat eloqui illis”
  • P “…& commencerent à parler langages estranges; ainsi que l’Esprit leur donnoit à parler”
  • J “…et commencerent à parler estranges langues, ainsi que l’Esprit leur donnoit à parler”

Other tongues is the correct translation. The Latin aliis as well as the Greek ἑτέραις, which usually translates into English as other, does exist here in Acts 2:4. All the historic English Bibles consistently translate this passage with the words diverse and other. It is not translated by any editions with unknown.

Acts 10:46

  • W “for thei herden hem spekynge in langagis,”
  • T “For they hearde them speake with tonges”
  • C “For they hearde them speake with tonges”
  • G “For they heard them speake with tongues”
  • R “For they heard them speaking with tongues”
  • A “For they heard them speake with tongues”
  • L “audiebant enim illos loquentes linguis”
  • P “car ils oioyent parler langages”
  • J “Car ils les oyoyent parler langages”

Acts 19:6

  • W “…and thei spaken with langagis”
  • T “…and they spake with tonges…”
  • C “…and they spake with tonges…”
  • G “…and they spake with tounges…”
  • R “…and they spake vvith tongues…”
  • A “…and they spake with tongues…”
  • L “et loquebantur linguis”
  • P “& parloyent langages”
  • J “et parloyent langages”

I Corinthians 12:28

  • W “…kyndis of langagis, interpretaciouns of wordis,”
  • T “…diversite of tonges”
  • C “…diuersite of tonges”
  • G “…diuersite of tonges”
  • R “…kindes of tonges”
  • A “…diuersities of tongues”
  • L “…genera linguarum”
  • P “…diuersitez de langues”
  • J “…diuersitez de langues”

I Corinthians 12:30

  • W “…alle speken with langagis, whether alle expownen…”
  • T “Do all speake with tonges? Do all interprete ?”
  • C “Do all speke with tonges? Do all interprete ?”
  • G “Do all, speake with tonges? Do all, interprete ?”
  • R “do al speake vvith tonges? do al interpret ?”
  • A “doe all speake with tonges? doe all interpret ?”
  • L “numquid omnes linguis loquuntur”
  • P “Tous parlét ils diuerses langues?”
  • J “tous parlent-ils diuerses Langues?

I Corinthians 13:1

  • W “IF I speke with tungis of men and aungels”
  • T “THOUGH I spake with the tonges of men and angels”
  • C “THOUGH I spake with the tonges of men and angels”
  • G “THOUGH I spake with the tonges of men and Angels”
  • R “IF I speake vvith the tonges of men and Angels”
  • A “THOUGH I speake with the tongues of men and of Angels”
  • L “si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum”
  • P “Si ie parle langages des hommes & des Anges”
  • J “Si ie parle langages des hommes & des Anges”

I Corinthians 13:8

  • W “ether langagis schulen ceese”
  • T “other tonges shall cease”
  • C “other tonges cease”
  • G “tongues shal cease”
  • R “or tonges shal cease”
  • A “whether there bee tongues, they shall cease”
  • L “sive linguae cessabunt”
  • P “que les langues cessent”
  • J “que les langues cessent”

This is the first time where any of the translations add an adjective where it does not exist in the Latin Vulgate used today. Wycliffe does not add the adjective in his early work. Why? It is not known specifically why the Tyndale Bible added it at this point. The Cranmer version follows 4 years later with the same interpolation.

I Corinthians 14:2

  • W “and he that spekith in tongis…”
  • T “For he that speaketh with tonges…”
  • C “For he that speaketh wyth the tonge…”
  • G “For he that speaketh a strange tonge…”
  • R “For he that speaketh vvith tongue…”
  • A “For he that speaketh in an unknowen tongue…”
  • L “qui enim loquitur lingua…”
  • P “Car qui parle langages estranges…”
  • J “Car celuy qui parle langage incognu…”5

The 1557 version of the Geneva Bible has strange tonge and the 1611 Authorized has unknowen tongue. Strange and unknown are exclusive to the Geneva, and King James. It was beginning to stray further from the Latin and closer to better reading English.

I Corinthians 14:4

  • W “spekith in tunge”
  • T “speaketh with tonges”
  • C “speaketh wyth the tonge”
  • G “speaketh a strange langage”
  • R “speaketh vvith tongues”
  • A “speaketh in an unknowen tongue”
  • L “qui loquitur lingua”
  • P “Qui parle langage estrange…”
  • J “Celuy qui parle langage incognu…”

Note here that the Geneva is interchanging the noun tongue with langage — combining this observation with Wyclif, who does the same thing, it can be established that the two words are synonyms. There is not distinction in meaning in these passages. Once again also notice the pairing in both the Geneva and the Authorized. The Authorized appears to be paralleling the Geneva.

