Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Adamic Calendar and the Life of Christ

A brief portrayal of the Adamic calendar especially as it relates to the birth and resurrection of Christ.

The Adamic calendar system was created from data found in the Old and New Testaments. These contain detailed genealogies that include lifespans. From these lifespans, religious institutions have calculated not only the origin of human history, but theoretically can pinpoint the creation of the earth.

Sometimes this system is known by its Latin name, Anno Mundi or AM in shortened form.

The most well known genealogical lists are found in the Books of Genesis, Matthew, and Luke. This is where the majority of calculations are made from.

A number of articles on this website have been dedicated to tracing the development of the western calendar system. The Adamic is one of the many ancient calendars used, but it wasn’t one of the best systems that existed. Neither can it be accurately relied upon, but since it was historically used, it must be investigated further.

This calendar method has enjoyed cyclical popularity. It never became a universal standard. It has been found in fourth, seventh, twelfth, and 16th century pieces of literature, especially among religious institutions or writers. The 16th century introduced a renaissance of the concept. This can be traced to James Ussher and his book, Annalium pars postierior.

The modern religious Jewish community still uses a form of the Adamic calendar albeit without the Christian symbols.

Roger Pearse has covered the Adamic calendar with his article: Does Eusebius Give a Date for the Creation in his Chronicle. Here he accurately reveals misinformation on the subject, including the coverage found at Wikipedia, and proceeds to correct the ancient Church record. Eusebius, and many early Church authorities, as Pearse substantiates, saw the genealogies as the beginnings of human history, not the history of the earth itself.

Pearse goes into great detail to win his case, but here are some additional thoughts. These ideas are from a slightly different angle. The Adamic calendar does not count so much to me in when the earth was created, but in aiding to identify when Christ was born or crucified.

The third century Christian chronographer, Julius Africanus, understood almost all the calendars in use during his time and explained how to convert them into Attican expressions. He believed the Attican Greek Olympiad calendar to be the most universal of all of them. But he, along with others also used the Adamic calendar too. He wrote:

“The period, then, to the advent of the Lord from Adam and the creation is 5531 years.”(1)Julius Africanus, Book III: The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus, XVIII:4; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VI as found at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-06/anf06-50.htm#P2349_661950

Now this date has no meaning unless it is relevant to some specific period of measurable time. Africanus gave the Battle of Actium as his reference point:

“The date of which event is the 11th year of the monarchy and empire of the Romans, and the 4th year of the 187th Olympiad. Altogether, from Adam 5472 years are reckoned.”(2) Julius Africanus, Book III: The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus, XVIII:4; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VI as found at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-06/anf06-50.htm#P2349_661950

Now to reconcile the Olympiad with the Adamic calendar takes some basic math. The Battle of Actium occurred on the 4th year of the 187th Olympiad according to Africanus. This falls on 29 BC. This is two years off the normal 31 BC date given for what was considered the actual date of battle but still we can use this for measurement. Now if basic math is applied, the outcome is 30 AD that Christ was crucified on.(3)5472-5531=59 years. 29 BC + 59 years = 30 AD but it could be 29 depending on when the year began. Either January 1st or the spring equinox. . The term used here advent is confusing, and I am assuming from his dating that it does not refer to His birth, but resurrection. This calculation becomes more important in understanding a Christian Arabic parchment below.

The Christian Arabic community in the 12th century carried on a similar tradition to that of Africanus. One manuscript reads:

“And from Alexander, son of Philip the Greek until the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ–let there be adoration of the recollection of Him–three hundred and fifty years. And from our Lord the Christ–Let there be adoration at the recollection of Him–to this year, which is the intended era, a thousand one hundred and fifty-five years. And what is past of the years of the world to the end of this year are six thousand six hundred and eighty-three years. And from Adam until our Lord the Christ five thousand five hundred years.”(4)Studia Sinaitica, Vol. 12. London: Cambridge University Press. 1894-1907?. Pg. 21

The dates were set at the death of Alexander the Great and the passion of Christ, not at the beginning of the reign as the Romans did. The era of Alexander began at 323 BC. Add 350 to this and this results in 27 AD. This was the Arabic Christian’s supposed death and resurrection of Christ. But the Adamic calculation was perplexing “And from Adam until our Lord the Christ five thousand five hundred years”. It doesn’t use the terms ‘advent’ or ‘incarnation’ here, and it is 31 years shorter than Africanus’ account. The neglect of these terms and the significance of 31, which likely reflects the age of Christ, suggests a number of outcomes.

  • The author utilized the same Adamic calendar as Africanus, then the birth date of Christ would be 2 BC.

  • Or, the author intended to subtract 31 from the 27 AD calculation from the era of Alexander, then it would be 4 BC.

  • It also could be argued that the author had drawn from different traditions

The Adamic system had its detractors such as the Venerable Bede. He had a new computational system for the age of the earth and was accused of heresy.(5) Wikipedia on Bede; “For calendric purposes, Bede made a new calculation of the age of the world since the Creation. Due to his innovations in computing the age of the world, he was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfred, his chronology being contrary to accepted calculations. Once informed of the accusations of these “lewd rustics,” Bede refuted them in his Letter to Plegwin.” When he first wrote De Temporibus Liber, in AD 703 he was well aware of the sensitivities and sneaks in his position, “. . .Christ was born, having completed from Adam 3,952 years. Now there is another date of 5199”(6) De Temporibus Liber MPL vol. 90 Col. 290-292; my own translation ; the 3,952 being his position and 5199 the traditional one.

It also should be noted that the 8th century accepted date of Christ’s birth being 5199 years after the creation of the earth, is not consistent with Africanus’ 5531 reckoning. The 5199 was based on Eusebius’ calculations which became the entrenched position of the Church. Bede was well aware of this fact.

Bede’s AM 3,952 calculation was 1247 years different that Eusebius’. He followed the Hebrew Masoretic rather than the Greek Septuagint Bible on the ages of the Patriarchs for his hypothesis.(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_Creation, There are many who would argue that the Septuagint is based on a much earlier and more credible Hebrew version than the Masoretic text. This argument has many merits but is outside the realm of the research here. The difference between the Hebrew and the Greek adds up to 1376 years according to William Whitaker,(8) William Whitaker. A Disputation on the Holy Scriptures: Against the Papists. Trans. By William Fitzgerald. Cambridge: The University Press. 1853 (Original printing 1610). Pg. 121 which makes this a reasonable, but not exact certainty.

22 years later, Bede was more liberal in the use of his own dating. He still recognized the historic value in the Adamic system, but its importance is devalued going forward after the time of Christ.

In reference to time before Christ, the Adamic is still recognized. This can be found in De Temporum Ratione where he paralleled both systems in this writing. In it he wrote headers such as “A.M. Hebr. 3352. Sept. 4700”(9) MPL De Temporum Ratione. Vol. 90. pg. 533. , to describe a date in antiquity. The first date referring to the Hebrew tradition and the second one, abbreviated “Sept.” for the Greek Septuagint dates.

His calendar utilized the birth-year of Christ as being the dividing point. Any time recorded after the birth of Christ he still used the Hebrew system but abandoned the Septuagint dating one altogether. In the place of the Septuagint he used Chr. instead. For example, the year of Christ’s birth is marked as, “A.M. 3952. Chr. 1.””(10) Ibid MPL, pg. 545.

It is interesting that Bede begins the birth of Christ with the Chr. symbol. He does not use the AD one. It demonstrates that Dionysius Exiguus reckoning of Easter system, which eventually evolved into the AD calendar, had not not evolved or taken hold internationally yet. Chr. as Bede called it, may have been one of the precursors of the AD system becoming entrenched some 100 years later.

