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Early Pentecostal Tongues: Notes and Quotes

A digest of early Pentecostal based newsletters.

As per the Gift of Tongues Project one out of the four aims is being fulfilled here: to provide the source texts in a digital format.

In the case of Pentecostal literature, there is an abundance of information that could take months or years to digitize. However, many of those works only have a small footprint on speaking in tongues that fits the criteria for further research. For the purpose of brevity and avoiding digitization of complete newsletters, important quotes from the early Pentecostal based newsletters have been identified and provided below.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly
  • Apostolic Faith Newspaper (Los Angeles)
  • Apostolic Faith Newspaper (Portland)
  • Confidence
  • Christian and Missionary Alliance
  • The Bridegroom’s Messenger
  • The Assemblies of God Publication
  • The Weekly Evangel
  • The Christian Evangel
  • The Pentecostal Evangel
  • The Latter Rain Evangel
  • The Church of God Evangel
  • White Wing Messenger
  • The Bridal Call
  • The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate
  • Notes
  • For more information on pentecostal tongues
  • Continue reading Early Pentecostal Tongues: Notes and Quotes

    Chrysostom on the Doctrine of Tongues


    A review of John Chrysostom’s works as it relates to the Christian doctrine of tongues.

    His works on the doctrine of tongues is not so cut-and-dry as many portray him. A further look demonstrates far more complexity with grey areas and questions that remain unanswered.

    This fourth-century Church Father is one of most quoted authors of the subject. His popularity on the topic is due to the great reverence associated with his name, the easy access of English translations, and his connection to miracles by the highly influential eighteenth-century writer Conyers Middleton. However, Chrysostom’s work is not a primary source that many have elevated it to. There are much better sources elsewhere.

    Who was John Chrysostom and what did he contribute to the subject?

    John got the title Chrysostom — which means golden mouthed, not because it was his last name, but to his great eloquence. This term was applied to him well after his death. Anyone reading one of his homilies can tell that he had the intellectual acuity combined with public acumen, and articulate speaking skills. He is one of the few that spoke or wrote in the first person within the community of ecclesiastical writers. He was considered the defacto standard for all that followed him in the Eastern Byzantine Christian world.

    This is a look at his coverage of the subject with three important questions to be answered.

    • Did he believe that miracles had ceased in the Church altogether and so the idea of Christian tongues in the contemporary Church is moot?

    • What did he think happened at Pentecost? Was it the instant ability to speak in foreign languages, or was it something else?

    • What did he think of the Corinthian problem of tongues?

    • Did he recognize or argue against the Montanist practice of tongues?

    Chrysostom on Montanism

    The Montanist question will be answered first because it is the simplest. He didn’t recognize any Montanist contribution to either tongues or miracles in any of his texts.

    Chrysostom on the tongues of Pentecost

    Chrysostom clearly defined the doctrine of tongues as the spontaneous utterance of a foreign language unknown beforehand by the speaker. There was no concept whatsoever of a private, ecstatic or heavenly prayer language in his coverage.

    Speaking in tongues was an issue that he was keenly aware of. He was constantly being asked that question, and felt it necessary to make a reply in his Homily, On the Holy Pentecost:

    For if one wishes to demonstrate our faith, we believe this has been done without an assurance of a pledge or signs with it. Except those ones who have received first the sign and pledge, do not believe it concerning the unseen things. I, on the other hand, indeed show a complete faith without this. This is therefore the reason why signs are not happening now.(1)See A Snippet from Chrysostom’s “The Holy Pentecost” Homilies on the Pentecost 1:4(b) to 5. My translation

    His answer was that signs were for the unbeliever. The faithful require no external signs for assurance because the Christian life is an internal matter of the heart and mind. If one depends on signs as the most important factor in personally knowing God, or as the stimuli that motivates in the Christian life and witness, then signs and miracles are the guiding force in life. It becomes the central part of one’s identity which must constantly be pursued. Chrysostom favored the ascetic inward life of devotion, acceptance, and good deeds as the guiding principle in the Christian life over being directed by external signs. Miracles and signs were too abstract and impersonal as a framework for daily Christian living.

    Chrysostom on the tongues of Corinth and his effects on later interpretations

    In almost every piece of tongues literature referencing the Church fathers, the following quote from Chrysostom is sure to be cited:

    This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place. And why do they not happen now? Why look now, the cause too of the obscurity has produced us again another question: namely, why did they then happen, and now do so no more?(2)Homily 29 on First Corinthians. Translated by Talbot W. Chambers. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/220129.htm.

    This is a leading statement by those of the cessationist movement who believe the supernatural era was completed at the founding of the Church. This belief concludes that the miracle of tongues did not perpetuate itself after this. Therefore, it is not necessary to trace the definition, or evolution of the doctrine of tongues because anything defined after the first century is based on a false supposition.

    The fourth century leaders Chrysostom, and Augustine, along with the fifth century Cyril of Alexandria carried similar thoughts on the subject, though each one represented this concept slightly different. Augustine restricted his opinion that only the individual expression of tongues had ceased, not the corporate one. Other miracles such as healing, prophecy, etc., were still viewed as operative.(3) see Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost Intro Cyril of Alexandria held that the miraculous endowment of languages at Pentecost was a temporary sign for the Jews. Those that received this blessing continued to have this power throughout their lives, but it did not persist after their generation.(4) see Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Conclusion The association between these three demonstrates that there must have been an interpretive movement of this kind in the fourth and fifth centuries that bordered on a universal thought. However, there are problems. It doesn’t take into account the tongues-speaking experience of the fourth century Egyptian Monastic leader, Pachomius. The writers of this account display him speaking miraculously in an unlearned foreign language, and no one in antiquity has disputed or countered the theological legitimacy.(5)see Pachomius on Speaking in Tongues Basil of Seleucia who tried 50 years later to emulate Chrysostom’s style and wrote a commentary on Pentecost, did not overtly carry on this tradition,(6)see Basil of Seleucia on Pentecost but then he didn’t disprove it either. It was simply omitted in his coverage. Neither was the doctrine found in eighth century John of Damascus texts, who liberally borrowed from Chrysostom’s works.(7)see John of Damascus on Tongues: Notes However, this is from a small sampling, more materials may come up on these two I haven’t read that may contradict my opinion. Michael Psellos in the tenth century failed to recognize any of these three in his comprehensive coverage on tongues, choosing to exclusively follow Gregory Nazianzus.(8)see Michael Psellos on the doctrine of Tongues On the other hand, Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century sided with Augustine that the miracle of tongues had switched from an individual, to a corporate expression.(9)see Thomas Aquinas on the Miracle of Tongues These examples demonstrate that the cessationalist doctrine of tongues was dominant and powerful during the fourth and fifth centuries, but it was not universal. It did perpetuate, but it was not the defacto standard.

    The one who captivated this doctrine for centuries was Gregory Nazianzus. His technical approach can be traced in Christian literature for well over a thousand-years. He did not address whether tongues ceased or perpetuated, he solely concentrated on the mechanics on how this miracle operated at Pentecost.

    For more information on Gregory Nazianzus on the doctrine of tongues, see, Gregory Nazianzus on the doctrine of Tongues Intro.

    The earliest that Chrysostom’s name prominently recirculated after the fourth century in connection with miracles and the doctrine of tongues was by the English Church historian, Conyers Middleton, who wrote the controversial and game-changing 1749 work, Divine Inquiry. Middleton outlined that signs and miracles have not occurred since the time of the apostles. It was written both as an antidote against the excesses of Christian mysticism during his time and the establishment of the Protestant identity separate from the Roman Catholic authority. His scant reference to Chrysostom in the above work, along with more details found in, An Essay on the Gift of Tongues,(10)Conyers Middleton’s Essay on the Gift of Tongues gained attraction to Chrysostom’s thoughts on the subject after a long slumber. The concept became a stolid symbol for the conservative protestant identity in 1918, when the last theological leader of a united Princeton Seminary, B.B. Warfield, published, Counterfeit Miracles.(11)http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/warfield/warfield_counterfeit.html#one Warfield utilized Chrysostom as a champion of that cause. The golden mouth preacher found a prominent proponent which renewed an interest in his works within the western world. The theological idea of cessation grew prominent in many theological circles and today is known as cessationism.

    Chrysostom on Miracles

    Did Chrysostom really believe miracles had ceased? A further look is yes if one does not look at all the information and no if the information is examined more closely. There has been some mulling over this since the publication of Free Inquiry where Middleton himself showed some difficulties with Chrysostom on the subject.(12) Conyers Middleton. A Free Inquiry – New Edition. London. J. and W. Boone. 1844. Pg. 103 He cited many examples from Chrysostom about the nature of demons and their remedies; such as letters about a young friend of Chrysostom, Stagirius, who chose the monastic life, and had both physical and emotional issues which Chrysostom sought healing through exorcism.(13) The original text is found in Ad Stagirium a daemone vexatum. MPG. Vol. 47. Col. 423-448 Another one was cures using consecrated oil,(14)Homilies on Matthew. 32 and also believed that the sign of the cross was a “defence against all evil, and a medicine against all sickness, and affirms it to have been miraculously impressed, in his own time, on people’s garments,”(15) IBID Divine Inquiry Pg. 103 and lastly that forcing one possessed by a demon to be near or touching the tomb of a Christian martyr, can bring about healing.(16) In Julianum Martyrem. MPG. Vol. 50. Col. 669 There is more to miracles to Chrysostom than what was supplied by Middleton. In Homily 38 of the Acts of the Apostles, Chrysostom described a boy who was miraculously healed.(17) Acts of the Apostles. Homily XXXVIII, as found at New Advent. Translated by J. Walker, J. Sheppard and H. Browne, and revised by George B. Stevens. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 11. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Many of these stories revolve around demons which were considered a normative experience in Greek everyday life. It was not an unusual or extraordinary event. This was so prevalent that it would not be labelled as a special gift that only happened at the birthing of the Church. Added to this fact that Chrysostom believed the central Christian identity was “to enlist in Christ’s army for warfare against the devil and his hosts”.(18)Rowan A. Greer. The Fear of Freedom: A Study of Miracles in the Roman Imperial Church. Penn State Press. 2008. Pg. 54

    Secondly the healing of the young boy was either a direct intervention by God, or by the laws of nature. It was not attributed to the powers of a faith healer, which Chrysostom believed whose office had died. The healing via consecrated oil, and the sign of the cross suggests that Chrysostom believed that miracles had transferred from the individual and into the corporate Church expressed in the form of rituals. This is a similar concept espoused by Augustine who believed that the gift of tongues did not die, but rather its expression switched from the individual to the Church.(19) See Augustine on the Tongues of Pentecost for more info.

