Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:15

The following is a translation from the Greek, with some help from a parallel Latin translation of a catena on I Corinthians 14:15 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This is part of an ongoing series on identifying the Christian tongues doctrine from the texts attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This translation is based on two manuscripts. The Monte Athos edition found in Philippus Pusey’s publication is the one selected as the basis due to it having more copy, though the Greek and Latin of Migne Patrologia Graeca has value and is consulted.

Translated from: Cyrilli Alexandrini. Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey. London: Oxford. 1872, Pg. 295

“I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the mind.”

It is necessary on my behalf, it says, if I indeed should choose to be praying in a language,{{28}}[[28]]Latin: et lingua per Spiritum data uti velim — in a language having been given by the Spirit that I would wish.[[28]] that is to say, to be fond about speaking in a language; to eagerly try would not occupy an unfruitful mind, and not only would it produce speaking in a language, but to awaken the mind within me.{{29}}[[29]]ἀλλὰ διεγείρειν ἐν ἐμαυτῷ τὸν νοῦν. The MPG version has, συναγείρειν δὲ ὥσπερ ἐν ἐμαυτῷ τὸν νοῦν. The MPG text is awkward and unclear and forced the Latin translator to go dynamic, imo potius meam veluti mecum mentem colligere — as if it is my own language that is assembled together with my own mind [[29]] and if I should perhaps sing a Psalm{{30}}[[30]]ψάλοιμι. Most standard dictionaries omit the ecclesiastical usage of this word and emphasize the playing of a stringed instrument. However, the Latin, the context, and the root of the word all suggest Psalm singing. [[30]] in a language, for the act of singing a Psalm [is] nothing inferior and for the mind is the power in the understanding of the psalmody,{{31}}[[31]]understand the nuances and art of psalm singing[[31]] and of the prophets, and one is not bound to stop incomprehensible{{32}}[[32]]ἀζητήτους. It is rarely used. Lidell and Scott suggests unexamined or untried which the Latin tends to agree. Lampe’s, Patristic Lexicon suggests insearchable or incomprehensible. The context here agrees with Lampe.[[32]] words such as these. For if I wish to be speaking useless sounds,{{33}}[[33]]εἰκαίας. This word is associated with the official function of the Church reader, who read from the pulpit to the assembly. Stephanus Dictionary (Vol. 2. Col. 219) refers to as εἰκαίας ἀναγνώστης. Cyril may have not meant this correlation here. The use of this word in this way may be a tradition after the time of this writing.[[33]] “I have become a noisy gong.” (NASB).

On which account the one who prophesies is better, that is{{34}}[[34]] ἤτοι especially when used in close proximity to automatically suggests whether… or, but the context, and the Latin suggest that is. A further look into this disjunctive particle suggests that it can be used in this way. I have tried the standard usage of whether… or and it just doesn’t make sense here. One of the historical definitions of prophecy is to read-out loud the divine Scriptures with an interpretation[[34]] interpreting the divine writings in the Church, than simply enjoying the use{{35}}[[35]]κατακεχρῆσθαι Perfect Infinitive middle passive. If the root is from χράω then the Latin and the above translation is correct. If it is from καταχράω which means to suffice, satisfy, or less often, abuse, the meaning could shift towards a more negative viewpoint. If it is from καταχράομαι to make use of a thing for a purpose, to waste, make ill use of a thing, to abuse, misuse, to treat ill, to kill. The translation could possibly read, “On which account the one who prophecies is better, that is, interpreting the divine writings in the Church, than simply enjoying wasting time with languages.[[35]] with languages.

Which one then will be the better alternative? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the mind. In this case once more it is with the spirit, he speaks with the gift by means of the Spirit.

Seeing that an overseer could show the unprofitability for him by means of the most greatest and moral senses [about] the act of speaking in a language, because a follower may not have the ability to clearly understand the meaning [concerning] the things of the prophets in alternative ways, and he{{36}}[[36]]the one who is publicly speaking in a language[[36]] brings up other [languages] through which some would have wished to understand a person who speaks clearly. ■

For the background, analysis, and partial commentary of this translation, see the article, Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:15.

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.

Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:15

The challenges and discoveries related to translating the catena of I Corinthians 14:15 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

I Corinthians 14:15 has a high difficulty level for translation. First of all it uses older Greek forms than New Testament Greek.

There is no subjunctive used here. Mostly the infinitive, and infrequently the optative are utilized instead. This is unusual because the infinitive used as a subjunctive and the use of the optative were to have been removed from the Greek language centuries before.