Also important to many calendar specialists, is the fact that he did not start with a zero date, but with the number one.

This is a general introduction to the Adamic Calendar system. There is much more to this topic than documented here. The research so far gives some clues to the precise birth year of Christ, but nothing substantial.

References   [ + ]

Erratum concerning the term Neo-Tongues Movement

This is a correction on the so-called Neo-Tongues movement.

The Neo-Tongues Movement was posited as the speaking in one voice, and many being heard as the main doctrine for almost a thousand years.

After careful review of the same source material, this is not the case. There is evidence that this stream of thought exists, but it did not become a central and sole doctrine.

The line of thought one voice, many languages heard is still going to be researched, followed and published within its own context. It is an important part of the tongues history in the Church, but it is not as dominant a theme as previously mentioned.

It also requires much more focused research than what has been accomplished so far.

The term Neo-Tongues Movement is in the process of being erased from the official record, only to be found as an erratum at the Gift of Tongues Project.

An analysis of Augustine on Tongues and the Donatists

Augustine’s argument against the Donatist’s gives one of the richest earlier accounts on the Christian doctrine of tongues.

If it were not for the Donatists, Augustine would not have left such a legacy about the tongues of Pentecost and how it was perceived during his time. Their conflict with Augustine offers a wealth of information on the subject — much more than the Montanist movement.

The Donatists were a northern African Christian group; broken off from the official Catholic Church over reasons initially relating to the persecutions of Christians by edict of the emperor Diocletian early in the fourth century. After the persecutions abated, a controversy erupted in the region over how to handle Church leaders who assisted with the secular authorities in the persecutions. This became a source of contention and it conflagrated into questions of Church leadership, faith, piety, discipline and politics. The Donatists transformed into a separate Christian movement and statistically outnumbered the traditional Catholic representatives in the region. At the height it had over 400 bishops.(1)David Benedict, Henry Clinton Graves. History of the Donatists. NL:NP. 1875. Col. 9

For more information on the Donatists, go to Hoover’s thesis, The Contours of Donatism: Theological and Ideological Diversity in Fourth Century North Africa

Augustine was the Catholic Bishop of the ancient city of Hippo which was near the epicentre of the whole movement. He wrote against the Donatists trying to persuade them through logic and by state law to come back into the fold.

Since all the information on the Donatists on the gift of tongues can only be found in Augustine’s writings and there is yet to be found any materials written firsthand by the Donatists on this topic, it is difficult to assess the situation from a neutral perspective. It forces the researcher to postulate on a few outcomes regarding the Donatists and tongues. First of all, they may have asserted themselves as the true Church because they personally spoke in tongues and the Catholic Church did not. Secondly, Augustine’s polemic against their use of Christian tongues was a perceived weakness that he could exploit. In reality it may have not been central to the Donatist movement at all.

He may have been using the gift of tongues as a diversion from thornier issues between the two parties. This topic was a simple way to demonstrate the Catholic Church’s superiority over what was perceived as a populist heresy than to delve into the dark history of the Church under persecution and the betrayal of many key leaders.

Secondly, and more likely, the political argument that tongues was supposed to be a sign of unity, not dissension like the Donatists were accused of doing, was simply a good argument for Augustine to utilize.

Whatever the case, Augustine’s refutation against the Donatists leads to some very important writings on the subject.

Augustine was likely responding to a Donatist theological position in Sermo 267, Chapter 3: Chapter III. Why the Gift of Tongues is all but Withdrawn

Brothers, has the holy Spirit not been given now? Whoever thinks this is not deserving to receive. He is given and now. Why then is no one speaking in the tongues of all the nations just as he spoke who at the time was being filled with the holy Spirit? Why? Because this was a sign that has been satisfied.”(2)MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVII (267) Col. 1230ff Translation is mine

Here Augustine illustrated that a theology was being advocated during his time that if one receives the holy Spirit, then one must speak in tongues.

Augustine approached this theological question repeatedly in a number of works. One argument pointed out the theological problems related to this concept:

“Can it now be to those receiving the laying of hands when they receive the holy Spirit, is there an expectation with this, that they must speak in languages? Or rather when we laid hands on those infants, does anyone of you pay attention to whether they were speaking in languages or when it was seen of them that they did not speak in languages, was it according to the perverseness of the heart with some of you that you would say, “These did not receive the holy Spirit, for if they had received, would they be speaking in languages even as was done in times past? Then, if it should not now be appointed as the evidence of the presence of the holy Spirit through these miracles, from what point does it take place, from which point does each one know that he himself has received the holy Spirit?”(3)MPL Vol. 35. Augustine. In Epistolas Joannis et Parthos VI:10 (6:10) Col. 2025ff. Translation is mine.

What does it mean “this was a sign that has been satisfied”? It shouldn’t be taken as absolutist. It refers to the individual act of speaking in tongues ceasing, not the corporate miracle.

Augustine meant that the individual endowment of miraculously speaking in foreign languages had ceased from functioning. The corporate expression still remained. It cannot be applied to mean the cessation of the corporate miracle of tongues, miracles, healings, or other divine interventions. This was not his intention.

Augustine had categorized the gift of tongues in his day as a miraculous corporate act of the Church. It had transferred from the individual. The following demonstrates this development of thought.

This corporate definition can clearly be found in a number of Augustine’s works. The first example is found in Enarratio in Psalmum CXLVII:19 (147:19). He believed that the question of why individuals during his time who have received the holy Spirit were not speaking in tongues was not the right question to ask. If one was to look for individual instances after the Church had extended into the world it would not be found, because that phase is over:

For at that time the Church was not yet spread out through the circle of lands, that the organs of Christ were speaking in all the nations. Then it was filled-up into one, with respect to which it was being proclaimed in every one of them. Now the entire body of Christ is speaking in all the languages. To those which it is not yet speaking, it will be speaking in the future. For the Church will multiply until it shall seize all the languages [in the entire world]. Hold fast with us until that time had come near, and you shall arrive with us to that which had not yet drawn near. I intend to teach you to speak in all the languages. I am in the body of Christ, I am in the Church of Christ. If the body of Christ is now speaking in all the languages, [then] also I am indeed speaking in all languages; to me it is that of Greek, Syrian, Hebrew, it is of every nation, because in unity, I am of every nation.”(4)MPL Vol. 37 Augustine. Enarratio in Psalmum. CXLVII:19 (147:19) Col. 1929. Translation is mine.

He further added that the true Church had taken on the duty to fulfil the promise of tongues to speak to all the nations and bring all peoples into unity, which it continued to miraculously do; “for since this small Church was speaking in the tongues of the nations, how is it, except that this great Church is presently speaking to the east even as the west with the tongues of all nations? It is merely a fulfillment as to which was promised at that time.” The “fulfillment as to which was promised at that time,” should not be interpreted to mean cessationalism but rather that this was an office that was established at the foundation and confirmed functioning since then.

Sermo 268 also confirms Augustine’s belief that the Church took on this role: “Whoever has the holy Spirit is in the Church, which is speaking in all the languages. Whoever is outside this Church, does not have the holy Spirit. For that reason indeed the holy Spirit deemed to reveal itself in the languages of all the nations, so the one that perceives to have the holy Spirit itself, that person is sustained in the unity of the Church, which is speaking in all the languages.”(5)MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVIII (268) Col. 1231. Translation is mine.

