Tag Archives: Ambrosiaster

The Language of Instruction in the Corinthian Church

A look at the ancient Jewish rite of instruction in Hebrew with an immediate translation into Aramaic or local vernacular. How it potentially impacted the earliest Corinthian assembly and how this rite evolved in the church.

This is part 5 of a series on Corinth which attempts to correlate the mystery rite of tongues outlined in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians with standard Jewish liturgy of the time.

For more information on this series go to Introduction to the tongues of Corinth

The tradition of Jewish instructors speaking in Hebrew lasted for centuries. It is no longer practiced in synagogues today but was an important function in Judaism around the first-century. This little-known practice had an important part to play in the Jewish identity, and as will be shown, was a factor in the tongues conflict in Corinth.

In order to better explain this practice and make an association with the Corinthian gathering, we must go into ancient Jewish literature and citations from some of the more prominent Jewish authorities. Some of which is obscure on the first read and takes a little explanation before the truth becomes clear.

Talmud Babli Yoma 20b

Any discussion on the role of Hebrew as a sacred language of instruction will inevitably land on this passage which refers to two Rabbis who lived in the third-century: Rav Shela and Abba Arika. The narrative is about Rabbi Shela wanting to give a lecture in Hebrew which was demonstrated here as the language of Jewish religion and polity — a sacerdotal tongue. In order to perform such a task, a third-party was required to translate it into Aramaic. Abba Arika, often referred to as Rav, offered to provide the translation. While Shela was lecturing, he mentioned call of the rooster and Rav translated it as call of the man. These words call of the rooster and call of the man are almost identical in Hebrew. The words go back into an academic dispute between Jewish scholars on when the priests in the Temple were to wake up and begin their duties. Shela admonished Rav for taking too much liberty in translating. Rav parlayed back that he couldn’t translate it that way because Shela was entirely wrong on this point and demonstrated the thoughts of an uneducated man.

The text makes Hebrew instruction with an immediate translation into Aramaic a standard procedure during this time.

Here is the actual Talmudic text in English with a link to the original source in the footnote:

Rab came to the place of R. Shila, when there happened to be no interpreter to stand next to R. Shila, so Rab took the stand next to him and interpreted, ‘keriath hageber’ as ‘the call for the man’. R. Shila said to him Would you, Sir, interpret it as: Cockrow! Rab replied: ‘A flute is musical to nobles, but give it to weavers, they will not accept it’.1

This passage used two different words to define the concept of interpreter. The first one was אמורא Amora. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains that this term had two functions. The first one represented all the Rabbinic teachers that flourished during a period of about three hundred years, from the time of the death of the patriarch R. Judah I. (219) to the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (about 500)2 The second definition applies here. “While the lecturer generally pronounced his sentences in the academic language, which was chiefly Hebrew, the Amora gave his explanations in Aramaic. . .”3 The article states that the term Amora as an interpreter or translator was a later usage to that of the word meturgeman and often was interchanged with it.

The second word used for interpreter is פרש peresh — to interpret, expound, clarify.

Understanding the word interpret in I Corinthians 14 is one of the keys to unlocking what Paul meant. The Syriac version of this passage is especially helpful which is ܦܫܩ pashek. J. Payne Smith’s Dictionary describes at as to explain, expound, to write commentaries, to translate. The dictionary demonstrated how the word ܦܫܩ was used in the Syrian Church: “he expounds the Six Days of Creation to the congregation,” which exemplifies the fact that Paul wasn’t meaning interpreter to be a literal word for word translation from one language to another but it could be dynamic, or amplified.4

The Syriac presents the idea that whatever translation was given, just like the incident mentioned with Rav Shela above, wasn’t necessarily a literal word-for-word translation, but an amplified version given by the interpreter that the people could understand. If the concept is taken a step further, peresh could allow an interpreter become too stylistic, or promoting his own oratorial skills at the expense of the original speaker. This may have been a contributor to the Corinthian saga as well.

Rashi on Hebrew instruction and interpretation

Almost any analysis on the Talmud will take the researcher to the eleventh-century French medieval Rabbi Rashi. His concise commentary and analysis gives him the classification of one the great writers of the Jewish world. His critiques and analysis are on the same high level as Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas. He chose to explain further the mechanics between the teacher and the interpreter:

The one who interprets stands beside a sage who gives the homily and the sage whispers the Hebrew language to him and he translates to the common language they hear in.5

Where Rashi got the idea of the Sage whispering to the translator is not known. This may be a much later tradition than Paul’s time.

Why did Paul not mention Hebrew specifically in his text?

Paul was purposely being vague because of the ethnic tensions between the traditional Aramaic Jews, the Hellenized Jews who were eager not to lose their ancient Jewish language and customs, and Greek adherents who came from different Doric, Aeolic, and Attic linguistic backgrounds. If he took a side with any of them by naming a certain language, or showing a preference for one over the other, he would have potentially started a split; alienating one group from another. He was in a very difficult position. His reply showed that he was interested in establishing an effective teaching methodology within the parameters of traditional Judaism that assisted both the Greek and Aramaic Jewish layperson, along with Greek converts in learning. He was emphatic that education was the priority, language was secondary to this goal.

Could it be Aramaic instead?

Saul Lieberman outlines in his book, Greek In Jewish Palestine certain practices within the third-century that proposes a different view that may even discount the Hebrew theory and replace it with Aramaic. He stated that when Jewish preachers went into Greek towns, they preached in Aramaic.6

This comment by Lieberman is along the same line of reasoning with a Latin work called the Ambrosiastor text. If we link these two pieces, then Aramaic was the central problem. This conclusion provides a compelling alternative to the Hebrew instruction theory. However, Hebrew instruction has a little bit more substantiation, but not decisively. I put it at 55-45 for Hebrew.

It is a confusing triangle of languages. The reader must be aware of this.

How it evolved in the Church

The Epiphanius text believed the practice of instruction and reading in Hebrew was still being performed in the earliest Corinthian Church. Yet there is one difference between Paul’s exhortation and two hundred years or so later to the time of Rav Shila–during Paul’s time a teacher instructing in Hebrew could provide his own translation.

Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.7

Rabbinic tradition during Rav Shila’s time did not allow for a person to translate their own speech. Someone else was obligated to do the translation.

On the other hand as one reads on in the I Corinthians letter, Paul prefers that when someone speaks in a foreign language before the assembly of believers that a third-party interpreter/expositor be utilized.

If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.8

As to Hebrew being the language of instruction, it probably died within the first forty years after the founding of the assembly of Corinth—maybe even earlier. The Jewish revolt and Rome’s sacking of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD led to a widespread distrust of anything relating to anyone belonging to the Jewish race. Any symbols or practices would have been less apparent or even removed for fear of anti-Jewish sentiments especially in a major Roman-ruled city such as Corinth. This was even more apparent under the emperorship of Domitian (81–96 AD), “where there was scarcely a Jew to be seen (in the Roman Empire) during his reign.”9 He also sought to destroy all the family members of the Davidic line in order to maintain perpetual control.10

The fateful decision to excommunicate the entire Jewish-Christian movement by the decree called the Birkat ha-Minim11 from the Jewish world somewhere around 90 AD also may have accelerated the loss of the Hebrew language and Jewish identity in the fledgling movement.

The changing demographic influenced the removal of Hebrew as well. The common Greek adherents began to quickly outnumber the Jewish ones in all the assemblies. An anonymous early text covering II Corinthians claims believed this happened around 100 AD.12

Afterwards, Greek took over Hebrew as the primary language in the church. Saul Lieberman asserted this in his findings. He referred to a church in Scythopolis—especially focusing on a man name Procopius. Procopius lived during the late 200s (AD). Scythopolis was a Greek populated city slightly below the Sea of Galilee and a little west of the Jordan river. Today it is known as Bet She’an. He explains that the the roles of speakers and interpreters continued in the church, albeit in a slightly different form.

On the other hand, Eusebius informs us that Procopius was (around 286) a Reader and Interpreter from Greek into Aramaic in the church of Scythopolis. In the Hellenized town of Scythopolis it was necessary to render a Greek passage in Aramaic before the people could understand it! But Zahn is quite right in his remark that whereas the Biblical lessons, the liturgy and the sermons in the church of Scythopolis were in Greek, there was need of an Aramaic translator for the benefit of the peasants who attended the church. Probably even the peasants knew the limited practical everyday vocabulary of Greek, but explanations by an interpreter (תרגומן) in the mother-tongue of the masses were quite welcome. [/note]

Lieberman refers to an author named Zahn on this topic. The original quote and text from Zahn has not been located. Fortunately, and more important, the actual Eusebius text is available and narrates about Procopius:

His family was from Baishan; and he ministered in the orders of the Church in three things :–First, he had been a Reader; and in the second order he translated from Greek into Aramaic; and in the last, which is even more excellent than the preceding, he opposed the powers of the evil one, and the devils trembled before him.13

It is not clear whether Procopius translated homilies given in Greek into Aramaic during the service, or performed this function for other needs. However, the overall structure appears to support that he was a translator for the homily done in Greek.

A female traveller named Egeria provides an important piece to the puzzle. She lived in the late 300s AD and made a pilgrimage to Israel and surrounding areas. She came from Europe, but it is unknown exactly where. Neither does anyone know who she came with, or how she was funded. All that exists today is a portion of her letters which contains important information about early christian worship in Israel. Her work is called Peregrinatio or Itinerarium Egeriae. In it she wrote:

3. Now, forasmuch as in that province some of the people know both Greek and Syriac, while some know Greek alone and others only Syriac; and because the bishop, although he knows Syriac, yet always speaks Greek, and never Syriac, there is always a priest standing by who, when the bishop speaks Greek, interprets into Syriac, that all may understand what is being taught.

4. And because all the lessons that are read in the church must be read in Greek, he always stands by and interprets them into Syriac, for the people’s sake, that they may always be edified. Moreover, the Latins here, who understand neither Syriac nor Greek, in order that they be not disappointed, have (all things) explained to them, for there are other brothers and sisters knowing both Greek and Latin, who translate into Latin for them.14

She clearly demonstrated that the church indeed had inherited the ancient practice of speakers/interpreters. She also reinforced that Greek was the primary language. Aramaic (called Syriac in her text) was secondary while Hebrew had no place in this paradigm. Egeria’s description also substantiates Procopius as an official interpreter in this rite.

Do the Jews still practice these rites in synagogues today?

The public reading of Hebrew is still practised and, furthermore, is part of the traditional rite of Jewish children moving into adulthood.

The interpreter has a different trajectory. The interpreter, known in Hebrew as the Meturgamen later became an odious name. Those who held such an office took too much liberty for their own gain. A Jewish work called, Ecclesiastes Rabbah compiled somewhere between the sixth-to-eighth centuries of earlier sources, remarked about the abuse of the interpreter’s office.

It is better to hear the rebuke of a wise man than for a man to hear the song of the fools. Because a man who hears the song of fools is better than the meturgamens who raise their voices in song for the people to be entertained.15

The office was phased out, but it is not known exactly when, though it is assumed somewhere around the sixth-century.


If one takes face-value the information provided, Paul was referencing the the one who speaks in a tongue as one teaching or lecturing in Hebrew. The interpreter was the speaker or another person familiar with both Hebrew and the target language, translating it on the fly. Paul mentioned in I Corinthians 14:13 that a person who speaks in a foreign unnamed tongue should himself interpret it. I Corinthians 14:28 outlines two conditions that govern whether a teacher should refrain from teaching. We will assume once again he is thinking about Hebrew here, though it is not listed in his actual text. Firstly, if the teacher speaking in Hebrew is not familiar with the local language and cannot translate it himself. The second is when a third party familiar with both Hebrew and the local language is not available to translate. The teacher should remain silent.

This was the environment Paul was up against in writing his letter to the Corinthians. It was a church composed of Jewish-Hebrew, Jewish-Aramaic, Jewish-Greek, and non-Jewish Greek members. It was a time where all things of religious faith were allowed to be reexamined, especially in the context of Jewish tradition; what rituals were to be included from previous liturgical traditions, what were to be removed, and what new traditions should be started. The Jewish tradition was the underlying base. The Church was both restorative to the ancient Jewish identity but forward looking at the same time. It was more inclusive of many different ethnic groups and practices. Paul seemed unconcerned about the language issue itself but wanted to maintain some type of order so that all these different language speaking groups could operate cohesively together.

If one reads the Pauline passage with the idea of Hebrew or Aramaic as the language of instruction and understands the Jewish structure of speaking and interpretation in Jewish tradition as outlined in this series, the text is clearly understood. It is not a mystical out-of-this-world experience but the re-imaging of Jewish structure in a newly established branch of Judaism.■

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

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

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 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 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 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

  • 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 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 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 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 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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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 The text of Talmud Babli Megillah supports the Greek version to have near or equivalent status to that of the Hebrew one.19. 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 . . .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

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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

The Ambrosiaster Latin text on I Corinthians 12-14

This is the Latin copy of the Ambrosiaster text on I Corinthians 12-14.

The English translation can be found at A translation of I Corinthians 12-14 from the Ambrosiaster text.

For introductory information on this subject, go to Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s I Corinthians 12-14.

The following is the Latin text taken from Migne Patrologia Latina Volume 17. Ad Opera S. Ambrosii Appendix. Comment. In Epist. 1 Ad Corinth. Col. 257ff:


[Col. 257] (Ver. 1, 2.) « De spiritalibus autem nolo vos ignorare, fratres. Scitis quia gentes eratis, simulacrorum forma euntes, prout ducebamini. » Spiritalia illis traditurus, exemplum prioris conversationis memorat; ut sicut simulacrorum fuerunt forma, [Col. 258] colentes idola, et ducebantur duce voluntate dæmoniorum ; ita et colentes Deum, sint forma legis Dominicæ, ambulantes sicut placet Domino. Forma enim uniuscujusque legis in professione et conversatione cultoris debet videri ; ille enim forma et imago legis Dei est, in cujus fide et conversatione Evangelii veritas lucet.

(Vers. 3) « Propter quod notum vobis facio, quod nemo in Spiritu Dei loquens, dicit anathema Jesu ; et nemo potest dicere Dominum Jesum, nisi in Spiritu sancto. » Quoniam rationem spiritalium ignorantes, per singula charismata hominibus potius quam Deo dabant gloriam, non assecuti per Spiritum sanctum hoc donum ministrairi : et quia qui Dominum Jesum vocat, non sine Spiritu sancto hoc dicit ; habet enim gratiam in eo ipso fidei suæ propter gloriam nominis Christi ; non enim sine dono Dei et Dominum dicere Jesum; ac per hos ostendit illis in omnibus Dei esse laudem et gratiam ; quia sicut idolorum imago in ministris ejus est, ordinem suum habens per singulos gradus, totum tamen hominis est : ita et in lege Dominica gradus charismatum sunt officiis Ecclesiæ, non utique meritis humanis indulti; sed ut membra ad ædificationem Ecclesiæ pertinentia, quæ per se et in se habent gloriam, sicut est etiam in humanis officiis. Scholæ enim sunt, quæ positis in se dant dignitatem ; ut loci honor hominem faciat gloriosum, non propria laus. Ait ergo : « Nemo in Spiritu Dei loquens, dicit anathema Jesu. » Vox enim quæ dicit anathema Jesu, humano est errore prolata ; quidquid enim falsum est, ab homine est. « Et nemo potest dicere Dominum Jesum, nisi in Spiritu sancto. » Dictum enim ipsum, quo significatur Dominus Jesus, non ab adulatione hominum sicut et idola dii vocantur, sed Spiritus sancti veritate profusum est; quidquid enim verum a quocunque dicitur, a sancto dicitur Spiritu. Ne ergo hominum favorem existimarent in regula Christiana, et propter hoc se argui minime paterentur, sicut est et in simulacris (homo enim adinvenit ut Deus dicatur, qui non est; ac per hoc subjecti sunt antistites illis) ; ostendit enim eis nullum beneficium esse humanum in eo, cum dicitur Dominus Jesus ; sed magis donum Dei, qui dignatus est mysterium suum hominibus declarare. Etenim ipsa professio remissionem acquirit peccatorum, sicut exaggerat dicatio idolorum. Docet ergo eos quia non præstant religioni beneficium, dicentes, « Dominum Jesum ; » sed accipiunt ; ne more idolorum hominum putarent gratiam esse in lege Domini, dum vocatur Deus, qui non est. Denique non intelligentes Dei donum esse in fide ; singuli singulos sibi homines delegerant, quos sequerentur, dicentes : « Ego sum Pauli, ego vero [Col. 259] Apollo (I Cor. I, 12). » Superbiam ergo illorum humiliat: ut patiantur se, sicut dixi, argui.

