Tag Archives: Bible

A Jewish-Greek Perspective on the Tongues of Corinth

The following is a journey into identifying speaking in tongues through Hebrew and Greek Jewish traditions.

This is an introduction to a series of articles devoted to this subject.

Researching Jewish traditions about speakers and interpreters has uncovered two very important customs that are so close to Paul’s narrative that it would be hard to call them accidental parallels. The first solution relates to the reading out loud of Scripture in Hebrew with an immediate translation in the local vernacular. The second one is the custom of instructing in Hebrew and providing a translation into the local language.

There is also a third alternative: the use of Aramaic as the principal language of conflict in Corinth. This could be a solution if more information comes forward. For the time being it will be relegated a distant third option and only small snippets of this subject will be addressed. The majority of this series will be devoted to the first two concepts.

These first two options have existed all along but few have paid attention to them in the Christian community. This Jewish-centric approach has been minimized for two reasons: antisemitism and ignorance of Jewish literature in both Catholic and Protestant communities, and the hyper-emphasis on the Greek and Latin cultures to exclusivity by rationalist scholars in the 1800s.

The option of instructing in Hebrew with a translation into the local language best fits the Corinthian narrative. However, the rite of public reading in Hebrew with an immediate translation into the local language does have some strengths that cannot be discounted. The solution could even be a mixture of the two.

Continue reading A Jewish-Greek Perspective on the Tongues of Corinth

Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 1

This four-part series follows the perceptions of miracles and the doctrine of cessationism from inception until now in the protestant church, especially as it relates to the doctrine of tongues.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Table of Contents

  • Part 1
  • Introduction
  • Reasons for the rise of Cessationism
  • Part 2
  • The Excess of Miracles in the Medieval world
  • The earlier De-Emphatics: John Chrysostom, Augustine Bishop of Hippo, Cyril of Alexandria*, and Thomas Aquinas
  • Part 3
  • The Early Protestant De-Emphatics: Martin Luther and Jean Calvin
  • The Church of England and Miracles
    • The Puritan Influence: William Whitaker, William Perkins, James Ussher, the Westminster Confession, and later Confessions
    • The Latitudinarians
    • The Rationalists and Deists
  • Part 4
    Cessationism from the 1800s and onwards: the Baptists, Presbyterians, B. B. Warfield, christian higher education, John MacArthur, and more.


Cessationism is a religious term used in various protestant circles that believe miracles in the church died out long ago and have been replaced by the authority of Scripture. Cessationist policy is typically found in Presbyterian, conservative Baptist, Dutch Reformed churches, and other groups that strictly adhere to early protestant reformation teachings.

It is a doctrine that had its zenith in the late 1600s, waned a bit in the 1800s and recharged in the 1900s. Today, the doctrine of cessationism has considerably subsided. However, it cannot be ignored if one is doing a thorough study of the doctrine of tongues. It is an important part of history.

Continue reading Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 1

Everyone Should Read Josephus

Why everyone who likes ancient Middle Eastern history should read the works of Josephus.

The contributions of the first century writer, historian, and apologist, Josephus are innumerable. His words wield such rich treasures in historical and theological artifacts, and are so well known for almost two millennia, that he likely is the most taken-for-granted author ever. Old English print copies, online versions, and even a movie has covered a portion or all of his works, which makes him so celebrated, that it feels like qualifying anything from him is stating the obvious. His works are well prepared and documented, and carry little controversy or surprise to almost anything. He simply adds more details to the already known historical records, and does a superb job with this, but his narrative writing form is very gripping – especially the The Jewish War.

There are many parallels to the New Testament record and then some more. Nowhere else can one find such in-depth information about the Herod dynasty than his accounts.

Josephus was captured by the Romans in a rebellion against them, and became a slave and interpreter for the Emporer Vespasian. He was considered a defector by the Jewish community. The majority of his writing was spent to reestablish two things: reacceptance into the Jewish community by defending Jewish values, history, and literature from a Graeco-Roman perspective. Secondly it was to defend Judaism against the Graeco-Roman community who disbelieved the Jewish accounts, and found them inferior to their own religious beliefs and historical records. He covers theology, and Biblical texts in great detail because of this.

One can find special accounts about Moses, Noah’s Ark and many more not found anywhere else.

Jacob Feeley, a PhD Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania in Ancient History, published a state-of-the-union address on academic pursuits of Josephus’ works entitled, The Understudied and Marginal Josephus: Bringing Him into the Conversation, which is well worth taking the time to read.

The writings of Josephus are a must-read for anyone that has an interest or commitment to the New Testament writings, or Jews, wanting to know their own history. His style is not that difficult to comprehend. It is actually a pleasurable read compared to most historical writers.

It should be the first book outside of the Bible given to novices who wish to understand the history and context related to the life of Christ.