Augustine illustrated in Sermo 266:2 that the Church became an international entity because of the gift of tongues and this office confirms its validity: “the unity of the Catholic Church has been signified by gift of tongues.”

This is where one has to be very cautious with Augustine on this topic. He was pitting the Catholic Church as the true one because of its universality and inferring that the Donatists were not so ordained because of their regionalism. One can see a direct blow on the Donatists in Sermo 268 where the emphasis is on unity, which is a word play found in the Latin and lost in the English, inferring anyone creating disunity, such as the Donatists who were promoting their brand of speaking in tongues, was heretical.

“The holy Spirit commits to unity of the Church universal by the gift of tongues. On account of the holy Spirit having arrived, this present day is solemn to us, 50th from the resurrection of the Lord, but reckoning 7 x 7 results in 49. One is being inserted, that oneness is given in trust with us.”(6)MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVIII (268) Col. 1231. Translation is mine

It was not only Augustine that had forwarded this position, Optatus of Milevus wrote the same around 370 AD, listing the countries the Catholic Church has spread to and then concluded to the Donatist leader Parmenian, “In none of the above named countries, said Optatus to the Donatis, Parmenian, are your people found, except in a corner of Africa. O, ungrateful and foolish presumption, said he, that you should attempt to persuade men that you alone have the true Catholic faith.”(7)David Benedict, Henry Clinton Graves. History of the Donatists. NL:NP. 1875. Col. 26

Augustine attempted in a number of ways to eradicate or control the Donatists, but without complete success. It is not entirely known when the Donatist movement died, but it is generally held to have happened in the seventh century under the Arab conquests.(8)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatism

The Latin text, found in Migne Patrologia Latina, emphatically states that Augustine was arguing against the Donatists — even the chapter headings have their names labelled. But this is a later interpolation. The header text referring to the Donatists was a later editorial insertion included in the Migne edition. It does not exist in the official edition found at the Sant’ Agostino website. However, this is not a big problem. It was simply declaring the obvious. The movement was Augustine’s main local rival and he drew from this tension.

References   [ + ]

Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost in English

An English translation of the texts relating to the christian doctrine of tongues by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.

For introductory notes, purpose, and background to these translations, go to Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost: Intro

1. In Epistolas Joannis et Parthos (407–409 AD)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 35. Augustine. In Epistolas Joannis et Parthos VI:10 (6:10) Col. 2025ff


In the earliest times the holy Spirit was falling upon those who believe and was given the ability to speak(1) loquebantur in languages, which they had not previously learned,(2) Note the switch from the imperfect to the pluperfect tense, which Augustine has seldom used. I think he is strongly reiterating that they did not know these languages in the past. even as the Spirit was giving them utterance. These were signs adapted for the time. For it was in this manner necessary that the holy Spirit to be shown in all the languages which the Gospel of God was(3) Not sure if the verb should be placed here, but it makes the most sense so far. about to run around all the earth through all the languages. That it is to be a sign and has passed. Can it now be to those receiving the laying of hands when they receive the holy Spirit, is there an expectation with this, that they must speak in languages? Or rather when we laid hands on those(4) istis is used here, which means Augustine thinks of this suggestion contemptuously, though I can’t properly put this in the translation. infants, does anyone of you pay attention to whether they were speaking in languages or when it was seen of them that they did not speak in languages, was it according to the perverseness of the heart with some of you that you would say, “These did not receive the holy Spirit, for if they had received, would they be speaking in languages even as was done in times past? Then, if it should not now be appointed as the evidence of the presence of the holy Spirit through these miracles, from what point does it take place, from which point does each one know that he himself has received the holy Spirit? He should examine his own heart, if he loves a(5) The ancient English translator has “his brother” though no pronoun exists in Greek. I think Augustine is addressing this is on an impersonal level like “If he loves any type of brother, whatever comes in his path”. brother, the Spirit of God dwells with him. Let him see, let him demonstrate himself(6) seipsum is not a pronoun found in Perseus website, nor commonly found in grammars. Whitaker’s Words briefly states it as a self-pronoun, but why all of a sudden did Augustine switch to this? Whitaker believed it to be a later pronoun. I am assuming after the time of Augustine, as I have not found this used elsewhere and believe it odd to find it here. personally in the eyes of God. He should examine in him if the love is of peace and unity, the love of the Church which has been spread throughout the whole earth. He should not only apply his attention to love a brother, which he has applied before him, for we do not see many of our brothers and we are joined in the unity of the Spirit with them.


Enarratio in Psalmum (396–420 AD)

2. Enarratio in Psalmum LIV:11

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 36. Augustine. Enerratio in Psalmum LIV:11 (54) Col. 636


“Drown, O Lord, and divide(7) Gen. 11:7, Submerge and divide are in the 2nd person sing. imperative here. Augustine’s text is different from the standard “descendamus et confundamus” as the Latin Vulgate. Augustine’s text is not in agreement with our common Septuagint or Hebrew either. their languages. He paid close attention about those who are troubling and feigning(8) I am having a difficult time with this line “Attendit tribulantes se et adumbrantes se,” with themselves, and he selected this, not in anger, brothers. Those who brought evil amongst themselves, it is made ready for them that they should be drowned, those who unite in evil, it is made ready for them that their languages should be divided. They could work together for a good purpose and the their languages could be in harmony. If then, “my enemies together were whispering against me” and states “all the evils against me”(9) I am almost thinking that Augustine is going by an altogether different Latin Bible now, as the differences are so great. It is worth a further look by someone. The emendation of the Bible verses with chapter and book in his writings are a much later convention after his time. Even the adverb idipsum is supposedly a later medieval word. What can be attributed to Augustine as solely his creation or a later emendation? (Ps. 40:8), they could be destroyed together in evil. For their languages should be divided, that they should not be in harmony together among themselves. Drown, O Lord, and divide their languages. “Drown”, why? Because they raised themselves up. “Divide”, why? Because they plotted evil in unison. It is to be remembered their high building after the flood which was built of arrogance. What kind of arrogance did they mean? We should not be destroyed in a flood, we shall make another high building (Gen. 11:4). Within the arrogance, they considered themselves protected, they built another tall building, and the Lord divided their tongues. Then at that time they began to not be able to understand each other. From here the origin of many languages was found. Certainly before this there used to be one language and one language was beneficial for unity, one language was beneficial for mankind, but on the other hand, whereby those gathered had been instructed(10) praecipitata est has a wide semantic range and I felt most comfortable with this usage. in the unity of pride, the Lord spared these ones(11) illis is a dative but direct translation here just does not make good English. so that instead He took to dividing the languages, lest they were to build a pernicious unity with the ability to understand each other. The languages were divided by reason of mankind’s pride, tongues were brought together through the agency of the humble apostles. The spirit of pride scattered the languages. The holy Spirit brought together the languages. Certainly when the holy Spirit fell upon the disciples they spoke in all the languages, from this point they understood everything (Acts 2:4). The languages which had been scattered, they were brought together as one. Consequently if now they are in a rage and are not of the faith, He made them to have been separated by language. They want one language, for this purpose they come to the Church, because the language of the flesh is in diversity, one is the language within the faithful soul.


