Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:5

A translation from the Greek of a Catena on I Corinthians 14:5 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria on the doctrine of tongues. This section deals with the primacy of prophecy over that of speaking in tongues, and explains that the office of tongues is not a useless activity.

Translated from: S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. In Epistolam I Ad Corinthios. XIV, 2. MPG Vol. 74, Col. 891

“Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy;” (NASB)

Seeing that it was unexpected, and truly a gift of the gods,{{12}}[[12]]Latin has divinum munus—a divinely inspired gift; the translator is trying to move away from the plural form of gods in Cyril’s Greek.[[12]] that men being of Hebrew background were being empowered to speak in languages of others,{{13}}[[13]]Latin has alienis…linguis—in foreign languages[[13]] not that some suppose the Apostle rashly determined the nature of the practice to be purposeless, saying it had been given through the work of the Spirit.{{13}}[[13]]Latin: it had been given by the work of the Spirit in some respects [[13]] For it was given as a sign for believers, he favorably approves [the practice] and says, “Now I wish all of you to speak in tongues,” for he clearly cuts-off at once the eagerness in this certain thing, and moves to a better one, “even more that you prophesy.” Greater and more palpable the orator is who prophesies than the one who speaks in a language. The one who brings forth [in a language] shows that this is not entirely unprofitable in this action for those who hold such things [dear] and those who are listening.{{14}}[[14]]Latin: Quanquam ne hunc quidem plane inutilem audientibus esse ostendit dicens—Yet he shows that this is certainly not completely unprofitable for those who are listening. [[14]] “Except if there is no interpreter.” that is to say, if he does not have someone who always sits near and interprets for the beginners.{{15}}[[15]]τοῖς μυσταγωγουμένοις Latin: initiatis—novices, or those who have done introductory rites in the Christian faith.[[15]]{{16}}[[16]] Latin: qui initiatis interpretetur—that he is supposed to interpret for the initiates[[16]] ■

A full synopsis of Cyril of Alexandria on tongues including commentaries, translations, and notes can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project menu. Scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:2

A translation from the Greek of a Catena on I Corinthians 14:2 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria on the doctrine of tongues.

A large portion of the Catena on 14:2 is a discussion that revolves around defining prophecy and its relationship with tongues. There is a slight historical definition of the tongues event in the Book of Acts, but not totally clear. The text demonstrates here that the concept of prophecy was already highly developed by the fifth century.

Translated from: S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. In Epistolam I Ad Corinthios. XIV, 2. MPG Vol. 74, Col. 889ff

“For if one speaks in a language, he does not speak to men, but to God.”

It detracts them from what ought to be practiced. as the ability to speak in languages is certainly greater to its own glory than the act of interpreting the things of prophets. Regarding these things having been displayed among us, faith and also hope and definitely of love for both God and the brethren, which also all of the law has the fulfillment [in it], let him add the remaining things{{3}}[[3]] Latin has: then at last the remaining things are also to be added [[3]]. For at that time, and at the very time we will be the ones filled of these gifts by God, and we will be enriched in the gifts by the Spirit. I say in regards to have the ability to prophesy, that is one can interpret the things of the prophets. For the once only incarnation of the Only Begotten who suffered and also rose from the dead, and of whose ministry has been brought to perfection among us, of such was yet the precise time of prophecy, surely the [function of] prophecy will be about such things? Therefore the one who prophecies about such things would be nothing different, except that one only has the ability to explain about a prophecy, and as in those who are revealing{{4}}[[4]] καταλευκαίνοντες This only exists in Cyril’s writings. It is from the root καταλευκαίνω Stephanus Vol. 4, Col. 1125 indicates the root means to uncover a rock. The Latin is explanantes, “to explain”. [[4]] for those who are listening, then from whom are the ones who confirm the word to the true thing.{{5}}[[5]] Latin has “et deinde sermonem nostrum secundum rei veritatem ex ipsis confirmantes”—and henceforth from these are the ones who confirm our speech according to the truth of the matter. [[5]] We will be upright and also steadfast advisors of the most noble things.{{6}}[[6]] Latin has “recti veracesque erimus optimarum rerum interpretes”—We will be the most upright and truthful interpreters of the most useful matters. [[6]]