(Vers. 4.) « Divisiones vero gratiarum sunt. » Non hoc humanis meritis vult ascribi, sed gratiæ Dei ad honorificentiam nominis ejus ; sicut enim qui dicit Dominum Jesum, in Spiritu sancto dicit, qualis vis sit: ita et in loco ordinis officii ecclesiastici positus, gratiam habet, qualis vis sit : non utique propriam, sed ordinis per efficaciam Spiritus sancti. Unde et inter initia dicit : « Neque qui plantat est aliquid, neque qui rigat : sed qui incrementum dat Deus (I Cor. III, 7). »

(Vers. 5, 6.) « Idem autem Spiritus. Et divisiones ministeriorum sunt. » Per eumdem Spiritum diversa dona dicit præstari. « Idem vero Dominus. Et divisiones operationum sunt. » Jungit nunc Christum Spiritui sancto. « Idem autem Deus, qui operatur omnia in omnibus. » In tantum non hoc hominibus dandum, quasi proprium sit, sed soli Deo asserit; ut etiam donum Spiritus sancti, et gratiam Domini Jesu unius Dei dicat operationem ; ne gratia et donum divisum sit propter personas Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti : sed indiscretæ unitatis et naturæ trium unum opus intelligatur, ut ad unum omnem gloriam redigat et divinitatem. « Divisiones autem gratiarum sunt » officiis Ecclesiæ, non humanis meritis deputatæ. Si enim Spiritus sanctus idem Dominus est; et Dominus idem Deus est; et tres unus Deus est; cum enim Spiritus sancti gloria, et potestas, et natura Dei est, et Dominus Jesus idem est in natura quod Deus est, unus utique Spiritus sanctus, et Dominus Jesus, et Pater Deus est. Et singuli enim Deus unus, et tres Deus unus. Denique operante uno, tres operari dicuntur ; ut Trinitatis mysterium in unius Dei natura et potestate claudatur, cum sit immensum.

(Vers. 7.) « Unicuique autem datur manifestatio Spiritus ad utilitatem. » Hoc est, donum accipit, ut divinis retinaculis vitam suam gubernans, et sibi et aliis utilis sit, dum exemplum bonæ conversationis ostendit.

(Vers. 8.) « Cuidam enim datur per Spiritum sermo sapientiæ. » Id est, datur illi prudentia non ex litteris, sed corusco Spiritus sancti igne; ut cor habeat illuminatum, et sit prudens, ut discernat quæ vitanda sunt, quæve sequenda. «Alii vero sermo scientiæ secundum eumdem spiritum ; » hoc est, ut habeat scientiam rerum divinarum. « Alii gratia curationum in uno Spiritu; » id est, ut medelam tribuat infirmis vel ægris.

(Vers. 9, 10.) « Alii fides in eodem Spiritu. » Hoc dicit, ut fidei profitendæ vindicandæ, pressa verecundia, accipiat facultatem. « Alii operatio virtutum. » Potestam dari significat in ejiciendis dæmoniis, aut signis faciendis. « Alii prophetia; » [Col. 260] id est, ut Spiritu sancto repletus dicat futura « Alii discretio spirituum. » Hoc dicit, ut intelligat et judicet, quod dicitur an Spiritus sancti sit, an mundani. « Alii genera linguarum, alii interpretatio sermonum. » Interpretari est, ut dicta illorum, qui linguis loquuntur vel litteris, per donum Dei fideliter interpretetur.

(Vers. 11.) « Omnia autem hæc operatur unus atque idem Spiritus, dividens unicuique prout vult. » Quod superius trium personarum dicit, nunc per unum Spiritum sanctum agi profitetur; ut quia unius naturæ sunt et virtutis, quod unus operatur, operentur tres : unus tamen est Deus, cujus gratia dividitur singulis, prout vult, non ad merita hominum, sed magis ad ædificationem Ecclesiæ suæ ; ut omnia quæ mundus imitari vult, sed non implet, quia carnalis est ; hæc in Ecclesia, quæ domus Dei est, singulorum officiis et dono et magisterio Spiritus sancti indulta ad probationem veritatis in iis, qui contemptibiles mundo sunt, videantur.

(Vers. 12, 13.) « Sicut enim corpus unum est, et membra habet multa : omnia autem membra ex uno corpore, cum sint multa, unum sunt corpus ; ita et Christus. Etenim in uno Spiritu nos omnes in unum corpus baptizati sumus, sive Judæi, sive Græci, sive servi, sive liberi ; et omnes unum Spiritum potavimus. » Per hæc docet nullius personam quasi perfecta sit, præferendam : nec gloriam, quæ soli Deo debetur, hominibus tribuendam ; quando in omnibus unus atque idem Deus sit gloriosus : quippe cum omnes et unum baptisma habeamus, et unum atque eumdem Spiritum sanctum. Hoc propter supradictam causam ; quia in aliquibus gloriabantur, aliquos vero velut contemptibiles spernebant.

(Vers. 14.) « Nam et corpus non est unum membrum, sed multa. » Hoc dicens, ostendit unitatem habere varietates officiorum, et diversitatem hanc non discrepare in unitate potestatis ; quando unitas corporis non in singularitate consistit, sed in multis membris : ut invicem sibi præstent, quod debent.

(Vers. 15.) « Si dixerit pes : Quia non sum manus, non sum de corpore ; num propterea non est de corpore ? » Hoc est, non posse eum, qui infirmus videtur inter fratres, negari esse de corpore, quia non est potens.

(Vers. 16.) « Si dixerit auricula : Quia non sum oculus, non sum de corpore; num propterea non est de corpore ? » Non debere dicit illum, qui paulo inferior est, non necessarium putari corpori, propterea quod de primis non sit.

(Vers. 17.) « Si totum corpus oculus, ubi est [Col. 261] auditus ? Si totum auditus, ubi est odoratus ? » Id est, si omnes unius essent officii et operis; quomodo impleretur reliqua necessitas corporis ; cum constet multis officiis opus esse ad gubernacula corporis ?

(Vers. 18.) « Nunc autem Deus posuit membra, unumquodque in corpore; sicut voluit. » Voluntatem Dei, quia provida et rationabilis est, membra dicit corpori aptasse ; ut nihil desit corpori, sed sit multis membris perfectum.

(Vers. 19.) « Si autem fuissent omnia unum membrum, ubi corpus ? » Manifestum est quia si omnes fuissent unius dignitatis, non dicerentur membra, neque corpus : ideoque variis membrorum officiis conjubernantur ; omnia enim unum membrum esse non poterant. Ideo autem multa sunt, quia ab invicem differunt dignitate.

(Vers. 20.) « Nunc autem multa quidem membra, unum autem corpus. » Hoc dicit, quia multa membra, cum invicem sui egeant, non discrepant in unitate naturæ, quamvis di versa sint ; quia diversitas hæc in unum concurrit, ut corporis utilitas expleatur, sicut et ea quibus mundus ipse constat, cum sunt diversa non solum officiis, sed et naturis; ad unius tamen mundi proficiunt perfectionem, et ex omnibus his nascitur temperies quædam in fructibus, qui humanæ proficiunt utilitati.

(Vers. 21.) « Non potest autem dicere oculus manui : Opera tua non indigeo. » Hoc est, not potest dicere potior inferiori : Non mihi opus es; quia oculus quidem videt, sed manus sunt, quæ operantur. Aut iterum caput pedibus : « Non estis mihi necessarii ; » id est, major gradu et dignitate non potest sine illo esse, qui humilis est ; quia est quod humilis potest, quod non potest sublimis, quia ferrum potest, quod non potest aurum : ac per hoc honorem capiti faciunt pedes.

(Vers. 22.) « Sed multo magis quæ videntur membra corporis infirmiora esse, necessaria sunt. » Manifestum est. quia quamvis aliquis dignitate sublimis sit; si subjectus tamen defuerit, qui obsequiis suis illum faciat gloriosum, ipsa dignitas contemptibilis erit : officium enim est, per quod dignitas constat. Tale est si imperatori desit exercitus. Quamvis ergo magnus sit imperator, necessarium tamen habet exercitum : membrum est enim corporis ejus, ante se habens tribunos, comites, et magistros. His omnibus inferiores sunt milites, et magis necessarii sunt, sicut membra corporis, quæ cum inferiora videntur, plus utilia sunt ; sine oculis enim manus operatur, et pes ambulans victum quæritat. »

(Vers. 23.) « Et quæ putamus ignobiliora esse membra corporis, his abundantiorem honorem circumdamus. » Similis est sensus, quia qui putantur [Col. 262] sine dignitate esse, invenimus in eis quod laudemus, sicut et in membris vilioribus, quod plus nobis placeat, quam quod in cæteris invenimus. Quo enim honore dignæ sunt manus, quando quod volumus, tenemus ! vel pedes, cum quibus quo volumus, imus ! Propterea et nos addimus eis honorificentiam, ut puta pedibus ; quos quia humiles sunt et sine dignitate, claceamentis ornamus. « Et quæ inhonesta sunt nostra. abundantiorem honorem habent. » Manifestum est quia pudenda nostra, quæ turpia videntur, dum aspectus publicos vitant, honestate se contegunt, ne per irreverentiam horreant. Simili modo et quidam fratrum, cum sint egestate et habitu inhonesti, non tamen sunt sine gratia, per quam membra sint corporis nostri : nam solent succincti vesticula tetrica, nudo pede, incedere. Cum ergo videantur contemptibiles, magis honori sunt ; quia solent vitam habere mundiorem. Quod enim hominibus videtur despectum, solet a Deo pulchrum judicari.

(Vers. 24.) « Quæ autem honesta sunt nostra, nullius egent. » Apertum est quia caput non eget, neque facies, neque manus, ut his addatur per quod decorentur : ita et fratribus, in quibus studium peritiæ, et conversationis viget honestas, nihil est quod a nobis additur ; debitus enim illis redditur honor. Despectis vero vel humilibus exhortatio necessaria est, per quam addatur illis aliquis honor, ut fiant utiles : si quominus, ipso contemptu negligentiores circa se erunt, in quibus magis proficiendum est.

(Vers. 25.) «Sed Deus temperavit corpus, ei cui deerat, abundantiorem tribuendo honorem ; ut non sit schisma in corpore, sed pro invicem sollicita sint membra. » Sic dicit a Deo moderatum humanum corpus, ut omnia membra ejus necessaria sint; ac per hoc pro se invicem sollicita, quia aliud sine altero esse non potest : et quod inferius putatur, magis necessarium est; sicut et de fratribus expositum est, vel disputatum, quia nullus debet velut inutilis despici.

(Vers. 26.) « Et si quid patitur unum membrum, compatiuntur omnia membra. » Hoc de membris corporis carnis ambiguum non est ; quia si oculus, aut pes, vel manus capiatur ægritudine aliqua infirmitatis, totum corpus condolet : ita et nos docet condolere fratribus, si aliquid hujusmodi, aut necessitatis emerserit. « Sive glorificatur unum membrum, congaudeant omnia membra. » Manifestum est quia lætum est caput sive cætera membra, si pedes fuerint accurati vel sani. Sic debemus et nos alacres fieri, si fratrem aliquem viderimus cultorem Dei, et auctum honestate morum. hoc et, sanum esse consilio.

(Vers. 27.) « Vos autem estis corpus Christi, et [Col. 263] membra de membro. » Ostendit aperte nostram se causam per membrorum carnalium rationem tractasse ; quia non omnes possumus eadem, sed singuli pro qualitate fidei et gratiam habemus concessam.

(Vers. 28.) « Et quosdam posuit Deus in Ecclesia primum quidem apostolos. » Caput itaque in Ecclesia apostolos posuit, qui legati Christi sunt, sicut dicit idem Apostolus : « Pro quo legatione fungimur (II Cor. v, 20). » Isti sunt episcopi, firmante istud Petro apostolo, et dicente inter cætera de Juda : « Et episcopatum ejus accipiat alter (Act. I, 20). »

« Secundo prophetas. » Prophetas duplici genere intelligamus, et futura dicentes, et Scripturas revelantes; quamvis sint et apostoli prophetæ, quia primus gradus omnia subjecta habet. Denique pessimus Caiphas propter quod princeps sacerdotum erat, prophetavit (Joan. XI, 51), ordinis utique causa, non proprii meriti. Tamen specialiter erant prophetæ et Scripturarum interpretes, et futura dicentes sicut erat Agabus, qui exitia et vincula huic Apostolo prophetavit futura Hierosolymis (Act. XXXI, 11), et famem cecinit, quæ facta est sub Claudio (Act. XI, 28). Ideo quanquam sit melior apostolus, aliquando tamen eget prophetis. Et quia ab uno Deo Patre sunt omnia, singulos episcopos singulis Ecclesiis præesse decrevit.

« Tertio doctores. » Illos dicit doctores qui in eccleisa litteris et lectionibus retinendis pueros imbuebant more Synagogæ ; quia traditio illorum ad nos transitum fecit. Quarto loco ait :

« Deinde virtutes, deinde gratiam curationum ; » potest enim aliquiis non esse episcopus. et habere in se donum virtutis sanitatum. « Opitulationes, gubernationes ; » ut in rebus divinis vigilet intellectu : ita tamen, ut in aliquibus, quæ implere non conceditur, ab alio sumat quod non habet; quia totum uni concedi non potest. Sunt et gubernatores, qui spiritalibus retinaculis hominibus documento sunt. « Genera linguarum; » ut donum sit Dei multas lingua scire. « Interpretationem sermonum ; [»] ut hoc alicui gratia Dei impertiat, ut linguarum interpretandarum habeat peritiam.

(Vers. 29.) « Numquid omnes apostoli ? » Verum est, quia in Ecclesia unus est episcopus. « Numquid omnes prophetæ ? » Non est ambiguum non omnibus concedi prophetiam. « Numquid omnes doctores ? » Ille doctor est, cui alios erudire conceditur.

(Vers. 30.) « Numquid omnes virtutes ? » Hic [Col. 264] potest habere virtutem, cui dat Deus Dæmonia ejicere. « Num omnes gratiam habent curationum ? » Quomodo potest fieri ut omnes linguis loquuntur? » Non utique, nisi qui accepit donum in hac re. « Numquid omnes interpretantur ? » Ille potest sermones interpretari, cui dat Deus. In supradictum sensum hæc inserenda. Explanavit enim, reddita ratione, omnes habere diversas gratias, nec totum alicui concedi, exemplo membrorum. Exemplo enim corporis carnis spiritale corpus insinuat; ac per hoc in omnibus Deum benedicendum, et in ipsius nomine gloriandum, cujus gratia est. Hanc rationem etiam in rebus physicis invenimus; aurum enim cum melius argento sit, plus tamen in usu argentum est ; et cum æs necessarium sit, plus tamen ferro opus est ; nihil enim pene sine ferro fit, cum sit inferius. Et post hæc:

(Vers. 31.) « Æmulamini charismata meliora. » Hoc mox in subjectis absolvit. « Et adhuc magis excellentiorem viam vobis demonstro. » Gradatim illos ad utiliora provehit, ostendens illis gratiam supradicti omnis doni, quod in hominibus videntur, sive loquendi, aut curandi, aut prophetandi, non ad meritum hominis pertinere, sed ad honorificentiam Dei. Ideoque nunc viam se dicit illis ostendere planiorem, qua itur ad cœlum, quæ meritum collocat apud Deum. Nam quia supradicta non semper ad meritum pertinent, dicit Salvator: « Multi mihi dicent in illa die. » id est judicii : « Domine, Domine, nonne in nomine tuo prophetavimus, et in nomine tuo demonia ejecimus, et virtutes multas fecimus (Matth. VII, 22)? » Et quia non hoc ad meritum pertinet, sed officia sunt Ecclesiæ, ad confusionem gentilium, et Dei honorificentiam protestandam, dicit eis Dominus : « Recedite a me; non novi vos, operarii iniquitatis. (Ibid. 27). » Securi enim quia Dei in illis operatio cernebatur, negligentes erga se fuerunt ; nam et septuaginta duobus discipulis gaudentibus quia dæmonia illis subdita fuerant, dicit Salvator : « Nolite in hoc gaudere, quod dæmonia vobis subjecta sunt ; sed in hoc guadete, quod nomina vestra scripta sunt in cœlo (Luc. X, 20). » Quare, nisi quia nomini Dei subjecta sunt, non hominis merito ? Et quare nunc non ita fit, ut habeant homines gratiam Dei? Inter initia fieri oportuit, ut fundamenta fidei acciperent firmitatem : nunc autem non opus est ; quia populus populum adducit ad fidem, cum videntur eorum bona opera, et prædicatio simplex.


(Vers. 1.) « Si linguis hominum loquar et [Col. 265] angelorum, charitatem autem non habeam, unum sum velut æramentum resonans, aut cymbalum tinniens. » Magna utique videtur gratia diversis loqui linguis: plus autem aliquid est, etiamsi angelorum possit quis linguam scire, id est, si spiritaliter cognitum possit habere angelicum motum. Verum hoc ad meritum non ascribi, sed ad Dei gloriam, subjectis ostendit, dicens sic esse ut cæramentum resonans, aut cymbalum tinniens. « Quia sicut ærementum impulsu alterius resonat, et cymbalum tinnit ; ita et hic qui linguis loquitur, Spiritus sancti effectum habet et motum, ut loqui possit, sicut et alio loco dicit Salvator : « Non enim vos estis, qui loquimini; sed Spiritus Patris vestri, qui loquitur in vobis (Matth. X, 20). » Nam et asina locuta est humana lingua ad Balaam filium Beor (Num. XXII, 28), ut addiceret Dei majestatem : et pueri infantes in laudem Dei proruperunt ad confusionem Judæorum (Matth. XXI, 16). Salvator autem non solum istos, sed et lapides ad condemnationem perfidorum, et gloriam Dei clamare posse ostendit (Luc. XIX, 40). Et inter ipsa primordia ad commendationem fidei, qui baptizabantur, linguis loquebantur (Act. X, 46).