There is a reference to Christ, albeit a very small one, and arguably may not even exist in the original text, and one about John the Baptist, which once again is small piece, but preserves the idea that John the Baptist was a prominent figure during that time. What is the most captivating is his coverage on the insurrection, and utter destruction of Jerusalem. He took into account the political, social, and personal complexities of war from both the Roman and Jewish camps that few writers are seldom able to achieve. It is a sad story, but very much fits into why Christ said, “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!” (Mark 13:14-17 NIV) If you read, or have already read Josephus with this in mind, you will know what is meant here.

Josephus’ stories still come alive. As I once stood on the top of Masada and looked out across to the high hills that border around it, the stone rows used by the Romans for their camps are still clearly visible. Masada and those stones have very little meaning outside of Josephus, but because of his words, it caused me to imagine this fortress two thousand years ago, and brought this place alive again.

My copy of Josephus is worn, as shown by the picture above. Once you start reading, it won’t take long to wear the book out, or if you have it on an e-reader, it may establish the top position on your reader list for historical non-fiction.

The works of Josephus can easily be found online, or as an ebook, or in print.

The Public Reader in the Church

The role of the public reader in the earliest diasporan Church, how the language changed over time, and the new problems it created.

The practice of public reading (lector) is found occasionally in the New Testament writings,1 while the Catholic Encyclopedia states that it continued after this period: During the first centuries all the lessons in the liturgy, including the Epistle and Gospel, were read by the lector.”2

The importance of the Public Reader

Literacy throughout the ancient Mediterranean world was small; it is estimated that only 10-15% of the population was literate.3 This means that public reading was a necessity.

The Public Reader in Earlier Christian literature

Justin Martyr

The first reference outside of Biblical literature was in the second century AD where Justin Martyr makes a scant reference to the continued existence of the public reader in his writing, Apology:

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen;4

The text relates to a public reading being done and it very much parallels that of the Jewish rite where one reads and a leader instructs on the contents. Yet this was performed here without the use of a special liturgical language unfamiliar to the laypeople as was practiced in the earliest Corinthian Church.

The Apostolic Constitutions

The Apostolic Constitutions — a writing dated to the fourth or fifth century, but some parts could be much earlier, perhaps late second or third, attests that the Apostle Matthew instituted the office of public reader in the Church based upon the practice first established in the synagogue by Ezra:

Concerning readers, I Matthew, also known as Levi, previously a tax collector; the person who lays the hand on him that is elected a reader, and prays to God, let him say, “O God, the everlasting, the mighty in mercy and compassions, the one who has made manifest the structure of the world by the effects being actively carried out and by preserving the number of your elect. Who also now look down upon your servant, the person who is commended to read Your Holy Scriptures to your people, and give him the Holy Spirit, the prophetic Spirit. The one who instructed Ezra your servant for the purpose of being able to read Your laws to Your people, and now [the reader] beseeches on our behalf, make wise your servant and grant him the activity be accomplished without blame the work entrusted to to him, that he be shown worthy of a greater degree through Christ with whom the glory is Yours, and the reverence, and the Holy Spirit for the ages to come, AMEN.” 5

The Apostolic Constitutions outlined the duties and structures within the offices of the Church. The text names an apostle and designates a certain duty or function as its benefactor. For example Bartholomew instructs about deaconesses, while Thomas informs about sub-deacons. These, along with Matthew being the founder of the Christian custom of public reading, should not be taken literally. It is simply a well structured literary device. However, the meaning here is not lost. It clearly demonstrated that the rite of reading in the Church was inherited from its Jewish parent and was still being practiced in some type of modified form.

The Office of the Reader

Harry Gamble, author of Books and Readers in the Early Church believed that the Reader was assigned as an office of the minor orders of the clergy.6 This was considered the entry level position into a clerical life.

This is corroborated by Cyprian of Carthage. He demonstrated in the middle third century that it had become a position that had at least entry status into the priesthood. The following quotation is from when Cyprian proclaimed the ordination of a certain person name Celerinus, on which he lavished praise:

To the Clergy and People, About the Ordination of Celerinus as Reader. . .

There is nothing in which a confessor can do more good to the brethren than that, while the reading of the Gospel is heard from his lips, every one who hears should imitate the faith of the reader. He should have been associated with Aurelius in reading; with whom, moreover, he was associated in the alliance of divine honour; with whom, in all the insignia of virtue and praise, he had been united. Equal both, and each like to the other, in proportion as they were sublime in glory, in that proportion they were humble in modesty. As they were lifted up by divine condescension, so they were lowly in their own peacefulness and tranquillity, and equally affording examples to every one of virtues and character, and fitted both for conflict and for peace; praiseworthy in the former for strength, in the latter for modesty.7

It can be understood from here that the public reader had an prominent role that affected the mood and spiritual faith of the whole community and the person selected was under critical scrutiny.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the office of the public reader, known in Catholic circles as the Lector, had diminished after the first few centuries and transformed into a rite performed by a deacon.8 Nevertheless, the public reader in the church liturgy still existed.