3. Enerratio in Psalmum XCVI (96)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 37. Augustine. Enerratio in Psalmum XCVI (96) Col. 1247ff – on the conversion of Cornelius


And because Cornelius was of the gentile race and also those who were with him had not been circumcised, so that they would not hesitate to deliver the Gospel to the non-circumcised, the holy Spirit came, and filled them before Cornelius was baptized and those who were with him, and they began to speak in languages. The holy Spirit had fallen upon no one, except those who had been baptized. He had fallen on those ones stated above before baptism. For Peter was hesitantly embracing whether he ought to baptize the uncircumcised. The holy Spirit came and they began to speak in languages. …Because a vision had greatly demonstrated to Peter, [this vision] pointed out [that] it spread out all things for them, such as the way Cornelius believed, because before the gentile man was to be baptized, the holy Spirit came upon him.


4. Enarratio in Psalmum CXLVII:19 (147:19).

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 37 Augustine. Enarratio in Psalmum. CXLVII:19 (147:19) Col. 1929


Read the Acts of the Apostles, if perhaps I am inventing, how the disciples had been gathered together in that place, when the holy Spirit came in order to demonstrate to you what the Lord is saying, “By the origins from Jerusalem”(12) I think he is playing with Acts 1:4 here, which has a different reading in the Latin today than what Augustine is looking at. just as the holy Spirit came in all those who spoke in every language. Why then is there no [present] ability to speak in all the languages? See that sounds went out in every language. Why presently to whomever the holy Spirit is granted, that he is not speaking in all the languages? This was a proof at that time of the holy Spirit’s coming into men that they were speaking in all languages. Now you are bound to be called something, a teacher of false doctrine? Because has not the holy Spirit been given? Am I not saying when? Is He being given or not given? If He is not being given, what is it that motivates you for the purpose of speaking, being baptized and giving out praises? What is it that motivates you? You are celebrating foolish things. He is given now. If He is given [then the following question is to be asked] why are to those He is imparted on not speaking in all languages? Can it be the gift of God has waned, or the fruit is inferior? The tare and also the wheat have grown “Allow both to grow until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30). It was not said, Let the tare multiply and the grain diminish. Why then does the holy Spirit not appear now in all languages? On the contrary He does appear in all the languages. For at that time the Church was not yet spread out through the circle of lands, that the organs of Christ were speaking in all the nations. Then it was filled-up into one, with respect to which it was being proclaimed in every one of them. Now the entire body of Christ is speaking in all the languages. To those which it is not yet speaking, it will be speaking in the future. For the Church will multiply until it shall seize all the languages [in the entire world]. Hold fast with us until that time had come near, and you shall arrive with us to that which had not yet drawn near. I intend to teach you to speak in all the languages. I am in the body of Christ, I am in the Church of Christ. If the body of Christ is now speaking in all the languages, [then] also I am indeed speaking in all languages; to me it is that of Greek, Syrian, Hebrew, it is of every nation, because in unity, I am of every nation.


Sermons transcribed into writing attributed to Augustine (393–430 AD)

5. Sermo CLXXV:3 (175:3)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo. CLXXV:3 (175:3) Col. 946


Then the actual promise came and the holy Spirit came, filled the disciples, they began to speak in the languages of all the nations. The sign in these was advancing unity. Namely then one man was speaking in every language because the unity of the Church was bound to speak in every language. They were frightened who were hearing. For they knew the men to be uneducated ones, that they were men of only one language. They were amazed and astounded, because those men of one language or at most two [languages] were speaking in the languages of all the nations.(13) This is almost repeated verbatim in Augustine’s City of God


6. Sermo CCLXV:10 (265:10)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXV:10 (265:10)(14) MPL has “Caput X – 12” why the discrepancy between Latin and English, I do not know, but I will be conservative and follow the Latin. Col. 1224


What conditions are there in the coming of the holy Spirit? The holy Spirit came, first of all filled, causing them to speak in every language. Each man speaking in every language. What other type did it signify, than unity with every language? These things having been preserved in this, approved in this, reinforced in this, fixed in the unshaken love of God, let us praise the Lord, you children and say hallelujah [Ps. 112:1]. But is it to be in one place [of this earth]? From where and all the way to? From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.(15) Psalm 112:3.


7. Sermo CCLXVI:2 (266:2)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVI:2 (266:2) Col. 1224-1225


The advent of the holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The unity of the Catholic Church has been signified by gift of tongues. Certainly then we celebrate the solemnity of the holy Spirit’s coming. For on the day of Pentecost, whose day now begins, there was in one place 120 souls, to which are the Apostles and the mother of the Lord and those of the other sex praying and expecting what was promised in Christ, this is the coming of the holy Spirit.

It was not a foolish hope of one’s own anticipation, because it was not a false promise of that which is promised. It was being hoped for, it came and a clean vessel, so that he could be received by anyone, He came. “Their appeared to them the distribution of tongues even as of fire, which rested on each one of them, and they began to speak in in tongues as the spirit gave them utterance.” Each man was speaking in every language, it was being announced beforehand because the Church was about to be in every language. One man was a sign of unity. Every language by one man, every nation in unity.


8. Sermo CCLXVII (267)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVII (267) Col. 1230ff


On the Day of Pentecost

Chapter I. The Solemn Observance of the holy Spirit’s Arrival

The solemnity of today’s day brings about the recollection concerning the great and great merciful Lord God, which was poured out on us. In fact for that reason the solemn festival is being celebrated, not that it had been done only a single time, that it was to have been deleted from memory. Indeed the solemn time received the name by that which is habitually performed in the midst of the year. How the perpetuity of the river is spoken, because it is not dried out in summer, but flows through the entire year. For that reason it is perennially during the year. Just like the solemn festival that is custom to celebrate in the midst of the year. We celebrate today the coming of the holy Spirit. For the Lord sent from heaven the holy Spirit which He promised to the earth. And in such a manner because He had promised from heaven that which was about to be sent. “He is not able to come, unless I go, as long as I go, I may send him to you” (John 6:17)

He was crucified, He was dead, He arose, He ascended: He was with-holding in order that He would fill-up which He had promised. His disciples were expecting this of the wind when it was written “120” (Acts 1:15), ten times the number of apostles. For He chose 12 and in 120 He sent the Spirit. They were then expecting this promise in one house and praying. Because they were desiring now themselves for the faith, for speech, and in actual spiritual longing, they were new [wine]skins, awaiting the new wine from heaven and it came. Indeed now that magnificent grape had been reckoned and glorified. For we read in the Gospel, “For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified,” (John 8:39).

Chapter II. The Gift of Tongues

Now that it has appeared, you have heard a great miracle. Everyone who had drawn near had spoken one language. The holy Spirit came, they were filled, they began to speak in the various languages(16) I could translate lingua as ‘tongue’ rather than ‘language’ but it would only serve to confuse the modern reader, and I think Augustine intended it to mean language in the strictest sense. I will use language throughout my translation with this noun. of all the nations, which they had not known nor had they been acquainted with, but He was teaching who had come. He entered inside, they were filled, it poured out. And then this was a sign; whoever was receiving the holy Spirit, when having been filled with the Spirit, suddenly began speaking in all the languages (Acts 10:46). The Epistles themselves show us not only these 120. Afterwards men believed, they were baptized, they received the holy Spirit, they were speaking in the tongues of all the nations.

They who had drawn near had become terrified, others were astonished, others mocked so that they would say, “They are drunk, they are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-3). They were mocking and one or another were speaking the truth. For the wineskins had been filled with the new wine. You have heard when the Gospel is read, “No one puts new wine in old wineskins” (Matt 9:17), The fleshly does not comprehend the spiritual. The flesh is old, grace is new. How much man is been restored into a better state, he comprehends by so much more because he truly tastes the truth. The fresh wine was in bubbling motion and the tongues of the nations were breathed out with the ebullionating new wine.