    The downgrading of miracles is consistent with Greek philosophic principles, in which even St. Paul recognized as different from Jewish perceptions, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom.”(20) I Corinthians 1:22 NASB Signs were not a priority, understanding and applying meaning was utmost. This was very evident even at the time of Origen whose coverage of I Corinthians dwelled greatly on the concept of knowledge rather than the literalness of the text.(21) See Origen on Knowledge

    Chrysostom demonstrates a cautionary approach to miracles. His response reflects a man who lived a very ascetic and restrictive lifestyle. The goal of every Christian’s life was not the outward activity such as healings or miracles, but the purity and selflessness of the inner soul. He very much minimized individualism and espoused corporate good. This can be gleaned from his writing found in his Homilies in Matthew 9:32;

    For, as to miracles, they oftentimes, while they profited another, have injured him who had the power, by lifting him up to pride and vainglory, or haply in some other way: but in our works there is no place for any such suspicion, but they profit both such as follow them, and many others.(22) Homily on Matthew 9:32

    He also outlined here the real danger of pride within those who perform miracles and cautioned against this type of leadership. Conversely, he demonstrated an openness to miracles happening through an anointed person. He believed many succumb to the temptation of pride. Perhaps he is following in the same line of thinking as Origen that the decline in miracles was due to the lack of altruistic, pious, and holy individuals in his generation.(23)see Origen on the Gift of Tongues for more info. He never named anyone in his lifetime ever achieving this status. This was likely why Chrysostom venerated deceased saints who had achieved a high spiritual status in their lives that very few could ever achieve. He believed that they had miraculous powers even after they died and those attending by their graves could muster restorative power. This veneration in some Churches still exist today. The alleged skull remains of Chrysostom’s body, was brought out for a brief public viewing in 2007 at the Monastery of Mt. Athos. It was claimed to be healing people who appeared by it.(24)http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/01/contemporary-miracles-of-st-john.html

    Rowan A. Green took a deep look at Chrysostom and miracles in his book, The Fear of Freedom: A Study of Miracles in the Roman Imperial Church, and felt pressed to ask the question, what is Chrysostom worrying about? He answered by writing, Chrysostom identifies the quest for miracles with the magical practices he naturally supposes Christians must avoid. Still more, the Jews tend to become scapegoats in Chrysostom’s polemic.(25) The Fear of Freedom: A Study of Miracles in the Roman Imperial Church. Penn State Press. 2008. Pg. 56

    Another dynamic may be the idea of political stability. The central authority of the Church was based on literature, liturgy, ritual and offices, which were uniformly observed and established. If signs and wonders became the central focal point, it would have severely challenged the structure of the Church and could bypass established leadership, and all other established principles.

    Clues into finding Chrysostom’s definition on the doctrine of tongues

    Chrysostom had further important points in his Homilies on I Corinthians which is imperative to look into:

    I Corinthians 14:3. . . .And it was thought great because the Apostles received it first, and with so great display; it was not however therefore to be esteemed above all the others. Wherefore then did the Apostles receive it before the rest? Because they were to go abroad every where. And as in the time of building the tower the one tongue was divided into many; so then the many tongues frequently met in one man, and the same person used to discourse both in the Persian, and the Roman, and the Indian, and many other tongues, the Spirit sounding within him: and the gift was called the gift of tongues because he could all at once speak various languages. . .

    I Corinthians 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and no kind is without signification:” i.e., so many tongues, so many voices of Scythians, Thracians, Romans, Persians, Moors, Indians, Egyptians, innumerable other nations. . .(26)Homily 35 on First Corinthians. Translated by Talbot W. Chambers. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

    It is consistenly found in Chrysostom’s hermeneutic that the tongues of Babel, Pentecost and Corinth were the same thing. He mixes verses from many books to make a linear narrative on the doctrine.

    His conclusion that tongues-speech in I Corinthians was obscure, his virulent anti-semitism, and narrow literalist interpretations all contributed to difficulty understanding this subject. He could not comprehend a Jewish antecedent as a background to Paul’s narrative of I Corinthians.

    The Spirit sounding within him?

    The above passages demonstrate that the miracle of Pentecost was the supernatural endowment of speaking in different languages. One portion of the text requires some additional thought. What did he mean by “the Spirit sounding within him.”? The actual Greek reads: τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐνηχοῦντος αὐτῷ which should properly be translated as:

    While the Spirit teaches to him

    This is slightly different from the standard English translation quoted above. It changes the nuance and should then read: “and the same person used to discourse both in the Persian, and the Roman, and the Indian, and many other tongues, while the Spirit teaches to him: and the gift was called the gift of tongues because he could all at once speak various languages.”

    The old English version leaned on the Latin translation of the text which emphasized the idea of the Spirit sounding within (insonantes Spiritu) rather than the Greek which, according to Donnegan’s Greek Dictionary, believed Chrysostom used the word in other works to mean to teach or instruct.(27)Donnegan Pg. 494 [677] Secondly the Latin put the text into the ablative rather than keep the sense of the Greek genitive absolute.

    The reader may think that this is an innocuous point being made. There are a number of ways to understand the tongues miracle. The first one was that the person thought in their own language and as they began to speak, their thoughts were divinely intercepted and their lips produced sounds in different foreign languages, which the Latin translation could be understood leaning towards. It was an external miracle. Therefore there was little intellectual involvement on behalf of the speaker. Or it can be that the speaker spoke a single language, and the hearers heard in their own language. Another argument was that the miracle happened internally. The person miraculously understood and comprehended a language not previously known, had immediate fluency, along with full voluntary control of what he was saying, which the Greek tends to promote. The text illustrates that Chrysostom believed it was an internal miracle. He did not explain whether this was a temporary phenomenon with those at Pentecost, or that it persisted with them throughout their lives.

    The Corinthian tongues being a liturgical language?

    Chrysostom further wrote an analysis of I Corinthians 14:15 that dwelled on the subject of tongues as a special foreign language used in the Church service:

    I Corinthians 14:15 See how this one gradually building the argument demonstrating that such a thing is not only unprofitable for everyone else, but for himself, if it is so, his mind is unfruitful?

    If someone should utter on in the Persian language, or in some foreign one, and additionally he does not know what he is saying, therefore it will also henceforth be alien to him, not just to another person, because the mastery of the voice would not be understood. In fact, there were formerly many having the gift of prayer by aid of a language. The language was being uttered — a prayer language being emitted whether in the Persian or Roman voice, and meanwhile, the mind did not know the thing being spoken.(28) translation is mine

    The text infers here that Chrysostom was aware the earlier Church had a religious liturgical language issued in the form of prayer, and it was supposed to be used universally throughout Christendom — however, he wasn’t sure what that liturgical language was. His guess was either of the two more prominent languages within his realm; Latin or Persian. He did acknowledge that there were once people skilled in this practice within the Church liturgy, but not within his time. This is an odd statement because Cyril of Alexandria, whose influence in Alexandria, Egypt, was only forty years later, stated that a Christian liturgical language, along with an interpreter-like-person called the keimenos was still in use within the Churches of Egypt.(29)See Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Conclusions for more info.

    Chrysostom also pointed out that those previously who read or spoke in the religious liturgical language did not necessarily know what they were reading or saying. They were trained to simply read out the sounds, or speak them out from memory. It shows that this practice had been abandoned in the Antioch area by his time but not necessarily throughout the universal Christian community.

    Some Additional thoughts about Chrysostom on tongues

    His fourth homily on the Acts of the Apostles clearly spells out that Pentecost was the supernatural endowment of one or many foreign languages.(30)Saint Chrysostom. Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and The Epistle to the Romans. Vol. XI. as found in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post Nicence Fathers of the Christian Church. Philip Schaff, ed. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1899. Pg. 25ff

    He also provides more material from his homilies On the Holy Pentecost about the passages in the Book of Acts where people being baptized, miraculously spoke in foreign languages:

    The person in the process of being baptized immediately was uttering in the sound of the Indians, Egyptians, Persians, Scythians, and Thracians — one man was taking on many languages. (31)See A Snippet from Chrysostom’s “The Holy Pentecost”

    He takes a position here that the person was spontaneously speaking in all the languages of the world. It is a broad statement which doesn’t explain the mechanics behind this. Was the person speaking a few words in one language, then switching to a second, and so on, until complete? Wouldn’t that take far too long? And would it be considered a miracle only to say a few words in each language and then switch to another?

    These questions are unfortunately not answered. Chrysostom himself realized this in his address on the doctrine of tongues in his homilies On the Holy Pentecost. He bluntly dived right in, stating that believers do not need signs. External things are insignificant. He knew his audience would not completely buy into this and added, “But I see that to be a teaching extending out for a long time. On which account I am going to bring an end to the word while adding a few thoughts.”(32)My translation. Homily on the Holy Pentecost 1:4(b) to 5 He never completely finished the topic. It would have been helpful for posterity that he did. So he left us with a lot of question marks as to what he meant.

    This may be the reason why Nazianzus’ writing of the subject perpetuated for centuries and his opinions did not. ■

    References   [ + ]

    Liturgy, Race and Language in the Corinthian Church

    Understanding the tongues of Corinth from linguistic, ethnic and liturgical perspectives along with an inquiry into whether Hebrew was part of their liturgy.

    The Gift of Tongues Project has uncovered two ancient Christian writers who correlated the problem tongues of Corinth as ethnic or linguistic conflicts. The Ambrosiaster text emphasized the want of the Jewish adherents to speak in Aramaic during the liturgy, which few understood in Corinth, and the Epiphanius text believed the problem of Corinth was a dispute between three distinct Greek speaking groups; Attic, Aeolic, and Doric along with the use of Hebrew in the Church liturgy.

    The Epiphanius text is the most direct on the subject. Although the reference to the use of Hebrew is found here, the text itself failed to directly connect the primary use of Hebrew with the Greek conflict. Nevertheless, it is inferred by its close grammatical relationship. This connection can be understood in two ways:

    • It was the traditional reading of the Hebrew text and the delivery of it into the local vernacular. In the context of the Epiphanius text, the Corinthians couldn’t agree what was to be the standardized Greek language for translation/explanation/preaching in the Church liturgy.

    • Or, it could be that Epiphanius did not want to correlate the Hebrew liturgical reading of Scripture at all, but that this language was the language of instruction and religious devotion. Those masters who were instructing/lecturing on the principles of the Christian faith did so in Hebrew, while an interpreter was required to translate it into the local vernacular. The conflict was in which Greek vernacular was most suited for the Corinthian congregation.

    The Corinthian tongues conflict explained by Epiphanius is unique and no thorough investigation has been done to qualify or discard this claim.

    There is a definite need for finding a positive solution to the mystery tongues of Corinth since a thorough investigation completed in the Gift of Tongues Project has ruled out the Corinthian tongues as a mystical experience resulting in those speaking ecstatic utterances. As previously written and documented, tongues as an ecstatic utterance was a theory first introduced in the 1800s.(1)See The History of Glossolalia

    This series of articles are devoted to finding whether this historical context was correct through investigating Jewish literature, archaeology, and ecclesiastical writings.

