Tag Archives: Cyril of Alexandria

Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 2

This is part 2 of the series on cessationism, miracles, and tongues. There are two thoughts addressed in this article. Firstly, why miracles were de-emphasized during the Reformation. Secondly, an analysis on the protestant revision of miracles in the early church.

For information on this overall series and a general summary go to Cessationism, Miracles and Tongues: Part 1

The Excess of Miracles in the Medieval World

Cessationism or the critical examination of miracles cannot be fully understood without first understanding the medieval environment they were birthed from. The following gives a brief portrait of the mystical medieval world and why there was an urgent need for correcting the abuse of miracles.

Continue reading Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 2

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.

Introduction

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is a religious term used in various protestant circles that believe miracles in the church died out long ago and have been replaced by the authority of Scripture.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

Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Infographic

An infographic on the doctrine of cessationism. How it fits into the larger debate on miracles, and its consequent effect on the doctrine of tongues.Cessationism, Miracles, Tongues, Chrysostom, Origen, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, Didymus of Alexandria, Thomas Aquinas, Church of England, Puritans, Richard Hooker, Rationalists, Deists, Anti-Catholicism, Conyers Middleton, David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, Presbyterians, Baptists, Princeton Theological Seminary, John MacArthur

 

Epiphanius on the Problem Tongues of Corinth

Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis

The Epiphanius text on the tongues problem in the first century Corinthian Church.

This fourth century or later writing is one of the most important texts in trying to rebuild a historical model for explaining the tongues problem at Corinth.

The text is customarily credited to Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in the fourth century. This text may have been heavily edited, redacted and even added over the centuries since its original release. We are not sure whether it is a fourth-, fifth- or sixth-century opinion. Even with this problem of textual criticism and dating, the work still reflects an ancient one.

However, the nature of Epiphanius assertion that there was a direct Jewish correlation to the problem tongues of Corinth suggests that this was part of the original text. Later editors or writers would not have added such a connection.

The Epiphanius text on the Corinthian conflict.

Here is the central part of the text found in Epiphanius’ Panarion Book I, Section III, Heresy 42 starting at Scholion XIII and XXI:

. . . Therefore languages are from a grace of the Spirit. Of what kind does the Apostle speak? He knew how not only the different Hebrew sounds, and manifold expressions in every single word with skills adorned with eloquence, but also the proud language of the Greeks; some who boast the ability to speak Attic, Aeolic, and being able to utter the language of the Dorics, of whom had caused the disturbances, and factions within the Corinthians, to which the Epistle was dispatched. . . . And he confessed the gift which is having the ability to proclaim [the oracles] with the Hebrew words and also teaching the Law to be a spiritual endowment. And he agreed that it is a spiritual grace to proclaim and to teach the Law in the Hebrew words.

The complete English text can be found here: The Epiphanius Text on the Tongues of Corinth in English, or, the translation completed by Frank Williams .

What did Epiphanius mean by this?

The Epiphanius text states two things about the Corinthian conflict: it was a clash between different Greek ethnic groups and the Hebrew language had some type of role in the Corinthian assembly. There was no reference to an out-of-this-world mystical experience, or something supernatural.

Hebrew, Greek, teaching the Law — these indicators combined suggest it to be a liturgical or didactic problem within the Corinthian gathering. This necessitates to find more information on early Church liturgy for answers.

The answer to the Corinthian tongues conflict may be found in understanding the contemporary Jewish structure during that time and how much the early Christian Church in Corinth adopted this custom. There are two ways to understand the background to this Epiphanius passage from the historical records:

  • It was the reading of the Law in Hebrew and an interpreter(s) translating it into the local vernacular that caused the problem. Jewish tradition had a specific liturgy concerning Jews worshiping together outside of Israel; the Law was to be read in Hebrew and an interpreter was to stand beside the reader and translate it into the local tongue. It could be inferred, though not conclusively from this, that the Corinthian Church had adopted this form of Jewish liturgy but ran into problems concerning which Greek language the interpreter was to use.