(Vers. 2.) « Et si habuero prophetiam, et noverim omnia mysteria, et omnem scientiam, charitatem autem non habeam, nihil mihi prodest. » Vere nihil prodest ; ad Dei enim gloriam prophetatur, sicut dictit David propheta : « Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam (Psal. CXIII, 1) » Nam et Balaam prophetavit (Num. XXIV, 17), cum propheta non esset, sed hariolus : et Caiphas prophetavit (Joan. XI, 51), non merito, sed dignitate ordinis sacerdotalis : et Saul prophetavit (I Reg. XIX, 23), cum jam inobedientiæ causa spiritu malo fuisset repletus; sed propter Dei causam, ne posset comprehendere David, quem et occidere volebat.

« Et si sciero omnia mysteria ; » Judæ enim nihil profuit fuisse cum apostolis, et didicisse mysteria, cum charitatis hostis tradidit Salvatorem. Et propheta Ezechiel diabolum mysteria cœlestia scire ostendit, quando increpita voce in paradiso illum Dei fuisse, et pretiosos lapides habuisse testatur (Ezech. XXVIII, 13); quos lapides idem Apostolus doctrinæ divinæ mysteria significavit (I Cor. III, 12-15) : et illi nihil profuit, quia charitatis immemor, in superbiam prosilivit.

« Et si habuero omnem scientiam. » Nihil mihi prodest scientia, si charitas non sit. Denique Scribis et Pharisæis nihil profuit, dicente Salvatore: « Vos habetis clavem scientiæ, et neque vos intratis, neque alios sinitis introire (Luc. XI, 52) ; » per invidiam enim charitatem corrumpentes, scientiam [col. 266] ejus ad nihilum deduxerunt. Nam et Tertullianus et Novatianus non parvæ scientiæ fuerunt : sed quia per zelum charitatis fœdera perdiderunt, in chisma versi, ad perditionem sui hæreses creaverunt.

« Et si habuero omnem fidem, ita ut montes transferam. » Virtutes facere, aut dæmonia per fidem ejicere Dei virtus et gloria est : nec hoc ad meritum proficit, nisi quis bonæ conversationis fuerit æmulus, sicut supra memoravi.

(Vers. 3.) « Et si erogavero omnem substantiam meam. » Apertum est quia si omnis substantia impendatur, nihil proficit, charitate neglecta ; quia caput religionis charitas est : et qui caput non habet, vitam non habet. « Et si tradidero corpus meum ut ardeam, nihil mihi prodest. » Sine charitate nihil prodest ; quia fundamentum religionis charitas est. Quidquid ergo sine charitate fit, caducum est.

(Vers. 4-8.) « Charitas magnanima est, jucunda est. Charitas non æmulatur, non inflatur, non perperam agit, non ambitiosa est, non quærit quæ sua sunt non irritatur, non cogitat malum, non gaudet in iniquitate, congaudet autem veritati : omnia tolerat, omnia credit, omnia sperat, omnia sustinet. Charitas nunquam cadit. » Tanta præconia charitatis edocuit, ut non immerito hanc cæteris anteponere videretur, et incassum laborare eos, qui aliis mandatis operam dant, huic non obtemperantes. Hinc ait Joannes apostolus : « Charitas Deus est (I Joan. IV, 8); » ut qui charitatem non habet, sciat se Deum non habere; unde et in alia epistola idem Paulus apostolus ait : « Deus autem qui dives est in misericordia, propter multam charitatem suam misertus est nostri (Ephes. II, 4). » Qui erog charitatem non habet, ingratus est misericordiæ, propter multam charitatem suam misertus est nostri (Ephes. II, 4). » Qui ergo charitatem non habet, ingratus est misericordiæ Dei ; quia non diligit, per quod salvatus est. Ut proinde discerent quia graviter delinquebant, qui escam fraternæ charitati præponebant. Nam hæc est quæ et in præsenti prodest, et in æternum cum Deo permanet.

(Vers. 9, 10.) « Sive prophetiæ evacuabuntur, sive linguæ cessabunt, sive scientia evacuabitur. Ex parte enim cognoscimus et ex parte prophetamus : cum atuem venerit quod perfectum est, evacuabuntur illa, quæ ex parte sunt. » Omnia charismatum dona evacuari dixit, quia non tantum possunt comprehendere, quantum ipsa veritas habet. Neque no[s] aut capere aut enarrare possumus plenitudinem veritatis. Qui enim fieri potest ut lingua humana omne complectatur, quod Dei est ? Ideo destruetur imperfectio nostra, non id quod verum est evacuabitur : sed dum additur imperfecto, quod deest, destruetur. Destructio enim imperfectionis est, quando id, quod imperfectum est, impletur in verum.

[Col. 267] (Vers. 11.) « Cum essem parvulus, quasi parvulus loquebar, quasi parvulus sapiebam, quasi parvulus cogitabam : at ubi factus sum vir, ea quæ parvuli erant destruxi. » Hoc dicit, quia exeuntes sancti de hoc mundo, plus necesse est inveniant, quam nunc putant, sicut Joannes apostolus de Salvatore dixit : « Tunc videbimus illum, sicuti est (I Joan. III, 2). » In hac ergo vita parvuli sumus ad comparationem futuræ vitæ ; quia sicut vita hæc imperfecta est, ita et scientia.

(Vers. 12.) « Videmus nunc per speculum in ænigmate ; tunc vero facie ad faciem. » Apertum est nunc imagines videri per fidem, tunc res ipsas. « Modo scio ex parte; tunc vero cognoscam, sicut et cognitus sum : » id est, videbo quæ promissa sunt, sicut videor ; hoc est, præsentem esse ad Dominum, ubi Christus est.

(Vers. 13.) « Manent autem nunc fides, spes, charitas, tria hæc : major autem horum est charitas. » Digne major est charitas : quia ut fides prædicaretur, et spes esset futuræ vitæ, charitas præstitit, sicut supra memoravi. Unde et Joannes apostolus : « Ex hoc cognoscimus, inquit, charitatem ejus, quia ipse pro nobis animam suam posuit (I Joan. III, 16). » Juste igitur major charitas, per quam reformatum est genus humanum.


(Vers. 1.) « Sectamini charitatem, æmulamini spiritalia : magis autem ut prophetetis. » Post charitatem prophetandi studium magis habendum hortatur : quia quamvis magni sint spiritales gradus, quos enumerat : hic tamen melior, qui ad utilitatem Ecclesiæ proficit, ut discant omnes divinæ legis rationem. In quo enim quis animum dederit, in eo ipso accipit donum, dicente Salomone: « Scire legem, sensus est optimi (Sap. VI, 16) ; » scientia enim charitate subnixa non inflatur, sed est mansueta, proficiens omnibus ad utilitatem.

(Vers. 2.) « Nam qui loquitur lingua, non hominibus loquitur, sed Deo ; nemo enim audit, spiritu autem loquitur mysteria. » Hoc est quod dicit, quia qui loquitur incognita lingua, Deo loquitur; quia ipse omnia novit : homines vero nesciunt, ideoque nullus est ex hac re profectus. « Spiritu autem loquitur mysteria, » non sensu, quia ignorat quod dicit.

(Vers. 3.) « Qui enim prophetat, hominibus loquitur ad ædificationem, et exhortationem, et consolationem ; » ædificatur enim, quando quæstionum solutionem, addiscit. Exhortatio autem illi fit, ut desiderium patiatur prophetandi : consolatur vero, quia contemptum disciplinæ in spe videt. Scientia enim legis firmat animos, et provocat ad spei melioris profectum.

(Vers. 4.) « Qui loquitur lingua, se ipsum [Col.268 ] ædificat : qui vero prophetat, Ecclesiam ædificat. » Per id enim, quod forte solus scit, quod loquitur, se solum ædificat : nam qui prophetat, omnem plebem ædificat, dum intelligitur ab omnibus quid loquatur. Prophetas interpretes dicit Scripturarum ; sicut enim propheta futura prædicit, quæ nesciuntur : ita et hic dum Scripturarum sensum, qui multis occultus est, manifestat, dicitur prophetare.

(Vers. 5.) « Volo autem vos omnes loqui linguis : magis autem ut prophetetis. » Non poterat prohibere loqui linguis, qui superius donum istud dicit esse Spiritus sancti : sed ideo prophetandi magis studium habendum, quia utilius est. « Major est enim qui prophetat, quam qui loquitur lingua, nisi interpretetur. » Quia si intepretari poterit, non erit minor ; quia Ecclesiam ædificat : hoc enim majus est, quod omnibus prodest. Hic enim per donum Dei linguis loquitur, qui etiam interpretatur, sicut et illi duodecim in Actibus apostolorum (Act. II, 4).

(Vers. 6.) « Nunc autem, fratres, si venero ad vos linguis loquens, quid vobis prodero, nisi loquar vobis aut in revelatione, aut in notitia, aut in prophetia, aut in doctrina ? » Hæc omnia unum significant ; docere enim nemo poterit, nisi intelligatur.

(Vers. 7,8.) « Tamen quæ sine anima sunt vocem dantia, sive tibia, sive cithara, si distinctionem sonitus non dederunt, quomodo cognoscetur quod per tibiam canitur, aut quod citharizatur ? Etenim si incertam vocem tuba dederit, quis se parabit ad prælium ? » Quoniam exempla facilius suadent quam verba, exemplis commendat per quæ facile assequantur non debere illos in Ecclesia loqui linguis, qui intepretari non possunt. Ut quid enim loquatur, quem nemo intelligit ?

(Vers. 9.) « Ita et vos per linguam nisi singificantem sermonem dederitis, quomodo scietur quid loquimini ? Eritis enim in aera loquentes: » hoc est, nihil proficientes. « Nam multa, ut puta, genera linguarum sunt in hoc mundo, et nihil sine voce. Multa (quidem) genera sunt linguarum, » inquit, sed habent proprias vocum significationes, ut intelligantur.

(Vers. 10,11.) « Si ergo nesciero virtutem vocis, ero ei cui loquor, barbarus: et is qui loquitur, mihi barbarus. » Non utique id studendum monet, ut invicem per incognitam linguam barabari sibi videantur : sed quia concordiæ res est, his nitendum est, ut per unanimitatem intellectus communi lætitia glorientur.

(Vers. 12.) « Sic et vos, quoniam æmulatores estis spirituum ad ædificationem Ecclesiæ quærite, ut prophetetis. » Quia prodest Scripturas explanare (nam incitatur et gaudet animus, quando aliquid de Scripturis percipit : et quantum propensior in hac parte fit, tantum deserit vitia) [Col. 269] propterea ad hanc partem studium monet applicandum.

(Vers. 13.) « Ideo qui loqitur lingua, oret ut interpretetur. » Eum qui linguis loqui desiderat, monet orare debere, ut accipiat donum interpretandi ; ut proficiat cæteris studium ejus.

(Vers. 14.) « Nam si oravero lingua, spiritus meus orat; mens autem mea sine fructu est. » Manifestum est ignorare animum nostrum, si lingua loquatur, quam nescit, sicut adsolent Latini homines Græce cantare, oblectati sono verborum ; nescientes tamen quid dicant. Spiritus autem qui datur in baptismo, scit quid oret animus, dum loquitur, aut perorat lingua sibi ignota : mens autem qui est animus, sine fructu est. Quem enim potest habere fructum, qui ignorat quæ loquatur ?

(Vers. 15.) « Quid est ergo ? Orabo spiritu, orabo et mente; psalmum dicam spiritu, psalmum dicam et mente. » Hoc dicit, quia cum quis hac lingua loquitur, quam novit, tam spiritu, quam mente orat : quia non solum spiritus ejus, quem dixi datum in baptismo, scit quid oratur : sed etiam animus simili modo et de psalmo non ignorat.

(Vers. 16.) « Cæterum si benedixeris spiritu ; » hoc est, si laudem Dei lingua loquaris ignota audientibus : « Quis supplet locum idiotæ ? Quomodo dicit amen, super tuam benedictionem, quia nescis quid dicas. » Imperitus enim audiens quod non intelligit, nescit finem orationis, et non respondet, amen, id est verum : ut confirmetur benedictio. Per hos enim impletur confirmatio precis, qui respondent, amen ; ut omnia dicta veri testimonio in audientium mentibus confirmentur.

(Vers. 17.) « Nam quidem bene gratias agis. » De eo dicit, qui cognita sibiloquitur, quia scit quid dicat. « Sed alius no ædificatur. » Si utique ad ædificandam Ecclesiam convenitis, ea debent dici, quæ intelligant audientes. Nam quid prodest ut quis lingua loquatur, quam solus scit; aut qui audit, nihil proficiat ? Ideo tacere debet in Ecclesia, ut ii loquantur, qui prosint audientibus.

(Vers. 18.) « Gratis ago Deo meo, quod omnium vestrum lingua loquor. » Quoniam superius linguis loqui donum esse dixit Spiritus sancti, ideo ad Deum refert, quod omnium lingua loqueretur. Et ne forte quasi æmulus per invidiam hoc dicere videretur, ostendit se omnium quidem horum loqui linguis, et quia non valde prodest.

(Vers. 19.) « Sed in Ecclesia, inquit, volo quinque verba loqui per legem, ut et alios ædificem, quam decem millia verborum in lingua. » Utilias dicit paucis verbis in apertione sermonis loqui, quod omnes intelligant, quam prolixam orationem habere in obscuro. Hi ex Hebræis erant, [Col. 270] qui aliquando Syra lingua, plerumque Hebræa, in tractatibus aut oblationibus utebantur ad commendationem. Gloriabantur enim se dici Hebræos propter meritum Abrahæ, quod idem Apostolus pro nihilo habuit dicens : « Mihi autem absit gloriari ; nisi in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi (Galat. VI, 14). » Hos quidam imitantes, ignota sibi lingua loqui malebant in Ecclesia ad populum, quam sua.

(Vers. 20.) « Fratres, nolite pueri effici sensibus; sed malitia parvuli estote ; ut sensibus perfecti sitis. » Perfectos illos vult esse, ut sciant quid ad instructionem Ecclesiæ sit necessarium ; ut recedentes a malitia et erroribus, iis studerent, quæ proficerent ad utilitatem fratrum. HIc est enim sensu perfectus, qui id agit, ut prosit alicui, maxime fratri.

(Vers. 21.) « In lege enim scriptum est : Quia in aliis linguis, et in labiis aliis loquar populo huic, et nec sic me audient, dicit Dominus (Isa. XXVIII, 11). » Hoc Dominus de his dixit, quos præsciit nec Salvatori credituros. In aliis enim linguis et in aliis labiis loqui, Novum Testamentum est prædicare, sicut dicit Jeremias propheta : « Ecce venient dies, dicit Dominus, et consummabo domui Israel et domui Juda Testamentum Novum, non secundum quod disposui patribus illorum (Jerem. XXXI, 31); » hoc est, immutata ratione aliter loqui, quam se legis veteris verba habeant ; dum audiunt Sabbatum solvi, neomenias evacuari, circumcisionem cessare, sacrificia immutari, escas dudum prohibitas licere edere, Christum Deum de Deo prædicari : hoc est aliis linguis et aliis labiis loqui ; et nec sic perfidi Deum obaudire voluerunt. Potest et sic intelligi, ut quia multi Judæorum malevoli erant, et propterea dignum non erat his in revelatione loqui Evangelium, in parabolis loqueretur ad eos : et intelligentes ideo sibi non revelari, quia mali erant, nec sic se corrigerent ; ut merentes se facerent per explanationem audire verba Dei. Unde dicunt discipuli ad Dominum : « Domine, quare in parabolis loqueris illis (Matth. XIII, 10) ? » Et Dominus : « Quia vobis datum est. inquit, nosse mysterium regni Dei, illis autem non ; ut videntes non videant, et audientes non intelligant (Ibid. 11, 13) ; » ne indigni salutem perciperent, quod animadvertentes pro meritis suis factum, nec sic conversi Deo satisfacere voluerunt.

(Vers. 22.) « Itaque linguæ in signum sunt. » Hoc est, velamine incognitæ obscurati sunt sermones Dei, ne videantur a perfidis, et cum audiuntur incognitæ linguæ, signum sit quia propter perfidiam factum est, ne audiens intelligat. « Non utique iiis qui credunt, sed non credentibus ; » hoc [Col. 271] est quod dixit quia ad occultandos sensus incredulis proficiunt linguæ. « Prophetia autem non incredulis, sed iis qui credunt. » Hoc est, non competit fidelibus audire linguas quas non intelligant ; sed infidelibus, qui non sunt digni intelligere, sicut dicit Isaias propheta : « Vade et dic populo huic : Aure audietis, et non intelligetis, etc. (Isa. VI, 9). »

(Vers. 23.) « Si convenerit universa Ecclesia in unum, et loquantur omnes linguis, introeant autem infideles et idiotæ ; nonne dicent quia insanitis ? » Manifestum est quia si omnes diversis linguis loquantur, tumultus fit quidam inconditus populi, quasi phrenesin patientis.