Therefore, it says, “the one who speaks in a language, [is] rather not to men, but he speaks to God”.{{7}}[[7]] I Corinthians 14:2 typically reads, ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ θεῷ, οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει while Cyril has, γλώσσῃ λαλῶν, οὐκ ἀνθρώποις μᾶλλον, ἀλλὰ τῷ Θεῷ προσλαλεῖ. Cyril’s use of προσλαλεῖ is especially noted. It is more emphatic than λαλεῖ. There is no other instance of this I Corinthians 14:2 written this way. The Latin translator identified this slight nuance and used alloquitur instead of loquitur. His word order is subject-object-verb instead of subject-verb-object. His text seems to conform more to classical Greek than that of Koinê here. [[7]] How then, what kind of meaning [is the language] that states “for no one hears?”

For if perhaps the ability is given to a certain one of the disciples to be able to speak in the language of the Medes, and a different one [of the disciples to speak in] Elamite,{{8}}[[8]] Latin: Nam si alicui discipulorum tribuatur fortasse copia loquendi lingua Medorum, alii autem Elamitarum. “Now if some of the disciples were perhaps imparted to be speaking the language of the Medes in abundance, but yet others Elamite” [[8]] then who will be the ones hearing, [is it] the things about their message perhaps being spoken about by the synagogues of the Jews{{9}}[[9]] εἶτα ταῖς Ἰουδαίων προσδιαλέγοιντο συναγωγᾶις [[9]] or rather by the [Church] assemblies of the Greeks? Rather, what kind of profit will be of these words? For it will amount to nothing, except only of God who has known everything{{10}}[[10]]Latin: præter solum Deum quem nihil latet, quidquam intelliget—except only God whom nothing escapes notice, He understands any person. [[10]] For “in the Spirit,” it says, “he speaks mysteries.” Therefore it is observed, the one who speaks in whatever way to God, speaks in the Spirit.{{11}}[[11]]Latin expresses this whole part differently i nam Spiritui, inquit, mysteria loquitur ; ergo Spiritus Deus est—for in the Spirit, it says, he speaks mysteries; now the Spirit is God.[[11]] Therefore God naturally is the Spirit. Therefore the one who speaks in a language, “rather to God,” it says, “and he is not speaking to men.” On the other hand, “the one who prophesies speaks edification, consoling, and encouragement to men.” In fact one observes that to prophesy is to interpret the matters of the prophets in such things through which the word of encouragement is being established, and the mind of those who have been initiated is to be led into the truth about Christ. He also elsewhere shows beyond comparison that the activity of interpreting the prophets is in superiority than the act of speaking in a language.{{12}}[[12]]ὅν ἐν ἀμείνοσι τοῦ γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν τὸ διερμηνεύειν τὰ προφητῶν use of the comparative genitive here. [[12]] “For he builds himself up,” it says, “the one who is speaking in a tongue.” Of course he understands himself, but someone else, absolutely nothing. This one, who makes use with the voices of those holy prophets and with predictions in regards to [the] testimony, builds up the Church. Greater then also in the highest ranks, and in the most splendid hopes is the application of prophecy. Indeed it is better to mutually build up the Church than himself alone speaking out in a language.” ■

A full synopsis of Cyril of Alexandria on tongues including commentaries, translations, and notes can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project menu. Scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 12:9

A translation from the Greek of a Catena on I Corinthians 12:9 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria on the doctrine of tongues.