    The problem of insufficient first-hand data on the Corinthian assembly liturgy.

    The ecclesiastical literature cited above, along with a number of pieces demonstrated in Rabbinical writings later on in this series, are mostly all fourth century or later works. Unfortunately, this is the only material a researcher can work from. No matter which way one approaches this problem, the person is forced to look at later texts to rebuild an earlier scenario.

    Michael Graves, author of The Public Reading of Scripture in Early Judaism looked into this problem and agrees:

    Yet, the use of Jewish liturgical practices to reconstruct early Christian worship is not without difficulties. One of the major problems is the fact that many Christian historians, to some extent following older Jewish scholarship, have operated with the assumption that Jewish liturgy was essentially fixed and uniform in the first century ad. This assumption, however, cannot be reconciled with the available evidence. Recent scholarship on the history of Jewish worship has painted a more complex picture of Jewish liturgical development, thus forcing scholars of Christian liturgy to rethink the potential relationships between early Jewish and Christian forms of worship. Out of this new research has arisen greater awareness of the diversity and flexibility in the earlier stages of development, and also a more skeptical stance toward the use of later documents to reconstruct the customs of earlier times. Of course, total skepticism toward rabbinic reports is unwarranted, and one cannot dismiss older historical and philological studies as having nothing to offer. But when the sources present a picture of diversity, or when no evidence exists for a given practice at a certain time and place, one must avoid simply harmonizing one tradition with another or an earlier time period with a later one.(2)Graves, Michael. The Public REading of Scripture in Early Judaism. JETS 50/3 (September 2007) 467–87

    Mr. Graves statement has to be seriously considered. Harmonizing is a good start, but not a good end point. The following analysis agrees with Graves statement that there was diversity and flexibility in the earlier stages of diasporan Jewish liturgy. The Corinth Paul lived in was complex. A whole host of Jewish, Roman, Greek, and Latin influences are found mixed together in a curious blend that cannot easily be untangled. This shouldn’t stop the researcher from trying. This lack of early source material makes it difficult, but not impossible.

    There are a number of assumptions that can be made about the Church of Corinth and Paul’s reference to tongues in I Corinthians 14:

    • Paul was an orthodox Jew whose pedigree was confirmed by his learning under one of the leading Jewish teachers of the first century, Gamaliel.(3)Acts 22:3 Paul had no ambition to overthrow or abandon Jewish culture. He wanted to complete it. His initial strategy was to preach in the synagogues of any town, village or city that he visited. It later expanded to the non-Jewish community.(4)Romans 1:16, Acts 18:ff Therefore his writing style, life and practice was steeped in Jewish influences. The founding of any Church associated with him would reflect this.

    • The initial Corinthian Church had two names attached to it — Titius Justus and Crispus. Crispus was a leader of a synagogue; Titius Justus was described as a worshiper of God, suggesting that he was not Jewish and his name infers a Roman lineage.(5)Acts 18:6ff These two accounts demonstrated that the Corinthian Church was of mixed ethnic origin.

    • The mentioning of a converted synagogue leader, who must have exercised some internal authority in the development of the Corinthian Church, would have had a serious influence on the liturgy.

    • Paul’s address on the tongues of Corinth are reminiscent of Jewish tradition. Speaking, interpretation, the office of an interpreter, and the Amen are all found in Jewish liturgical traditions.(6)This will be documented in part 2 of this series

    • The Hebrew language is a central part of the Jewish religious identity. The Jewish sages had numerous discussions on the role of Hebrew in religious life and affixed when, where, and why Hebrew or an alternative language was to be used. Although the final discussions are the only available corpus today, this must have been an issue in the first century.

    Was Hebrew used in the Synagogue liturgy outside of Israel, especially in lands dominated by the Greek language and culture?

    The role of Hebrew in the ancient Greek communities of the Jewish diaspora is a disputed subject. Gedaliah Alon, a Jewish historian, noted the interweaving of Hebrew and Greek in the Synagogue before and after the destruction of Jerusalem.(7)Gedaliah Alon. The Jews in their Land in the Talmudic Age. Ed. and Trans. by Gershon Levi. Vol. 2. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. 1984. Pg. 338 Some, like Harry Gamble, have argued a complete abandonment of Hebrew “In the Greek-speaking synagogues of the Diaspora, however, the scriptures were apparently always read in Greek, and no translation was required.”(8)Harry Gamble. Books and Readers in the Early Church. New Haven:Yale University. 1995. Pg. 210 Gamble goes on to conclude within the earliest Christian Church, “no explicit evidence attests the liturgical reading of either the Torah or the prophets in Christian assemblies in the first century, …In addition, when it arrives on the field of historical vision Christianity is already fully wedded to the Septuagint.”(9)Harry Gamble. Books and Readers in the Early Church. New Haven:Yale University. 1995. Pg. 211 Obviously he was unaware of Epiphanius’ account of Hebrew being read as part of the liturgy in the earliest Corinthian Church or felt that Epiphanius’ text was too removed from the primitive Church to be of value. Gamble’s assumption about exclusive Greek reading in the churches is questionable. Alon believed that at least in one synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, whose principal language was Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic were used for “literary purposes, for worship and even other needs.”(10)Gedaliah Alon. The Jews in their Land in the Talmudic Age. Ed. and Trans. by Gershon Levi. Vol. 2. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. 1984. Pg. 338 This small reference demonstrates that Hebrew still existed as a religious vernacular in some or all of the diaspora which would have had an effect on the structure of the earliest Christian Churches.

    The tension between Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic as the lingua franca in Jewish life.

    Aramaic was granted a high standing and was the native tongue of most Rabbinic sages. The Aramaic version of the Bible, known as Targum Onkelos has been a prime source of Jewish exegesis for almost two millennia. Yet the public reading was still retained in Hebrew according to Stephen Wylen, who further added:

    It became a custom among Jews to read the weekly lectionary portion of the Torah three time through, once in Hebrew and twice in Aramaic. This custom was retained even into the Middle Ages when Jews no longer spoke Aramaic.(11) Stephen Wylan. The Seveny Faces of Torah: The Jewish Way of Reading the Sacred Scriptures. New Jersey: Paulist Press. 2005. Pg. 37

    However, not everything was to be done in Hebrew. This was especially noted with the language of prayer. Whatever language the prayer was originally produced in, was allowed to remain in that language. For example, Talmud Babli Megillah established that whatever prayers were originally written in Aramaic, were to remain in Aramaic throughout the diaspora.(12) Talmud Babli Megillahh 9a

    This was a disputed point and considerably argued. Aramaic was internally contested in reference to Jewish identity. God’s speaking to Moses at Mount Sinai was used as a polemic against Aramaic. “And the Lord spoke from Sinai. This is the Hebrew language.”(13)Sefer Haggada (in Hebrew) Tel-Abib: Dvir co. ltd. Book III, 3b. My translation There was a concerted effort to resist the inclusion of foreign languages in their liturgy and prayers. “For R. Johanan declared: if anyone prays for his needs in Aramaic [ie. a foreign tongue] the ministering Angels do not pay attention to him because they do not understand that language.”(14) The Soncino Talmud. Trans. by Epstein I. London: Soncino Press. 1935. Pg. 162

    There was a movement against Aramaic and Greek in the land of Israel and an assertion that only Hebrew should be used. As reflected in this passage found in the Talmud Babli, Sotah 49b:

    and that nobody should teach his son Greek. …At that time they declared,-`Cursed be a man who rears pigs and cursed be a man who teaches his son Greek wisdom!` Concerning that year we learnt that it happened that the `omer had to be supplied from the gardens of Zarifim and the two loaves from the valley of En-Soker. But it is not so! For Rabbi said: Why use the Syrian language in the land of Israel? Either use the holy tongue or Greek! And R. Joseph said: Why use the Syrian language in Babylon? Either use the holy tongue or Persian! The Greek language and Greek wisdom are distinct. But is Greek philosophy forbidden? Behold Rab Judah declared that Samuel said in the name of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel , What means that which is written: Mine eye affecteth my soul, because of all the daughters of my city? There were a thousand pupils in my father`s house; five hundred studied Torah and five hundred studied Greek wisdom, and of these there remained only I here and the son of my father`s brother in Assia! It was different with the household of Rabban Gamaliel because they had close associations with the Government; for it has been taught: To trim the hair in front is of the ways of the Amorites; but they permitted Abtilus b. Reuben to trim his hair in front because he had close associations with the Government. Similarly they permitted the household of Rabban Gamaliel to study Greek wisdom because they had close associations with the Government.(15) Talmud Babli Sotah 49b as found at the Instone Brewer website.

    The duration, strength, or popularity of this opinion which existed in the land of Israel is not known. These examples are two to four centuries removed from the time of St. Paul, and may have even been stronger during the Corinthian conflict.

    The Greek influence and encroachment on traditional Jewish life and practice.

    On the other hand there was a problem of Greek perception towards the Jews. The Greeks believed their language and culture to be superior to anything else. For example the last non-Christian Roman Emperor, Julian, rejected what was then known to be the sect of the Galileans (Christianity) because it was not of Greek origin, nor wrought from the Greek language, and worse yet, it came from something obscure and unimportant as Hebrew. This can be gleaned from Cyril’s refutation against Julian;

    For you esteem very lightly the distinguished men with the one subsequent Hebrew language that went a different way from the Greek , and I reckon that your Italian which was made for everyone, that you arranged it a certain number? Furthermore has it not been truly said to us that if we wish to understand the straight and narrow, the Greek language is not about to be held as the author of religious devotion… And so we are taught that the greatest place of moral virtue is through the sacred writings of the divinely inspired Scriptures. Nevertheless, we use such things for the preparation of sound teachings with Greek thoughts since we are not familiar with the Hebrew language.(16)S. Cyrilli Alexandrini, Contra Julianum, Lib. VII [234]. MPG: Vol. 76. Pg. 858. Translation is mine.