It is at this point the reader is asked to make a logical jump here through time — partially due to lack of easy-to-find source materials and the effort required to find the more difficult ones. Generalities will have to suffice until more material is uncovered and examined. Hebrew quickly vanished within the first generation of the Corinthian Church as the non-Jewish Greek adherents began to greatly outnumber the Jewish ones. A second century anonymous text covering II Corinthians claims that the Greek adherents had formally overtaken the Jewish ones by this time.9 A number of other factors could have been involved in the change. The first one being the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. It sent shock waves to the Jewish communities throughout the empire and “Jews in the Hellenistic Middle East found themselves in a truly precarious position.”10 They may have had to shed, or de-emphasize Jewish practices, including the public use of the holy tongue, in order to avoid punitive sanctions. The late first century was also the time Rabban Gamaliel at Yavneh “took a fateful step, one that was to have far-reaching historical consequences. They declared in unequivocal terms that the Jewish Christians could no longer be considered part of the Jewish Community nor of the Jewish people.”11 This alienation could have accelerated the loss of Jewish identity in the fledgling messianic communities as well.

This may have fast-tracked the public reading in Greek, and perhaps Latin in some instances. Later on, Latin overcame Greek in the Western portion of the Church while Greek remained in the Eastern. Latin became the sole authority in the religious life which extended to civic and social affairs as well. It is not known exactly when Latin became the dominant language of religion in the West but it clearly occurred.

Thomas Aquinas on the Public Reader

This general foray above takes this study back to certitude in the thirteenth century where Thomas Aquinas described the public reader and the use of Latin in the Church. He linked the gift of tongues with the public reader and noted that the transition was an understood evolution in the Church:

“In the mouth of two or three, etc..” (Deuteronomy 17:6) but it must be noted that this habit for the most part is being served in the Church for we have the [public] readings and the epistles and also the gospels in the place of tongues, and for that reason it follows in Mass two are being delivered, because only two are being said whose antecedent is to the gift of tongues, specifically the epistle and the gospel. Accordingly in Matins many are done, in fact you say three readings in one. For in the former times they used to read a nocturn the next three night watches separately. Now however they are being spoken at the same time but on the other hand the procedure is not only to be preserved in regard to the number of those who are speaking but as well in regards to the way [it is done]. And this is what he says, “and through sharing,” that is in order that those who are speaking are to follow in turns with one another, a fact that one is to speak after another, or “through sharing,” that is interrupted, specifically that one is to speak on part of a vision or of instruction and is to explain it, and afterwards another and explains the very thing being shared and so follows one after another. Preachers have become accustomed to preserve that way when they are to preach to men of an unknown tongue by means of an interpretation. And for that reason it says, “Let one interpret.” as he result he says, “if there will not be available, etc.,” he shows when it is not to be practiced with tongues, saying that the one who is about to speak is through sharing and the one ought to interpret but, “if there will not be available,” anyone [who is an], “interpreter,” that is who understands, [then] those who have the gift of tongues, “are to keep silent in the Church,” that is he is not to speak because he himself understands and this silence is to be manifested in prayer or in meditation.

In other portions of his works he strongly positioned Latin as the language of religious polity:

But why do they [the priests] not give the blessing in the common [tongue], that they may be understood by the people and adhere themselves more to them? It has been said that this had been done in the early church, but afterwards, the faithful ones were taught and knew what they heard in the common office, the benedictions take place in Latin.12

And again elsewhere:

A contrary argument. It is the same to speak in tongues and to speak clearly enunciating [the Latin words] to such a degree for the uneducated. Since then everyone is to speak clearly enunciating in the Church, that all is being said in Latin. It appears that it is madness in the same way. One ought to say to this: Madness existed in the early Church on that account because they were unacquainted in the custom of the Church, consequently they were ignorant of what they should do here unless it was to be explained to them. But certainly in the present all have been educated. Although from this point everything is being spoken in Latin, they still know what is taking place in the Church.13

Thomas Aquinas’ opinion and the role of the Church reader represents an era in Church polity that would come to to forefront three centuries later. The Reformation was in part a protest against Latin being the sole language of religious instruction throughout a diverse ethnic and linguistic community — which gave rise to the revolutionary and later misunderstood words unknown tongues. More on this can be found at The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible.■

Thoughts on the Bible

How the Bible should be revered but not worshiped.

As a young child and at the point of first questioning matters of life, death, God, and everything in-between, I discovered the Bible.