    This may be stretching the text more than what the writer intended and such a relationship cannot be concretely established.

  • Or, it could be that Hebrew was the language of instruction and religious devotion within the earliest Corinthian assembly. This tradition was continued from the Jewish synagogue. 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.

    This may be a more acceptable interpretation.

The Epiphanius’ text is a base element for a series of articles intending to prove either one of these hypotheses. The goal of this series is trace the role of the reader, speaker, and interpreter starting from the rites found in the Jewish diaspora, specifically Corinth, to its transition into Church office, if there is such a relationship, and mapping this evolving rite until the thirteenth century.

The text itself is one of the clearest and logical found so far written by a Church Father. However, this work, along with Jewish writings on public reading, are four centuries removed from the actual Corinthian tongues saga. It could be a later interpretation. This problem needs to be addressed.

Why has this text never been popular in describing the Corinthian tongues debate?

It is a mystery why this passage has never come up in any critical discussions on the problems tongues of Corinth. Frank Williams’ work, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book 1 (Nag Hammadi Studies, 35)1 contains an already available English translation, though he, nor anyone else makes no correlation to I Corinthians in the translation of the text found at the header scholion 13 and 21.

The only critical look into the position of Epiphanius on the gift of tongues is the The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. The writing would lead the person to believe that Epiphanius wrote it to be an ecstatic utterance relative to the Montanist movement.2 The Montanist correlation that was made from the Panarion XLVIII:4 is a weak one3 and the writer, PKE Feine, ignored this Corinthian tongues passage altogether.

Epiphanius was attacking a person named Marcion for allegedly altering the text in I Corinthians 14:19 to suit his own needs. It is known that Marcion was the son of a Bishop, and perhaps was a Bishop himself, but at some point there was a clear break between himself and the institutional Church.

A translation problem with the key text.

The Epiphanius author(s) defined Marcion a heretic because Marcion had revised the I Corinthians 14:19 text. There is some confusion as to how Marcion revised it. There are two alternative Greek texts that give slightly different nuances:

The source-text Greek edition translated into English reads:

“Marcion mistakenly added: “according to the Law,” with, “But I wish to speak five words in the Church with my mind”.4

This would render I Corinthians 14:19 to read, “But I wish to speak five words in the Church with my mind according to the Law.”

This version fits nicely in with Epiphanius’ argument that Marcion is adding to the Bible and creating a heretical version. The Epiphanius text shortly afterwards uses this as a springboard to call Marcion many harsh names.

Whereas an alternative Greek text has:

“Marcion mistakes:“But I wish to speak five words in the Church with my mind”, on the other hand differently “according to the Law.”5

This would render I Corinthians 14:19 to alternatively be read as, “But I wish to speak five words in the Church according to the Law.”

The fourth century and later Ambrosiaster text would agree more with the second argument:

“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.”

The Ambrosiaster text demonstrates that there was some type of tradition connecting I Corinthians 14:19 with the Jewish Law. How widespread this tradition was throughout Christendom in the early centuries is not known.

There is a third potential problem and that has to do with the similarity in the Greek between the word mind — νόος and Law — νόμος. They are very close in spelling with only a one letter difference. It could potentially be easy for a manuscript writer to confuse these and cause a transmission error. This may be a remote problem because the Greek grammar in this situation has them distinguished by case. Mind is in the dative case – νοΐ and Law is in the accusative — νὸμον. It would be hard to get them mixed up. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that a play on words was happening here.

The writer(s) went on a tirade against Marcion and slandered him with homophobic references against having made such a change. However, the author(s) failed to realize that this change is not unique to Marcion and was present in some legitimate Christian communities as noted in the Ambrosiaster text above.