This may reflect that Alexandria was a city of imported Greek. History demonstrates that the language of ethnic groups who have moved to a foreign country retain, protect, and propagate a static form of their language. This may be the reason why this text appears with such old Greek forms.

It could also be that the Alexandrian Christians treated Christian texts much like many do the King James Bible. The old Greek was the language of religion, while their contemporary Greek was street talk.

The Migne Patrologia Graeca version has less text to work with but it reads much smoother. The Monte Athos version has an expanded text but it is much more unconnected. Catenas are not commentaries but brief excerpts from important texts relating to a subject. The thought does not always flow smoothly between paragraphs because this was not the intention. The reader is expected to read between the lines, knowing intuitively the history of the thought and what the author intended. The quotes are like memnonic devices. However, understanding the authors thoughts and the movements that surrounded those writings are difficult to piece together. Followers in the fifth century would have had access to Cyril’s commentaries and would have known the details. We do not have the same privilege.

The reference to prophecy being superior to tongues is a traditional position. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century used this similar argument as his basis for his lectures on I Corinthians 14 The Aquinas text parallels closely to what the Cyril has written but Aquinas goes into much more detail.

The last section that starts with overseer is in italics because of its high-level of translation difficulty. I hesitate to forward this as a final copy because it may change as new evidences on grammar or morphology appear. However, it is a good start. For those who could contribute or improve on this translation, here is the Greek text.

It is clear that the Cyril text only uses the doctrine of tongues when it relates to liturgy, and especially to that of Psalm singing. Psalm singing was an entrenched rite in his community, and it appears here that one could perform it in a different language. Also there is mention of an overseer — an office considered lower than a bishop but higher than laity. The function of the overseer was to compare it to sound doctrine for acceptance or rejection.

The catena on 14:15 is better understood reading the preceding translations on I Corinthians, especially 14:12

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:12

A translation of the Greek of I Corinthians 14:12 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

Translated from two manuscripts: Cyrilli Alexandrini. Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey. London: Oxford. 1872, Pages 294-295, and S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. In Epistolam I Ad Corinthios. XIV, 10. MPG Vol. 74, Col. 891

The Pusey and MPG documents have the same copy. The only difference is that the Pusey publication has a minor print error μηδεμίαν instead of μηδὲ μίαν.

“Seeing that you are zealous about the things of the spirit.”

He defines the spirit in these things [as] the bestowment{{24}}[[24]]The Latin is translated as: “He says the Spirit in this place is the grace having been given through the Spirit” [[24]] by the agency of the Spirit, that is, the ability to speak in languages. “If then”, he says, “I was to have offered prayers in the Churches by the Spirit,”{{25}}[[25]]Ἐὰν οὖν, φησὶ, τὰς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις εὐχὰς προσεύξωμαι Πνεύματι This is not the same text as found in any common Greek I Corinthians 14:12 text and not used by any other writer either. I may be mistakingly applying this as a Bible verse, but it appears this is what Cyril meant.[[25]] that is, one who entirely has furnished{{26}}[[26]]ἀποκεχρημένος This verb is only found in two other occasions outside this text. There are no dictionary definitions to be found. The parallel Latin was consulted here, abutens, from abutor “to use up any thing, to use to the end, to consume entirely; “and from κεχρημένος which is the perf part masc nom sg m/p of χράω — to furnish what is needful, to furnish the needful answer, to declare, pronounce, proclaim. I have put together these two evidences with the translation, “one who has entirely furnished.” [[26]] in the language by the agency of the Spirit, I will have an unfruitful mind. For it is necessary for the person who should strain to the uttermost in prayers and those who are performing to seek for salvation by God, that it is not to be given a level of merit by a language [used], and a natural result of speaking in a [specific] language.{{27}}[[27]]Latin: non autem lingua semet jactare, atque in loquendi gloria acquiescere. On the other hand one is not to boast, or to find pleasure in the act of speaking glory in a language itself.[[27]] In such a case an unfruitful mind develops, and the person who obtains favor for himself [has] not one advantage from such a [selfish] ambition either.

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.

Notes on the Cyrillian catena on I Corinthians 14:10

Some quick thoughts on concepts, and critical words in the translation of the I Corinthians 14:10 catena attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This text outlines a number of very interesting particulars: how ancient Greek words previously used in classical Greek rituals had become Christianized, and the office of the circuit preacher which required the knowledge of many languages. These elements are examined in more detail below.

A number of words have Greek antecedents to them that must be carefully examined. Did the Christian community in Alexandria import these into their vocabulary as is, or did they change the meaning to match what their experience was?