It was first thought that this book possessed a magical quality, so I slept with the Book underneath my head, and expected spiritual wonders to happen. Waking up the next morning, my head hurt, and my ear was sore from rubbing against it. This approach was immediately abandoned.

As a young adult, the Bible expanded my mind about the world around me. It gave a framework of how to live. The joy of connecting with a greater power, the freedom of conscience, and knowing what true love is, are by-products that I am always thankful for.

On the negative side, it became a way to avoid the complexities of life and personal situations. Everything was black and white with little or no grey area. Discussion was not necessary on the majority of life challenges because the Bible had already endorsed or rejected a multitude of situations. I didn’t have to think. It was already pre-packaged and done. It was an easy way-out, and it kept me in adolescence for a few more years than normal.

This is not a problem of God or the Bible. It is part of the weakness of the human character. This same type of behaviour is also exhibited in communism and democratic capitalism where untold lives have been taken in the name of an ideology. It is not a problem of the system, but a flaw in either a personal or corporate character that has misapplied the real meaning.

The Bible can refer to a source of great liberation, but can equally enslave and do serious damage if employed incorrectly.

Positive social effects of learning to Read the Bible

There are rewards for learning to read the Bible that extend beyond the religious realm. Literacy is one of them. It is a foundational pillar that Evangelicals stress with new believers. This is a concept that everyone has to learn to read the Bible for themselves. This emphasis not only makes some new believers who struggle with social or economic disadvantages functionally literate, but it often increases the literary skill-set from intermediate to advanced. This attainment leads to improved critical thinking skills and gives confidence for higher education and better job prospects. It opens a whole new world.

The close connection between literacy and the Bible has existed for centuries. Missionaries have used the Bible to not only spread the Gospel, but also to put unwritten languages into written form and subsequently develop literacy within many populations initially unreached by western civilization. When these people groups finally intersect with the western world, their literacy positively aids the many health, cultural, legal, social and political problems that typically arise. Wycliffe Bible Translators is an organization well known for this type of work. Bruce Olsen, a missionary to the Motilone tribe in Columbia, is a well known personal figure for this approach.

There is a problem side to Bible reading. . . the over-adulation of the Bible. This can be expressed in a number of ways.

Over adulation of the Bible

Jesus spoke out against over-adulation of the Book, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (NKJV) He is addressing the fact that the Bible is not an end in itself. It is meant to be a reference point describing something far greater. So sleeping with the Bible, obeying the exact words, or even worshipping it misses the point.

Over adulation has caused much bloodshed. For example, Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel, outlined how the Spanish used the Bible as a source of provocation and subjugation against the Incas. In 1532, when the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzaro first encountered the Incas and its leader, Atahuallpa, he summoned a Friar to bring a Bible before Atahuallpa. Atahuallpa, not knowing what it was, threw it on the ground. This gave evidence to the Spanish that the Incas and their leader had repudiated God’s word — they were heathens. Therefore, it was legally allowable to slaughter and subject them to the King of Spain and the Church.

Many radio, TV and Sunday preachers often say, “the Bible says…”, as if the words of this Book are the final authority. A statement that indicates that many are in the position of over-adulation of the Book.

This leads for an important question to ponder. Is God jealous if we worship the Book and not Him?

The purpose of the Bible

The Book is meant to reveal the character and nature of God. It is not purposed to cover all aspects of everyday living in some written legal form. Our daily living is to be derived from what we understand who God is, who we are, and then simply do what is right.

God is not too concerned about the sacredness or inerrancy of His Word. On the contrary, He may allow for imperfections to exist in order to prevent our civilization from idolizing the Book over Him. If the Book is perfect then this would make God almost unnecessary in our everyday lives. Why do we need to be in contact with Him if the Book suffices with all we need?

Also, if the Book was perfect and we adulate it as a legal text then it does not require personal or emotional connection or genuine concern for others. This approach can allow for inhumane practices or disrespect against those in need. In many cases those in positions of authority can hide behind the veil of legal texts and remain apathetic.

Legal versus Moral obligation

The Christian faith urges us to love everyone as much as ourselves. We are obligated to pursue this higher moral law. Only when we fail this difficult standard, are we to apply a legal requirement. We must always try to live by the spirit of the law first.

If one is restricted to merely fulfilling a legal obligation, it means we don’t have to think or care about others beyond this. We are simply fulfilling our civic duty, nothing more. This is dangerous.

For example the problem of abortion. It is not directly written in the Bible that it is wrong, but it is inferred. On a legal basis, the Christian is only obligated to say it is wrong and do nothing more.

The moral obligation on this subject is completely different. Everyone is morally obligated to love, which may mean providing housing, clothing, counseling, adoption services, and other forms of assistance to remedy where a crisis pregnancy exists. However, this requires more effort, action and resources. Observing the legal responsibility is much easier than the moral route.