A large portion of the Catena on 12:9 is relating to the gifts of the Spirit in general, the portion relating to the Church tongues doctrine is found halfway through and translated below:

Translated from: S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. In Epistolam I Ad Corinthios. XII, 9. MPG Vol. 74, Col. 887

Thus we say these things to be the works of powers through the oneness of the Spirit. But if another prophesies something, it is still not apart from the Spirit. And so a different person has the discernments of spirits, it is nevertheless from the same Spirit. Concerning the works of the spirits, it has been spoken about before. He verily confidently asserts that it is given to those so that they were skillful with various languages, and also translations as well. For we say this gift itself was supplied in the time and also need in a well ordered manner. But for those ones who were speaking in languages, and furthermore did not know them beforehand, and these ones translating understood, nevertheless [they were] not in the custom of such sounds existing in the past. The divine Paul confidently asserts that it was certainly given to them then to speak in languages, not as an allotted portion{{1}}[[1]] ie: not something to be repeated and expected as a typical part of the Christian experience [[1]] of the gifts but in the form of a sign for believers. Indeed he was explaining the prophetic word in such a way he supported, that “in strange tongues and foreign lips I will speak to this people and they will not believe such a thing.” The Spirit works the dispensation of gifts in each one in a variety of ways. So that for instance, they say, this body is certainly joined together by the parts pachu{{2}}[[2]] It means material, substance or unspiritual. Not sure how to translate it in this context. [[2]] and from land, so also is Christ, truly His body, that is to say the Church, mindfully apprehended to unity through the many multitude of the faithful, possessing the most perfect composition.

Now for this reason also the divine David says that she [the Church] is to be clothed in colored guilded clothing, [Psalm 45:10] it is the same of the gifts, I think, also valued as well in the manner of signs. ■

A full synopsis of Cyril of Alexandria on tongues including commentaries, translations, and notes can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project menu. Scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: the Original Texts

The writings related to the tongues of Pentecost and Corinth attributed to Cyril of Alexandria. This is a digitized copy of the Greek text and the parallel Latin translation, when available. The text is mostly derived from Migne Patrologia Graeca and a portion from Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium, edited by Philippus Edvardius Pusey (London: Oxford. 1872).

The following commentaries attributed to Cyril of Alexandria are found to have references to either the tongues of Acts or Corinth: Zephaniah (Sophonias in Latin), Acts and I Corinthians. Continue reading Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: the Original Texts

The Purpose of Prayer

ArtScrollSiddur

The ArtScroll Siddur contains one of the best definitions of prayer found anywhere. A siddur is a Jewish prayer book that outlines personal and communal prayers for almost any occasion; life, death, loss, birth, success, and everything in-between. It is written from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. The following is an excerpt.

“Prayer, a Timeless Need

When we think of the word ‘prayer’ we think of our needs and requests, and the litany is endless: ‘Heal me.’ ‘Enlighten me.’ Enrich me.’ ‘Redeem me.’ ‘Glorify me.’ ‘Forgive me.’

Perhaps our concept of prayer has all been wrong. As children we would ask God to grant our wishes, just as we asked our parent to take us places and to buy us toys. “Please, Father take me to . . . !’ ‘Please, Mother, buy me that . . .!’ ‘Please God, give me this . . .!’ Rather than fall into the modern trap of insisting that man can control so much of his life and environment that he need not pray, let us examine what prayer really is, and always was. When we are done, we will realize that the commandment to pray is no less binding today than ever, and that our need for its benefits is perhaps greater than ever.

Man’s Essence

AS A SYNONYM for a human being the Mishhah (Baba Kamma 2a) uses the name מַבְעֶה [mav’eh], an unfamiliar word that the Talmud (ibid. 3b) derives from the root בעה, to pray. In other words, the Talmud defines man as ‘the creature that prays.’ Furthermore, the Talmud teaches that even נֶפֶשׁ, the life-sustaining soul, is synonymous with prayer (Berachos 5b). Strange. Such definitions appear fitting intensely spiritual observant people — but what of someone whose observance is casual, or a non-believer? The Talmud’s teaching applies even to such people. How, then, is prayer so central to their lives?