The text being discussed is contained in a sequence not found in Migne Patrologia Graeca, but in Phiippus Edvardus Pusey’s, Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Pusey based his text on a copy found at the Library of Pantokratoros on Mount Athos.

Both Migne and Pusey claim the origins of their works to be from Cardinal Angelus Maius, but contain different texts. Migne’s version has fewer words. It is also clear and concise. Pusey’s version has more text with some sentences being repeated with a few slight variations. It also appears some words are missing. Reading it feels choppy.

The Greek used in Pusey’s version is old. It has Doric, Attic, and Ionic representations in them. This would not be unusual for an international centre that the City of Alexandria was. It was a melting pot of many Greek languages and dialects.

It also does not contain a Latin parallel text. The Latin typically provides quick clues on how to translate problem words.

The first important word to note is εἰσεφοὶτων. This word is used exclusively in this text. It is found nowhere else (at least so far). A scouring of the internet, and all the major dictionaries, provided no clues. However, the root of εἰσεφοὶτων is φοιτάω, which means:

  • Perseus online: go to and fro, backwards and forwards, keep going from one part to another, roam wildly about, roam about in frenzy or ecstasy of a Bacchant; of sexual intercourse go into a man or woman; resort to a man, woman or place for any reason; As object of commerce—to come in constantly or regularly, be imported

  • Lampe’s Patristic Lexicon: spring-up, pollulate, of doctrines (Pg. 1847)

  • Donnegan’s A New Greek and English Lexicon; Principally on the plan of the Greek and German Lexicon of Schneider: to wander, roam about, come frequently, to go to school as a disciple or learner, wander about in a state of frenzy (Pg. 1348)

  • Schrevelius’ Greek Lexicon Translated into English: to frequent as a scholar, not as a master, come, go, approach, rave, be mad (Pg. 616)

  • Stephanus’ Thesaurus Graecae Linguae: This text is in Latin but all the definitions above, with perhaps the exception of Perseus, are taken from this source text. (Didot Bros. Volume 8. Pg. 989)

Perseus has defined φοιτάω from classical Greek sources. This is not surprising because Perseus uses Liddel and Scott’s Greek Dictionary as their basis. Lidell and Scott hardly reference Patristic writings in any of their dictionary definitions. However it does show where the word originated. It was used to describe the Bacchants who roamed about in a frenzy or ecstasy, but it also had other meanings as well.

Stephanus, Lampe, Donnegan, and Schrevelius recognize that φοιτάω has the quality of raving, or frenzy, but another principal attribute was that of frequently visiting or traveling to a place. It also became associated with going to school, discipleship, and learning. Lampe put a more developmental aspect to it. It was to initially seed doctrine within a community. Schrevelius specifically stated that φοιτάω was a verb referring to a scholar, not a master.

There are also other words that come from the same root that give hints on how to translate εἰσεφοὶτων. Donnegan is especially descriptive of these:

  • φοὶτητήρ one who goes and comes, any place, especially a school. A disciple, learner. One who is frantic (Pg. 1349).

  • φοῖτος roaming about, the wandering of the mind, insanity, also frenzy, that of the frantic votaries of the Bacchus and Cybele (Pg. 1349).

Schrevelius, spells φοὶτητήρ as φοιτητής as one who comes frequently to a master or scholar (Pg. 616).

These definitions give greater confidence in correctly translating the I Corinthians 14:10 catena portion.

The above definitions, plus the context of the Cyril text, demonstrate that εἰσεφοὶτων is considered as a localization of φοιτάω or perhaps intensified. The person is repeatedly going into Churches for the purpose of teaching the doctrines. The above dictionary definitions give the appearance that it was an entry or mid-level position, educating on the doctrines of the Church, but not by a Bishop or a Cardinal.

The English equivalent would be a circuit rider. This was a system devised by the Methodists for clergy to serve more than one congregation at a time. In Cyril’s explanation, the emphasis was on teaching in a circuit where the the Churches were linguistically different, and the base requirement for this person was to be multilingual.

The second term that is used to describe tongues-speaking was κεχρῆσθαι. This is not an exclusive term used by Cyril but one shared by Origen. This one has a wide semantic range. Perseus defines it as to furnish what is needful, to declare, pronounce, proclaim. In the passive it is to be translated as: to be declared, proclaimed by an oracle, to consult a god or oracle, to inquire of a god. It hasn’t really changed. In the instance of this catena, to proclaim was used, but this may be too weak. “To prophecy,” in the traditional religious sense, would be more suited, but this word now carries a number of contemporary meanings that would mislead many readers.