Another example is the well known commandment, “thou shalt not kill,”. If one simply accepts, “thou shalt not kill,” as a legal contract, it doesn’t require anyone to think about God, or others. It simply means not to physically kill. But if one continues to read the Bible to build a clearer picture of what God likes and dislikes, it will become clear that deprivation, torture, denying access to food or health products, child-slavery, rape and so many other circumstances that kill a person emotionally are a form of killing. If the text is taken literally, the moral sense is lost.

Of course the primary objective of altruism rarely or seldom appears, but one must always pursue this goal.

Church leadership is required to fill in the blanks

Some issues cannot be tackled by personal reading of the Bible. Technology has brought about new concerns that the Sages of 2000 years ago would never believed possible. Problems of end-of-care, euthanasia, chemical dependencies, changes in the marital relationship, new definitions of sexuality, gender issues, and much more cannot be easily figured out by the individual person alone.

It is a God-given mandate for church leadership to give direction in these matters.


These are wandering thoughts on the subject and are by no means final. It would be great to hear your views and practices regarding the Bible. Your comments on the subject would greatly enhance this conversation. One can leave a comment on the main website here, or go to Facebook, or dialogue at Twitter.

The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible: Part 2

How the tradition of unknown tongues became entrenched in the English Bibles.

A comparison of six early English Bibles, the Latin and French Bibles on the key-Bible verses that relate to tongues-speaking.

This is a technical comparison. Results and commentary can be found at The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible.

Unknown Tongues, or similar, only occurs in specific passages of the Bible and possibly more. These are the potential ones listed below:

Acts 2:4, 10:46, 19:6, I Corinthians 12:11, 12:28, 12:30, 13:1, 13:8, 14:2, 14:4, 14:5, 14:6, 14:9, 14:10, 14:11, 14:14, 14:18, 14:21, 14:23, 14:26-28.

The best way to start comparing is to use the English Hexapla. It is a Bible published with all six versions printed in parallel columns. The Hexapla is considered a historic work utilized by the Church, theologians and clerks for centuries.

Two other sources are used for comparison. First, a Latin version is included underneath the texts as a point of reference. The Latin is supplied from the Vulgate as found at http://www.latinvulgate.com/. The Latin was not included in the Hexapla. I did not include the Greek text because very few leaders in this period were skilled in this language and so it has little influence. Also, by this period, and documented by the Council of Trent, the Latin Bible was the ultimate authority on Church doctrine.

Secondly, the French Bible de Genève is included. The English child, the Geneva Bible owes its style and nature from the Protestant French scholars. As one looks at the comparison, it becomes evident that the Geneva Bible is the text that accelerates the English Bible tradition of adding unknown to the noun tongues in key Bible passages. This French Bible of 1551 also contains the additional adjective.

Jean Calvin, the highly influential sixteenth-century French theologian and Reformer, is also listed. His commentary and Bible translations carry great influence on early Protestant thought. His contribution to the I Corinthians tongues sequence is especially important.

These passages were consulted to especially look for the word unknown or similar. The results do indicate when the tradition started, and how it developed. It doesn’t answer the question of why. These were the results.1

The English Hexapla2 is a parallel Bible of Six English Translations. They are the following:

  • Wiclif, 1380 (Short as W)
  • Tyndale, 1534 (Short as T)
  • Cranmer, 1539 (Short as C)
  • Geneva, 1557 (Short as G)
  • Rheims, 1582 (Short as R)
  • Authorized, 1611 (Short as A)

These works outside of the Hexapla have been added:

  • Protestant French Bible, 1551 (Short as P)3
  • Latin Bible, ND (Short as L)
  • Jean Calvin, 1565 (Short as J)4

One will quickly notice a pattern when observing these Bible verses. The Tyndale begins adding the adjective first in 1534 but not significantly. The Geneva Bible expands on this pattern in 1557 and the King James entrenched this phrase in 1611.

Out of the 21 usages that are quoted here:

  • The noun tongue is the predominant word to translate lingua in all the translations except for Wycliffe. Wycliffe is the oldest. Perhaps the word language was proper at the in the 1300’s, but in later translations, tongue was a better word for the time.
  • Tyndale, Cranmer and Authorized always use tongues to consistently translate the Latin word lingua.
  • Wycliffe and Geneva use language and tongue as synonyms. The Rheims also does this on one occasion.
  • Wycliffe translates 12 occurrences of lingua as language. This is over 57% usage. This occurs both in Corinthians and Acts.
  • The Geneva Bible translates 7 of them as language, including translating Barbarian twice as language. The word language as a translation of lingua is used only in Corinthians.
  • The first editorial insertion of an adjective before tongues occurs in I Corinthians 13:8 with the Tyndale and Cranmer versions. However, both these versions cease to do any interpolations after this.
  • The Geneva Bible adds the editorial insert of an adjective on 9 occasions. 6 times it uses strange and 3 times diuerse as the adjectives. All of them in I Corinthians.
  • The Authorized version only interpolates 6 times. On four occasions it mirrors exactly where the Geneva interpolates. I Corinthians 14:14, and 14:27 is the only places where the Authorized insert the interpolation where it does not occur in the Geneva. It always uses the word unknowen which does not occur in the 1560 Geneva. The 1599 Geneva edition changed the adjective to unknown on all occasions – though I am basing this on a website which may be unreliable.