Chapter III. Why the Gift of Tongues is not yet being withdrawn

Can it be brothers, the holy Spirit not been given now? Whoever thinks this is not deserving to receive. He is being given and now. Why then is no one speaking in the tongues of all the nations just as he spoke who at the time was being filled with the holy Spirit? Why? Because this was a sign that has been satisfied. What is this? When we have celebrated the forty days, let yourselves recall, because we have mentioned to you that the Lord Jesus Christ has brought together and has arisen His Church.

The disciples were asking, “When will be the end of the age?”, and this, “It is not for you to know the times or the minutes which the Father has placed in His control.” Yet He was pouring out what He completed today. “For you shall receive the wealth of the holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria and through the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). The Church was at that time in one house, it received the holy Spirit, He was in a few persons, He was in the languages of all the circle of lands. Behold how far it has extended now.

For respect to which this small Church was speaking in the tongues of the nations, how is it, except that this great Church is presently speaking to the east even as the west with the tongues of all nations? It is being completed now which was promised at that time. We have heard, we have seen, “Hear daughter, and see!” [Ps 34:11]. It was written to the queen herself, “Hear daughter and see!” Hear that which was promised! See that which was completed!

Your God nor your betrothed deceived you, nor did He deceive you who provided a dowry with His blood. He did not deceive you whom He made property of horrible beauty and unclean virginity. By you were promised yourself, but that which was promised in smallness, now was then fulfilled in greatness.

Chapter IV. The holy Spirit, so to speak as the soul of the Church body, does not reside outside of the Church

No one has then said, “I have received the holy Spirit, why am I not speaking in the languages of all the nations?” If you wish to have the holy Spirit, direct your course my brothers. Our spirit who gives life to every man is called a soul and you see what the soul does to the body. It stirs up all the parts. He sees by the eyes, hears by the ears, breathes by the nose, speaks by a language, closes by the hands, walks by the feet. It puts all the parts together in order that they should live. It gives life to everything in each function. The eye does not hear, nor the ear see, nor a language see, and the ear and eye do not speak. But nevertheless lives, the ear exists, a language exists. They are different functions. A life to share. So it is with the Church of God. In one who was sanctified, produces miracles, another who was sanctified speaks the truth, in another who was sanctified preserves virginity, in another was sanctified an honest marriage. In some this and others that. Each one works peculiar but they live equally. How the soul is of the body of man is the holy Spirit of the body of Christ, which is the Church. The holy Spirit is doing this in every Church, which the soul is doing in every part of one body. But look how cautious you are. Look how watchful you are. Look how fearful you are when held together within the body, nay, but rather, away from the body some piece is cut off, a hand, a finger, a foot, is it to follow the soul?

While it is in the body, it lived. When having been cut off, it gives up life. Just as man is a Catholic Christian, when in the body he lives, the heretic, when having become cut off, the piece cut off does not follow the Spirit. If you wish to live in the holy Spirit, preserve charity, love, truth, desire unity from now until eternity. Amen.


9. Sermo CCLXVIII (268)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVIII (268) Col. 1231ff


On the Day of Pentecost, II

1. The holy Spirit commits to the unity of the Church universal by the gift of tongues. On account of the holy Spirit having arrived, this present day is solemn to us, 50th from the resurrection of the Lord, but reckoning 7 x 7 results in 49. One is being inserted, that oneness is being given in trust with us. What then did the holy Spirit’s personal arrival do, what did it deliver? Whence did it point out His own presence.

Everyone spoke in the languages of the nations. There was in one place 120. 10 by the order of 12, the sacred number of Apostles in the divine mystery, is tenfold. Then some, each one in which the holy Spirit came, they began to speak in each one of the languages of the nations, to this one a different language, and to this one another, and was it as if they divided between them these languages of the nations? Not in this manner, but each man, one man was speaking in the languages of all the nations. One man was speaking in the languages of the nations: the unity of the Church is in the languages of all the nations. Behold also this unity of the Universal Church being commissioned upon has been spread out throughout the whole world.

2. The holy Spirit outside the Church does not exist. Whoever has the holy Spirit is in the Church, which is speaking in all the languages. Whoever is outside this Church, does not have the holy Spirit. For that reason indeed the holy Spirit deemed to reveal itself in the languages of all the nations, so the one that perceives to have the holy Spirit itself, that person is sustained(17) “continetur” can be translated in two ways here, either the person is promoting unity in the Church or receives a blessing by doing such. I think it is the latter. in the unity of the Church, which is speaking in all the languages. “One body”, Paul the Apostle says, “One body and one spirit (Eph. 4:4)…”

[Augustine goes on for a number of paragraphs explaining Church unity here and we skip a verse.]

4. Christ entrusts the unity of the Catholic Church through the Apostles. [Col. 1234] …in the 40th day he ascended into heaven, and now on this present day everyone who were drawing near(18) “implentur omnes qui aderant, loquuntur”: aderant is in the imperfect and the other verbs are in the present. An odd combination, but I think Augustine is presenting the thought here that the Church has to practically speak in the languages of the nations in order to be a universal body. Otherwise, it is not functioning properly. are filled with the holy Spirit, and are speaking in the languages of all the nations. Likewise, unity itself is being qualified by means of the languages of the nations, by the rising Lord and by the ascending Christ: it is being proven by the holy Spirit’s coming today.(19) Augustine. Sermo. MPL. CCLXVIII. Vol. 38. Col. 1231ff


9. Sermo CCLXIX (269) – Augustine’s polemic against the Donatists.

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 38 Augustine. Sermo CCLXIX (269) Col. 1234ff


On the Day of Pentecost, III

1. The coming of the holy Spirit with the gift of languages announces unity of the Church through all the nations. Against the Donatists.(20) “Against the Donatists” in the header, suggests to me that the title was a later interpolation.

We celebrate the coming of the holy Spirit with an annual celebration. One is obligated for this solemn coming together, reading, and speech. The first two are done,(21) persoluta sunt properly rendered in English is “paid”. It just doesn’t seem to make sense here, I need to look further into the semantic range of this verb. because you have also regularly come together and while it was being read, you listened. Let us pay respect to the third: let not the oneness in belief and action(22) obsequium. of our language be lacking in Him who also bestowed all the languages to the unlearned, and brought under the yoke the languages of the learned in all the nations and brought together the diverse languages of the nations for the unity of the faith. “for there came”, and then was added, “a sound suddenly from heaven, which was generating a violent wind: and different tongues appeared to them even as fire, which also possessed each one them. They began to speak in tongues even as the Spirit gave them the ability to utter.”(Acts 2:2-4)(23) I can’t help take a cursory glance at Augustine’s quote of Acts 2:2-4 and how it appears demonstrably different than what the commonly used Latin Vulgate. It doesn’t change the meaning, but it is interesting. I also used “tongues” instead of “language” in quoting the Biblical text, as I cannot alter English Biblical translation tradition.

For this wind did not blow out, but invigorated. That fire did not consume, but excited; He had been filled-up in them, as had been prophesied so much before, “There are no languages, speeches, of whose voices are not heard, for they were made for the purpose of the Gospel being distributed”, which follows, “Their sound goes through all the earth and their words to the ends of the earth” (Psalms 18:4-5).(24) Once again the verse quoted by Augustine is worded significantly different from what we have in the Latin Vulgate.