I Corinthians 14:5

  • W “alle ze speke in tungis… spekith in langages”
  • T “spake with tonges… speaketh with tonges”
  • C “spake with tonges… speaketh with tonges”
  • G “ye all spake strange langages… speaketh diuers tonges”
  • R “speake vvith tongues… speaketh vvith tongues”
  • A “spake with tongues… speaketh with tongues”
  • L “omnes vos loqui linguis… loquitur linguis”
  • P “vous parliez tous langages estranges… diuerse langages”
  • J “vous tous parliez diuers langages… diurse langages”

This time the Geneva does the interpolation, but the Authorized refrains. Note how the Geneva uses both strange and diuers as synonymns.

I Corinthians 14:6

  • W “If I come to you and speke in langagis…”
  • T “if I come to you speaking with tonges…”
  • C “yf I come vnto you speakvnge wyth tonges”
  • G “yf I come vnto you speaking diuerse tonges”
  • R “if I come to you speaking vvith tongues”
  • A “if I come vnto you speaking with tongues”
  • L “si venero ad vos linguis loquens”
  • P “Si ie vien à vous parlant diuers langages”
  • J “si ie vien à vous parlant langages incognus

I Corinthians 14:9

  • W “so but ze zeue an opun word bi tung”
  • T “when ye speake with tonges”
  • C “when ye speake wyth tonges”
  • G “when ye speake strange langage”
  • R “by a tongue vnlesse you vtter manifest speach”
  • A “ye vtter by the tongue words easie to be vnderstood”
  • L “ita et vos per linguam nisi manifestum sermonem dederitis”
  • P “si vous ne donnez de vostre langue parolle signifiante”
  • J “si vous ne prononcez de vostre langue parole significante”

I Corinthians 14:10

  • W “there ben many kyndis of langagis in this world”
  • T “Many kynds of voyces are in the worlde”
  • C “Many kyndes of voyces are in the world”
  • G “There are so many kyndes of voyces”
  • R “There (for example) so many kindes of tongues in this world”
  • A “There are, it may bee, so many kindes of voyces in the world”
  • L “tam multa ut puta genera linguarum sunt in mundo”
  • P “Il y a (pour vous bailler per exemple) tat de maniere de voix au monde”
  • J “Il y a (selon qu’il audient) tant de manieres de fons au monde”

Although the translations have been fairly consistent throughout, the translation of linguarum is interesting. It tends to give some interpretation differences. Wyclif and Rheim utilize it more from the Latin, while the rest tend to learn towards the Greek, φωνή, which can be used semantically to mean language as well, but typically for voice or sound.

I Corinthians 14:11

  • W “but if I knowe not the vertu of a vois I schal be to him to whom I schal speke, a barbarik, and he that spekith to me : shal be a barbarik,”
  • T “If I know not what the voyce meaneth, I shalbe vnto him that speaketh, an alient : and he that speaketh sahlbe an alient vnto me.”
  • C “If I knowe not what the voyce meaneth, I shalve vnothim that speaketh, an alient : and he that speaketh, shalbe an alient vnto me”
  • G “Except I knowe therfore what the voyce meaneth, I shalbe vnto hym that speaketh, as of another langage, and he that speaketh shalbe as of another langage vnto me.
  • R “If then I knovv not the vertue of the voice, I shal be to him to vvhom I speake, barbarous : and he that speaketh, barbarous to me.”
  • A “Therefore if I knowe not the meaning of voyce, I shall bee vnot him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a Barbarian to mee.”
  • L “si ergo nesciero virtutem vocis ero ei cui loquor barbarus et qui loquitur mihi barbarus.”
  • P “Si donc ie ne sçay la vertu de la voix, ie seray barbare a celuy qui parle, me sera barbare.”
  • J “Si donc ie ne scay la vertu de la voix, ie seray barbare a celuy qui parle, & celuy qui parle me sera barbare”

The Geneva sees the word Barbarian as a synonymn to langage, which means that the translator saw nothing mystical in the Corinthian saga at all. No secret or hidden language. It was simply a human language.