The introduction of unknown tongue(s) to the English religious vocabulary can now be established. Although there are antecedents in the Tyndale and Cranmer versions, it is clear from this study that the word unknown tongue was popularized first in the Geneva and became entrenched in the Authorized King James version. Therefore, one can conclude that the idea of an unknown tongue was first introduced to the English Bible reader beginning in 1534.

If the reader is interested in the details of this study, and how the results were tabulated, they are given below:

Mark 16:17

Hexapla. Volume 1

  • W “…thei schuln speke with newe tungis”
  • T “…and shall speake with newe tonges”
  • C “…they shall speake with newe tonges”
  • G “…and shal speake with newe tongues”
  • R “ …They shal speake vvith nevv tonges”
  • A “…they shall speake with new tongues”
  • L “…linguis loquentur novis”
  • P “…ils parleront langages nouueaux”
  • J – Not found

Acts 2:4

Hexapla. Volume 2

  • W “…and thei biunnen to speke dyuers langagis as the hoi goost zaf to hem to speke”
  • T “…and beganne to speake with other tonges, even as the sprete gave them vtteraunce”
  • C “…and beganne to speake wyth other tonges, euen as the same sprete aue them vtteraunce”
  • G “…and began to speake with other tonges, even as the same Sprite gaue them vtterance”
  • R “…and they began to speake vvith diuerse tonges, according as the Holy Ghost, gaue them to speake”
  • A “…and began to speake with other tongues, as the Spirit gaue them vtterance”
  • L “…et coeperunt loqui aliis linguis prout Spiritus Sanctus dabat eloqui illis”
  • P “…& commencerent à parler langages estranges; ainsi que l’Esprit leur donnoit à parler”
  • J “…et commencerent à parler estranges langues, ainsi que l’Esprit leur donnoit à parler”

Other tongues is the correct translation. The Latin aliis as well as the Greek ἑτέραις, which usually translates into English as other, does exist here in Acts 2:4. All the historic English Bibles consistently translate this passage with the words diverse and other. It is not translated by any editions with unknown.

Acts 10:46

  • W “for thei herden hem spekynge in langagis,”
  • T “For they hearde them speake with tonges”
  • C “For they hearde them speake with tonges”
  • G “For they heard them speake with tongues”
  • R “For they heard them speaking with tongues”
  • A “For they heard them speake with tongues”
  • L “audiebant enim illos loquentes linguis”
  • P “car ils oioyent parler langages”
  • J “Car ils les oyoyent parler langages”

Acts 19:6

  • W “…and thei spaken with langagis”
  • T “…and they spake with tonges…”
  • C “…and they spake with tonges…”
  • G “…and they spake with tounges…”
  • R “…and they spake vvith tongues…”
  • A “…and they spake with tongues…”
  • L “et loquebantur linguis”
  • P “& parloyent langages”
  • J “et parloyent langages”

I Corinthians 12:28

  • W “…kyndis of langagis, interpretaciouns of wordis,”
  • T “…diversite of tonges”
  • C “…diuersite of tonges”
  • G “…diuersite of tonges”
  • R “…kindes of tonges”
  • A “…diuersities of tongues”
  • L “…genera linguarum”
  • P “…diuersitez de langues”
  • J “…diuersitez de langues”

I Corinthians 12:30

  • W “…alle speken with langagis, whether alle expownen…”
  • T “Do all speake with tonges? Do all interprete ?”
  • C “Do all speke with tonges? Do all interprete ?”
  • G “Do all, speake with tonges? Do all, interprete ?”
  • R “do al speake vvith tonges? do al interpret ?”
  • A “doe all speake with tonges? doe all interpret ?”
  • L “numquid omnes linguis loquuntur”
  • P “Tous parlét ils diuerses langues?”
  • J “tous parlent-ils diuerses Langues?