Namely, the holy Spirit was foretelling in the languages of all the nations, which it was giving to them, [these people] whom had only learned one language of their own nation (with respect to which He preferred that it be the sign of His own presence at that time)(25) This comment in brackets appears to be a later interpolation.if not all the nations who are bound to believe in the Gospel; in the first case [of those who were individually] of the faith, was it not after this certainly the unity of the Church speaking in all the languages? What are they saying about this, that those in the Christian fellowship, which is bearing new fruit and increasing in all the nations, be unwilling to incorporate or even be yoked together? How then are they to deny the holy Spirit has come into the Christian now? Why then that anyone speaking the languages of the nations is now neither with us nor with those others (because previously the coming was his sign), unless it is now being finished(26) impletur is pres. pass. 3rd sg. It is something not yet completed. because in the past it was made a sign?

On the other hand is anyone ever able to deny that the holy Spirit is coming in the Christian still today? Why then [is it] now neither among us, nor speaking anything among those in the languages of the nations (because it was at that time the sign of His coming), unless it is now being fulfilled in what was being signified back then?

Namely also back in the past one of the faithful was speaking in every language: and now the unity of the faithful ones is speaking in all the languages. Now then for that reason all of our languages exist, because we are members of the body in which they thrive.


10. Sermo CCCLII:2 (352:2)

As translated by Charles Sullivan. MPL Vol. 39. Augustine. Sermo. CCCLII:2 (352:2) Col. 1550


When the holy Spirit was sent which was promised beforehand, and the Lord fulfilled the truth of His promise to the disciples who had received the holy Spirit, as you knew, they began to speak in all the languages, that in respect to those who were present, everybody was recognizing their own language.


11. Retractiones

An excerpt from his later works in life that emended/clarified his earlier writings.


What I also said, that those miracles were not allowed to continue in our times, lest the soul should always seek after things visible, and mankind should wax cold by their frequency, who had been inflamed by their novelty, is certainly true. For when hands are laid on the baptized, they do not receive the Holy Ghost now, in such a manner as to speak with the tongues of all the nations; nor are the sick now cured by the shadow of Christ’s preachers as they pass by them, and others such as these, which, it is manifest, did afterwards cease; But what I said, is not so to be understood as if no miracles are believed to be performed now in the name of Christ : for I myself, when I wrote that very book, (De Vera Religione,) knew that a blind man had received his sight in the city of Milan, at the bodies of the Milanese martyrs, and several others besides; nay, such numbers are performed in these our days, that I neither can know them all, nor though I knew them, could I enumerate them.(27)English as found in The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany. Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Company. 1824. Pgs. 688-689. The Latin: Item quod dixi: nec miracula illa in nostra tempora durare permissa sunt, ne anima semper visibilia quaereret et eorum consuetudine frigesceret genus humanum, quorum novitate flagravit, verum est quidem; non enim nunc usque, cum manus inponitur baptizatis, sic accipiunt spiritum sanctum, ut loquantur linguis omnium gentium, aut nunc in Christi sanantur infirmi, et si qua talia tunc, quae postea cessasse manifestum est, sed non sic accipiendum est, quod dixi, ut nunc in Christi nomine fieri miracula nulla credantur. nam ego ipse, quando istum ipsum scripsi librum, ad Mediolanensium corpora martyrum in eadem civitate caecum inluminatum fuisse iam noveram et alia nonnulla, qualia tam multa etiam istis temporibus fiunt, ut nec omnia congoscere nec ea, quae congnoscimus, enumerare possimus.


There are still even more citations that Augustine wrote about the gift of tongues. Sermo CCLXXI (271) MPL Vol 38 Col. 1246; Enarration in Psalmum. LIV:11 (54:11) MPL Vol 36 Col. 636ff; Enarration in Psalmum. XCVI:8 (96:8) MPL Vol. 37 Col. 1247; Enarratio in Psalmum. CXLVII:19 (147:19) MPL Vol. 37 Col. 1929: And In Joannis Evangelium XXXII:6-7 MPL Vol. 35 Col. 1645 and XCII:1 MPL Vol. 35 Col. 1863.

References   [ + ]

Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost: Intro

st-augustine-of-hippo(1)

An analysis of Augustine’s writings on speaking in tongues.

Augustine wrote a considerable amount on the subject which first appears to be an open and shut case, but a closer look reveals a diversity of thought propelled by political influences.

The conflict with the rival Donatist movement gives one of the earliest and extensive articles of tongues speech in the church. His coverage dispels the notion that the institutional church after Pentecost had quashed or ignored the christian rite of tongues.

The theories on speaking in tongues during Augustine’s time.

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354-430 AD, was likely aware of the different theories on the subject. His contemporaries Gregory Nazianzus (329 to 390 AD) had posited that there are two options for the Pentecost outburst of tongues: it was either a miracle of hearing or of speaking, and more likely the latter. John Chrysostom (349 to 407 AD) held similar views to Augustine on the diminished role of divine tongues in the individual expression. An earlier North African leader named Pachomius (292 to 346 AD) was mythologized as having been divinely enabled to temporarily speak Latin. The first century BC Jewish Hellenistic philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, didn’t write about the gift of tongues, but he did cover the mechanics behind God speaking. He held that when God spoke it was in a sound that would implant in the hearers mind, bypassing the ears, being beyond human language.

Was it a miracle of speaking or hearing?

Sometimes he favored the miracle of speaking while others times of hearing. He does tend to allude to the idea of the miracle of one voice emanating and the hearers miraculously hearing in their own language.

  • “they began to speak in the languages of all the nations,”(1)Sermo. CLXXV:3
  • “they began to speak in all the languages, that in respect to those who were present, everybody was recognizing their own language,”(2)Sermo CCLII:2
  • “Each man speaking in every language”,(3)Sermo CCLXV:10
  • “Each man was speaking in every language, it was being announced beforehand because the Church was about to be in every language. One man was a sign of unity. Every language by one man, every nation in unity.”(4)CCLXVI:2

His coverage is found in a number of other Sermons(5) Sermo CCLXVII and CCLXVIII and in his work on the Psalms. In Enarratio in Psalmum he wrote this particular puzzling entry, “See that sounds went out in every language.”(6)Enarratio in Psalmum CXLVII:19 (147:19)

He picks and chooses given the situation. It appears that the mechanics behind how those divinely spoke in tongues was of no interest to him or was a priority. He had an apologetic motive against the large Dontatist movement, who asserted that they were the true Church. One of their confirming signs was that they spoke in tongues.(7)Augustine on Tongues and the Donatists

There is no question that the semantic range of this experience fell inside the use of foreign languages, nothing more. He used the term linguis omnium gentium “in the languages of all the nations” on at least 23 occasions, and linguis omnium, speaking “in all languages”. Neither does Augustine quote or refer to the Montanist movement in his works.

Augustine on the question, Should everybody speak in tongues?

The Bishop repeatedly answers the question “If I have received the holy Spirit, why am I not speaking in tongues?” Each time he has a slightly different read. What did he say? “this was a sign that has been satisfied.”(8)Sermo CCLXVII (267), MPL Vol. 38. Augustine. Sermo CCLXVII (267) Col. 1230ff. My translation In the writing called In Epistolas Joannis et Parthos, he jests with those who take this position, “when we laid hands on those infants, does anyone of you pay attention to whether they were speaking in languages. . .?”(9)MPL Vol. 35. Augustine. In Epistolas Joannis et Parthos VI:10 (6:10) Col. 2025ff and then offers a more theological slant in his Enarratio In Psalmum, “Why then does the holy Spirit not appear now in all languages? On the contrary He does appear in all the languages. For at that time the Church was not yet spread out through the circle of lands, that the organs of Christ were speaking in all the nations. Then it was filled-up into one, with respect to which it was being proclaimed in every one of them. Now the entire body of Christ is speaking in all the languages.”(10)Augustine. Enarratio in Psalmum. CXLVII:19 (147:19)

The gift of tongues changed from an individual to a corporate expression.