I Corinthians 14:13-14

  • W “therfor he that spekith in langage : preie that he expowne, for if I preie in tonge:”
  • T “Wherefore le thim that speaketh with tonges, praye that he maye interpret also. If I praye with tonges”
  • C “Wherefore, let him that speaketh with tonge, praye, that he maye interpret also. For If I praye with tonge”
  • G “Wherefore, let him that speaketh the tonges, praye, that he may interpret also. For if I pray in a strange tongue,”
  • R “And therefore he that speaketh vvith the tongue, let him pray that he may interpret. For if I pray vvith the tongue”
  • A “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknowen tongue, pray that he may interprete. For if I pray in an unknowen tongue”
  • L “et ideo qui loquitur lingua oret ut interpretetur nam si orem lingua.”
  • P “celuy qui parle langage estrange, qu’il prie à fin qu’il interprete. Car si ie prie en langage estrange”
  • J “Parquoy, il faut que celuy qui parle langage incognu, prie de pouuoir interpreter. Car si ie prie en langage incognu

I Corinthians 14:18-19

  • W “for I speke in the langage of alle zou… in tonge,”
  • T “I speake with tonges moare then ye all… with the tonge.”
  • C “I speake with tonges more then ye all… wyth the tonge,”
  • G “I speake langages more than ye all… in strange langage.”
  • R “I speake vvith the tongue of you al… vvordes in a tongue.”
  • A “I speake with tongues more then you all… unknowen tongue.”
  • L “quod omnium vestrum lingua loquor… in lingua.”
  • P “que ie parle de langage plus que vous tous… lágage estrange.”
  • J “que ie parle plus de lágages que vous tous… langage incognu.

I Corinthians 14:21-22

  • W “that in other tungis and other lippis…therefor langagis…”
  • T “with other tonges, and with other lyppes…Wherefore, tonges…”
  • C “with sondrye tonges and with sondrye lippes… Wherfore tonges…”
  • G “By sundry tonges, and sundry lyppes…Wherfore, tonges…”
  • R “That in other tongues and other lippes… Therefore languages…”
  • A “With men of other tongues, and other lippes… Wherfore tongues…”
  • L “in aliis linguis et labiis aliis… itaque linguae.”
  • P “en autres lágages, & en diuerses parolles… Parquoy, les diuers lágages”
  • J “par autres langages, & par leures estranges… Parquoy les langues estranges

I Corinthians 14:23

  • W “and alle men speken in tungis”
  • T “and all speake with tonges”
  • C “and all speake with tonges”
  • G “and all speak in strange tonges”
  • R “and al speake with tongues”
  • A “and all speake with tongues”
  • L “et omnes linguis loquantur”
  • P “& tous parlent langages…”
  • J “& tous parlent langages estranges

I Corinthians 14:26-27

  • W “he hath tunge… whether a man spekith in tunge..”
  • T “his tonge… If eny man speake with tonges…”
  • C “hath a tonge… If eny man speake wyth tonge…”
  • G “or tonge… If any man speake the tonges…”
  • R “hath a tonge… Vvether a man speake with tongue…”
  • A “hath a tongue… If any man speake in an unknowen tongue…”
  • L “habet linguam… sive lingua quis loquitur.”
  • P “ou langue… Soit que quelcun parle langage…”
  • J “ou langage… Soit que quelqu’un parle langage incognu

Ancient Fonts and Modern Browser Test

An exploration on best practices, and the @font css solution for displaying ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac on the internet.

With unicode fonts now being almost universally entrenched on personal computers, the problem of viewing ancient texts is becoming less and less a problem. It is becoming a choice of which font to choose.

Just a few years ago, websites with ancient texts in old foreign languages required the viewer to download specialized fonts. This always didn’t work and pushed away a larger audience.

The following are some of the solutions found from personal experience, and what other websites specializing in ancient texts are doing.

Polytonic Greek fonts

  • Palatino Linotype does an acceptable job of representing polytonic Greek. It comes standard on both Macs and Windows. It is not always consistent in size, or shape, nor does it reflect medieval Greek typography, which most Greek texts were popularly printed in. However, this one guarantees the best success in operating correctly on almost any medium.

  • Arial Unicode MS is good, but this has to be purchased.

  • My preference is Gentium. It is a well-developed and respected open-source font published by SIL International. For use on your personal computer or device, users have to download it, and install on their system. Gentium is available as a web-font.

  • The Ellepos website has a downloadable list of the most widely-used fonts for rendering polytonic Greek. This site also specializes in ancient Greek texts and uses Palatino Linotype as its base font. Palatino Linotype comes standard with Windows and almost any font in the Macintosh 10.4 OS or later has polytonic Greek built-in.