I Corinthians 13:1

  • W “IF I speke with tungis of men and aungels”
  • T “THOUGH I spake with the tonges of men and angels”
  • C “THOUGH I spake with the tonges of men and angels”
  • G “THOUGH I spake with the tonges of men and Angels”
  • R “IF I speake vvith the tonges of men and Angels”
  • A “THOUGH I speake with the tongues of men and of Angels”
  • L “si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum”
  • P “Si ie parle langages des hommes & des Anges”
  • J “Si ie parle langages des hommes & des Anges”

I Corinthians 13:8

  • W “ether langagis schulen ceese”
  • T “other tonges shall cease”
  • C “other tonges cease”
  • G “tongues shal cease”
  • R “or tonges shal cease”
  • A “whether there bee tongues, they shall cease”
  • L “sive linguae cessabunt”
  • P “que les langues cessent”
  • J “que les langues cessent”

This is the first time where any of the translations add an adjective where it does not exist in the Latin Vulgate used today. Wycliffe does not add the adjective in his early work. Why? It is not known specifically why the Tyndale Bible added it at this point. The Cranmer version follows 4 years later with the same interpolation.

I Corinthians 14:2

  • W “and he that spekith in tongis…”
  • T “For he that speaketh with tonges…”
  • C “For he that speaketh wyth the tonge…”
  • G “For he that speaketh a strange tonge…”
  • R “For he that speaketh vvith tongue…”
  • A “For he that speaketh in an unknowen tongue…”
  • L “qui enim loquitur lingua…”
  • P “Car qui parle langages estranges…”
  • J “Car celuy qui parle langage incognu…”5

The 1557 version of the Geneva Bible has strange tonge and the 1611 Authorized has unknowen tongue. Strange and unknown are exclusive to the Geneva, and King James. It was beginning to stray further from the Latin and closer to better reading English.

I Corinthians 14:4

  • W “spekith in tunge”
  • T “speaketh with tonges”
  • C “speaketh wyth the tonge”
  • G “speaketh a strange langage”
  • R “speaketh vvith tongues”
  • A “speaketh in an unknowen tongue”
  • L “qui loquitur lingua”
  • P “Qui parle langage estrange…”
  • J “Celuy qui parle langage incognu…”

Note here that the Geneva is interchanging the noun tongue with langage — combining this observation with Wyclif, who does the same thing, it can be established that the two words are synonyms. There is not distinction in meaning in these passages. Once again also notice the pairing in both the Geneva and the Authorized. The Authorized appears to be paralleling the Geneva.

I Corinthians 14:5

  • W “alle ze speke in tungis… spekith in langages”
  • T “spake with tonges… speaketh with tonges”
  • C “spake with tonges… speaketh with tonges”
  • G “ye all spake strange langages… speaketh diuers tonges”
  • R “speake vvith tongues… speaketh vvith tongues”
  • A “spake with tongues… speaketh with tongues”
  • L “omnes vos loqui linguis… loquitur linguis”
  • P “vous parliez tous langages estranges… diuerse langages”
  • J “vous tous parliez diuers langages… diurse langages”

This time the Geneva does the interpolation, but the Authorized refrains. Note how the Geneva uses both strange and diuers as synonymns.

I Corinthians 14:6

  • W “If I come to you and speke in langagis…”
  • T “if I come to you speaking with tonges…”
  • C “yf I come vnto you speakvnge wyth tonges”
  • G “yf I come vnto you speaking diuerse tonges”
  • R “if I come to you speaking vvith tongues”
  • A “if I come vnto you speaking with tongues”
  • L “si venero ad vos linguis loquens”
  • P “Si ie vien à vous parlant diuers langages”
  • J “si ie vien à vous parlant langages incognus

I Corinthians 14:9

  • W “so but ze zeue an opun word bi tung”
  • T “when ye speake with tonges”
  • C “when ye speake wyth tonges”
  • G “when ye speake strange langage”
  • R “by a tongue vnlesse you vtter manifest speach”
  • A “ye vtter by the tongue words easie to be vnderstood”
  • L “ita et vos per linguam nisi manifestum sermonem dederitis”
  • P “si vous ne donnez de vostre langue parolle signifiante”
  • J “si vous ne prononcez de vostre langue parole significante”

I Corinthians 14:10

  • W “there ben many kyndis of langagis in this world”
  • T “Many kynds of voyces are in the worlde”
  • C “Many kyndes of voyces are in the world”
  • G “There are so many kyndes of voyces”
  • R “There (for example) so many kindes of tongues in this world”
  • A “There are, it may bee, so many kindes of voyces in the world”
  • L “tam multa ut puta genera linguarum sunt in mundo”
  • P “Il y a (pour vous bailler per exemple) tat de maniere de voix au monde”
  • J “Il y a (selon qu’il audient) tant de manieres de fons au monde”

Although the translations have been fairly consistent throughout, the translation of linguarum is interesting. It tends to give some interpretation differences. Wyclif and Rheim utilize it more from the Latin, while the rest tend to learn towards the Greek, φωνή, which can be used semantically to mean language as well, but typically for voice or sound.