(Vers 24, 25.) « Si autem omnes prophetent, intret autem aliquis infidelis, vel idiota, increpatur ab omnibus, redarguitur ab omnibus, occulta cordis ejus manifesta fiunt : et tunc cadens in faciem, adorabit Deum, pronuntians quod vere in vobis Deus sit. » Cum enim intelligit et intelligitur, audiens laudari Deum, et adorari Christum, pervidet veram esse et venerandam religionem, in qua nihil fucatum, nihil in tenebris videt geri, sicut apud paganos, quibus velantur oculi ; ne quæ sacra vocant perspicientes, variis se vanitatibus cernant illudi. Omnis enim impostura tenebras petit, et falsa pro veris ostendit ; ideo apud nos nihil astute, nihil sub velamine : sed simpliciter unus laudatur Deus, « ex quo sunt omnia, et unus Dominus Jesus, per quem omnia (ICor. VIII, 6). » Si enim nullus sit, qui intelligat, aut a quo ipse discutiatur, potest dicere seductionem esse quamdam et vanitatem, quæ ideo linguis canitur, quia pudoris est, si reveletur.

(Vers. 26.) « Quid est igitur, fratres ? Cum convenitis, unusquisque vestrum canticum habet ; » id est, laudem Dei per canticum eloquitur. « Doctrinam habet ; » hoc est, sensuum per spiritalem prudentiam habet expositionem. « Revelationem habet; » id est, subest ei prophetia occultorum, quæ ad omnium mentem perveniat, favente Spiritu sancto. « Linguam habet ; » ut eos qui lingua loqui poterant, non contristaret, permisit eos loqui linguis : ita tamen, ut interpretatio sequeretur. Ideo ait : « Interpretationem habet ; » ut si interpres adesset, daretur locus loquendi linguis.

(Vers. 27.) « Si lingua quis loquitur, per duos, [Col. 272] aut ut multum, tres ; et particulatim et unus interpretetur. » Hoc est, duo aut tres non plus linguis loquantur : sed singuli, non simul omnes; ne insanire viderentur. Ideo, ero « ut multum tres, » ne occuparent diem linguis loquentes, et interpretes illorum ; et non haberent prophetæ tempus Scripturas disserendi, qui sunt totius Ecclesiæ illuminatores.

(Vers. 28.) « Quod si non fuerit interpres, taceat in Ecclesia : sibi autem loquatur et Deo ; » hoc est, intra se tacite oret, aut loquatur Deo, qui audit muta omnia ; in Ecclesia enim ille debet loqui, qui omnibus prosit.

(Vers. 29.) « Prophetæ autem duo vel tres loquantur, et alii examinent, vel interrogent. » Ipsum modum tenuit dicendo : « Duo vel tres loquantur ; » singuli autem, sicut supra. Cæteros autem interrogare permisit de iis quæ forte in ambiguum veniunt, aut quæ assequi aliquis non potest ; qui diversa sunt ingenia, ut disputatione pianiore dilucedentur.

(Vers. 30.) « Quod si alii revelatum fuerit sedenti, prior taceat ; » ide est, permittat potior inferiori, ut si potest dicat : nec ægre ferat, quia potest et illi dari donum, ut dicat, cum videtur inferior, quod potiori concessum non est. Sicut enim totum uni concedi non potest, licet potiori, ita et non potest alicui, quamvis inferiori, nihil impertiri ; ut nemo sit vacuus a gratia Dei.

(Vers. 31.) « Potestis enim per singulos prophetare, ut omnes discant, et omnes exhortentur. » Hæc traditio Synagogæ est, quam nos vult sectari ; quia Christianis quidem scribit, sed ex gentibus factis, non ex Judæis : ut sedentes disputent, seniores dignitate in cathedris, sequentes in subselliis, novissimi in pavimento super mattas. Quibus si revelatum fuerit, dandum locum dicendi præcipit, nec despiciendos : quia membra corporis sunt.

(Vers. 32.) « Et spiritus prophetarum prophetis subjectus est, » Quia enim unus atque idem Spiritus est. » qui tam prophetis futura dicentibus, quam iis qui revelant Scripturas, infundit se pro ratione et qualitate causarum, ideirco dixit : « Subjectus est prophetis : » ut ingenia accenderet hac spe, quod Spiritus conatus bonos adjuvet. Desiderio enim optimo ad Dei res enarrandas subvenit : ut impleat boni propositi voluntatem. Nam et de Salvatore idem dictum est : « Bibebant autem de spiritali sequente petra, petra autem erat Christus (I Cor. X, 4) ; » hoc est, et subjectum esse, quod et sequi ; sequebatur enim, ut humanis suffragiis dificientibus, adesset ad auxilium tribuendum. Ita et Spiritus subjectus dicitur, ut conatus bonos adjuvet, cum suggerit ; subjectus enim videtur, qui cœpta alterius perficit.

[Col. 273] (Vers. 33.) Non est enim dissensionis auctor, sed pacis. » Quia ergo pacis auctor est, dicente Salvator : « Pacem meam do vobis, pacem relinquo vobis (Joan. XIV, 27), » nemo alterum non sinat dicere, neque debebit dicenti, studio contradicendi, resistere, ne discordia fiat in corpore. Qui enim in pace vocantur, patientiæ debent studere ; ne pacis jura solvantur. « Sicut in omnibus Ecclesiis sanctorum doceo. » Hoc dicto hortatur illos, ut quæ præcipit faciant, quando similiter se Ecclesiis sanctorum prædicare testatur.

(Vers. 34.)(34) «Mulieres vestræ in Ecclesia taceant. » Nunc tradit quod prætermiserat ; sicut enim velari mulieres in Ecclesia præcepit (I Cor. XI, 5), modo ut quietæ sint et verecundæ ostendit : ut operæ pretium sit, quia velantur. Si enim imago Dei vir est, non femina, et viro subjecta est lege naturæ ; quanto magis in Ecclesia debent esse subjectæ propter reverentiam ejus, qui illius legatus est, qui etiam viri caput est: « Non enim permittitur illis loqui, sed esse in silentio, sicut et lex dicit. » Quid dicit lex? « Ad virum tuum conversio tua, et ipse tui dominabitur (Gen. III, 16). » Hæc lex specialis est : hinc Sara dominum vocabat Abraham virum suum ; ac per hoc in silentio jubentur esse, ne supradictæ legis sententia infirmetur, cujus memor Sara, viro suo erat subjecta, sicut dictum est. Quamvis una caro sit (Gen. II, 24), sed duabus ex causis jubetur esse subjecta : quia et ex viro est, et per ipsam intravit peccatum.

(Vers. 35.) « Si quid autem discere volunt, domi viros suos interrogent; turpe est enim mulieribus in Ecclesia loqui. » Turpe est, quia contra disciplinam est, ut in domo Dei, qui eas subjectas viris suis esse præcepit, de lege loqui præsumant : cum sciant illic viros habere primatum, et sibi magis competere, ut in domo Dei precibus vacent, linguam retinentes : et aures aperiant, ut audiant quomodo misericordia Dei mortem vicit per Christum, quæ per eas regnavit. Nam si audeant in Ecclesia loqui, dedecus est ; quia ideirco velantur, ut humiliatæ appareant : ille autem se inverecundas ostendunt, quod et viris opprobrium est; in mulierum enim insolentia etiam mariti notantur.

(Vers. 36.) « An a vobis vergum Dei profectum est, aut in vos solus devenit ? » Arguentis verba sunt ; sic enim inflati erant, quasi ipsis promissa fuisset hæc salus ; et exemplo eorum cæteræ gentes vocarentur ad fidem, aut non essent aliqui, qui possent suscipere gratiam Dei, apostolis prædicantibus. Sic enim se jactabant quasi beneficium darent magis quam acciperent, accedentes ad fidem, unde dicit : « Aut in vos solos devenit verbum Dei. » Omnis enim qui vult aliquid emere, quod scit ab aliquibus non requiri, cum quodam fasitidio accedit [Col. 274] ad emptionem, quasi beneficium præstiturus vendenti. Ideo hoc Apostolus arguit in Corinthiis, qui tales se prædebant elatione vanitatis, quasi si ipsi non obedirent verbis fidei, nemo esset qui crederet, sicut dicit Judæis : « Vobis primum oportebat loqui verba vitæ hujus : sed quia repulistis ea, indignos vos facientes æternæ vitæ, ecce convertimur nos ad gentes (Act. XIII, 46). »

(Vers. 37.) « Si quis existimatur propheta esse, aut spiritalis, cognoscat quæ scribo vobis, quia Domini sunt mandata. » Hoc dicens tangit supra memoratos falsos apostolos, a quibus fuerant depravati, qui pro desideriis hominum non divina, sed terrena docebant. Ideo hic nihil suum tradere se dicit, sed Domini : ut quibus suadet, Deo acquisiti non hominibus videantur : qua fiducia et constanter prædicat, liberam habens conscientiam ; quia non hominibus placere vult, sed Deo. Unde peccatoribus non blanditur, ut crescant : sed admonet, ut desinant.

(Vers. 38.) « Si quis autem ignorat, ignorabitur. » Recte, quia qui nescit Domini esse, quæ loquitur Apostolus, et ipse a Domino ignorabitur in die judicii, dicente Domino : « Amen dico vobis, nescio vos (Matth. XXV, 12). »

(Vers. 39.) « Propter quod, fratres, æmulationem habete prophetandi. » Quamvis arguat hos, et in multis reprehendat et corripiat, eo quod recesserant a traditione ejus; tamen fratres eos vocat, quia dicit Isaias ad plebem Domini : « Dicite iis qui non recte ambulant in viis meis : Fratres nostri estis vos (Isa. LXVI, 5). » Ut ergo consolaretur istos post correptiones, fratres illos vocat : et ad æmulationem prophetiæ hortatur, ut assidua disputatione et explanatione legis divinæ fierent instructiores : ut possent discere perversas esse pseudo-apostolorum prædicationes.

« Et loqui linguis nolite prohibere. » Et hoc propter charitatem, ut qui possunt loqui linguis, si interpres fuerit præsens, non vetentur, ne fiat dissensio.

(Vers. 40.) « Omnia autem honeste et secundum ordinem fiant. » hoc est, secundum ordinem supradictum. Honeste autem illud fit, quod cum pace et disciplina fit.

A Translation of I Corinthians 13 from the Ambrosiaster Text

A translation of the Ambrosiaster text on I Corinthians 13.

Translated from the Latin text found in MPL. Vol. 17. Ad. Opera S. Ambrosii Appendix. Comment. In Epist. Ad I Cor. Col. 257ff

For introductory notes on this translation along with commentary go to: Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s Corinthians 12-14.

Comment. In. Epist. I ad Corinthios 13

(Vers. 1) “If I should speak in the language of men and angels [Col. 265] but I do not have charity, I am one just like a sounding brass1 or a ringing cymbal.” Certainly a great grace appears to speak in diverse languages. But it is something even more if it is possible to know any language of angels, it is having been stirred of angels, if he can spiritually have become acquainted with. Truly this is not to be reckoned according to merit, but according to the glory of God, he shows by those who been made obedient, to be saying as follows as a sounding brass or ringing cymbal.

Because as the brass resounds by another strike and the cymbal rings, therefore it is also this he who is speaking in languages, has the effect and movement of the holy Spirit, as also the Saviour says in a different place, “for it is not you [plural] that are speaking but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:20). For a she-ass also had spoken in a human language to Balaam son of Beor (Num. 22:28) when he was adjudging the majesty of God and young children broke out in praise of God to the confusion of the Jews (Matt. 21:16). For the Saviour not only that but also shows the stones can cry out to the condemnation of the faithless ones and to the glory of God (Luke 19:40). And between the origins itself to the committal of faith, those who were being baptized, were speaking in languages (Acts 10:46).

Because as the brass resounds by another strike and the cymbal rings, therefore it is also this he who is speaking in languages, has the effect and movement of the holy Spirit, as also the Saviour says in a different place, “for it is not you [plural] that are speaking but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:20). For a she-ass also had spoken in a human language to Balaam son of Beor (Num. 22:28) when he was adjudging the majesty of God and young children broke out in praise of God to the confusion of the Jews (Matt. 21:16).2 For the Saviour [does] not only that but also shows the stones can cry out to the condemnation of the faithless ones and to the glory of God (Luke 19:40). And between the origins itself to the committal of faith, those who were being baptized, were speaking in languages (Acts 10:46).

(Vers. 2) “And if I shall have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge but I do not have charity, it is profiting nothing with me.” Truly it profits nothing, for it is being prophesied to the glory of God, even as David says [about] prophecy “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but give glory in your name” (Psalm 113:1).3 For instance Balaam also prophesied (Num. 24:17), although he was not a prophet but a soothsayer.4 And Caiphas prophesied (John 11:51), not by merit but through the position of the priest’s rank. And Saul prophesied (I Samuel 19:23), while already for the reason of disobedience he was filled-up by an evil spirit but by God’s reason, he was not able to seize David which he was desiring to kill.

“And if I will have known all the mysteries.” In fact Judas profited nothing having been with the apostles and became acquainted with mysteries when the enemy of charity handed over the Saviour. And Ezekiel the prophet demonstrates the devil to know the celestial mysteries, because by the voice which had been scorned in paradise to be that of God, and bears witness to have had the most costly stones (Ezekiel 28:13), which stones the same5 Apostle signified the mysteries of the divine doctrine (I Cor. 3:12-15). And it profits to me nothing because forgetful of charity, he jumped into pride.6

“And if I would have all knowledge.” Knowledge benefits nothing to me if it is not charitable. In fact it benefitted nothing to the Scribes and Pharisees with the Saviour saying, “You have the key of knowledge, and neither do you enter nor do you permit others to enter.”7 (Luke 11:52) For charity through ill-will8 these ones who are corrupt have spun his knowledge to nothing. For both Tertullian and Novatian were not in small knowledge but because they ruined the alliances by means of a rivalry of charity, with regards to the schism9, the heresies gave birth to its own destruction.

“And if I would have all faith, so as that I could transport mountains.” Powers to be acquired, or rather the power and glory of God is to cast out demons through faith, neither does this accomplish by [means of] merit, neither to anyone who would have been a diligent imitator of a good moral life, as I mentioned above.

(Vers. 3) “And if I would have expended my every resource.” It was explained that if every resource be expended, it profits nothing with charity having been ignored, because charity is the head of the religion, and [the one] who does not have a head, does not have life. “And if I would surrender my body that I am ablaze, it profits me nothing.” Nothing profits without charity because charity is the religious foundation. Whatever then happens without charity, it is doomed.

(Vers. 4-8) “Charity is generous, it is kind.10 It is not being envious, nor is it being haughty, nor wrongly compels, it is not ambitious, it does not search for those things which they are for itself, it is not being provoked, nor thinks evil, it does not rejoice in unfairness, but revels in the truth. It endures, believes, hopes and puts up with all things. Charity at no time ceases.” He taught so great the praise of charity that he was not to appear to place this with the unmerited and to labour the same in vain, which they ascribe the work to different ones, in these ones, they are not compliant. The Apostle John affirms from this, “God is charity” (I John 4:8), that the one who does not have charity, should understand that he does not himself have God. From also the Apostle Paul likewise says, “But God who is rich in mercy who had compassion on us according to His exceeding charity” (Eph. 2:4).11 Whoever then does not have charity, is ungrateful of the mercy of God because he does not value concerning anyone who has been saved. In the same way that they were to distinguish because they were supposed to put victuals in front of the brothers of charity. For this is also what produces in the present, remains in eternity with God.

(Vers. 9-10) “Whether prophecies would become purged or tongues would cease, or knowledge would be purged.12 For we know in part and we prophecy in part but when it will come what which is perfect, the former will be purged which are from the part.” He said all the gifts of the graces are to be purged because they are not able to understand so much, the truth possesses so much. Neither are we able either to grasp or explain the fullness of truth. In fact who can do it that can grasp all the human languages, is that of God? For that reason our imperfection will be destroyed, Not that he would purge what is truth but as long as it is in imperfection it is about to be destroyed. That it is the destruction of imperfection when that, that is imperfection is to be completed in truth.

[Col. 267] (Vers. 11) “While being a child, I was speaking as a child, I was with the sense of a child, I was speaking as a child but when I had become a man, I destroyed13 those things which were of a child.” He says this because the holy things of this world which are perishing, it is more than necessary they should come which they reckon now, as John the Apostle said concerning the Saviour: “Then at that time we will see that one, even as He is,” (I John 3:2). In this life we are now small in comparison to the future life because as this life is imperfect so is also knowledge.

(Vers. 12) “We see now through a glass in an obscure manner then truly face to face.” It has now been revealed to see the images by faith, then the events themselves. “I presently know in part, then at that time I shall truly understand even as I am known.”14 That is, I will see what has been promised even as I am being seen. This is to be present near the Lord where Christ is.

(Vers. 13) “For there now remains faith, hope, charity, these three but the greatest of these is charity.” Charity is the greatest worthy acts because although faith is be made known, and hope is for the future life, charity is preferable even as I mentioned above. From which as John the Apostle, “We know from this, it says, his charity because he himself laid down his own life for us,” (I John 3:16). Therefore justifiably greater is charity by which the human race has been restored.■

Next: I Corinthians 14 from the Ambrosiaster Text

Previous: I Corinthians 12 from the Ambrosiaster Text

The original Latin copy used for this translation can be found here: The Ambrosiaster Latin text on I Corinthians 12-14

A Translation of I Corinthians 14 from the Ambrosiaster Text

A translation of the Ambrosiaster text on I Corinthians 14.

For introductory notes on this translation along with commentary go to: Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s Corinthians 12-14.

