The Pentecostal Rewrite of the History of Speaking in Tongues

Two Pentecostal Missionaries listening to Philip Schaff Cartoon

How Pentecostals built their historical framework for their doctrine of tongues from Higher Criticism literature–a necessary but unlikely relationship.

This merging of two opposed systems, one dependent on the supernatural, and the other focused on the rational and logical with no reference to any divine entity, makes for one of the most major shifts in the history of the christian doctrine of tongues.

As shown throughout the Gift of Tongues Project, tongues as an ecstatic utterance was a new addition to the doctrine of tongues in the 19th century. There is no historical antecedent for ecstatic utterance, glossolalia and their variances before this era. Nor is there a connection with the majority of ecclesiastical writings over 1800 years which had a different trajectory.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls and Angelic Tongues

The Community Rule Dead Sea Scroll Text first page snippet with a magnifying glass in front

Examining the nature, function, and history of angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls and two intertestamental books to find a connection with St. Paul’s reference of the tongues of men and angels.

Paul and the authors behind the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Testament of Job, and the Book of Enoch are products of a milieu that believed in the divine interplay between angels and the worshipper. So, if one wants to find an answer to Paul’s mysterious reference about angelic tongues, the highest probability exists in these texts.

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The Testament of Job and Angelic tongues

A picture of a page of the Testament of Job with a magnifying glass in front
A colorized and altered Testament of Job sample in Greek Minuscule. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

An analysis of the Testament of Job, its controversial state on speaking in angelic tongues, and its place in the christian doctrine of tongues.

The Testament of Job’s narration of Job’s three daughters speaking in the dialect of angels piques curiosity, especially those who hold an interest in the christian doctrine of tongues. Were they speaking a supernatural language of angels that purportedly the early Christian church of Corinth produced and later the Montanists? Alternatively, were they speaking in highly exalted poetic language as the Delphic prophetesses practiced?

An obvious third question then arises. Did the tongues of angels perpetuate in the early church and beyond? No literature so far in any ecclesiastical text examined in the Gift of Tongues Project has addressed the subject. It is not a part of the ancient traditions in Western or Eastern Christianity.

These first two questions and more are the purpose of this article.

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The Seven Pillars of the Charismatic Movement

image of people worshiping in a church

Seven pillars that any researcher on the Charismatic Movement must take into consideration.

The accelerated growth of the Charismatic movement throughout the world along with its political impact has brought them under more scrutiny within the general public.

Renewalists, that is Charismatics, Pentecostals, and Third Wavers (traditional churches influenced by Pentecostal mysticism) are now the most common expression found in most churches. Renewalism is the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world. The focus on this article is specifically on the Charismatic movement whose growth is exploding faster than the contemporary Pentecostal one.

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The Church, Synagogue, and St. Paul

Paul with hand on head with Church on right Synagogue on left

Why Paul never used the word synagogue to describe the movement he inspired and chose ecclesia instead—the Greek word we translate as church.

The short answer is that he couldn’t use the word synagogue for a variety of legal and administrative reasons. Ecclesia was a better fit for their role as a para-synagogue organization within the Jewish umbrella.

There is a second option but not so strong as the first one. Paul thought of ecclesia as  defining his concept of Messianic Judaism a restorative movement claiming back to the time of Ezra.

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Christianity’s Big Split from Judaism

The reasons and impact of Christianity’s separation from its Jewish parent.

Christianity split from Judaism

Christianity first started as a grass-roots Jewish movement that had its origins in the Galilee and Jerusalem regions. In fact, the word Christian was introduced later. This article is an exploration into the events that forced the early followers of Jesus to move away from Judaism and into a different identity.

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Influence of Aramaic on Hebrew

Graphic showing Deuteronomy 31:24 in Samaritan, Dead Sea Scroll, and Aleppo Scripts

The influence of Aramaic on ancient Hebrew typography.

As shown throughout this blog, the Hebrew language was heavily influenced, and almost overtaken by Aramaic. In the first century, only in the southern reaches of Israel did the Jewish the population continue to speak in Hebrew (with a few exceptions of course).

This influence is greatly shown in the shift in typography. Although Hebrew was retained in religious texts, the handwriting was changed from ancient Hebrew to an Aramaic style. Not only was the script changed but Aramaic typography also became the formally instituted one. The ancient Hebrew calligraphy was later reserved for the Samaritans and their texts, whom the Jewish peoples historically greatly disliked.

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Praying in tongues, hymns and more: intro

Praying in tongues graphic

A detailed look at praying in tongues from a historic Jewish perspective. The results may surprise many readers.

When one examines praying in tongues from a Jewish liturgical perspective, the understanding of praying in tongues changes dramatically. The most important finding is that praying in tongues was part of a list of liturgical activities noted by Paul occurring in the Corinthian assembly. A list which includes speaking in tongues, hymns, psalms, and the amen construct. These are all found in ancient Jewish traditions.

They all point to the fact that the Corinthian assembly had inherited the liturgical rites of their greater global Jewish community.

Read morePraying in tongues, hymns and more: intro

The Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus, and Paul

Capturing the spirit of first-century Judaism through the window of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament writings.

The Dead Sea Scrolls give an important look into first-century Jewish life from a mainly Jewish-Hebrew perspective; a genre lacking until their advent. Most of our extra-biblical knowledge of Israel during the first-century was previously drawn from Jewish Greek and Aramaic writers.

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9 Points on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Graphic displaying Christian Zionist slogans

Nine points Pentecostals and Charismatic families of churches must do to build healthy relationships with the nation of Israel, Jews, and Palestinians.

Pentecostals, traditional Charismatics, and third-wave Charismatics are collectively called Renewalists. They staunchly support the nation of Israel regardless of whatever behaviour this nation exhibits. Is this is a good thing?

No. It is not.

There is a great need within the Renewalist movement to build a fair and balanced relationship with the nation of Israel, Jews, and Palestinians. The current oral tradition is sorely lacking in this regard.

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