    The Greeks extended the idea of their language being the heavenly one and this had a universal influence, even in the Latin world. One of the greatest Roman leaders and Orators, Cicero, so highly valued the writings of the Greek Philosopher Plato that the god Jupiter “were it his nature to use human speech, would thus discourse.”(17)Plutarch. The Parallel Lives. The Loeb Classical Library. Trans. by Bernadotte Perrin. 1919. Pg. 141

    The Greek Septuagint was introduced to the Graeco-Roman world over three hundred years before the advent of Paul and his address to the Corinthian Church. The Septuagint was the standard in many Jewish circles, especially the diaspora. Paul himself made substantial usage of the Septuagint; when 93 Biblical quotes from Paul are examined 51 are in absolute or virtual agreement with the LXX, while only 4 agree with the Hebrew text.(18)http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/abrahamic-religions-dir/118238-paul-septuagint.html The text of Talmud Babli Megillah supports the Greek version to have near or equivalent status to that of the Hebrew one.(19)Talmud Babli 9a. Philo believed that the Greek text was necessary for the Jewish faith to become a universal standard:

    But this is not the case with our laws which Moses has given to us; for they lead after them and influence all nations, barbarians, and Greeks, the inhabitants of continents and islands, the eastern nations and the western, Europe and Asia; in short, the whole habitable world from one extremity to the other.(20)Philo. On the Life of Moses: II IV:20 . . .Some persons, thinking it a scandalous thing that these laws should only be known among one half portion of the human race, namely, among the barbarians, and that the Greek nation should be wholly and entirely ignorant of them, turned their attention to their translation.(21)Philo. On the Life of Moses: II V:27

    The role of the Septuagint became so prominent according to Jennifer Dines in her book, The Septuagint, that this Greek translation may have forced the Jewish community to explicitly state that the Hebrew text was inspired.(22)Jennifer Mary Dines. The Septuagint. New York: T&T Clark, 2004 Pg. 64

    God dictated to Moses the importance of literacy for the perpetuation of the faith, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…”(23)Deuteronomy 6:9 though this was not ever completely established, because 700 years later at the time of Ezra, as mentioned by the great thirteenth century AD Jewish thinker, Maimonides, Hebrew was switched to a liturgical language and required an interpreter for any local reading.(24)Maimonides הלכות תפילה This will be demonstrated in more detail with the next upcoming article. The first century Jewish writer, Josephus, related that Hebrew literacy was up again in the first century, “and it is ordered to bring the children up (in) the letters concerning the Laws and to place upon (them) the works of the ancestors.”(25)Translation is mine. “to bring the children up (in) the letters” clearly refers to literacy. The popular William Whiston english translation has “It also commands us to bring those children up in learning, and to exercise them in the laws, and make them acquainted with the acts of their predecessors,” it misses the emphasis on literacy here. This may have been restricted to reading by rote. It does not infer written or spoken fluency.

    An objection can be raised that Hebrew had this level of prominence through the study of tomb epitaphs. Jewish tombs have been uncovered in Rome with dates beginning from 63 BC and ending at 300 AD. Out of the 534 names, 76% had a Greek name, 23% a Latin, and only five contained Hebrew, Aramaic, or hybrid names.(26)http://www.livius.org/di-dn/diaspora/rome.html There are a number of problems with this conclusion. First of all, it reflects a long period of time, over 400 years. The Jews who had lived there during the time of Paul may have still kept their original mother tongue and the results are a later calculation. Secondly, Corinth was an international city that was a major intersection for the Jewish diaspora. There would always be an influx of Jews from Israel that would maintain the language. Thirdly, Hebrew may have been retained strictly as a liturgical language which would hardly have been reflected on burial inscriptions.

    A relatively unknown group of Hellenized Jews later evolved a system called minhag-romania, whereby they performed “traditional Jewish prayers that were recited and chanted in Greek, but were written with Hebrew letters.”(27)http://gulnbla.tripod.com/romaniotes.htm This unusual rite was based upon the fact that they understood that the Rabbis dictated all readings must be from Assyrian Script. It is not known how large this movement was, or when it began. The website article contains little substantiation.

    The composition of the earliest Corinthian assembly.

    Paul’s strong background in Judaism, the appointment of a synagogue leader to lead the original Corinthian assembly, and the liturgical problems outlined by Paul in I Corinthians demonstrate that this was a highly influenced Jewish organisation. A second century writing dubiously claimed to be by Clement claimed that the Greek adherents quickly outgrew the Jewish ones in a short manner of time, “Seeing that our people who were given to be abandoned from God, have become more numerous than of the righteous who have God.”(28)MPG Vol. 1. Clement. Epistola II Ad Corinthios. Chapter 2. Col. 333 This suggests the abandonment of directly connected Jewish traditions and liturgies probably before the end of the first century.

    What does this all mean?

    Although the majority of these authors were of a later age, the majority of takes give a good outline demonstrating what kind of ethnic and linguistic tensions confronted Paul in the initial Corinthian Church. Epiphanius’ statement about Greek ethnic infighting and Hebrew being part of the original Corinthian liturgy is a very plausible explanation. The best one that has come forward.■

    Next: Jewish Liturgy and the Tongues of Corinth.

    References   [ + ]

    An English Translation of the Tongues Passages found in De Trinitate

    An English translation of the texts relating to the doctrine of tongues as found in De Trinitate — a work traditionally attributed to Didymus of Alexandria.

    For the actual Greek text, go to The Greek and Latin texts on the Dogma of Tongues found in De Trinitate.

    Didymi Alexandrini. De Trinitate Liber Primus. XVIII:31. MPG. Vol. 39 Col. 348

    In the Book of Genesis, regarding the building of the tower(1)Genesis 11:1-9 the God and Father has revealed the blessed substance, His own Son and His holy Spirit said: “Come, having gone down let us confuse their language so that each one, they were not to be able to hear the voice of [his] neighbour.”(2)Genesis 11:7 according to the Septuagint.

    And I think as well Moses also shows the equality of the Trinity. He set forth one vine in three roots,(3) ἐν τρισί πυθμέσι. Latin: in tribus propaginibus nowhere then has another root spoken in greater quantity, lest anyone reckon the one person over the other, but all of these in fact we believe three to converge into one deity. On this account the divinely inspired Scripture prevents to make [any form of] hierarchy [within the Trinity] in the altar in which the Three receives praise.

    Didymi Alexandrini. De Trinitate Liber Secundus. MPG. Vol. 39. Col. 728ff

    “For through the agency of the laying of hands they were freeing(4) ἀπαλλάττον: I am assuming that it is Eastern equivalent of ἀπαλλάσσω and is the imperfect ind. 3rd. pl. The Latin translator agrees with this in his use of liberabant. men from various maladies, even when the shadow of Peter’s body falls(5)πίπτουσαν: part sg pres part act fem acc [upon someone], while Paul’s personal(6)τοῦ χρωτὸς literally means skin, or something of close acquaintance handkerchiefs too brought about healings.(7)The Latin “ægrotorum sanationes perficerent” emphasizes not just physical healings, but emotional ones as well And Paul certainly wrote to the Romans, “In respect to the one who believes, that there is to be more than enough for you in the hope [and] in the power of the holy Spirit.”(8)Romans 15:13

    In this perspective Peter was confidently calling out the devil, declaring(9)ἀνεφθεγγετο: no source gives a definition though I am assuming that it is imperfect m/p 3rd sg. The Latin used praedicabat. It is also close to ἀποφθέγγομαι found in Acts 2:4, “1) to speak out, speak forth, pronounce  1a) not a word of everyday speech but one “belonging to dignified  and elevated discourse” http://www.greekbible.com/index.php the divine essence of the holy Spirit, saying to Ananias, “How is it(10)Διά τί έπειρασεν ό Σατανας… I don’t understand how Διά fits in here and am literally following the NIV translation in this spot. that Satan has tempted your heart that you are deceiving the holy Spirit?” For who is the one being lied to? [Peter] who was [under] the influence said,“You did not lie to man but to God.”(11)Acts 17:11

    For there was not any kind of reverence in them, who is reduced to that of riches,(12)ἥττων χρημάτων: similarly found in Josephus and Aristophanes. The Latin translator also thinks of it as the “love of money” or(13): relative pronoun or “whether, rather, or”. who breathes injustice, or does not see what is the right thing,(14)ἤ σῶφρον μὴ Βλέπων and the corresponding Latin: aut quid prudentiæ consentaneum sit. or is not in a state of mind(15) διακείμενος concerning the pure nature of the Trinity, as perhaps it was he who ascended the foremost world thrones, and this one possesses in the hands the highest powers.(16)τὰς ἄκρας ἐν χεροῖν ἔχων ἀρχας — τὰς ἀρχας: beginning, origin, first place or power, sovereignty, empire, realm, magistracy, office, command, heavenly powers

    But on the contrary they were taking no notice of the purple authority(17)In the ancient times purple was a color restricted to the highest class. Some historians suggest it was for only the emperor himself. itself, they were masters of riches, possessing the undiminishable treasure of the holy Spirit.

    And they were speaking as well in different languages, “even as”, it says, “the Spirit was giving them to utter.”(18)Acts 2:4 And the Galileans were understanding(19)συνίεσαν. the instruction(20)ὁμιλίαν. of Parthians, Medes, Persians; and the different sorts of foreign speech of mankind,(21)καὶ ἀλλοθρόων ἄλλων ἀνθρώπων including also Greek, and the Ausonian language.(22)I am not sure why Didymus used Αὐσονίαν γλῶτταν here. James Pritchard outlined how Αὐσονίαν was historically understood, and it is not consistent among writers. Some think it was a Latin dialect, or an old type of Latin, and others felt it was a distinct language. The Latin translator didn’t translate this word and left it transliterated. However, Αὐσονίαν γλῶτταν suggests that it was an old language. Greek and Latin, which were the most dominant international languages at the time of Christ’s time on earth, were never mentioned in the Book of Acts. Many voices(23)πολύφωνοί. were indeed produced, and were showing of such things, we are destined to discover about the age to come, when having been liberated from the bonds of this present world, which corresponds to the voice of Paul, “Where there is not among them Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, but Christ is the all and in all.”(24)Colossians 3:11 And clearly he meant the same identical essence as according to the Trinity, “Christ is all and in all.” Where seeing that we seek. . .

    Unfortunately the Greek source text abruptly terminates here, and restarts at a new section that does not pick-up where this text left-off.

    Didymi Alexandri. De Trinitate Liber Secundus. MPG. Vol. 39. Col. 501

    “The water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life,”(25)John 4:14. NASB He said this concerning the holy Spirit, where those who believe were destined to receive from Him. And this too, “For we have become partakers of Christ.”(26)Hebrews 3:14. NASB Then “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,”(27)Hebrews 6:4. KJV And it was exceedingly fitting such a thing being said in the Book of Acts(28)Καὶ ἔοικεν σφόδρα τὸ ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσι τοιῶσδε εἰρημένον “And there appeared to the apostles tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested upon each one of them, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit.”(29)Acts 2:4 And to which was said by John, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire,”(30)Matthew 3:11 by which is similar to the oracle(31) τῷ χρησμῳδηθέντι This Greek word is unique to Didymus and its definition is not found in the source books. The root does refer to oracle and I have used the Latin translation in this passage for English translation by Moses, “God is a consuming fire,” and by Isaiah, “For behold, the LORD will come in fire.”(32) Isaiah 66:15. NASB

    References   [ + ]

    The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues: Conclusion

    Thoughts on the works of the Venerable Bede regarding the doctrine of tongues.

    The two works written by the Venerable Bede, The Initial Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles and the text written later on his life, A Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles demonstrate a number of conclusions regarding the doctrine of tongues.