Comment. In. Epist. I ad Corinthios 14

[Col. 267] (Vers. 1) “Follow after charity, be zealous for spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophecy.” Rather he urges one is to have after charity the desire of prophesying because to whatever degree greater may be the spiritual ranks which he specifies, this here nevertheless is better which profits to the benefit of the Church that they should learn every matter of the divine law. In fact in that which by he gave the soul. He learns in accordance with it himself the gift. Solomon says, “to know the law is understanding of the best kind” (Wisdom 6:16).1 In fact by relying2 on charity, knowledge is not being puffed-up but has been tamed, accomplishing according to the benefit in all things.

(Vers. 2) “For the one who speaks in a tongue is not speaking to men but to God, but no one hears for by the spirit he is speaking mysteries.” This is what he says because he who is speaking in an unknown language is speaking to God because he himself knows all things. Human beings certainly do not know, for that reason as well no one has been accomplished by this thing. “for by the spirit he is speaking mysteries.” It is not making sense because he is unfamiliar with what he is saying.

(Vers. 3) “But the one who prophecies is speaking to men for the edification, exhortation and the encouragement.” For one is being built up when he learns the solution of the inquiries. For the exhortation happens to that one, that he should allow the requirement of prophesying. He should be truly taking counsel because he seems to be making light of the teachings in regard to the hope. For knowledge of the law strengthens souls, and appeals to the increase of a better hope.

(Vers. 4) “The one who speaks in a language [Col. 268] [personally] builds himself up.3 The one who certainly prophecies builds up the Church.” That is to say this person, that he only knows by accident what he speaks, edifies only with himself. On the other hand, the one who prophecies, edifies all the common people,4 provided that anyone who is to speak is to be understood by everyone. He teaches the prophets [are] the interpreters5 of the Scriptures just as indeed the prophet is to predict future things which they are in a state of ignorance. Therefore too in this place he makes known it is being appointed to prophesy as long as the sense of the Scriptures, a sense which has been concealed in many ways.

(Vers. 5) “While I wish you all to speak in tongues, however more rather that you should prophecy.” He could not prohibit to speak in languages which he teaches to be such a superior gift of the holy Spirit but rather learning is bound to be had by means of prophecy because it is more productive. “For greater is the one who prophecies than the one who speaks in a language, unless it is being interpreted.” Because if he will be able to interpret, it will not be inferior because it edifies the Church. For this is greater because it profits all. For in fact this one who is speaking in languages by the gift of God which is likewise being interpreted, just as those 12 in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:4).

(Vers. 6) “Now then brothers if I would come to you speaking in languages, what will I profit you unless I should speak to you either in a revelation or knowledge,6 or prophecy or instruction?” The one signifies all these things, for nobody will be able to teach unless he is being understood.

(Vers. 7, 8) “Yet some things without a soul gives sound whether a pipe or harp, if they did not give a distinction of sound, how will it be recognized,7 what is being played by the pipe or what is being played on a harp?8 And if the trumpet indeed produces an uncertain sound, by such a thing will it prepare them for battle?” Seeing that the examples persuade more easily than words, he points out by examples by which they should easily understand those ones must not to speak in languages in the Church who cannot interpret.9 Namely anyone that should be speaking, is no-one to be understanding anything?

(Vers. 9) “So also you by means of a language except you have produced expressive speech,10 how will it be known what it is you are speaking? For you will be speaking into the air.” This is accomplishing nothing. “For suppose11 there are many kinds of languages in this world and none without a voice.”12 “There are (certainly) many kinds of languages,” it says, but they possess [their] very own meanings of voice so that they may be understood.

(Vers. 10,11) “If then I would not know the power of the voice, I am to him to whom I am speaking a barbarian and he who is speaking to me a barbarian.” Certainly he does not teach it being desirous that in turns they be seen with each other by a foreign language of a barbarian. But because it is a matter of mutual agreement it has to be in good shape with them in order that they should boast to the delight on either side through the unity of understanding.

(Vers. 12) “So also you, seeing that you are zealous imitators, seek that you prophecy for the building-up of the Church.”13 Because it is useful to explain the Scriptures (for the mind is being inspired and rejoices when it learns something about the Scriptures and how much more does it become the importance in this office, so much it abandons sins)14 [269] therefore he teaches transformational learning by this office.

(Vers. 13) “Therefore the one who speaks in a language, he should pray that he may interpret.” Him who desires to speak in tongues, he teaches that one ought to pray in order that he should receive the gift of interpreting for the purpose that he may be useful in15 his zeal to others.

(Vers. 14) “For if I will have prayed in a language, my spirit prays but my mind is without fruit.” It is clear to disregard our soul, if he should speak in a language which he does not know just as Latin men who are singing Greek, by being a delightful sound of words, yet these ones do not know anything they would say. However the Spirit which was given in baptism, knows anything the soul may pray for, while speaking or whether he concludes in a strange language himself. But on the other hand the mind which is the soul is without fruit. For who can have fruit who does not know what he is to be speaking?

(Vers. 15) “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, I will also pray with understanding. I am also to say a Psalm by the spirit and I am to say a Psalm also with understanding.”16 He says this, because when he speaks in any specific language which he was [previously] unfamiliar with, so by the spirit, which he prays with understanding but yet again the soul is not ignorant in the like manner and of the Psalm.

(Vers. 16) “Else, if you should bless with the spirit.” It is this, if you are to be speaking the praise of God to those who are hearing in a unknown language, “who is to supply the realm of the uneducated? How is he to say amen upon your blessing because he does not know17 what you are to be saying.” The unskilled is the one who hears what he does not understand, he is ignorant of the end of the speech, and does not respond amen, it is the truth, in order that the benediction be confirmed. For the confirmation of the prayer is being satisfied through these who respond “amen” in order that they should approve everything that has been said as the testimony of truth by the minds of those who hear.

(Vers. 17) “For you give thanks well.” He teaches about him, who had become acquainted with speaking to himself because he knows what he is to be saying. “But no other is being built-up.” If, by all means you are meeting for the purpose of building up the Church, they ought to speak in it, a place where those who are hearing may understand. For instance of what benefit is it that anyone should speak in a language which he only knows that everyone who hears it would profit nothing? For that reason he ought to be silent18 in the Church, that if two should be speaking, that they should profit those who are hearing.

(Vers. 18) “I thank God that I speak in the language of every one of you.” Seeing that he stated to speak in languages as being the higher gift of the holy Spirit, for that reason he assigns to God that he was to be able to speak in every language. And lest by chance a competitor was appearing to speak this by means of jealousy, he indeed shows himself to speak in the languages of all of these and because it does not greatly benefit.

(Vers. 19) “But in the Church,” it is said, “I wish to speak five words according to the Law that I may also build up others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” He [Paul] says it to be more useful speaking in small words in the making of a speech in order that everyone should understand than to have a lengthy speech in obscurity. [Col. 270] These were from the Hebrew who at length in the Syrian language and for the most part by Hebrew women who were indulging in homilies or presentations for approval. For they were boasting calling themselves Jews according to the right of Abraham, that the same apostle held this to no account teaching, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Indeed these ones who are mimicking, they prefer to speak in their unknown language to the people in the Church which belongs to them.19

(Vers. 20) “Brothers, do not wish to produce [things] by the senses of a child but let one be in malice of childhood that you would be perfect in senses.”20 He wishes those to be perfect, that they are to understand that it is to be necessary for the instruction of the Church. The ones who are withdrawing from malice and errors, they were eager for these things which they were accomplishing for the benefit of the brothers.21 For this is perfect in sense that he urges it in order that he should be useful to anyone, especially with the brothers.

(Vers. 21) In the law it was written,22 “Because in other languages and in other lips I will speak to this people and they still will not here me, says the Lord” (Isaiah 28:11). The Lord spoke this about this that He knew these ones would not believe in the Saviour. For speaking in other languages and in other lips the New Testament is to be preached as Jeremiah the prophet says: “Behold the days will come, says the Lord, and I will accomplish the New Covenant to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah, not according to that which I made with their fathers” (Jeremiah 31:31). It is this, for the method had been altered to speak in a different way which they themselves had the words of the old law. When they hear to release the Sabbath, the new moon being purged, to be free of circumcision, to be altering the sacrifices, to be permitting foods which have been prohibited to eat a little while ago, preaching Christ the God of God.23 This is speaking in other languages and other lips. And so neither did the faithless want to listen to God. Thus one is able also to understand that because many of the Jews were spiteful and therefore it was not worthy to speak to them the Gospel in a revelation, that they spoke to them in parables, and therefore that it is not being shown to them who are the ones who understand because they were wicked neither also would they reform themselves. While the ones who have merit24 were benefitting themselves to hear the words of God by means of the the exposition. From whence the disciples say to the Lord: “Lord, why do you speak to those in parables?” (Matt. 13:10).25 And the Lord, “because it was given to you”, it says, “to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but not to those, that those who do see, are not to see, and those who hear are not to understand” (Matt. 13:11 and 13 [parts]).26 Lest the unworthy ones would secure salvation that these ones judged achievement according to their own merit, neither in any way did the ones who had been driven back to God want to make amends.

(Vers. 22) “Therefore languages they are as a sign.” It is this, the words of God have been concealed by a veil of unknown languages, nor do they appear by deceit, and when the unknown languages are being heard, it is to be a sign, because it was made on account of faithlessness, lest the ones hearing are to understand. “By all means it is not for those who believe, but for the non-believers.”27 [Col. 271] This is what he said, because they go on in languages to the unbeliever28 for the purpose of hiding the meanings. “but prophecy is not for the disobedient but for those who believe.” This is, it is not relevant for the believers to hear a language which they should not understand. But to the unbeliever, they are not worthy to understand even as Isaiah the prophet Isaiah says, “Go and say to this people, you will able to listen by hearing and you will not understand, etc.,” (Isaiah 6:9).

(Vers. 23) “If the whole Church will come together as one and they are to speak in every language, but when infidels or common persons are to enter, will they not say because you are mad?” It is clear that if everyone is to speak in diverse languages, a certain undisciplined commotion of the people occurs as if the madness of suffering.29

(Vers. 24, 25) “But if everyone is to prophecy, and moreover any infidel or uneducated is to enter, being rebuked in all, being proved false in all, the secrets of his heart are made manifest. Then at that time this one who falls on [his] face will pay homage to God, proclaiming that God is among you.” For when he understands and is being understood, the ones who hear are praising God and giving glory to God, he discerns [it] to be true and is bound to give homage in worship, by which he sees nothing to carry-on according to colour, nothing according to darkness, just as [it is] with the pagans, to which the eyes are veiled from. Not that they can call those ones who can see sacred, they see for the purpose to be making sport30 with their various foolish ways. For all who desire the dark corners of deceit also demonstrate false things instead of true ones. For that reason there is nothing crafty, [and] nothing under the veil, but simply one God is to be praised. “From whom they are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom is all things” (I Cor. 8:6). For if it is being shown whether no one exists who is to understand or rather by that [situation] itself he is being brought to nothing, one is able to say that there exists a certain separation and emptiness which therefore is being sung in languages because it is of shame.

(Vers. 26) “What is it then brothers? When you come together each one of you has a song.” That is they are speaking praise to God through song.31 “He has a teaching.” This is, he has a narration of the meaning by spiritual wisdom. “He has a revelation.” That is, prophecy regarding the hidden things by the agency of the holy Spirit is a basis for discussion which reaches to the mind of every person. “He has a language.” That those who were able to speak in a language, they were not to be discouraged, he permitted them to speak in languages. Still yet interpretation was to follow. He therefore says, “He has an interpretation.” That if an interpreter32 was to be present, a spot was to be given belonging to those preparing to speak in languages.

“Let all things be done for the edification of the Church.” This conclusion is that no one is to be useless in the Church, and this to the greater extent the one who is bound to exert himself, that even the unskilled ones are to contribute. Neither that it is to be through the inexperience of a gloomy person.33 Therefore for that reason he wishes all persons who have been prepared to come together with the diverse spiritual gifts, in order that the minds are watchful for these ones in greed, encouraging each other in turns, they were to emulate the best gifts for the glory of the brothers.

(Vers. 27) “If any speaks in a language, by two, or at the most three and specifically that one shall interpret,”34 This is, two or three and no more are to be speaking in languages but one at a time, not each at the same time. Lest they were to appear to be insane. “at the most three.” Lest the ones speaking in languages and their translations were to occupy the day and prophets do not have the time explaining the Scriptures which they are illuminators of the whole Church.

[Editors note: There is a substantial shift in vocabulary, grammar and style begins after verse 27 until the end of this chapter. It is often incoherent and hard to follow as a translator. I have left parts of the following in a machine-translation state. The remainder of this chapter from verse 28 on is not guaranteed for complete accuracy]

(Vers. 28) “That if there would be no interpreter, let him be silent in the Church. He is to speak to himself and to God.” This is, let him silently pray inside himself or he is to speak to God who hears all [any type of] silence. For the person ought to speak in the Church which should be profitable for everyone.

(Vers. 29) “For two or three prophets are to speak, and others are to examine or to inquire.”35 He insisted the method itself by which it was about to be asserted, “Two or three are to speak.” However each one at a time as above. While the others are entrusted to examine those who come in a doubtful state, or those whom anyone cannot understand, whose characters have been turned away, in order that they are to make clear to be an impostor in the discussion.36

(Vers. 30) “That if it [any thing] would be a revelation to someone else who is sitting, the first is to be silent.” That is, [it is] preferable he is to allow for the one below [his status] in order that if he is able, he should speak. Not that it is to be done reluctantly, because the gift can be given also to that person. While he appears to be inferior because he has not been allowed for more useful things. For just as the whole cannot be parceled out in one, although better, it cannot be for some, however much inferior [they are] that nothing is being imparted [to them], for no one is devoid [of some type of gift] in the grace of God.

(Vers. 31) “For you are all to prophecy by each one at a time, that all are to learn, and all are to be encouraged.” This tradition is of the Synagogue which he wishes us to continually follow because he is certainly writing to Christians but to those who have been reared Gentiles, not from the Jews. That the ones that remain37 are possibly debating, seniors with rank according to the throne, attending on the tribune’s seats, the most extraordinary on the pavement above the mats.38 If anyone would be [in] a revelation, the one that must be gifted is to receive in advance a designated place, neither one ought to be looked down upon, because they are the members of the body.

(Vers. 32) “And the spirit of prophets is39 subject to the prophets.” Namely because it is one and the same Spirit, that to such a degree by the prophets who are speaking about the future that they who reveal the Scriptures [are] by the same [prophets], he mixes each one [together] with the reckoning and character of the original sources, for that reason he said; “is subject to prophets.” It was for the purpose to illuminate the natural tendencies from this expectation because the Spirit is to encourage useful endeavors. For he comes to assist a matter which is about to be expounded-on for the optimal desire nearest to God. That he is to fulfill the will of the noblest intention. For instance the same thing was also written concerning the Saviour. “for they were drinking of of the spiritual rock which follows, for the rock was Christ.”40 This is, that also [those] being the subject, which are also being followed, for he was following, that with those who are failing by human standards, he was to draw near to provide help. Therefore the one having been made subject of the Spirit was being called that it was to help the noblest attempts, when he furnishes, for the one having been made subject appears that he completes in the beginning one or the other.

[Col. 273] (Vers. 33) “For he is not the author of dissension but of peace.”41 Because he is then the author of peace, by which the Saviour is saying, “My peace I give to you, peace I leave with you” (John 14:27).42 No one is not to govern the other one [from] speaking, nor should one be obliged for speaking, the eagerness is bound to be contradicted, that it is resisted, lest it potentially makes for discord in the body. Namely which those being called upon in peace, they ought to be eager in patience, lest the laws of peace be unbound. “Even as I teach in all the Churches of the saints.”43 With this assertion he encourages them, that he anticipates in advance what they are doing, when similarly he shows himself to preach in the Churches of the saints.

(Vers. 34) “Your women are to remain silent in the Church.”44 Now he relates what he had overlooked namely just as he instructs the women to cover-up45 in the Church (I Cor. 11:5), in a manner that shows they are peaceful and modest. It is worth the trouble that they are being covered. For if man is in the image of God, [it is] not with the woman, and has been subjected under the male in the law of nature; how much greater ought they to be subject in the Church on account of respect of him [of the male], that it had been entrusted of these that the leader is of a man as well. “Namely, it is not being permitted for them to speak, but to be in silence, as also the law says.”46 What does the law say? “Your change is to your husband, and he will be master over you.”47 This law is special. From this source Sara was calling her husband Abraham, lord, and by this they are being ordered to be in silence, lest the decree be diminished in what has been said above in the law, of whom mindful of Sarah, she was subject to her husband, as it was written, however much it is to be one flesh (Gen. 2:24), but it is being commanded to be subject as as result of two reasons, because she is from man and entered into sin through the female gender.

(Vers. 35) “On the other hand if they want to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for women to speak in Church.” It is shameful, because it is against the teaching that in the Church of God, he instructs that the women are to be subject to their husbands who assume to speak on matters of the law. While they understand the man is to have the highest rank in that place and more competent than themselves, that in the house of God they are to be idle with requests, holding back [their] speech. They are to lay open [their] ears that they are to listen in such a way the mercy of God has conquered death through Christ, who had become king over the women. For if they should intend to speak in the Church, it is a dishonour, for that reason because they are being covered-up in order that they are to appear humble. This matter, when they demonstrate shamefulness themselves that it is also a reproach to husbands, for likewise the husbands are being marked according to the haughtiness of [their] wives.