The last one brings on an important theological perspective by Augustine on the doctrine of tongues. The gift being expressed through individuals has died, and now has been transferred to and operated by the corporate Church. More of this doctrine can be found in the next article, Augustine on Tongues and the Donatists.

Augustine about the cessation of tongues and miracles

This patristic leader’s position on miracles has been highly debated for 1600 years. This is apparent in the tongues citations provided above. However, the most disputed piece is not on tongues but on miracles itself as found in his work, De vera religione where he wrote:

Another thing which must be considered is the dissension that has arisen among men concerning the worship of the one God. We have heard that our predecessors, at a stage in faith on the way from temporal things up to eternal things, followed visible miracles. They could do nothing else. And they did so in such a way that it should not be necessary for those who came after them. When the Catholic Church had been founded and diffused throughout the whole world, on the one hand miracles were not allowed to continue till our time, lest the mind should always seek visible things, and the human race should grow cold by becoming accustomed to things which when they were novelties kindled its faith. On the other hand we must not doubt that those are to be believed who proclaimed miracles, which only a few had actually seen, and yet were able to persuade whole peoples to follow them. At that time the problem was to get people to believe before anyone was fit to reason about divine and invisible things. No human authority is set over the reason of a purified soul, for it is able to arrive at clear truth But pride does not lead to the perception of truth. If there were no pride there would be no heretics, no schismatics, no circumcised, no worshippers of creatures or of images. If there had not been such classes of opponents before the people was made perfect as promised, truth would be sought much less eagerly.(11)De Vera Religione 25 (47) as found in Augustine: Earlier Writings. The Library of Christian Classics. Translated by John S. Burleigh. Philadelphia: the Westminster Press. 1953. Pg. 248

This was written around 390 AD. 37 years later Augustine revisited this statement and softened his stance by adding in his Retractiones:

For when hands are laid on the baptized, they do not receive the Holy Ghost now, in such a manner as to speak with the tongues of all the nations; nor are the sick now cured by the shadow of Christ’s preachers as they pass by them, and others such as these, which, it is manifest, did afterwards cease; But what I said, is not so to be understood as if no miracles are believed to be performed now in the name of Christ : for I myself, when I wrote that very book, (De Vera Religione,) knew that a blind man had received his sight in the city of Milan, at the bodies of the Milanese martyrs, and several others besides; nay, such numbers are performed in these our days, that I neither can know them all, nor though I knew them, could I enumerate them.(12)Retractiones. English translation found in The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany. Vol. 15. Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Company. 1824. Pg. 688

What did Augustine intend? I have never seen in any Patristic literature where a church leader made a complete and concise reversal or retraction of a theological concept. This may be the closest that Augustine could achieve without having amassed some percieved shame or criticism of his legacy. A complete avowal would also have legitimized the majority Donatist movement whose emphasis on the gift of tongues symbolized their fidelity. Augustine spent decades in theological dispute with them on that very subject.

It is no surprise when he stated that miracles still occur, but some do not, he listed the individual speaking in tongues as the first example that is no longer utilized. This is in keeping with his various polemical assaults against the Donatists.

A specialist in Augustine, Prof. Jan den Boeft, considers the Retractiones text wanting. He thinks that Augustine is referring to the cessation of only a few miracles including speaking in tongues while most continued.(13)Jan Den Boeft. The Apostolic Age in Patristic Thought. A. Hilhorst ed. Leiden: Brill. 2004. Pg. 61 Prof. Boeft makes a proper connection between Chrysostom and Augustine on the de-emphasis on miracles whereby miracles were considered unimportant in the development of christian character and often antithetical. The penchant for miracles was considered a gateway to pride. Chrysostom had shifted the element of miracles away from the individual and moved the practice to the rituals and symbols of the corporate church and the cult of deceased saints.

See Chrysostom on the Doctrine of tongues for more information.

Augustine on the tongues of Corinth.

There was not found in any of his writings a theological analysis about the problem in Corinth. He does refer to I Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels…” over eight times. This appears to be a popular verse used by him in his argumentation against his Donatist rivals. He used this passage to emphasize brotherly love over ambition.

The neglect of Augustine on this subject.

It is surprising that his works have not entered into the primary source books as a central author explaining and defining the christian tongues doctrine. This problem is not unique just to Augustine. This is covered in more detail at the following article: Examining the Source Books on Glossolalia and Christian tongues.

It is also vexing how many of his works, which includes the tongues-passages, do not have popular English translations. He is one of the foremost writers who has withstood the test of time. One of only a handful of authors of any genre has managed to do that. If his works were more widely available in English, it would have changed the dynamics of the discussion over the last century.

His works are well written and thought-out with an easy-to-read style which most readers will come to appreciate.

For more info;

  • see the next article, Augustine on Tongues and the Donatists

  • Or the actual English translations of the important texts by Augustine relating to the Christian doctrine of tongues, Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost in English. ■

  • References   [ + ]

Is Tyrannius Rufinus a Reliable Translator?

A closer look at the reliability of Tyrannius Rufinus’ Latin translation of Gregory Nazianzus’ Greek work On Pentecost.

Little attention, if any, has been directed towards his Latin translations of Gregory Nazianzus, but debate has surrounded Rufinus’ translation of his other works. Using these other established discussions as a guide, this article ventures into determining how Rufinus fits in the Gregory narrative.

In a number of scholarly circles, the translations of Rufinus have been under careful scrutiny, and the consensus was that Rufinus’ translations were not reliable. However, this attitude is changing.

Jason Engwer over at triablogue blogspot argues that Rufinus has been vindicated against such negative claims. He quoted Thomas Scheck’s translation of Origen’s Commentary On Romans (1)(Origen: Commentary On The Epistle To The Romans, Books 1-5 [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 2001]) as proof:

“If Schelkle’s investigation is correct, it seems that Rufinus’s Latin translation has been vindicated, at least in large part. It offers us the best source and most reliable witness for Origen’s thoughts, though Rufinus has expressed these thoughts in his own words. Even Scherer, who thinks that Rufinus has substituted his own exegesis at several points, admits, “The translation is often accurate, exact, and in large measure faithful.”

Engwer asserted his position in an earlier article by quoting two specialists:

John McGuckin refers to Rufinus as “generally a reliable translator” (WHO, 31).