    Bede’s writings are a primary source material on the christian doctrine of tongues but for whatever reason has been left of the popular narrative. This absence once again identifies the problem of modern day scholars, ministers, and Bible students not knowing their ecclesiastical writings. If modern readers were acquainted with the amount of works covering the doctrine of tongues by the many Church Fathers, including the Venerable Bede, it would dramatically change the contemporary interpretation.

    Bede’s initial commentary on the Book of Acts is dependent on his understanding of Gregory Nazianzus’ teaching on the subject. Although Gregory was clear in his Greek text that it was a miracle of speech, the earliest Latin text does not give such clarity. This forced Bede to originally think it was a miracle of hearing.

    “…that while the hearers were of the diverse nations, each one according to their language coming from this one speech itself, which had been uttered by the Apostle, that it entered upon the hearer and seized the intellect. Except perhaps according to this, it seemed those who are hearing to be a greater miracle than those who speaking.”(1)My translation. from MPL. Vol. 92 Bedæ Venerabilis: Super Acta Apostolorum Expositio. Col. 945-948. See https://charlesasullivan.com/3409/bedes-initial-commentary-on-acts-21-19/ for more info

    The miracle of hearing was established from Rufinus’ Latin translation of the Nazianzus’ text. Nazianzus posited two theories on the miracle of Pentecost. One was the miracle of spontaneously speaking in foreign languages unknown by the speaker beforehand, and the other was one sound emitted and the audience hearing the sound in their own language. Rufinus’ text took some liberties and failed to communicate that Gregory preferred the miracle of speaking as the acceptable interpretation. He misunderstood the Greek and made two critical errors. Rufinus instead gave equal value to both positions and let the reader decide which one was right, which over time leaned towards the miracle of hearing. Bede, upon reading of the Latin text, originally decided it was a miracle of hearing.

    Bede did not have strong skills in Greek and he, along with the majority of the Latin Church ecclesiasts, depended on Rufinus’ translation as a key text.

    See the article: Nazianzus’ Tongues of Pentecost Paradox: Gregory’s two interpretations of Pentecost and the traditions that followed after this.

    He changed his interpretation of Nazianzus in his later work, A Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles and switched it to a miracle of speaking.

    “I know to hold myself back from this matter because I have said this thought can be understood in two ways; or rather that I was obligated to find-out how it ought to be understood. I am going to respond briefly to this matter that everything whatsoever of the same sentiment I have written in my previous book. I did not mention this by reason of personal experience, but from the words of the holy and faultless teacher in every respect, that is, I take up Gregory Nazianzus. It is certainly agreed that the apostles filled with the holy Spirit were speaking in all languages, neither is it permitted to be questioned by anyone about this. But in the manner how they were speaking it is to be asked without reservation. It could be the speech of the Apostles had so much power, that they became familiar with the diverse languages by all those, the hearer then is equally able to understand. Or can it be whichever one was being spoken, one was necessary in regards to being appropriate of so great a multitude, with the others left silent, at the moment producing a word of instruction, the person who was speaking at first to the Hebrews, that it produced the speech in Hebrew, while the others do not know what was being said. Then to the Greeks, while those who are ignorant in the Greek language and with the others left waiting. Next to the Parthians, after this the Medes, and so Elamite, and whichever ones are being listed through an order by the nations, its own particular language was to have been spoken, each one at a time awaiting, and being silent, until its order arrives, something was being spoken, they were understood, and so they were to render the approval of the faithful by the words of these teaching, Moreover Luke reports Peter speaking to the crowds and he did not report that he [Peter] spoke repeating the same things the second or third [time], but that these [crowds] in whom have received the plan of salvation are hardly consecrated in the mysteries of the Christian faith.

    On the other hand I do not think this to be an error. If either of the two can be trusted to have taken place, and that the apostles in the holy Spirit clearly understood the languages of the nations and had the ability to speak, and the words too were in whatever language expressed by a great miracle, to all who were hearing, that they equally had the ability to learn.”(2)Translated by me. MPL. Vol. 92. Bedæ Venerabilis: Liber Retractationis In Actus Apostolorum. Col. 998-1000

    See the article: Bede’s Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles for the actual complete translation.

    Bede now corrected his understanding of Nazianzus. The miracle of Pentecost consisted in the miracle of speaking in foreign languages. He then goes on to explaining the mechanics as to how it occurred. Bede draws the conclusion that the miracle can be understood as a miracle of hearing or speaking. The style which Bede approached the subject demonstrated that he had no personal attachment to either side. It was an intellectual journey whose results didn’t matter.

    There is no reference by Bede of any historic or contemporary group practicing an alternative experience in his works. He did not see the influences of Montanism, or Donatism as important sources of theological controversy within his time. ■

    References   [ + ]

    Bede's Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-18

    The Venerable Bede on the doctrine of tongues. An English translation of his Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles chapters 2:1-18.

    Translated by Charles A. Sullivan from MPL. Vol. 92. Bedæ Venerabilis: Liber Retractationis In Actus Apostolorum. Col. 998-1000

    A Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles

    Chapter 2

    “And when the days of Pentecost were completed, they were all together in the same place,” Some of the other Codices(1)Bede had an extensive Library of Old Latin and the Septuagint texts to choose from and was well aware of textual errors see Calvin B. Kendall’s coverage on this topic. wrongly have Pentecost in the accusative case. For Pentecost in the nominative case is called the fiftieth — in the genitive, is called of the fiftieth, in the accusative [it is simply] the fiftieth day(2)Bede is making an important distinction in the Latin use of cases, which do not exist in English. He is arguing that Pentecost, a word directly derived from the Greek, and the Latin equivalent, Quinquagesima, which both mean fifty, are synonyms. It can be called by either name. In the old Latin Pentecost was called Quinquagesima. It was the official name of the holy day, not just a number or adjective. If it is used in the accusative, it is just a number or adjective. Moreover not one account permits this to be spoken this way, so that when we say Pentecost in the accusative case, when really it ought to be said, “when the day of Pentecost was completed.” certainly it is said without doubt to be with the singular number in the Greek.

    “And when the days of Pentecost were completed.” Of course in the very same day of prayer it should be mentioned as well, “These ones celebrate the most sacred Pentecost day,”(3)diem sacratissimum Pentecosten celebrantes — this quotation by Bede is a sacred part of the Catholic tradition of celebrating Pentecost. An alternative English translation could be “celebrating the most sacred Pentecost day. that is, the fiftieth. The solemnity of this day is being reckoned by the tradition of such a word, by which some who do not know the Greek language, even now ought to call Pentecost in the nominative case.

    “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting,” etc.(4)Douay-Rheims And the actual distinction is most apparent in the giving of the law and in grace with the Old and New testaments. Where it says the group(5)plebs was resting far away, fear, not love was present. They continually dreaded thus far, as they were saying to Moses, “Speak to us, and let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die.” [Exodus 20:19] Then God descended, as it was written, on Sinai as fire, but the frightened group stands still far away, the law by a finger in the stone, nor was it written by the spirit itself in the heart. However, when the holy Spirit came here, the faithful were joined together as one — not even scared on the mountain but entered into the house. Indeed, a sound suddenly came from heaven, so that [the group] was affected also as if a violent wind made a noise, but was not terrified. You have heard the sound. Consider the fire, because each was also on the mountain. And the fire and sound, and yet also smoke, this fire, as if the fire of divided languages. Can it be that it continues to frighten those far away? Let it be far from the hearts of the faithful. For it rested on each one of them and they began to speak in languages, even as the Spirit gave them utterance. Hear the language being spoken, and understand the Spirit writing not in stone, but in the heart.

    “And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them.”(6)Douay-Rheims It is of this fire, [which is in the genitive case], not this fire [which is in the nominative case]. For in the Greek it has πυρὸς(7)Greek for the word “fire” in the genitive case not πῦρ.(8)Greek for the word “fire” in the nominative case So that this kind of distinction was easy to figure out. As if it was to be said with an added word “And there appeared parted tongues, as it were of a glowing fire,”(9)Apparuerunt dispartitæ linguæ tanquam ignis ardentis or as it were of a brilliant fire, so that it may be understood regarding the definition of fire to be distributed languages.

    “And they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”(10)Douay-Rheims It does not have in the Greek in this place, divers tongues but other tongues. For Isaiah expressed that “In other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people: and neither so will they hear me, saith the Lord.”(11)Douay-Rheims. Bede is lifting this quote directly from I Corinthians 14:21, not from Isaiah 28:11 So that the blessed Luke no doubt was inferring this prophecy which was to be fulfilled by gift of the Spirit, likewise the same word was what he saw in the prophecy, he took care to set down in this sacred history.

    “Because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean? etc.”(12)Douay-Rheims. I know to hold myself back from this matter because I have said this thought can be understood in two ways; or rather that I was obligated to find-out how it ought to be understood. I am going to respond briefly to this matter that everything whatsoever of the same sentiment I have written in my previous book. I did not mention this by reason of personal experience, but from the words of the holy and faultless teacher in every respect, that is, I take up Gregory Nazianzus. It is certainly agreed that the apostles filled with the holy Spirit were speaking in all languages,(13)linguis omnibus loquebantur — it is purposely left vague by Bede on purpose. neither is it permitted to be questioned by anyone(14)ulli: from ullus — any, anyone. strange that this is the only occurrence used by Bede in any document I have translated. A later interpolation? about this. But in the manner how they were speaking it is to be asked without reservation. It could be the speech of the Apostles had so much power, that they became familiar with the diverse languages by all those, the hearer then is equally able to understand. Or can it be whichever one was being spoken, one was necessary in regards to being appropriate of so great a multitude, with the others left silent, at the moment producing a word of instruction,(15)interim sermonem proferre doctrinæ the person who was speaking at first to the Hebrews, that it produced the speech in Hebrew, while the others do not know what was being said. Then to the Greeks, while those who are ignorant in the Greek language and with the others left waiting. Next to the Parthians, after this the Medes, and so Elamite, and whichever ones are being listed through an order by the nations, its own particular language was to have been spoken, each one at a time awaiting, and being silent, until its order arrives, something was being spoken, they were understood, and so they were to render the approval of the faithful by the words of these teaching,(16)et sic verbis docentium fidei assensum præberent Moreover Luke reports Peter speaking to the crowds and he did not report that he [Peter] spoke repeating the same things the second or third [time], but that these [crowds] in whom have received the plan of salvation are hardly consecrated in the mysteries of the Christian faith.(17)sed tantum eas accepto salutis consilio Christianæ fidei consecratas esse mysteriis — a nice way of saying the crowd didn’t know very much about what was happening. They were spectators, not theologians, and they only thing they could have explained was that they saw and experienced this event.

    On the other hand I do not think this to be an error. If either of the two can be trusted to have taken place, and that the apostles in the holy Spirit clearly understood the languages of the nations and had the ability to speak, and the words too were in whatever language expressed by a great miracle, to all who were hearing, that they equally had the ability to learn.(18)qui audiebant æque potuissent cognosci — this is the first time cognosco is used by Bede in relation to the tongues doctrine. Why such a sudden change? The last few sentences have changed in structure from the rest of the chapter, and is not typical of Bede in a number of other translations I have done. I wonder if this is a later emendation.