(Vers. 36) “Can it be the word of God had proceeded from you or can it be it came for you only?”48 They are words of accusing, namely like they had become pompous, as if this status was to have been promised for themselves and from the apostles who are preaching, by their example the rest of the gentiles were to be called to the faith whether they were to be some who were able to receive the grace of God. Namely, they were boasting about themselves as if they were granted a greater privilege than they were to receive, these ones are adding to the faith, from which he says, “Or did the word of God come for you only.”49 For everyone who wants to acquire something which he knows [is] not to be needed by someone, while in some form he approaches to the acquisition with disgust, as if it is a better benefit by selling. For that reason this Apostle argued in regards to the Corinthians that they were showing themselves of such a great many things in the glorification of foolishness, as if these one were not to be listening to the words of the faith, that no one who were to be believing were to be that [way] even as to the Jews he says, “It was necessary to you first to speak the words of this life. But because you rebuffed it, undeserving are you who are preparing for eternal life. Behold, we turn to the gentiles” (Acts 13:46).50

(Vers. 37) “If any are being esteemed to be a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize what I write to you, that they are commandments of the Lord.” This teaching touches on the above having been mindful of the false apostles by which they have been corrupted, who are not divinely inspired for the needs of men, but they were teaching earthly things. For that reason in this place he teaches it is no value to deliver his own personal opinion, but of the Lord, that to anyone who are to pursue securing favour are not to give glory to men but to God,51 by which confidence he also continually preaches, possessing a free conscience because he does not want to please men but God. From which he does not behave unseemly with sinners so that that they may grow up, but also he admonishes so that they may desist [from sin].

(Vers. 38) “But if anyone does not know, he will not be known.” More correctly that the one who exists who does not know of the Lord which the Apostle speaks about, he will be not known by the Lord in the day of judgement, when the Lord says, “Amen I say to you, I do not know you” (Math. 25:12).

(Vers. 39) “On account of that brothers, cherish the ambition of prophesying.”52 As much as you will, he is to argue these things and blames and chastises about many things,53 because they had pulled-away from that tradition by him. Yet he still calls them brothers because Isaiah says to the people of the the Lord: “Say to them, they do not rightly walk in my ways, you are our brothers” (Isaiah 66:5).54 That then one was to take comfort with such a thing said after reproofs, [because] he calls them brothers. And he urges for the ambition of prophecy in order that they were to be more prepared with the constant debate and explanation of the divine law [and] that they could learn to identify the perverse things that it are the preachings of false-apostles.

“And be unwilling to prohibit speaking in languages.” And this by means of charity, that whoever can speak in languages, if an interpreter would be at hand, they are not to be forbidden, it is not to be causing dissension.

(Vers. 40) “Moreover let all things be honourably done and according to order.” This is, according to the order which was stated above. For that is to be honourably done because it is being done in peace and instruction.■

Translated from the Latin text found in MPL. Vol. 17. Ad. Opera S. Ambrosii Appendix. Comment. In Epist. Ad I Cor. Col. 257ff

Previous: I Corinthians 13 from the Ambrosiaster text.

The Latin Ambrosiaster text can be found at The Ambrosiaster Latin text on I Corinthians 12-14

A Translation of I Corinthians 12 from the Ambrosiaster Text

This is a preliminary translation of the Ambrosiaster Latin text, I Corinthians chapters 12.

For introductory notes on this translation along with commentary go to: Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s Corinthians 12-14.

Comment. In. Epist. I ad Corinthios 12

(Vers. 1-2) “Moreover concerning spiritual things I do not wish you to be ignorant. You know that you were heathens, these ones are following the appearance of idols, even as you were being led.”1 The spirits, the person who will surrender to those, he is mindful of an earlier way of life; that just as they were in the form of images, worshiping idols, and were being led by the guide [and] will of demons. So also the ones worshiping God, they are to exist with the form of the law of the Lord, these ones march as if it is to be pleasing with the Lord. In fact the form of every piece of the law ought to appear in the occupation and the behaviour of the worshiper. Namely, the above form and image is of the law of God.

(Vers. 3) “On this account which I make known to you that no one by speaking in the Spirit of God says anathema to Jesus. And no one can say the Lord Jesus except by the holy Spirit.” Seeing those who are unaware of matters concerning spiritual things, more importantly with mankind which they were giving God the glory by means of every single one of the gifts, these ones have not been understood the gift to be supplied through the holy Spirit. And because everyone who calls the Lord Jesus, he does not say this without the holy Spirit, in fact he possesses the grace of his own faith within him personally. Namely one cannot say the Lord Jesus without the gift of God. And it demonstrates through this that there is to be praise and gratitude in all things of God. That2 just as the image of idols is in accordance with its servants, having its own order through each part of the ranks, it is still wholly by men. Therefore also the rank of the gifts are with the office of the Church by the law belonging to the Master, certainly they have not been granted by human merit. But while the the members which are pertaining to the edification of the Church that through one another and in each other they have glory, just like it is as well in human service. For instance there are scholae3 who give unto themselves worth with having been set into a position. While the honour of a position may give glory, [it is] one’s own praise. As it then says, “No one by the Spirit of God says anathema to Jesus” (I Cor. 12:3). For the voice that says anathema to Jesus has been proved4 with human error. For whatever has been falsified is by man. “And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost”5 (I Corinthians 12:3). For the expression itself which the Lord Jesus is being shown, not by the prostrating of men and such as they summon the image of a god. But the holy Spirit has been poured out by means of the truth. Whatever truth is being spoken by whoever, it is spoken by the holy Spirit. So that they were not then to esteem the favour of men in regards to the Christian example and they were clearly not enough to prove by means of this itself, just as it is also in the likeness (I mean inventions by man when God is being called who is not and through this the priests have been subjected by them). For it demonstrates by them that their is no human benefit with them when the Lord Jesus is being called. But the greater gift of God, which its mystery has been deemed worthy to be made known to mankind.

And indeed the declaration itself acquires forgiveness of sins like the formal speech of idols magnifies. Therefore it points out these things because they do not perform a betterment in religion saying “Lord Jesus” yet they receive. Nor should they consider favour by the manner of human idols with regard to the law of the Lord, when God is called upon who does exist.

Finally the ones who do not realize that the gift of God is that which is in accordance with faith; every single6 person has chosen for themselves whom they follow, saying, “I am of Paul, and I am of Apollo” (I Corinthians 1:12). He humbles the haughtiness of these people, that they undergo themselves, like I said, to prove.

(Vers. 4) “Now there are diversity of graces”7 Not that one wishes to ascribe this to human merit, but the favour of God for the purpose of honouring His name, namely just as that one says “Lord Jesus” says by the holy Spirit, of what kind of force it is. So also has the grace of such a power it is having been set in the place of the order of the office of the Church. By all means not special, but of an order by the power of the holy Spirit. From whence also he says from the beginning,8 “Neither he who waters is anything nor he who plants, but God is the one who gives the growth” (I Corinthians 3:7).

(Vers. 5, 6) “But the same Spirit. And there are the diversity of ministries.” He says diverse gifts are to be exhibited by the same Spirit. “The same Lord. And there are diversity of operations.” (I Corinthians12:6) For he joins Christ to the holy Spirit. “But the same God who works all in all.” (I Corinthians 12:6). In such a thing it is not to be granted with these men, as if it would be [their] very own, but God plants in alone. In order that he may say as well the work [is] the gift of the holy Spirit and the grace of the Lord Jesus of the one God. No grace and gift has been divided according to the characters of the Father, Son and the holy Spirit. But of indistinguishable unity and threefold nature one work is being realized, that he should render all glory and divine excellence to the one. “And there are divisions of graces”9 in offices of the Church, not having been assigned by human merit. For if the holy Spirit is similarly God and the Lord is similarly God and the one God is three. In fact seeing that the glory and power and nature of the holy Spirit is of God and the Lord Jesus is the same in nature which God is, certainly one is the the holy Spirit, and the Lord Jesus and the Father God. And indeed one God belonging to each and three one God.

Finally by one work, three are being named to be functioning. That the mystery of the Trinity should be confined in one God in nature and power.

(Vers. 7) “Moreover to each one the manifestation of the Spirit was given for an advantage.” That is, one receives the gift that his own life which is being directed by the divine rope and to each other and others would be useful while it demonstrates the example of good behaviour.

(Vers. 8 ) “To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom.”10 That is for the purpose that he may bestow a cure for the sick or diseased.

(Vers. 9-10) “Others faith in the same Spirit”. It says this, that by the faith which is bound to be proclaimed and delivered, firmly planted in humility, one is to be able to receive the ability. “Others work of mighty works.” It signifies to be given the ability for demons to be cast out, or a sign which is to be brought about. “Others Prophecy.” That is, the one having been filled by the holy Spirit would speak about the future. “Others discernment of spirits.” This says that the one who should understand or appraises, who is being so-called, can it be either through the holy Spirit or worldly person? “Other kinds of languages, others interpretation of speech.” It is to be interpreted, that their words which they were speaking in languages or letters it is to be accurately interpreted through the gift of God.

(Vers. 11) “But all these things, one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.”11 Because he says the greatest of the three persons now is being declared to be delivered through the one holy Spirit. That because they are of one nature and power because one performs the three performs.12 Nevertheless one is God, whose grace is being divided into individuals, even as he wishes, not by human merit, but instead for the edification of His own Church. That all that the world wishes to be imitating but yet does not satisfy because that is of the flesh. These are to be seen in the Church, which is the house of God, having been granted with the parts of separate pieces, gift and governance of the holy Spirit among them for the approval of truth which are worthless to the world.

(Vers. 12-13) “For as the body is one and has many members and all the members from one body, seeing that they are many, one body they are, therefore it is also in Christ. And indeed in one Spirit we all have been baptized in one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free. We all drank the one Spirit.”13 He teaches through these things that not one person as it were who has been looked down ought to be despised and nor any other as it were has been perfected ought to be given preference, nor glory, which ought to be given to the only God which must be allotted by mankind. Since one in all also the same God is glorious. Naturally while we have all and one baptism and one and also the same holy Spirit. This reason on account of having been said before, which they were priding themselves in something else, just as certainly they were despising worthless things.

(Vers. 14) “For the body is also not one member but many” This is saying he demonstrates unity to have varieties of offices and this difference does not disagree in regards to the oneness of power. Since the unity of the body did not come about in singleness but in many members, that they perform mutually among themselves, which they are obligated [to do].

(Vers. 15) “If the foot should say, because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body. Is it really therefore not belonging to the body?” That is, is it not possible for them who are fragile appear to be denied being part of the body among the brethren, because he is not capable?

(Vers. 16) “And if the ear should say, because I am not of the eye, I am not part of the body. Is it really therefore not belonging to the body?” Does it not ought to say this, who the least is among the small, is not critical to be reckoned of the body, therefore he is not to be what [is] according to the first ranks?

(Vers. 17) “If the whole body be the eye, where is the hearing? If the whole thing is the hearing, where is the smelling? That is, if all are to be of one office and work; in what way is the remaining need of the body to be fulfilled, when it is made clear by the many offices that the work is near the steering oars14 of the body?

(Vers. 18) “But now God has set the members each one in the body, as he desired.” The will of God, which is characterized by forethought and powers of reasoning, it says that the members of the body adjust in order that nothing lacks in the body but also is to bring about perfection in the many members.

(Vers. 19) “For if they had been all one member, where is the body?” It is clear that if they were to have been of one position, they would have not been named members, nor a body. Therefore for that reason as well are to be joined together15 in the various parts of the members. For all would not be able to be that one member. Then on the other hand they are many, because they spread out from each other in self-respect.

(Vers. 20) “There are many members indeed, yet one body.”16 He says this because many members, while they are to reciprocally need one another, they do not differentiate in the unity of nature although they are separate, because this diversity agrees as one in order that the benefit of the body may be complete. Just as this [diversity] to which the world itself well knows too. Diverse they are not only in functions17 but also in natures. Yet they effect towards the perfection of the one18 world and from all this the proper mixture produces something in fruitful reward which they produce for the benefit of humanity.

(Vers. 21) “And the eye is not able to say to the hand: I do not need your help.” It is this, it cannot say [it is] more important than the lower one. It is not useful to me because the eye indeed sees but in fact the hands remain which are working. Or rather the head to the foot, “You are not to me of any necessity”. That is, the greater in rank and authority cannot exist without that, which is humility. Because it is that humility has the power which cannot exalt because it empowers the uncultivated,19 with respect to which it cannot hear. And by this the feet accomplish the honour of the head.

(Vers. 22) “But much more that the members of the body who appear to be weak ones, they are necessary.” It is clearly shown that no matter how any things shall be exalted in worth, nevertheless if the object having been made lacks which makes its glory in its own confidences, its own honour will be worthless. For it is the function, by which the worth consists of. So it would be like lacking armies to the emperor. Although yet he may be a wise emperor, it is still necessary to have an army. It is a member of his body, before having tribunes, officials20, and experts. The soldiers are the least to all these and they are more necessary. Like members of the body which while they appear last, they are more advantageous. For the hand works without the eyes and the foot walks searching for nourishment.

(Vers. 23) “And such we think to the most ignoble members of the body, we place to those more abundant honour.” It has been similarly understood, because those who are being reckoned [Col. 262] to be without dignity we find in their case that we praise them just as also in the members of the lowest rank. For which the hands are with regard of honour, when we want, we grasp! For this reason also we add doing honour to them, let that one think by the foot.21 Someone that are insignificant and without worth, we dress with shoes. “and who are our degraded ones, they have more abundant honour.”22 It is evident because our shameful ones who appear disgusting, while they themselves avoid public appearance they are clothed in integrity, that not through irreverence do they have a rough appearance. In a similar way also certain brothers when they would be in need and in the condition of a degraded appearance, they are still not without grace, that is through which they are members of our body. For they are in the practice of having been girded with a gloomy garment [and] to walk with a bare foot. Therefore when they seem more worthless, they are more in esteem, because they are accustomed to have a life of moral purity.23 For these who appear looked down upon by man, it is a habit to be judged beautiful by God.

(Vers. 24) “But those who our distinguished ones lack nothing.” It was explained that a person does not lack, neither face, nor hand, that he is being improved with these which they are adorned with. Thus also in the brotherhood in which some study in expertise and the distinguished in the realm of practical experience thrive, nothing is being added24 to ourselves.25 For the due honour is being rendered to those. A truly necessary action of encouragement for the low or insignificant ones, through whom some honour is being added to these ones, in order that they may become useful. If not that, the ones who are indifferent would be more concerned about themselves than with the despised one.

(Vers. 25) “But God combined the body to him for which was lacking, to be granted the more abundant honour. And not should be a separation in the body, but the members should be mutually about concern [for each other].” Thus he says the human body has been controlled by God that all of His members should be essential ones. And through these as with mutual concern with each other because some without the other that is not possible and everyone reckoned inferior is more needed. Just as it has been explained about the brothers, even for the purpose of a discussion that no one ought to look down on as it were the helpless ones.

(Vers. 26) “And if any one member suffers, every member suffers [together].” This which belongs to the members of the body of the flesh is not ambiguous, because if the eye, or the foot, or the hand is to take hold in any affliction of sickness, the whole body suffers greatly, so that he teaches us to suffer with the brethren, [that is] if anybody will appear of such a way or need. “Or if one member is being uplifted then every member rejoices together.” It is clear that happy is head or the other members, if the feet have been taken care of or [are] healthy. Thus we ought to become cheerful ourselves, if we see any brother who has interest of God, and abundance in integrity of morals. This is to be sound in judgement.

(Vers. 27) “You are the body of Christ and [col. 263] members from the member.” He openly points out our own responsibility to discuss by the account of the members of the flesh, because we are not able [to do] everything the same but of each one according to the nature of the faith and we possess the grace which has been granted.

(Vers. 28) “And God has set certain one in the Church, indeed first the apostles.” Thus he set the leader in regards with the Church that they officers of Christ, just as the Apostle likewise says, “For by which we participate as an ambassador” (II Cor. 5:20). They are in that place bishops, by the declaration of Peter the apostle, and by the orders on the other hand from the Jews. “And the office of the bishop, let another take” (Acts 1:20).

“Secondly prophets.” We should understand prophets in a twofold sense both speaking26 concerning the things about to be, and revealing the Scriptures. However Apostles should be also prophets because the first rank has every subject. In fact the most wicked Caiphas on account that he was the chief priest, prophesied (John 11:51), certainly by the cause of rank, not of personal merit. Nevertheless they were specifically prophets both interpreters of Scriptures,27 and speaking about the future as Agabus was, who had prophesied the ruins and imprisonments to be about this Apostle in Jerusalem (Acts 21:11),28 and foretold the famine, which happened under Claudius (Acts 11:28). Yet for that reason he would become the most useful apostle, still sometimes he needs a prophet.

“Third teachers.” That he says the teachers who, since the epistles and the readings out loud [and traditions]29 must be preserved in the Church, were giving the young men initial instruction in the custom of the synagogue because the tradition of these people, it was prepared to be brought over to us.