What is man but his soul, for his soul and intelligence are what make him ‘man’ rather than simply a higher order of beast. And what is man’s soul but his innermost longing, whatever matters to him most? As the Sages pithily expressed it, a burglar prays for God’s help as he prepares to enter the home of his victim (Berachos 63b in Ein Yaakov). Incongruous, is it not, that on the threshold of a sin that may result in violence, even murder, the thief asks for the help of the One Who commands him to desist? Yes, but because his most sincere desire is to commit his crime undetected, his soul cries out for success. Wherever one puts his faith is a form of prayer, whether or not that word is in his vocabulary (Michtav MeEliyahu).

Prayer, then, is not a list of requests. It is an introspective process, a clarifying, refining process of discovering what one is, what he should be, and how to achieve the transformation. Indeed, the commandment to pray is expressed by the Torah as a service of the heart, not of the mouth (Taanis 2a).

To the extent that we improve ourselves with prayer, we become capable of absorbing God’s blessing, but the blessings depend on each person’s mission. One man’s task may be to act as God’s treasurer, to amass wealth and distribute it for worthy causes, or to set an example of how to remain uncorrupted by riches. Another’s mission may call for modest or reduced circumstances. Meyer Amshel Rothschild became rich because his mission was to be the banker of monarchs and the patron of paupers, and Rabbi Zusha of Anipoli remained destitute because his mission was to subsist on a crust of bread and bowl of beans, and joyously say that he never experienced a bad day in his life! Each recited the prayer for prosperity in Shemoneh Esrei and each was answered — in the manner that was best for him. But the reasons for these differences between people and nations are not apparent to human intelligence. Nor do we discern the hand of God in the complexities of everyday life.

In this welter of contradictions, man needs all his inner strength as a Jew and bearer of the Torah to ward off the attacks on his faith. We may enter adulthood with the idealism of youth and faith ingrained by parents and teachers, but life chips away incessantly at them. In the eloquent words of R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch (Horeb): Life often robs you of the power and strength its circumstances make necessary, for it tends to remove truth from you and to offer falsehood; it forces you to surrender where your task is to conquer.

Modern society has learned that people ‘burn themselves out’ if they never withdraw to relax and regain perspective and inner strength. What makes us think we can fight the moral war demanded by God without removing ourselves from the trenches every now and then to regain our perspectives on the purpose and strategy of the battle?

Prayer’s Function

ITS HEBREW NAME IS תְּפִלָּה, tefillah, a word that gives us an insight into the Torah’s concept of prayer. The root of tefillah is פלל, to judge, to differentiate, to clarify, to decide. In life, we constantly sort out evidence from rumor, valid options from wild speculations, fact from fancy. The exercise of such judgement is פְּלִילָה. Indeed, the word פְּלִילִים (from פלל) is used for a court of law (Exodus 21:22), and what is the function of a court if not to sift evidence and make a decision? A logical extension of פלל is the related root פלה, meaning a clear separation between two things. Thus, prayer is the soul’s yearning to define what truly matters and to ignore the trivialities that often masquerade as essential (Siddur Avodas HaLev).

People always question the need for prayer — does not God know our requirements without being reminded? Of course He does, He knows them better than we do. If prayer were intended only to inform God of our desires an deficiencies, it would be unnecessary. Its true purpose is to raise the level of the supplicants by helping them develop true perceptions of life so that they can become worthy of His blessing.

This is the function of the evaluating, decision-making process of תְּפִלָּה, prayer. The Hebrew verb for praying is מִתְפַּלֵּל; it is a reflexive word, meaning that the subject acts upon himself. Prayer is a process of self-evaluation, self-judgement; a process of removing oneself for the tumult of life to a little corner of truth and refastening the bonds that tie on to the purpose of life.”

Used with permission from Mesorah Publications, ltd. The Complete ArtScroll Siddur: a new translation and anthologized commentary, by Rabbi Nosson Scherman. New York: Mesorah Publications, ltd.1985. Pg. XII-XIII

The ArtScroll Siddur continues to describe prayer in detail for a number more pages. To read the complete article, one can purchase an ArtScroll Siddur from the ArtScroll website, or visit a local Jewish library.

The grammar and punctuation in this reprint follows the ArtScroll Siddur print copy.