Hebrew Fonts

There is no problem typing or representing modern Hebrew with unicode fonts. There are a high number of choices and styles. Ancient Hebrew has niqudd which are diacritical marks including vowel points. Modern Hebrew doesn’t use it, except for training new, or young readers. Three fonts on the Microsoft system have been noted for good niquddoth: Narkisim, David, or FrankRuehl, but overall these typeface styles have modern, Yiddish, or a combination of these with some historic traits. These would be acceptable for Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, but to be closer to the Tiberian style, only third party solutions exist. Here is a list of fonts that are popular for Biblical Hebrew:

  • The first one is Cardo

  • The Ezra font family, is a very good one for rendering Biblical Hebrew.

  • SBL’s Hebrew font is another good one.

Syriac fonts

  • The latest Windows operating systems have come preconfigured with the Estrangelo Edessa font. Macintosh Computers must download the Syriac fonts first — even that does not guarantee complete success.

  • Beth Mardutho has a great library called Meltho fonts: The one I especially prefer from their great library of fonts is Serto Jerusalem. It has to be downloaded.

Convert into a @font

There is another way to address the problem of foreign fonts that does not require the user to have the font resident on their system. It forces the same look and font over multiple browsers and systems. It is called the @font-face.

It was a great concept three years ago, but it is now waning because it takes too long for a browser to generate. The potential reader has probably already left for another website by the time the browser is complete.

Some browsers require the complete font to be downloaded while others call just what is needed.

In those specialized situations where the specific look and feel is required, @font may be a solution. It is a way to embed a font into a website where the end-user does not have them on their personal computer. If coded right in the css file, the website looks first to see if the font is found on the local computer, if not, then it sends to the browser a special web-font.

This solution is cross-platform compatible and supports all modern browsers. One does not need to instruct or depend on the end-user to have the proper fonts installed on their system.

Here are some observations of the @font solution after after generating Gentium, Cardo, Ezra, SBL and Serto Jerusalem, into web-fonts.

  • Internet Explorer 7 and 8: the texts are clear and easy to read

  • Internet Explorer 6 has serious problems with Polytonic Greek. Since it is now only being used in 4.5% of browsers at this time, a workaround will not be pursued

  • Firefox on the Mac will not work with the Syriac font. They come out as squares with unicode numbers. This is a known problem with Firefox on the Mac. No solution has been produced so far. Since there are so few users, likely less than 1%, a solution will not be investigated.

  • Google Chrome works very well. The Syriac font especially is crisp and clear

  • Safari on the Mac displays the Syriac font very densely, appearing 2x bold. It is too hard to read.

  • both the Syriac and the Hebrew Fonts appear small when left at the default setting. 1.5em instead of 1.0em is better

  • Gentium is now available as a web-font, so the results should be the same as the standard edition.

  • Cardo generates OK: though there are some problems with the cholem.

  • Ezra will not generate properly into a web-font.

  • SBL will not allow their work be generated into a web-font (at least in 2010).

  • Beth Mardutho’s Serto Jerusalem converts easily into a web-font.

How to convert standard fonts into a web-font

There are a number of steps to doing this:

  • The best way to do this is to upload your font to font squirrel and follow all their standard suggestions. Once the font is generated, it will download the complete font generated file back to you.

  • Many font foundries frown on converting it into a web-font by a third party and it is important to get their permission first. They may reject such usage, as SBL has done, or give conditions. One owner permitted the use of their font but suggested that the css be formatted in such a way to first look for the original font on the user computer first and only use the @font-face as a last resort.

  • Put the new generated font in your first level of your web heirarchy.

  • Ignore the css provided by font squirrel. You can take some ideas from it but it is better to generate your own css file.

  • There are different web-font formats for each browser and also the burgeoning hand-held market. Font squirrel has generated these different formats.

A few other helpful technical notes along the way:

Always make sure the .css page is set to utf-8 encoding, otherwise the software program/website database will wipe out any utf-8 details. UTF encoding is important because it includes a much higher number of font instances than the traditional Latin encoding which most databases default to. Latin encoding does not have enough room to accommodate additional foreign subsets.

For that matter the database should have the collation set to utf-8 or else all the foreign fonts will display weird results or more likely will produce question marks ‘????’ where the foreign fonts were keyed in.

If you are having the ‘????’ font problem in WordPress, here is the actual msyql query to fix that (for those of you experienced enough in mysql to do this):

alter table `wp_posts` CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci

This will help in properly saving foreign fonts in the body copy of WordPress. It may not work for other parts of the program such as headers, comments or the like. One may have to execute additional commands for this.