    “And those who inhabit Mesopotamia, Cappodocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia.”(19)Bede is quoting from a different text than the one used for the initial commentary on Acts. The initial has “Et qui habitabant Mesopotamiam, et Judæam, et Cappadociam” and Reflections has “Et qui habitant Mesopotamiam, et Cappodociam, Pontum et Asiam, Phrygiam et Pamphyliam.” These provinces which are named [in the text] after Judea, are uttered in the Greek language, but if nothing diverse were sounding out in the native usage, so by no means were they to record the fine distinction of languages. From whence the Spirit was to actively be seen in the wonderful grace among the apostles, which not only taught them the diversity of all the languages, and certainly also the distinction of qualities in every language equal the total of provinces which they make use of in this way, he did to be knowledgeable in their utterances.(20)in eorum fecit loquelis agnosci. Lidell and Scott make a distinction between the use of agnosco and cognosco. “As if to know a person or thing well, as having known it before, to recognize: agnoscere always denotes a subjective knowledge or recognition; while cognoscere designates an objective perception; another distinction v. in II.)”

    “And strangers of Rome.” The more proper way was contained in the Greek, “Roman foreigners,” that is Jews who were leading the foreign life of Rome, just like others elsewhere, of which had been written above. For this reason the strangers were in this place, who in the Greek were called proselytes, that is, those who from the gentiles to Judaism, leaving the religion of the gentiles(21)relicto gentilitatis ritu — the same construct as found in Judith 14:6 had come together. It is made clear from the following verse when it says, “Jews also, and proselytes.”.(22)Douay-Rheims.(23)Bede makes the same assertion in his initial commentary on Acts that the Jews mentioned in Acts 2:10 were converts from other nations. Why he emphasized this interpretation is not clear to me.

    Need information on Bede and the subject matter? The following link may help: The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues.

    References   [ + ]

    Bede's Initial Commentary on Acts 2:1-18

    The Venerable Bede on the doctrine of tongues. An English translation of his initial commentary on the Acts of the Apostles chapters 2:1-18.

    Translated by Charles A. Sullivan from MPL. Vol. 92 Bedæ Venerabilis: Super Acta Apostolorum Expositio. Col. 945-948

    Bede’s Initial Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

    Chapter 2

    “And when the days of Pentecost were completed, they were all together in the same place,” that they are being narrated to have been up high. For whoever longs to be filled by the holy Spirit, it is necessary that they should climb above the residence of flesh to the contemplative mind. Just like also the forty days, by which the Lord after His resurrection had dwelled with the disciples, they note the Church rising together of those who live abroad, so on the fiftieth day that the holy Spirit is being received, a completion of blessed peace, that the work of the temporary Church will be repaid in an eternal 10,(1)Latin:denario. Lidell and Scott, Perseus Version, wrote it meant a coin, whether silver or gold, with a specific value, or simple 10, but later could generally mean money. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=denario&la=la#lexicon He will suitably pronounce. For the calculated number 40 adds 10 more itself from its equal parts, and it makes 50. Half of 40 is 20, the 4th by that of five,(2)Latin:”em” I don’t know what this word actually means in this context, perhaps it is a manuscript error, but can’t think it could be anything other than 5 5th x 8, 8th x 5, 10th x 4, 20th x 2, 40th x 1. For 20,10, 8, 5, 4, 2, and 1 make 50.(3) He is adding up these consecutive numbers to equal 50. Bede was well versed in math, though his audience did not have such an ability, so he used very basic math. Was Bede dabbling in numerology here, or was it showmanship? It could be a little of both. For it is easy to figure-out the form of this calculation, seeing the present strife is the joy of the 50th(4)jubilæi: the year of Jubilee according to the Jews. Bede is being symbolic here using 50 to mean liberation, which can only happen through trial and struggle. to us,(5)awkward Latin: quoniam praesens conflictus gaudium nobis jubilæi. It is missing the verb, which I assume is suppose to have est as if secretly generating the imperishable, from which the Apostle teaches: “For that which is at the present moment and the trivialness of our trouble, works greatness in us, the eternal weight of glory above measure” [I Corinthians 4:17](6)My translation. The Douay-Rheims is not always best in communicating the Latin translation in contemporary English, and I am trying to translate as Bede understood the text to mean.

    But the reality is our supreme happiness of the body and soul, we are the ones who pride ourselves in immortality that is being nourished in the eternal vision by the substance and blessing of the Trinity.(7)nos immortalitate gloriantes summæ et beatæ Trinitatis æterna visione satiari. for we exist in four well known distinguished parts of the body. In the inner man, from every heart, soul and mind together, we desire to love God. And this is the perfect 10 of life, that we are to be joyful in the present vision of divine glory. The truth is about to be observed adjoining history that is in the writings of the early authorities, the day of Pentecost, that is, the 50th, which the Law was given, was reckoned after the slaughter of the lamb. This is also not from the passion of the Lord, but as the blessed Augustine explained, 50 days from His resurrection, which the holy Spirit had been sent, it is being reckoned, that, with the evidence taking place of the long standing proof.(8)”qui, redeunte signi veteris exemplo” I am not sure exactly what he means here and my translation remains rough. He [the Spirit] Himself most evidently consecrated the day of the Lord with His arrival. In that critical moment of time, the Passover day of the Lord demonstrated that it must be celebrated. For as it is here, and as well as God appeared in a vision of fire, as it says in Exodus, “And all Mount Sinai was on a smoke: because the Lord was come down upon it in fire.”(9)Douay-Rheims. Exodus 19:18

    “And suddenly a sound was made from heaven as if of a mighty wind coming” etc. The Lord indeed appeared by means of fire as the blessed Pope Gregory explains, but made through inner(10)per semetipsum locutionem interius fecit. It is important to both Bede and Gregory the use of interius. This is important. speech itself. And neither the God of fire, nor the sound made a noise but by that which was externally produced, this was expressed in respect to what was conducted on the inside. That it rendered within the disciples as ones who had come on fire, with zeal and skill in the word, the outside showed the fiery tongues. Therefore, the elements had been brought up in accordance with an outward sign, that the persons(11)corpora were experiencing the fire and the sound by the true invisible fire and the hearts were being taught by the voice without sound.

    “And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire:”(12)Douay-Rheims That is to say the holy Spirit appeared in fire and languages, because everyone whom he filled are on fire together and these ones are producing phrases. Certainly these ones are on fire from it, and are speaking from it. At the same time it also demonstrates that the holy Church has opened wide the boundaries throughout the world. [The Church] is going to speak in the voice of all the nations.

    “And it(13)The Latin clearly means “it” and not “they” as some English translations have sat upon each one of them.” What does it mean that it sat? It is the proof of royal power. Or also that his past labour(14)Vel certe quia requies ejus indicatur in sanctis.– Bede is connecting to a previous paragraph where current suffering brings on holiness. is to be publicly displayed in holiness.

    “And they began to speak in various languages.” How the arrogance of Babylon scattered the unity of languages, [and] the humbleness of the Church gathers it back. Moreover, the variety of languages spiritually signifies the gifts of different graces. The holy Spirit is certainly not being inconsistently understood, for that reason the gift of tongues had been given to men before anything else, by which in the form of human wisdom on the outside and becoming learned, and being taught, that it was to demonstrate how easy it can be to make wise men by means of the wisdom of God which is inside them.

    “Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”(15)Douay-Rheims I think it is appropriate to seriously ask, who were at this place, and from where were the captive Jews? Seeing that those who had been in Egypt or Babylonia had already been freed. While the Jews had not yet come to the Romans in captivity, and clearly the revenge itself was to be imminent about the crime that was committed against the Saviour.(16) licet jam et ipsa immineret ultrix commissi de Salvatore piaculi – I have my doubts that this is actually the original part of Bede’s work. it appears to be a later insertion. Therefore it remains to be done, so that captivity is to be understood to have been done under Antiochus(17)Antiochus Epiphanes that he certainly destroyed not much time before.(18) Almost 200 years before.

    “Because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue.”(19)Douay-Rheims. One should ask in this place why each one was hearing in their own language those speaking the great things of God?

    Either [one of the two]: those that they were speaking such in the various words of every language generated what they spoke, that is, each of them here now, yet now again a different language being spoken, so that it was to proceed through every language.

    Or rather(20)utrum… an — “Or rather” is from the Latin “an” which Whitaker’s Works says: “can it be that (introduces question expecting negative answer/further question)” which should then be interpreted as a hypothetical position that Bede did not agree. However, Lidell and Scott at Perseus “Sometimes the opinion of the speaker or the probability inclines to the second interrogative clause (cf. infra, II. E.). and this is made emphatic, as a corrective of the former, or rather, or on the contrary.” I think the context along with Lidell and Scott is the correct implementation here. was it more astonishing to this than their speech that whatever language was being spoken, these ones proclaimed in the hearing of each and every person, they were understanding according to their own language. That with the word of grace by whichever apostle in the Church teaches (In fact it was necessary to speak one [language] and one speech with leaving the rest silent in order to reach everyone who heard).(21)This parenthesis exists in the original Latin copy of MPL. I interpret this parenthetical text to be a later emendation by a copyist/editor The speech itself was to possess this in its own power, that while the hearers were of the diverse nations, each one according to their language coming from this one speech itself, which had been uttered by the Apostle, that it entered upon the hearer and seized the intellect. Except perhaps according to this, it seemed those who are hearing to be a greater miracle than those who speaking.

    “And those who inhabited Mesopotamia, and Judaea and Cappodocia.” In this place it signifies Judaea not entirely gentile but part of those, this is the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, for one may see clearly the distinction Samaria, Galiliee, Decapolis, and of others in the same province concerning the regions. Although that everyone were speaking in the one language of Hebrew, nevertheless, the native style of each speaking had a distinctiveness. From where also Peter in the passion of the Lord with respect to a Galilean is being identified by that which is his speech.

    “Jews also, and proselytes.”(22)Douay-Rheims. Proselytes, that is, they called them strangers, who, these ones derive origin from the gentiles, they were wishing rather to choose circumcision and Judaism, like Achior in the Book of Judith is described to have done. Then not only, do they say, are they Jews by birth that had visited from different regions, certainly too it is about those having been born with a foreskin, they adhere to the custom.(23)The uncircumcised. What exactly Bede means about the uncircumcised is not clear. It could mean the Jew who was born uncircumcised and continue to promote what Bede thinks is an unnecessary practice, which he frowns upon, or that those gentiles who have converted, ie: the uncircumcised, adhere to the custom too.