In the fourth position it is to be: “Then powers,30 then the grace of healings”. For any who can [do this] as having in him the gift of the power of soundness of health are not to be a Bishop. “Helps, governments”. That he may be vigilant in understanding divine matters. So nevertheless that in any others which it is not being granted to be filled up, he should obtain through another [person] in respect to which he does not have because the whole cannot be granted to one. There are also governors who are in keeping the spiritual things together in human instructions. “Kinds of languages”. That the gift of God is to know many languages.31 “Interpretation of words.”32 When this is granted to some by the grace of God that he has the expertise of languages which require translations.

(Vers. 29) “Can it be all are apostles?” The reality is that one Bishop is in the Church. “Can it be all are prophets?” It is not ambiguous, it is not to be granted the prophetic to everyone. “Can it be all are teachers?” That is a teacher, to whom it is to be granted to teach others.

(Vers. 30) “Can it be all are powers?” This one is able to possess the power, to whom God gives to expel demons. “Can it be all have the gift of healings?” How could he do it that all should have the gift of healings? “Can it be all are speaking in languages?” Certainly not, except one who receives the gift in this matter. “Can it be that all interpret?” The person is able to interpret words to whom God gives. For the sense has been said before, this must be inserted. In fact he had explained by the reckoning which had been rendered, that everyone is to have the diverse graces and it is not that anyone be granted the whole thing by example of the members. For by the example of the fleshly body he insinuates the spiritual body and through this in all things God must be praised, and in the name of this one must be glorified of whom is grace. We furthermore arrive at this reckoning in the natural science33 realm. For while gold is better than silver, yet more in use is silver. And while brass is necessary, yet the need is more in iron. For while it is inferior one makes no household goods without iron.

(Vers. 31) “Be zealous of the better gifts”. After this he sums up with regards to the subjects. “I will explain to yet a more excellent way”. He carries those step by step for a good purpose, showing those the grace of every gift which has been said before that is seen in mankind, whether speaking, or healing, or prophesying, that it is not to be related to the person’s merit, but to the honouring of God. Therefore for that reason now he says to show more plainly the way with those ones themselves who are being passed to heaven whose merit gathers together with God. Because on the other hand having been said before that one cannot always reach out by merit. The Saviour says, “Many are going to say to me in that day”, that is [the day] of judgement, “Lord, Lord, had we not prophesied in your name and in your name we had cast out demons and we performed great powers?” (Matt. 7:22). And because this does not extend by merit, but they are functions of the Church in response34 to the confusion of the gentiles and the honour of God which must be bourne witness to, the Lord says to them, “Withdraw from me, I never knew you, workers of iniquity.”35 Namely by the axe36, because the work of God was being examined with regard to those ones, who have no concern for consequences in respect to themselves. For instance too with the 72 disciples who are rejoicing because the demons have been placed under them [their authority]. the Saviour says, “Let not one wish to rejoice in this, that the demons are subjected to you, but rejoice in this that your name has been written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).

In what way is it not37 because they have been subjected in the name of God not by human merit? And in what way now does that not happen so, that men have the grace of God? It was required to do during the beginning times in order that the foundations of the faith were to receive strength but now it is not needed because people lead people to the faith when they see their good works and simple preaching.■

Next: I Corinthians 13 from the Ambrosiaster Text.

The original Latin copy used for this translation can be found here: The Ambrosiaster Latin text on I Corinthians 12-14

Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s Corinthians 12-14

The Ambrosiaster Manuscript: Notes on the English Translation of I Corinthians Chapters 12-14

The purpose of this translation was to bring background and definition to the gift of tongues sequences in the Ambrosiaster writer(s) commentary on Corinthians.

Because most people are unfamiliar with the Ambrosiaster writings and this is the only known online translation of the I Corinthians work in English, it was imperative to first introduce some notes and then move into commentary of his text.

1. The Goal of this Translation

The Ambrosiaster text has a number of key passages that ties in with Epiphanius’ description of the problems at Corinth. The references to the historic use of the gift of tongues by Ambrosiaster manuscript are brief but very important. It is critical that the translation and interpretation of the text must be understood within the context of Ambrosiaster manuscript as a whole. A familiarity with the author(s) style and intentions, acknowledgement of the historical background to the text and acceptable translation standards are also requirements in order for the conclusion to stand under critical inquiry.

2. The Ambrosiaster Manuscript from a Literary Perspective

The key to understanding the Ambrosiaster manuscript from 12:28 up to 14:30 was the polemic against personal ambition. One cannot achieve honour or merit before God by one’s status, achievements or human success.

The work also stressed equality between the classes. It taught that all are in possession of the gifts of God and it had nothing to do with ones social status. For example I Corinthians 14:30:

“That if it [any thing] would be a revelation to someone else who is sitting, the first is to be silent.” That is, [it is] preferable he is to allow for the one below [his status] in order that if he is able, he should speak. Not that it is to be done reluctantly, because the gift can be given also to that person. While he appears to be inferior because he has not been allowed for more useful things. For just as the whole cannot be parceled out in one, although better, it cannot be for some, however much inferior that nothing is being imparted [to them], for no one is devoid [of some type of gift] in the grace of God.

The work was written from a pastoral perspective to encourage and inspire the members of the Church. It is not intellectually deep nor a masterpiece of literary genius when compared to Augustine, Gregory Nazianzus, Thomas Aquinas or the like. On many occasions, it simply re-phrases Paul’s writing in contemporary terms of that time with little historical, social or theological reflection.

3. Problems with Authorship and Dating

Although the Ambrosiaster manuscript has its origins in the fourth century, the Latin style suggests that this is a later manuscript. There are some good clues that suggest this document is at least 8th century. First of all the work is also not built around a neo-platonic framework which was totally typical and expected in fourth century writings. Another clue relates to later Latin writers and translators of Greek texts. The grammatical style and word selection is very similar to that of Thomas Aquinas and not of the Venerable Bede or Augustine.

Gerald L. Bray in his Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians By Ambrosiaster, touches greatly on this subject and concluded;

“Ambrosiaster’s commentary can be broken down into two, or possibly three, principal recensions. Untangling these can be a delicate task, because in later centuries there was a good deal of cross-pollination, as monastic copyists incorporated elements from different recensions into their own text. It is possible that Ambrosiaster left his work in a semipolished state, which was then touched up for publication by literary executors who smoothed out some of its rough edges and filled in material that was either missing from the manuscript(s) they had or that was felt to be needed in order to make sense of what Ambrosiaster wrote. But it is also possible that Ambrosiaster produced the different versions himself, perhaps with a variety of audiences in mind. The style of the shortest recension is lapidary to the point of obscurity, and in some ways is more like a series of lecture notes than a finished commentary. It is often difficult or impossible to know what Ambrosiaster meant, and the second and third recensions were trying to explain the obscurities of the shortest text. Sometimes they are genuinely helpful and illuminate the commentary, but there are places when later hands digressed from Ambrosiaster’s thought pattern and added material that is either irrelevant or contradictory.”1

From my perspective this work is an evolutionary one with its beginnings in 360 or so AD with many redactions, especially the 11th or 12th century, and the addition of Biblical verses put this version around the 14th.

For example, the writing in I Corinthians 14 makes an abrupt change. It starts with simplistic, get-to-the-point writing that is not so difficult to translate. When one reaches verse 30, it makes a strong shift. The translation difficulty increases substantially. It becomes wordy and shifts more into an Aquinas type of thought. I actually changed my approach to translating his commentary on Corinthians after 14:30 as a document akin to a Thomas Aquinas writing. There were too many parallels in style in form.

The text after 14:30 also appears to be fragmented. The train of thought seems to be interrupted and does not flow very well. This is not so much a problem of my English translation but a direct result of what appears to be editorial snippets pieced together by Latin redactors as some sort of mnemonic trigger.

Gerald Bray’s work and translation on Ambrosiaster is considered a definitive work and ought to be consulted in any research work on the subject.

Also Bray’s comment on the Ambrosiaster text being a heavily redacted one is an important note. The Ambrosiaster manuscript is not alone in this tradition. The Chronicon Paschale is a good example of this type of tradition where an original piece has been added to over the centuries. The 7th century or so Chronicon is based on Jerome’s writings, which are heavily influenced by Eusebius, and Eusebius owes much work to Africanus.

In my mind, this does not cause any problems of accuracy or legitimacy of the original manuscript. This is an evolutionary document that traces a line of thought throughout the centuries on the Christian faith as outlined in the Book of Corinthians. What we have today is a bona-fide manuscript at the endpoint in its own evolution.

It does however invite questions of authorship. No one knows who the original author was, nor the names of editors who expanded the text throughout the centuries. It may be best to simply reference this as the Ambrosiaster manuscript and not cite any author.

This work is not cited by the popular ancient Latin writers such as Augustine, Bede, Aquinas, etc., and at least within my readings so far, any Greek Patristic writer. If this manuscript was available to these ancient leaders, or it did circulate, the quality of this writing may have been dismissed by the above as a B-grade publication.

4. Bible Versions

It is obvious Ambrosiaster is working from different Bible than what has evolved into the Vulgate. Some have called it the Old Latin or the Itala version. Traditionally, when I come across a Biblical citation in a Latin commentary, I merely input the Douay-Rheims English translation instead of attempting to translate the Latin into English myself. However, because of the multitude of minor differences between this text and the Vulgate, it forced me to translate the Biblical texts entirely on almost every occasion.

Variant Latin Biblical texts are not uncommon to come across with Latin Patristic writers. There is no equivalent in Christian history that reflects the broad spectrum of differences that are contained in Latin Bible versions.

The goal of this translation is not to compare the citation of Biblical texts to any Greek or non-Latin sources. It is merely to translate what is written here and noting any difference from the Vulgate.

5. Some Translation Notes

The translation provided herein has only gone through two stages of the translation process. The first one is the direct translation from the Latin with some attention to English grammar and meaning. The second pass was to improve on the English meaning and grammar.

More time and energy could be spent on improving the flow in the English, and there are some passages that are problematic and may require a re-translation. Since the central focus of this work is to discover the background and meaning to the christian doctrine of tongues, efforts to complete this translation to a final level will not be considered, except for the passages relating to the gift.

It is still in a good stage for researchers to get a first look into the Ambrosiaster manuscript and decide whether to look into this text any further.

The use of the subjunctive is highly utilized. If anyone needs some experience in translating the Latin subjunctive, this is the writing to practice with. Some thoughts on the subjunctive in more detail can be found at the following article Latin and the Subjunctive.

This is the first time I have encountered the use of nominal sentences in Latin (a sentence lacking the verb esse ‘to be’ but the writer assumes the reader understands that it is inferentially there.)

The use of the pronoun “se” concerns me when translating Latin. This fear can be traced to my knowledge of French where se used in a pronominal sense alters the meaning of the verb. I don’t know if this rule applies to Latin, but if it does, I have missed it.

If there are colloquialisms in the text, I have probably missed them.

Translating the Gerundive. The gerundive appears quite frequently in this text and required some thoughtful attention. The conclusion to this journey can be found on a previous essay The Mysterious Latin Gerundive.

One must note the approach to some Latin keywords:

The translation of the Latin charitas. In our Reformation thinking, this is supposed to be translated into English as love. However, Ambrosiaster wrote well before the Reformation and did not think on these same lines. Love may arguably may be right but charity is a word that better reflects his intentions. Even if one disagrees with the contemporary Catholic teaching of the word, this is what they thought at that time. One cannot change that.

The reader must note that the English translation for lingua throughout the document is translated as language, which is a synonym for tongue. If one was to insert the word tongue every time the word language appears, it changes the nuance and it becomes a more mystical, undefined reality. However, this is not what the author(s) intended, so the translation remains as language. See the blog article: The Difference Between Language and Tongues for more details.

6. The Result of this Research as it relates to the doctrine of Tongues

The text was written in the imperfect tense when relating to the doctrine of tongues. The writer(s) approached it historically with no reference to any modern practice; it solely wanted to convey what Paul and the Corinthian congregation were thinking or doing. Unlike the coverage on prophecy, which does go into some detail, the gift of tongues never goes beyond Paul’s description.

The Ambrosiaster manuscript contains an important text on the role of tongues, the law and the influence of Hebrew in the early Church.

The Ambrosiaster commentary on I Corinthians 14:19:

(Vers. 19) “But in the Church,” it is said, “I wish to speak five words according to the law that I may also build up others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” He [Paul] says it to be more useful speaking in small words in the making of a speech in order that everyone should understand than to have a lengthy speech in obscurity. [Col. 270] These were from the Hebrew who at length in the Syrian language and for the most part by Hebrew women who were indulging in homilies or presentations for approval. For they were boasting calling themselves Jews according to the right of Abraham, that the same apostle held this to no account teaching, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Indeed these ones who are mimicking, they prefer to speak in their unknown language to the people in the Church which belongs to them.”

There a number of elements to address but the first one that captures the readers attention is the alternate Biblical text, “I wish to speak five words according to the law…” Normally this should read, “however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind…” (NASB). The NASB version more closely aligns with the Greek manuscripts than does the Ambrosiaster text.

Why the insertion of law instead of mind? One must be cognizant of the fact that the difference in Greek between law and mind is one letter νὸμον “law” and νόος “mind”. It would be easy to mix these two up by a copyist. However, this is not the only place where law is used. Epiphanius in his Against Haeresies text also acknowledged the use of this verse in a translation. More details on this can be found in the article, Epiphanius on the Problem Tongues of Corinth.

One assumption some may make by reading this text was that the Ambrosiaster writer(s) was of Jewish descent or influence, having understood a Judaic background to the Corinthian saga. As one reads through the text, one will discover that this is not the case. The author(s) had a narrow view of Judaism. For example, the commentary on I Corinthians 14:21 reads:

Thus one is able also to understand that because many of the Jews were spiteful and therefore it was not worthy to speak to them the Gospel in a revelation, that they spoke to them in parables, and therefore that it is not being shown to them who are the ones who understand because they were wicked neither also would they reform themselves. While the ones who have merit were benefitting themselves to hear the words of God by means of the the exposition.

As outlined in the commentary on I Corinthians 12:28, it did recognize the influence of Jewish custom on the early Church:

“Third teachers.” That he says the teachers who, since the epistles and the readings out loud [and traditions]*4* must be preserved in the Church, were giving the young men initial instruction in the custom of the synagogue because the tradition of these people, it was prepared to be brought over to us.

This was qualified to reduce the Jewish influence and demonstrate the Church had taken it over. The commentary on Corinthians 14:31 further opines:

(Vers. 31) “For you are all to prophecy by each one at a time, that all are to learn, and all are to be encouraged.” This tradition is of the Synagogue which he wishes us to continually follow because he is certainly writing to Christians but to those who have been reared Gentiles, not from the Jews. That the ones that remain are possibly debating, seniors with rank according to the throne, attending on the tribune’s seats, the most extraordinary on the pavement above the mats. If anyone would be [in] a revelation, the one that must be gifted is to receive in advance a designated place, neither one ought to be looked down upon, because they are the members of the body.”

It is clear from the above texts that the writer(s) were not Jewish and were scape-goating the ethnic Jews with whatever problems existed in the Church.

The Bible quotation by the Ambrosiaster writer(s) was not intended by them to be an exegesis of Jewish custom or practice but were simply citing a verse from their Bible, which in this case happened to be the Old Itala Latin version. The Ambrosiaster author(s) simply had not made any emendation or elucidation to the text.

The author(s) also had a much broader definition of what the law comprised. The author(s) believed Isaiah 28:11 (See his commentary on I Corinthians 14:21) to be part of the law. In some ancient Christian circles, the whole Bible canon was considered a legal text, which the Ambrosiaster manuscripts promoted as well.

For example, the commentary of I Corinthians 12:1 supplies an almost fundamentalist view of Bible interpretation:

So also the ones worshiping God, they are to exist with the form of the law of the Lord, these ones march as if it is to be pleasing with the Lord. In fact the form of every piece of the law ought to appear in the occupation and the behaviour of the worshiper.”

The Ambrosiaster text suggested that the problem of the Corinthians tongues was that of women speaking in Aramaic in a predominately Greek based church.

The conclusion of Hebrew women speaking in Aramaic is only referenced historically. It does not use this as an example for how the office of the gift of tongues was to be used in the Church.

The author(s) believed that since an outside party, ie: the Jews, had introduced this problem, it was not reflective with their perception of the true Church, its community and what it really practiced.

This is the only historical reference made to the gift of tongues. The practical interpretation the author(s) promoted for their own interpretation and application was different. For example, the commentary found at I Cor. 14:27 demonstrated a total lack of recognition regarding the historical aspect and delves into understanding the text from a literal-simplistic perspective:

(Vers. 27) If any speaks in a language, by two, or at the most three and specifically that one shall interpret,” This is, two or three and no more are to be speaking in languages but one at a time, not each at the same time. Lest they were to appear to be insane. “at the most three.” Lest the ones speaking in languages and their translations were to occupy the day and prophets do not have the time explaining the Scriptures which they are illuminators of the whole Church.

As one can immediately see, there is not much added by the Ambrosiaster writer(s) to the Pauline text on tongues. There is no practical application or demonstration of how the Pauline text on tongues influenced or was applied in their contemporary Church worship.

The author(s) do not see the need to explain why so many people were permitted to speak at once or any antecedents that led to this type of practice.

The manuscript does delve into Paul’s address about tongues. Here are some highlights, though there are more:

Chapter 12:28 “”Kinds of languages”. That the gift of God is to know many languages. “Interpretation of words.” When this is granted to some by the grace of God that he has the expertise of languages which require translations.”