The verb ἐρεύγεσθαι is another unique word. Its root is ἐρεύγομαι: to belch out, bellow, or roar. Hence, to loudly utter, as in a public display, or simplified, to utter, is a good English word choice.

Μανθάνοντος. This present active participle masc. gen. sg form of μανθάνω was used in the Septuagint and also by Origen. One of the dictionaries defines it as: learn, especially by study but also by practice, learn by heart, acquire a habit of, and in past tenses, to be accustomed to, perceive, remark, notice, understand. Hence it is not a supernatural phenomenon, in this context of I Corinthians 14:10 people hearing a language that they have learned or is their principle language.

It is clear from the text that the standard Greek words that were used for the Bacchus Greek prophets in the past, had evolved and changed into Christian definitions. The past history of the word was known and understood, but fell out of popular usage.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:10

A translation of the Greek of I Corinthians 14:10 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria

This portion is working from two different manuscripts, both attribute the text to have been edited by Cardinal Angelus Maius but with different outcomes. An edition edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey has more text but seems to be missing copy and has some repetitive sentences—this indicates there was some copyist or print errors. However the word usage indicates that the origins of this copy was quite ancient. The Migne Patrologia version has less text and no repetitive sentences. The MPG version does have the catalogue numbers of the manuscripts used such as Cod. f.311 b. for I Corinthians 14:10 but does not elaborate on what this means.

Translated from a mixture of two manuscripts: The primary: Cyrilli Alexandrini. Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey. London: Oxford. 1872, Pages 293-294. And some additions from, S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. In Epistolam I Ad Corinthios. XIV, 10. MPG Vol. 74, Col. 891

“And none of them is without a voice.”

“Any persons of the status of itinerant teachers{{17}}[[17]]Εἰσεφοὶτων This word is not fully known. This is the only usage in any manuscript found so far. It comes from the root, φοιτάω[[17]] in the Churches who are endowed in the work of the Spirit should have the ability to speak in languages. Therefore it is necessary that prayers are to be made in these same languages, and certainly for the entreaties of those things, that is to say, of a Psalm,{{18}}[[18]]ψαλμῳδίας The recitation and singing from the Book of Psalms was a common part of the ancient Church liturgy.[[18]] these ones who have the ability to proclaim{{18}}[[18]]κεχρῆσθαι It is in the passive and this suggests “to be declared, proclaimed by an oracle, to consult a god or oracle, to inquire of a god”[[18]] in the language of those who are present. Certainly they were not doing this, indeed the persons who congratulate themselves in a self-satisfied way with the gift of languages, they were neither doing psalms or prayers. Paul teaches this, that if there does not exist persons who are hearing [with the] knowledge of the language, which those who have the gift are speaking forth, [then there is] no advantage out of the matter. For numberless are the nations and all the languages of mankind.{{19}}[[19]]ἄφωνον δὲ οὐδὲν τῶν ἄπαξ τελούντων ἐν λογικοῖς ἤ ἐν ἀνθρώποιςFor “Without a voice,” [is] never once about the business in respect to the things of reason or mankind.” This piece was ignored as it seems to be a printer error as similar; a better copy is printed in the next sentence. [[19]]

He says, “Without a voice,”” [is] absolutely never about the business in respect to the things of the reason, that is, in [concern to the things of] mankind. But if perhaps some may not have known the power of every voice, and certainly neither can these ones know his language, they will be barbarians to each other. Yet these ones are in fact correctly supposed to speak according to his own voice. It is necessary therefore those who are wishing to teach in other [languages], that the word should be uttered{{20}}[[20]]προσαράξας aor part masc nom sg. The Greek Dictionaries have only a faint account of this word and I am unsure whether the translation is satisfactory here.[[20]] accustomed for those for those who are listening.

If in fact then the unintelligible sound was also an unaccustomed voice, the striking{{21}}[[21]]ἐρεύγεσθαι literally to belch out, utter, roar.[[21]] vainly produced in purposelessness with some type of noise,{{22}}[[22]]πεποίκε μάτην εἰκαίῳ τινὶ κτύπῳ προσαράξας μόνον τὴν μανθάνοντος ἀκοήν I am uncomfortable with this translation of this text. My first thoughts are that this Greek is a later emendation from a number of sources and not correctly edited. There are missing parts and possibly mis-spellings in the Greek.[[22]] only the sound [is] heard of one who knows [the language].

It is necessary, he says, that those wishing to teach, that the word is to be spoken{{23}}[[23]]λαλεῖν[[23]] accustomed for those who are listening, after that he works for folly. For he that speaks in languages alone does not build up the Church.■

For notes, commentary, and a deeper look at a number of words here, see Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:10.

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.