I Corinthians 14:11

  • W “but if I knowe not the vertu of a vois I schal be to him to whom I schal speke, a barbarik, and he that spekith to me : shal be a barbarik,”
  • T “If I know not what the voyce meaneth, I shalbe vnto him that speaketh, an alient : and he that speaketh sahlbe an alient vnto me.”
  • C “If I knowe not what the voyce meaneth, I shalve vnothim that speaketh, an alient : and he that speaketh, shalbe an alient vnto me”
  • G “Except I knowe therfore what the voyce meaneth, I shalbe vnto hym that speaketh, as of another langage, and he that speaketh shalbe as of another langage vnto me.
  • R “If then I knovv not the vertue of the voice, I shal be to him to vvhom I speake, barbarous : and he that speaketh, barbarous to me.”
  • A “Therefore if I knowe not the meaning of voyce, I shall bee vnot him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a Barbarian to mee.”
  • L “si ergo nesciero virtutem vocis ero ei cui loquor barbarus et qui loquitur mihi barbarus.”
  • P “Si donc ie ne sçay la vertu de la voix, ie seray barbare a celuy qui parle, me sera barbare.”
  • J “Si donc ie ne scay la vertu de la voix, ie seray barbare a celuy qui parle, & celuy qui parle me sera barbare”

The Geneva sees the word Barbarian as a synonymn to langage, which means that the translator saw nothing mystical in the Corinthian saga at all. No secret or hidden language. It was simply a human language.

I Corinthians 14:13-14

  • W “therfor he that spekith in langage : preie that he expowne, for if I preie in tonge:”
  • T “Wherefore le thim that speaketh with tonges, praye that he maye interpret also. If I praye with tonges”
  • C “Wherefore, let him that speaketh with tonge, praye, that he maye interpret also. For If I praye with tonge”
  • G “Wherefore, let him that speaketh the tonges, praye, that he may interpret also. For if I pray in a strange tongue,”
  • R “And therefore he that speaketh vvith the tongue, let him pray that he may interpret. For if I pray vvith the tongue”
  • A “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknowen tongue, pray that he may interprete. For if I pray in an unknowen tongue”
  • L “et ideo qui loquitur lingua oret ut interpretetur nam si orem lingua.”
  • P “celuy qui parle langage estrange, qu’il prie à fin qu’il interprete. Car si ie prie en langage estrange”
  • J “Parquoy, il faut que celuy qui parle langage incognu, prie de pouuoir interpreter. Car si ie prie en langage incognu

I Corinthians 14:18-19

  • W “for I speke in the langage of alle zou… in tonge,”
  • T “I speake with tonges moare then ye all… with the tonge.”
  • C “I speake with tonges more then ye all… wyth the tonge,”
  • G “I speake langages more than ye all… in strange langage.”
  • R “I speake vvith the tongue of you al… vvordes in a tongue.”
  • A “I speake with tongues more then you all… unknowen tongue.”
  • L “quod omnium vestrum lingua loquor… in lingua.”
  • P “que ie parle de langage plus que vous tous… lágage estrange.”
  • J “que ie parle plus de lágages que vous tous… langage incognu.

I Corinthians 14:21-22

  • W “that in other tungis and other lippis…therefor langagis…”
  • T “with other tonges, and with other lyppes…Wherefore, tonges…”
  • C “with sondrye tonges and with sondrye lippes… Wherfore tonges…”
  • G “By sundry tonges, and sundry lyppes…Wherfore, tonges…”
  • R “That in other tongues and other lippes… Therefore languages…”
  • A “With men of other tongues, and other lippes… Wherfore tongues…”
  • L “in aliis linguis et labiis aliis… itaque linguae.”
  • P “en autres lágages, & en diuerses parolles… Parquoy, les diuers lágages”
  • J “par autres langages, & par leures estranges… Parquoy les langues estranges

I Corinthians 14:23

  • W “and alle men speken in tungis”
  • T “and all speake with tonges”
  • C “and all speake with tonges”
  • G “and all speak in strange tonges”
  • R “and al speake with tongues”
  • A “and all speake with tongues”
  • L “et omnes linguis loquantur”
  • P “& tous parlent langages…”
  • J “& tous parlent langages estranges

I Corinthians 14:26-27

  • W “he hath tunge… whether a man spekith in tunge..”
  • T “his tonge… If eny man speake with tonges…”
  • C “hath a tonge… If eny man speake wyth tonge…”
  • G “or tonge… If any man speake the tonges…”
  • R “hath a tonge… Vvether a man speake with tongue…”
  • A “hath a tongue… If any man speake in an unknowen tongue…”
  • L “habet linguam… sive lingua quis loquitur.”
  • P “ou langue… Soit que quelcun parle langage…”
  • J “ou langage… Soit que quelqu’un parle langage incognu