Chapter 13:9-10 “In fact who can do it that can grasp all the human languages, is that of God?”

Chapter 14:10-11 “Certainly he does not teach it being desirous that in turns they be seen with each other by a foreign language of a barbarian.”

It is clear that the Ambrosiaster writer(s) believed the tongues of Corinth to be actual foreign languages. There was nothing mystical in their minds.

Chapter 14 (Vers. 22) Therefore languages they are as a sign.” This is, the words of God have been concealed by a veil of unknown languages, nor do they appear by deceit, and when the unknown languages are being heard, it is to be a sign, because it was made on account of faithlessness, lest the ones hearing are to understand. “By all means it is not for those who believe, but for the non-believers.” [Col. 271] This is what he said, because they go on in languages to the unbeliever for the purpose of hiding the meanings.

The writer(s) here in 14:22 fail to distinguish who is a believer and unbeliever. Why would someone speak in a foreign tongue to a pagan Roman or a Barbarian? What would this benefit the Christian cause? They failed to answer this critical question.

Chapter 14 (Vers. 26) “What is it then brothers? When you come together each one of you has a song.” That is they are speaking praise to God through song.” He has a teaching.” This is, he has a narration of the meaning by spiritual wisdom. “He has a revelation.” That is, prophecy regarding the hidden things by the agency of the holy Spirit is a basis for discussion which reaches to the mind of every person. “He has a language.” That those who were able to speak in a language, they were not to be discouraged, he permitted them to speak in languages. Still yet interpretation was to follow. He therefore says, “He has an interpretation.” That if an interpreter was to be present, a spot was to be given belonging to those preparing to speak in languages.”

The idea that the gift of tongues in Corinth was the speaking of a foreign language was not new to the Ambrosiaster writer(s). This was typical of ecclesiastical tradition.

7. The Ambrosiaster Manuscript on the role of Prophecy

The Ambrosiaster writer(s), along with Thomas Aquinas, spends far more time with the function and definition of prophecy than defining the literary problems of tongues in I Corinthians 14.

The office of the prophet is kept completely separate and distinct from the gift of tongues.

8. Disclaimers

The nuances of anti-semitism and the role of women in this composition do not reflect my own personal opinions. Nor is this translation meant to be a vehicle to promote such knowledge. It is submitted to the reader that this attitude should not be accepted or promoted. The reader should always be aware that the ancient Christian writers were susceptible to the influences of their time, whether good or bad, just like anyone else and it should be read with a watchful eye.

This has not been reviewed or approved by an experienced or reputable authority. Use the translation at your own risk. Also, this translation can change without notice.

9. The Actual Translations and Latin Original

Never Cite out of Context

Context is important in translating the ancient Church writers. Translating just a small portion without knowing the big picture can be dangerous.

A Bible professor once warned all us fledgling students to never cite Biblical passages out of context.

Here I am almost 30 years later and that voice still resounds, and yet the urge to do that still exists. The English translation development of I Corinthians 12-14 of the Ambrosiaster Manuscript is testimony to that.

In an earlier Post (which I have deleted)I was given the translation:

“But in the Church,” it is said, “I wish to speak five words according to the law that I may also build up others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” He [Paul] says it to be more useful speaking in small words in the making of a speech in order that everyone should understand than to have a lengthy speech in obscurity. These were from the Hebrews who at length in the Syrian language and for the most part in Hebrew who were indulging in homilies or presentations for approval. For they were boasting calling themselves Jews according to the right of Abraham, that the same apostle held this to no account teaching, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This translation was based on a Latin manuscript from Migne Patrologia Latina. However, at the time, I did not deeply delve nor translate any other passage from this text. This just seemed from cursory glance the only passage relevant to the gift of tongues.

As I was in the process of translating three chapters of Ambrosiaster on I Corinthians, it became clear the above translation was not correct. It should read:

(Vers. 19) “But in the Church,” it is said, “I wish to speak five words according to the law that I may also build up others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” He [Paul] says it to be more useful speaking in small words in the making of a speech in order that everyone should understand than to have a lengthy speech in obscurity. [Col. 270] These were from the Hebrew who at length in the Syrian language and for the most part by Hebrew women who were indulging in homilies or presentations for approval. For they were boasting calling themselves Jews according to the right of Abraham, that the same apostle held this to no account teaching, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Indeed these ones who are mimicking, they prefer to speak in their unknown language to the people in the Church which belongs to them.

The bolded section in English is from the Latin: “Hi ex Hebraeis erant, qui aliquando Syra lingua, plerumque Hebraea, in tractatibus aut oblationibus utebantur ad commendationem.”

The key here is in understanding the foreign loanword Hebraea. It is difficult to translate this loanword because Latin authors do not consistently write this Hebrew word the same. Googling the word did not bring any closure, The Perseus dictionary had no results and Whitaker’s Words provided two definitions: the first one was “Hebrew, Jewish” and the second one was reserved for medieval usage, “Hebrew/Jewish woman.”

At first, I thought the Ambrosiaster manuscript was written by St. Ambrose and was traced back to the 4th century, so the choice of the word Hebrew with no reference to gender seemed the logical and most non-controversial translation to make.

As I went on translating the chapters, this assumption got tossed out the window. First of all, Ambrose never wrote it. It doesn’t even come close to his style or interests. Ambrosiaster is a name given to the mysterious writer(s) much later.

Secondly, the manuscript has all sorts of redactions. Most of them can be traced to around the 11th or 12th century. The Latin text seems to predominantly align better stylistically with this period, though there are pieces that are earlier.

One cannot easily see these things when only translating a small passage.

Also later on in his commentary there is a slight nuance with the tongues problem to women wanting to speak out in Church when they are not supposed to. The wording appears the same, though this is a connection more by observation than by fact.

The bottom line on the whole thing is that one should read all literature within context. By neglecting to do so can lead to some erroneous conclusions.

The Mysterious Latin Gerundive

This is an in-depth look at the problems of translating the Latin gerundive and potential solutions.

For example, the so-called Patristic-Latin Ambrosiaster text utilized the gerundive on at least two occasions in its commentary on the Book of Corinthians in the 14th chapter. This is not a problem for a Latin writer to do, but the English lacks a direct equivalent. This leads to the question, how does one translate the gerundive here?

First before delving into the text, one needs to define what a gerundive is.

The gerundive is a future passive participle used in Latin literature. A number of authors and sites are devoted to addressing the gerundive but there is no unanimous approach on how to translate it into English.

Some authors have simplified it for the sake of novice Latin students who are tackling it for the first time. For example, one Latin study guide suggests it “is usually translated into English with the words ‘to be’ followed by the past participle.” 1

This same website outlines the thought behind the gerundive and how to translate it, “It is important to note that the gerundive does not have an exact translation into English, and in order to convey the idea of obligation or suitability inherent in its meaning, translations can include such forms as ‘fit to be’, ‘must be’ and ‘ought to be’.”2

Another author wrote, “The gerundive can be translated with ‘about to be’ or ‘to be’: epistula legenda = the letter (about) to be read. Sometimes it can be translated as a simple adjective: homo abominandus = ‘horrible man’ in place of ‘man about to be abominated.’3

John Burroughs School gets closer to the nuances and range of the gerundive along wth the problems of translating it into English.

“Sometimes the gerundive is used simply as any other Latin adjective, in which case it is best treated as a future passive participle. amandus, for instance, could thus be translated (very literally) “about to be loved,” but “to be loved” gets the same point across. But when Roman authors used gerundives, the emphasis in not only the futurity, but imminence and perhaps even inevitability. Horace himself (whom we, of course, know fondly as Quintus) is very fond of gerundives used like this in his poems. Here is an example: 

cur invidendis postibus…/sublime…moliar atrium?
Why should I toil over a hallway lofty with columns bound to be envied?

Horace’s point is not that, if he exerts lots of effort to build a fancy house, it will cause envy, but that it is bound to cause envy. The emphasis lies not on establishing a time-frame, but upon the probable or even inevitable effect. He could have used a simple adjective invidiosis, which would be translatable as “enviable,” but that would not get across the idea that if you build ostentatiously, somebody is sure to feel envy. As you can see, gerundives bring us firmly into the realm of “nuance” and connotation rather than ordinary denotation.

Here’s another example, again from Horace’s Odes; I have simplified and abridged it for purposes of clarity:

  • compescit Geryonen Tityonque tristi unda enaviganda omnibus, sive reges sive inopes coloni erimus.
  • He imprisons Geryon and Tityos with that gloomy stream bound to be navigated by us all, whether we will be kings or peasants.

Horace refers here to Pluto, king of Hades, who uses the River Styx as a sort of security barrier to keep sinners (Geryon and Tityus were two of those eternally punished) in the underworld. But his main point in this sentence is that everybody, rich or poor, is bound to cross that same river–in other words, everyone has to die, regardless of social status. The gerundive enaviganda conveys both the futurity and inevitability of this sad fact with an economy that English cannot manage.”4

The author frequently likes to use ‘bound to be’ as his English translation.

Charles E. Bennett’s book, New Latin Grammar, covers it in-depth; “The Gerundive denotes _obligation_, _necessity_, etc. Like other Participles it may be used either as Attributive or Predicate.” He goes on to give some good examples. Here is one of them;

  • “liber legendus, _a book worth reading_;
  • leges observandae, _laws deserving of observance_. “

He described some other important aspects and then wrote that after certain verbs the gerundive has to be translated as a purpose clause;

“After curo, _provide for_; do, trado, _give over_; relinquo,
_leave_; concedo, _hand over_, and some other verbs, instead of an
object clause, or to denote purpose; as,
Caesar pontem in Arari faciendum curavit,
Caesar provided for the construction of a bridge over the Arar_;

imperator urbem militibus diripiendam concessit,
the general handed over the city to the soldiers to plunder_. ”

John R. Porter at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) provides the most comprehensive portrait of the gerundive and even challenges the notion that it is a future passive participle. He thinks it is simply the “the adjectival counterpart to the gerund.”

Similar to Bennett’s approach, he translates the gerundive according to context and gave copious examples;

“Gerund: uēnit ad legendum librōs.
Gerundive: uēnit ad librōs legendōs.
[“He/She came with a view to books having an act of reading applied to them.” — i.e., to read books]

Gerund: studium legendī librōs
Gerundive: studium librōrum legendōrum
[“zeal of/for books having an act of reading applied to them” — i.e., of/for reading books]

Gerund: ōtium petit legendī librōs causā.
Gerundive: ōtium petit librōrum legendōrum causā.
[“He/She seeks leisure for the sake of books having an act of reading applied to them.” — i.e., of reading books]

Gerund: discimus legendō librōs.
Gerundive: discimus librīs legendīs.
[“We learn by means of books having an act of reading applied to them.” — i.e., by reading books]

Gerund: hoc locūtus est dē legendō librōs.
Gerundive: hoc locūtus est dē librīs legendīs.
[“He/She said this concerning books having an act of reading applied to them.” — i.e. concerning the reading of books].”

Porter then concluded, “In each instance, the gerundive is inserted as the passive, adjectival correlative to the active, substantival gerund. The construction with the gerundive is much more vivid, to the degree that it allows the immediate focus to be placed on the noun (“books”) rather than on the abstract action (“reading”).”5

Of course there are the typical gerundive as a passive periphrastic or when it is combined with ‘ad’ plus the gerundive to denote purpose, but this is not the case here with the examples shown below with Ambriosaster, so this aspect of the gerundive will be ignored.

The gerundive creates an ambiguity that one must ponder about all the options above and see which one is most suitable for a text. Perhaps it will even take more thought and one may have to use a totally different structure as Charles Bennett demonstrated to capture the nuance.

With all these options in mind, the following two texts in Ambrosiaster’s commentary on the Book of Corinthians provide some good examples on how to translate it.

The following are from MPL Vol. 17. Ad Opera S. Ambrosii Appendix. Comment. In I Ad Corinth. Col. 268ff. The gerundives are highlighted in italic for the reader to easily identify.

The first example is from I Corinthians 14:12 “Quia prodest Scripturas explanare propterea ad hanc partem studium monet applicandum.”

If one is to use a number of the methods mentioned above, the translations work out like this:

“Because it [prophecy] is useful to explain the Scriptures…

    1. The ‘about to be’ method: “therefore he teaches learning is about to be applied by this office.”
    2. The ‘bound to be method’: “therefore he teaches learning is bound to be applied by this office.”
    3. The Porter approach: “therefore he teaches transformational learning [learning having to be actively put into practice with it] by this office.”
    4. The ‘ought, fit or must’ method: “therefore he teaches learning is fit to be put into practice by this office.”

In this instance the preferred translation would be:

“Because it [prophecy] is useful to explain the Scriptures… therefore he teaches transformational learning by this office.”

This one suits the best because Ambrosiaster was trying to emphasize the fact that the learner is going to go deeper in the Scriptures with the aide of a prophet. The prophet can teach a type of knowledge that transcends the intellect and changes one worldview.

The second example is a bit more complex. I Corinthians 14:5 “Non poterat prohibere loqui linguis, qui superius donum istud dicit esse Spiritus sancti : sed ideo prophetandi magis studium habendum, quia utilius est.”

If one is to use a number of the methods mentioned above, and assuming prophetandi to be a gerund, the translations would go something like this: “He could not prohibit to speak in languages which he teaches to be such a superior gift of the holy Spirit but…

If it is to be translated as a gerundive, then these possibilities exist:

    1. The ‘about to be’ method: “more learning is about to be had by means of prophecy because it is more beneficial.”
    2. The ‘bound to be’ method: “more learning is bound to be had by means of prophecy because it is more beneficial.”
    3. The Porter approach: “rather study [having an act applied to it] impacted by prophecy because it is more beneficial.”
    4. The ‘ought, fit or must’ method: “more learning must be had by means of prophecy because it is more beneficial.”

Note that the noun studium – learn, study, zeal, fondness etc., and the adverb magis are changed depending on how the gerundive is understood.

All carry a similar gist to the thought but my personal preference is, “He could not prohibit to speak in languages which he teaches to be such a superior gift of the holy Spirit but more learning is bound to be had by means of prophecy because it is more beneficial.” This does not mean one should use the ‘bound to be’ method every time. It just seemed to fit here the best.

See also Translating Future Active and Passive Participles into English by John Garger.

Ambrosiaster on the workers of miracles

The Ambrosiaster text gives a fourth century or later Latin perspective on the workers of miracles as described by St. Paul.

Paul wrote about this function in his First letter to the Corinthians (12:28).

Here is the actual Biblical citation:

“And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.” (NIV)

The key-text here is the “workers of miracles” which in the Greek text is δυνάμεις and in Ambrosiaster’s text, virtutes.

Not much is known about the fourth century writers(s) later coined Ambrosiaster. This entity wrote a comprehensive commentary on the Book of I Corinthians.

When translating this text, I got stuck on virtutes. It is not qualified in the Latin and the English translations of the Latin Vulgate seemed to have no basis to render such a translation as “worker of miracles.”

The Greek too as well seems to be ambiguous.

There may be a religious tradition that allows for the English to be worded “workers of miracles”, but I am not taking the time to figure that out. This posting will remain focused simply on the contribution by Ambrosiaster writers on this text.

The most machine-like translation of both the Latin and Greek would render “worker of miracles” as “powers”. It would be an interpolation to translate it any further.

Ambrosiaster wrote:

“In the fourth position it is to be: “Then powers, then the grace of healings”. For any who can are not to be a Bishop as having in him the gift of the power of soundness of health.”1

It is clear that whatever powers means, it is not directly attached to the ability to physically heal. This is gratiam curationum which is found earlier in his text.

The first clue to what Ambrosiaster believed powers to mean was at the end of the sentence, “the power of soundness and health.” This is a difficult line to translate. In the Latin it is “et habere in se donum virtutis sanitatum.”

The question here is what virtutis sanitatum really means.

Firstly virtutis is the genitive form of virtus, which Whitaker’s Words describes as “strength/power; courage/bravery; worth/manliness/virtue/character/excellence”. The type of power being referenced here is one is one who possesses a superior moral authority or a person of esteemed character.

The Latin Biblical text could have chosen viris instead which would have connoted power as a strong force that overcomes a weakness, or it could have used potentiae instead which emphasizes command authority over a health condition, but it didn’t.

Whitaker’s Words defines sanitatum from the root sanitas and it means, “sanity, reason; health.” It is addressing a mental condition. Lewis and Short believe it be a mental condition as well but add that bodily health can be included.

At this point, Ambrosiaster makes no reference between mental health and demons. He simply states that an office exists in the Church that deals with such problems.

However he does go on to make this correlation;

“Can it be all are powers?” This one is able to possess the power, to whom God gives to expel demons.”

This leads into greater questions of the early Christian doctrine of demonology and mental illness which is far beyond Ambrosiaster’s text and a study area I am not familiar with.

What one can easily conclude though: the Ambrosiaster writers do recognize a distinction between physical and mental illness in this commentary, which isn’t usually identified in other Church documents. It shows that some sections of the Church were beginning to make a clearer distinction between these two realms, and does recognize the validity of mental illness and the need for third party intervention.

His account also displayed an early Church dictum that anyone identified with this gift was not eligible for the office of Bishop. They must have felt that people with the gift of power could wield too much if in a position of authority. It was potentially a conflict-of-interest.