Barbara Bruce, in her introduction to a recent translation of the homilies, comments that the “general reliability” of Rufinus’ Latin translations of Origen have been vindicated, despite the doubts of earlier scholarship and some scholars in our day (HOJ, 11). She continues:

“Other studies have confirmed the paraphrastic nature of his [Rufinus’] work, but have judged the changes to make for clarity and the thought to remain faithful to the Greek. …After explaining how he had expended much labor on changing the hortatory manner of the homilies on Leviticus into the form of an exposition and supplying what was wanting in the homilies on Genesis and Exodus, he said he translated the homilies on Joshua and a few others ‘just as we found them, literally and without great effort.’ Annie Jaubert, in her French translation of the Homilies, supported Rufinus’s statement. She noted constructions that were more dependent on Greek than on Latin syntax and a curtness of speech and density of expression that gave the feel of unpolished notes he may have been working from.”(16-18)(2)The full article along with footnotes can be found at the following article, The Twenty-Seven-Book New Testament Before Athanasius

Mark Humphries adds to the positive chorus when he investigated the reliability of Rufinus’ Latin translation regarding Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, where he concluded:

“Rufinus’s Latin translation of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History is customarily regarded as an inferior creature to the Greek original. By examining Rufinus’s complete translation and continuation together, however, a more sympathetic understanding of his Latin version can be reached. This shows that Rufinus’s version was by no means a clumsy version of the Greek followed by a mediocre continuation, but was conceived of as a unified whole. Hence Rufinus revised Eusebius’s text not only where he found it to be deficient, but also in order to make it fit with a new vision of Christian history that took account of events subsequent to the age of Constantine. Viewed in this light, Rufinus’s version emerges as a more original contribution to ecclesiastical historiography than has been acknowledged hitherto.”(3)Rufinus’s Eusebius: Translation, Continuation, and Edition in the Latin Ecclesiastical History

No author has engaged in this question more than Ronald E. Heine in his book, Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus:

“Rufinus has long been maligned as a translator by critics. Hal Koch makes the statement that Koetschau’s edition of the de Principiis and de Faye’s investigations have shown that Rufinus cannot be trusted in his translation of that work. . . .J.E.L Oulton in comparing Rufinus’ translation of the Church History of Eusebius with the Greek text says, “Rufinus transgressed the bounds of freedom which every translator must be expected to observe.” Heinrich Hoppe says Rufinus sometimes misreads the Greek text because of the haste with which he works and his insufficient mastery of the Greek language, and that he makes additions and alterations in the areas of both theology and rhetoric.

. . .On the other hand, there has been a more positive evaluation of Rufinus’ work paralleling that of his critics. . . .Henry Chadwick . . .“I think it is evident that, so far as general fidelity is concerned, Rufinus emerges well from the scrutiny.” Gustave Bardy regarded Rufinus’ translation of De Principiis as a paraphrase, but one which renders correctly the general sense of the text. . . .Annie Jaubert’s conclusion regarding the reliability of Rufinus’ translation of the homilies on Joshua can be regarded as representing the general conclusion of the various scholars who have studied the different translations of Rufinus and have concluded that they can be trusted within certain limits.

. . .Jaubert’s study of the homilies on Joshua has shown that while Rufinus has remained true to Origen’s thought, his work should not be thought of as a translation, but as a free adaptation.

Henry Chadwick . . .“The voice is the voice of Origen, even though the hands are the hands of Rufinus.”(4)Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus by Origen and Ronald E. Heine. Pg. 30ff

Rufinus was well aware that Origen’s texts had begun the process of corruption immediately after they were originally written.(5)Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus by Origen and Ronald E. Heine. Pg. 34ff To combat this, Rufinus had early manuscripts available to him that we do not today, and was able to reconstruct. This was likely how he approached the work of Gregory Nazianzus’ On Pentectost.

With all this information at hand, how should a Rufinus translation of Gregory’s work be treated? I don’t think one should reject Rufinus’ writings as being too opinionated and not true to the original. It is, as noted above, a free adaptation that is committed to the sense, but adds a few hints of later Latin theological and doctrinetic perspectives.

It may be too early to make this conclusion. More comparative analysis need to made between the Greek and Latin texts.

This is looked into greater detail in the following article: Nazianzus tongues of Pentecost Paradox where it is found that he makes a critical translation error from the Greek that started a centuries long debate. ■

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Rufinus on Gregory Nazianzus' work on Pentecost

Tyrannius Rufinus Latin text of Gregory Nazianzus’ Oration 41:15-17

As found in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. Augustus Engelbrecht ed. Vol. 46. Tyranii Rufini Opera. Pars I: Orationum Gregorii Nazianzeni Novem Interpretatio. Vindobonae/Lipsiae. 1910

[Pg. 160] 15. Loquebantur igitur uariis et diuersis linguis apostoli et proferebatur sermo ignotus usque ad praesens ipsis illis qui loquebantur. et hoc erat signum quod infidelibus populis olim fuerat praenuntiatum, cum dicitur quia in aliis linguis et aliis labiis loquar populo huic, et nec sic me exaudient, dicit dominus. sed requiritur in hoc loco, quomodo unusquisque audiebant(1)Should read audiebat as found in MPL. Vol. 92 Bedæ Venerabilis: Super Acta Apostolorum Expositio. Col. 947 linguis suis loquentes eos magnalia dei: utrum hi qui loquebantur diuersis sermonibus uniuscuisque linguae hoc quod dicebatur proferebant, id est, ut uerbi causa unusquisque eorum loquens una lingua rursum intermissa hac iterum se ad aliam conuerteret et inde iterum ad aliam et sic per multas uel per omnes linguas percurreret; [Pg. 161] an in eo potius erat mirabile, quod sermo eorum qui loquebantur, qualibet lingua fuisset pronuntiatus, unicuique audienti secundum suam linguam intellegebatur, ut uerbi causa uno quocumque apostolo in ecclesia dicente — necesse enim erat tacentibus reliquis unum loqui et sermonem unum ad auditum omnium peruenire –, qui sermo hanc in se uim haberet, ut, cum diuersarum gentium auditores adessent, unusquisque secundum suam linguam illius ipsius unius sermonis, qui ab apostolo fuerat pronuntiatus, susciperet auditum et caperet intellectum, nisi si forte secundum hoc magis uideatur audientium esse miraculum quam loquentium. hi autem qui ita loquebantur etiam ebrii esse ab incredulis putabantur nescientibus scilicet audire sancti spiritus uoces.

16. Admiranda quidem fuit et illa linguarum antiqua diuisio, cum ad turris superbam et inpiam constructionem male sibi sociata iniquorum unanimitas concordabat. sed discissione uocis atque in ignotum sonum uersae inpiae conspirationis reprimuntur conatus. uerum multo admirabilior est ista diuisio. quod enim fuerat tunc ab una in plures sibi inuicem ignotas discrepantesque diuisum, id nunc per plures ad unam concordem et consonam reuocatur. et sunt quidem dona diuersa, sed datur etiam discretionis donum, quo discerni et intelligi possit a [Pg. 162] bono quod melius est. sed ne illud quidem mihi inutile uidetur quod ait Dauid: submerge, domine, et diuide linguas eorum. quare? quia dilexerunt omnia uerba praecipitationis, linguam dolosam. numquid non manifeste per haec istas indicat linguas, quas nunc uidemus naturam deitatis et unitatem diuinae substantiae concidentes? uerum de his sufficiat.

17. Quoniam autem Parthos et Medos et Elamitas, Aegyptios et Libycos, Cretenses quoque et Arabas, Mesopotamenos quoque et meos Cappadoces adesse dicit scriptura, quibus loquebantur apostoli, sed et ex omni gente quae sub caelo sunt Iudaeos, conuenions puto perquirere, quinam isti sunt et ex qua captiuitate Iudaei, quoniam quidem illa, quae in Aegypto fuerat uel in Babylonia, absoluta iam fuerat, Romanis autem nondum uenerant in captiuitatem, licet iam et ipsa inmineret ultrix commissi de saluatore piaculi. superest ergo ut illa intellegatur captiuitas, quae sub Antiocho facta est, quae utique non multis ante temporibus acciderat.

Forgotten books has an online version of the same copy: Tyrannii Rvfini Orationvm Gregorii Nazianzeni novem interpretatio.(2)Vindobonae: F. Tempsky. 1910]

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