    “But others mocking, said: These men are full of new wine.” Mocking although they were giving true witness to something belonging to the ancient mysteries. That not in old wine, while in the Church wedding, but they had been filled with the freshness of the spirit’s grace. Indeed, now it had come the new wine in new skins, while the Apostles not in the oldness of letter, but were to resound in the newness of the Spirit of God’s great work (Rom. 7).(24) Romans 7:6 “so that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Douay-Rheims

    “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.”(25)Douay-Rheims The holy Spirit is about to proclaim glory in the indivisible way of the Trinity, He conveniently descended in the third hour. And because what was written above, “They were persevering in prayer,”(26) amplified from Acts 1:14 they correctly feel the holy Spirit in the hour of prayer that it was to be pointed out by the readers(27) legentibus: organized community prayer in Bede’s time was associated with a reader(s). Lector is a better known synonym. that the grace of the holy Spirit is not easily to be felt. Neither can the mind, which is based on worldly senses, rise up in the thought of heavenly things. For three times to which Daniel in the day did he bow his knees, and it was chosen(28) legitur to worship at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, it is understood by the Church. Whereby also the Lord is the one who sends the holy Spirit in the third hour, sixth — rises to the cross, and the ninth — lays his own soul down. It has been deemed most worthy to recount and sanctify these same hours for the rest of us.

    “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:”(29) Douay-Rheims The word of offering shows the abundance of excess, because the holy Spirit exists through the agency of grace which brings about pardon, not as formerly the power with the prophets and priests only, but in everyone everywhere in either sex within relations and persons. For that is to be in all flesh, it was explained in accordance with the prophet.(30) Joel 2:28

    “And they will prophecy,” (it says) “your sons and daughters,” etc. . . . “and I will show wonders in heaven above, and a sign on earth below.”(31) portions of Acts 2:17 and 19, my translation. Wonders in heaven, a new star appeared with the Lord being born, while going up to the cross, the sun was darkened, and heaven itself was covered in darkness. A sign on the earth, because the earth trembled by Lord sending the Spirit, it uncovered tombs, moved stones, and brought up the many revived bodies of the saints who had gone to sleep.■

    Need information on Bede and the subject matter? The following link may help: The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues.

    References   [ + ]

    Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues

    A translation, research, and analysis of the catenas attributed to Cyril of Alexandria concerning the rite of tongues in the Church.

    A worthy study because Cyril reveals some interesting facts of an ancient Church liturgy that sheds some light on the mystery tongues of Corinth.

    Cyril of Alexandria was the Pope of Alexandria, Egypt in the early fifth century “at the time Alexandria was at its height in influence and power within the Roman Empire.”(1)http://orthodoxwiki.org/Cyril_of_Alexandria He was a prolific writer, and was well-educated in the writings of Origen, Eusebius, Didymus, and many more.

    He represents an important era in tracing the development and transmission on the Church doctrine of tongues.

    The writings are in the form of a catanae, which format is best described by the Catholic Encyclopedia found at the New Advent website:

    “Collections of excerpts from the writings of Biblical commentators, especially the Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers, strung together like the links of a chain, and in this way exhibiting a continuous and connected interpretation of a given text of Scripture. It has been well said that they are exegetical anthologies.

    These fragments of patristic commentaries are not only quite valuable for the literal sense of Scripture, since their text frequently represents the evidence of very ancient (now lost) manuscripts; they are also serviceable to the theologian (doctrinetic and mystical), to the ecclesiastical historian, and to the patrologist, for they often exhibit the only remains of important patristic writings.”(2)http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03434a.htm

    One must be always be cautious of a catena. The commitment to keeping the exact text intact is not a priority and could easily be slightly altered by copyists. The catenas often are poorly published reproductions as well. However, the original texts are lost and these are the best ones that presently exist. It has to be assumed that the intent of the message is still preserved.

    These catenae are not considered authored solely by Cyril. Philip Pusey stated that there are notes sometimes inserted from the works of Didymus of Alexandria in Cyril’s catena of I Corinthians.(3)Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Philippus Edvardus Pusey, ed. London: Oxford. 1872. No page numbers are in the document It cannot be determined exactly which pieces are Didymus’ accounts.

    It is considered here that the writings are predominately Cyril of Alexandria with some added opinions by Didymus of Alexandria. The Gift of Tongues Project is more concerned about the original time the work was first written than the authorship. The Project’s main aim is to build a chronology of the tongues doctrine throughout the centuries. The so-called Cyril writings reflect the opinion of the Alexandrians in the fifth century, even if complete knowledge regarding who penned the original work is not entirely clear.

    The first step was to identify the Cyrillian writings on the subject. Since their is no digital database available of these works, this had to be done manually.

    This was done by going page-by-page through the Migne Patrologia Graeca volumes relating to Cyril’s works. Philippus Edvardus Pusey’s 1872 version called Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium was also consulted.(4)Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Philippus Edvardus Pusey, ed. London: Oxford. 1872.

    The following works attributed to Cyril of Alexandria are found to have references to either the tongues of Acts or Corinth: Zephaniah (Sophonias in Latin), Acts and I Corinthians.

    The catenas attributed to Cyril are not lineal at all. They skip many verses. The catena on I Corinthians 12-14 amply demonstrates this; the column begins with chapter 12:9, followed by 12:12, immediately after is 14:2, then 14:5, 14:10, and 14:12. The verses in-between these numbers are not published.

    The manuscripts contain only one or two paragraph excerpts for each of the verses. These were likely taken from much larger works done by Cyril that are lost to us today. It would have been ideal to see the whole work instead of a catena.

    Even with the shortcomings of the catenae format, the Cyrillian texts have much to offer on the subject and it will be interesting to see what it all means in the end.

    The goal here is threefold:

    • to translate the works from the Greek, with some assistance from the parallel Latin, for the English audience to read for themselves,

    • to analyze and provide commentary on the findings,

    • to provide the original texts in Greek and Latin for those interested.

    The translations will have some short commentaries in the footnotes. A full analysis and commentary is being left for the last article on this series.

    A synopsis of this project, translations, and notes on Cyril of Alexandria on tongues, can be found at Gift of Tongues Project menu and scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

    References   [ + ]

    Introductory Notes on the Gift of Tongues Project

    The goal of the Gift of Tongues Project is find as many historic texts on the subject as possible, digitize them, translate, and provide a commentary.

    The fourfold purpose of the Gift of Tongues Project:

    1. Identify and collate any ancient literature on the subject

      Large portions of ancient literature on this topic has been ignored, forgotten, or unresearched. This absence has negatively affected this whole subject and has led to erroneous conclusions.

    2. To provide the original sources in digital format

      All the pertinent texts found are digitized in the original language. All the material provided is at your digital fingertips and can be accessed in a matter of seconds. This has taken years to build. The database is provided free of charge and validates any conclusions made on this site.

    3. To provide the texts in English

      There never has been a substantial amount of ecclesiastical writings translated into English. My guess is less than 20%. Many translations are abridged, condensed, old English, or dynamically translated. The lack of English translations and problems associated with the existing ones have negatively affected the tongues debate. The supplying of English texts has become one of the greatest ambitions of this project.

    4. Trace the evolution of the tongues doctrine from its inception until now.

      This is a difficult task. There has been many twists and turns throughout the centuries.

    Why study this topic?

    Defining and understanding the christian doctrine of tongues is a big challenge. This has been one of the most difficult unsolved issues in the realm of Protestant, and lesser of Catholic, Christianity for the last 120 years. This also was a big motivation for the author to uncover this mystery.

    Why has it remained unresolved so long? The answer is ignorance of the ancient records.

    There is a litany of important ecclesiastical documents on the christian doctrine of tongues that have been left out of the story. This is because of three problems: first, few have studied or read the doctrine of tongues in the original texts — a lengthy examination demonstrates there are many critical historical texts on the subject that have never been utilized. Secondly, the lack of translations in English or any other contemporary language of ancient source texts has led to the assumption that history was silent on the subject, when it really wasn’t. Third, the last two hundred years of scholarly study have relegated church literature to the realm of myth, and considered an invalid source for serious inquiry. In doing so, they denied ecclesiastical literature its proper place in the tongues discussion. Thus, they came to an altogether different conclusion that obscured the traditional one. This ignorance of the historic record has led many to erroneous positions on the christian doctrine of tongues.

    The Gift of Tongues Project started as a personal journey, and ends as a scholarly one. It was initially designed to prove the charismatic experience as correct and also as a mystical apologetic to the world that God does indeed exist. It then switched into a I really don’t care at all feeling. It felt petty to consume so much time to figure out when abject poverty, loss, pain, and violence daily surrounds us. However, the intellectual challenge is just too hard to resist.

    The challenge of uncovering the christian doctrine of tongues is a complex mixture of theology, ancient religious rites, languages, cultures, Judaism, social movements, psychology and ancient Greek life. This combination makes a great playground for the historical theology process used in processing all this information. The various genres mixed together requiring a solution keeps me continually involved in the subject. I like the world of literature, texts, manuscripts, language and thought that this subject opens up.

    The Gift of Tongues Project is a hobby — one that gave me the reason to keep my acquired Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac languages, along with the later learned Latin, intact. It also was a great distraction from the busyness of my day. While most watch television at night, I am frequently scanning volumes of Migne Patrologia Graeca or Latina, or other ancient works looking for signs.

    The initial assumption was little or no literature existed on the subject. However, this attitude slowly changed. The research began before digital technologies and the internet took off, and so the traditional method of parsing through printed literature was the only option. The place to find ancient literature was at a university library, which for me was the University of Manitoba. It was assumed that the research would be done in a week’s time. Walking down the library’s corridor on Church Father Writings, I randomly pulled out an English translation which happened to be Cyril of Jerusalem. A page was accidentally found describing what foreign languages Peter and John spoke at Pentecost. No Charismatic, Pentecostal, academic, or any other scholar to my knowledge had ever quoted him before. It was a definitive statement that should have set the basis for almost any part of the tongues discussion, but it was completely absent. This started the journey of asking, looking, and finding significantly more texts. It forced the following question — why were so many Church writings missing from the debate? Cyril of Jerusalem’s text faded into the overall inquiry, but the question set the wheels in motion that took many years to unravel.

    The wealth of untranslated literature and the labour required to identify, collate, and read is overwhelming. The task is a full-time job for a number of specialists to do over a long-period of time. However, the majority of Pentecostals and almost all Charismatics formally reject intellectual inquiry into substantive issues of faith. There are few capable in this sector with skills in the original languages to take on the task, and absolutely no financial, political, or emotional support exists to explore this issue. Those who are qualified to review such documentation are typically of Catholic background, and the importance of studying this topic has no importance to their communities so they hardly devote any principal resources to answer this question. Modern academics consider the issue irrelevant and have not added anything substantial to the conversation over the last 50 years. These factors have contributed serious ongoing hindrances to a proper study of the doctrine.

    Members in the pentecostal or charismatic communities who have ancient language skills or employ a historic theology system of interpretation is faced with a difficult, almost impossible task because they don’t have internal support. This forces the researcher to embark on a charitable project that requires thousands of hours of volunteer effort with little or no encouragement from the community they participate in. The reward is not in financial or personal accolades, but in solving one of the most complex theological issues the last 100 years has to offer.

    The most serious challenge was finding the original literature. Thanks to modern technology, this very big obstacle is being overcome. In the past a study of this nature would be almost impossible. Manuscripts and texts that did not belong to Migne Patrologia Graeca or Latina were shelved in monasteries, universities, and other remote locations. Specialized books too were held in reserve. Many were not available through inter-library loan. The circumstance required travelling to these locations to look at the original sources. A visit may require prior authorization because there are no guarantees that the officer in charge of the source material will grant a viewing either. Now, many institutions like the British Museum and the Vatican are posting their manuscripts online for free. Google and Microsoft are also in a race to digitize libraries around the world for public use. This data availability was unheard of even a decade ago and opens a treasure chest of data for anyone who uses the historical theology process. What used to take days or even months of planning, travel, correspondence and cost, can now be done in a matter of seconds.

    With this availability a new problem has arisen – the lack of English translations. This circumstance is now the number one problem of defining the historical rite of speaking in tongues.

    The study has an urgency because of the revived popularity of this doctrine. The amount of people who engage in or support the modern rite of speaking in tongues are staggering. 584 million people either identify themselves as Pentecostal or Charismatic all across the world – both organizations that emphasize this rite are a central part of their doctrines.(1)The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life. Global Christianity A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population. December 2011. Pg. 17. Pew Forum notes this number could be larger.

    However, the definition of speaking in tongues by those who practice and promote such a lifestyle is very mysterious and abstract. There is a complete lack of historical evidence to support such a contemporary phenomenon. This absence of historical literature has led to a variety of conclusions and has shaped the modern practice.

    The growing popularity of this practice requires a critical evaluation.

    How the goals are being accomplished

    This project has been ongoing for over two decades now and finally almost near completion. It has accelerated in the last few years due to the innovations offered by the internet. Sites such as Google Books, and Perseus for Greek and Latin Dictionaries, have offered invaluable assistance.

    There are many significant passages relating to tongues that have not been found in any popular English translations. The starting point was to look through the massive Migne Patrologia Graeca series which contains Ecclesiastical writings from the second to fifteenth centuries. It had to be sight read. There are no digital versions of this work available.

    It is a tedious and time-consuming task. Some patterns and trends are beginning to develop that are different from the contemporary presuppositions on the topic.

    Migne’s edition is not always the best text, but served as a springboard to finding the better ones.

    The overwhelming amount of information collated and reviewed forced me to ask, Why do we think so differently about it today than they did?

    This was an equally challenging question that is dealt with throughout the pages of this project.

    This project is not so much a theological journey as it is a historical-critical one. It attempts to traverse through the epochs of tongues expressions by comparing various manuscripts, authors and trends. It also tries to chronologize the passing of the tradition through the centuries.

    It is a project that spans over 2000 years of material which demonstrates that the definition has evolved. It aims to document the main contributors and movements over the various epochs of time, what or who influenced the changes, and how these antecedents have influenced our modern religious mindset.

    Who this Project is For

    • This project is aimed at an intellectual religious audience familiar with the christian doctrine of tongues.

    • The level of reading difficulty is quite high. A familiarity with the controversy along with the Biblical literature related to it; especially the Book of Acts, Chapter 2 and I Corinthians Chapter 14 is required.

    • This is not purposed as a polemic against any religious group and their practices. Many denominations that have tongues in their statement of theology are positive organizations in their overall Christian life and witness. This is simply a detailed journey using a historic-critical method to graph and analyze the changing definition throughout history. It is up to the reader to apply it in their particular situation.

    Apologies for Delving into the Realms of Philosophy (sort of)

    Many important pieces of Patristic material are heavily influenced and framed within Greek philosophy. Readers may feel that some coverage may concentrate too much in this aspect, but this was the world that many of the ancient writers lived in. It cannot be ignored or underestimated.

    Reconstructing a Framework

    Largely due to the persecutions of Christians prior to the fourth-century, the availability of any Christian literature written from inception until 300 AD can be counted on your fingers. Those few address little about speaking in tongues – whispers and ghosts, but nothing substantive.

    The fourth-century was the golden age of Church and Jewish literature. Many of the most well-known Christian authors can be traced back to this time. This is where the greatest corpus of literature can initially be found on the subject. Since these documents are around 300 years removed from the events and background that led to the origin and implementation of tongues in the early Church, they cannot be considered the absolute standard. However, these are the best documents available today.

    With this in mind, the first objective will be to reconstruct the early Church interpretation based on remnants found in the gilded writers starting around the fourth century.

    But this is not enough. As the research will later decidedly demonstrate, the early Church at least in the first century was a Jewish sect, based on Jewish faith and liturgy that crossed the boundaries into a Greek world.

    So one must have a thorough combined understanding of Greek philosophy, Jewish underpinnings and the Church Fathers in order to arrive at a complete and thorough understanding of the subject.

    This brings on a very apparent and immediate problem – the Graecanization of the Christian faith. Patristic writers liked to trace and explain the Christian movement prior to the fourth century in wholly Greek terms. Ambrose began his explanation of creation referring to Pythagoras. St. Thomas Aquinas had a certain love for the writings of Aristotle. The early Church writer Irenaeous spent a large portion of his writings polemically against the Greek concept of gods.

    This was also noted by Harry Gamble in his book, Books and Readers in the Early Church, where he found that many of the Church leaders were converts from a Greek cultured background, “Most Christian writers of the second through fifth centuries were practiced in the rhetorical arts; not a few, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius and Augustine, for example, were teachers of rhetoric before they entered the Church.”(2) Harry Gamble. Books and Readers in the Early Church. New Haven:Yale University. 1995. Pg. 35

    Secondly, as admitted by John Chrysostom, the tongues controversy at least in Corinth, had no Greek antecedent, and because he was unaware of the Jewish initial influence, he could not find the solution, “This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts.”(3) NPNF1-12. Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians. Trans. Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, D.D., Homily 29. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf112.iv.xxx.html

    It is indisputable the sources for both the ancient and modern definitions of the gift of tongues originated in fourth-century.

    Another problem about building a framework about the early Church definition and practice from later literature is the amount of source material. It is small — but enough to build a basis for the early Church interpretation of Pentecost and the practice of tongues at Corinth.

    Presuppositions and Caveats

    The author presupposes the gift of tongues to be a supernatural phenomenon. This is borrowed from the author’s religious outlook. However, just because it was described as a miracle should not cause the researcher to have a closed the mind to the realm of possibilities. The Books of Acts and Corinthians do not provide a level of detail to definitively conclude and so subsequent writings must be analyzed to fill in the gaps.

    The GOT Project intends to let the Church Fathers speak on their own terms in relation to the christian doctrine of tongues. The majority of books on this subject attempt to rewrite history to align with their ideology and have a heavy dependance on the small amount of English translations already available. This is a serious handicap on their part – something which the GOT Project attempts to avoid.

    A few notes on the translations provided:

    • If a text is ably translated by someone else, this may be used. However, it must be examined first before being published on this site. Experience has shown that the quality of English translations varies. There are translations that are abridged, condensed, amplified or some other problem that one cannot just simply pass them as being true to its antecedent. So a process has been implemented. It is first compared against the original text. If it is not a good translation, it will be re-translated.

    • I have provided many translations myself because of the plethora of ancient texts on the subject that exist only in their original language. Although I have been very tedious in providing professional level translations, there always exists the element of error — though I don’t believe any error would be sufficient to change any conclusion herein. But still the reader must be aware of this reality.

    Many modern documents, books, and authors on the gift of tongues lack the necessary citation and/or supply a quote to back-up their claims. In order to separate this research from others that have preceded, there will be a heavy emphasis on both citation and quotation.

    How the Church Fathers were Researched

    The approach to this project was simply to read as many ancient writings as possible. The subject could come up in an ecclesiastical text on any occasion because most Church writers were allegorists and not literalists. The result was a time-consuming reading and translating regimen that produced very positive finds.

    By visually scanning through the image files of the texts, there is a chance that some important citations or subtypes are missed. Even though this is a good possibility, the ones that have been found are substantial enough to draw a definitive conclusion.

    How much was looked at? The first 135 of the total 161 volumes of Migne Patrologia Graeca — a large compendium of Church writings from Clement in the 2nd century to the Council of Florence in 1438-39 was visually checked page by page for potential texts. The last 31 of MPG were not checked in such detail. Only the indices were analyzed for chapter headings that were applicable to the subject matter. Migne Patrologia Latina has been consulted but not as thoroughly as MPG. MPL has been digitized and one day will be looked at in further detail. There is no timeline for this.

    Language Notes

    The majority of the early textual work is concerned with Greek, Latin, and Aramaic with minor samplings of other writings. Syriac literature could have been more prominent but it is restricted due to time limitations.

    Why does the study stop in the early 1900s?

    The Gift of Tongues Project has revealed so far three important phases in the doctrine of tongues throughout history:

    • the traditional doctrine of miraculously speaking or hearing a foreign language. First to eighteenth-centuries.
    • the change to the doctrine of glossolalia in the nineteenth-century
    • the third mutation to a heavenly language in the twentieth-century

    The goal of the project is not to trace every movement from the seventeenth-century onwards, but to follow why the definition had changed. The new definition had stabilized soon after 1906 so it is not necessary to go any further into the genre after that.

    Tracing and explaining the modern tongues speaking movements is a topic unto itself and would require its own careful attention. I am not a specialist in pentecostal or charismatic studies and there are many others better equipped to add this part of the story in other materials.

    A Short Linguistic Analysis

    The initial intention was to do an etymology of the religious word tongues from a literary and linguistic perspective: first it was to discover its usage, various synonyms and potentially finding extra adjectives among the various pieces of Greek literature throughout the centuries. The second stage was to be comparing the Latin, Syriac and later translations.

    By doing this, one could theoretically deduce whether tongues was intended to be ecstatic utterances, heavenly or earthly languages or any combination of the three.

    As the translation work went on with the Ecclesiastical writers both in the Greek and the Latin, it became wholly clear that this was unnecessary.

    The consistent message among the first fourteen centuries clearly demonstrated that it was a human language. This was so strong and clear, there was no reason to defend this. How this human language happened and the mechanics behind this were the sources of debate.

    The focus of the project evolved and turned into a Rabbinic form of inquiry. Where did it start, who influenced who, why did it change and when, and how did it evolve to the definition we have today? A map is being developed about the key thinkers and movements who have passed down their doctrines and ideologies on the subject from one generation to another and why it has influenced many to believe what they do today on the subject.

    The Gift of Tongues Project is the place to go for all the details on this journey which travels deep into history, language, theology, philosophy, institutional movements, and more.

    References   [ + ]