The text indicates that there was no certain correlation between the tongues of Pentecost and that of Corinth. They were two separate entities.■

For further reading see:

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians

Portions of a commentary on I Corinthians attributed to Cyril of Alexandria translated into English.

The translations selected are those relating to the doctrine of tongues.

Tradition asserts the text by Cyril, further study indicates some pieces are from the works of Didymus of Alexandria. Although the majority belongs to Cyril, it cannot be exactly determined which pieces are Didymus’ accounts. For more information see Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues Intro.

I Corinthians 12:91

Thus we say these things to be the works of powers through the oneness of the Spirit. But if another prophesies something, it is still not apart from the Spirit. And so a different person has the discernments of spirits, it is nevertheless from the same Spirit. Concerning the works of the spirits, it has been spoken about before. He verily confidently asserts that it is given to those so that they were skillful with various languages, and also translations as well. For we say this gift itself was supplied in the time and also need in a well ordered manner. But for those ones who were speaking in languages, and furthermore did not know them beforehand, and these ones translating understood, nevertheless [they were] not in the custom of such sounds existing in the past. The divine Paul confidently asserts that it was certainly given to them then to speak in languages, not as an allotted portion2 of the gifts but in the form of a sign for believers. Indeed he was explaining the prophetic word in such a way he supported, that “in strange tongues and foreign lips I will speak to this people and they will not believe such a thing.” The Spirit works the dispensation of gifts in each one in a variety of ways. So that for instance, they say, this body is certainly joined together by the parts pachu3 and from land, so also is Christ, truly His body, that is to say the Church, mindfully apprehended to unity through the many multitude of the faithful, possessing the most perfect composition.

Now for this reason also the divine David says that she [the Church] is to be clothed in colored guilded clothing, [Psalm 45:10] it is the same of the gifts, I think, also valued as well in the manner of signs. ■

I Corinthians 14:24

“For if one speaks in a language, he does not speak to men, but to God.”

It detracts them from what ought to be practiced, as the ability to speak in languages is certainly greater to its own glory than the act of interpreting the things of prophets. Regarding these things having been displayed among us, faith and also hope and definitely of love for both God and the brethren, which also all of the law has the fulfillment [in it], let him add the remaining things.5 For at that time, and at the very time we will be the ones filled of these gifts by God, and we will be enriched in the gifts by the Spirit. I say in regards to have the ability to prophesy, that is a person who can interpret the things of the prophets. For the once only incarnation of the Only Begotten who suffered and also rose from the dead, and of whose ministry has been brought to perfection among us, of such was yet the precise time of prophecy, surely the [function of] prophecy will be about such things? Therefore the one who prophesies about such things would be nothing different, except that one only has the ability to explain about a prophecy, and as in those who are revealing6 for those who are listening, then from whom are the ones who confirm the word to the true thing.7 We will be upright and also steadfast advisors of the most noble things.8

Therefore, it says, “the one who speaks in a language, [is] rather not to men, but he speaks to God”.9 How then, what kind of meaning [is the language] that states “for no one hears?”

For if perhaps the ability is given to a certain one of the disciples to be able to speak in the language of the Medes, and a different one [of the disciples to speak in] Elamite,10 then who will be the ones hearing, [is it] the things about their message perhaps being spoken about to the synagogues of the Jews11 or rather to the [Church] assemblies of the Greeks? Rather, what kind of profit will be of these words? For it will amount to nothing, except only of God who has known everything12 For “in the Spirit,” it says, “he speaks mysteries.” Therefore it is observed, the one who speaks in whatever way to God, speaks in the Spirit.13 Therefore God naturally is the Spirit. Therefore the one who speaks in a language, “rather to God,” it says, “and he is not speaking to men.” On the other hand, “the one who prophesies speaks edification, consoling, and encouragement to men.” In fact one observes that to prophesy is to interpret the matters of the prophets in such things through which the word of encouragement is being established, and the mind of those who have been initiated is to be led into the truth about Christ. He also elsewhere shows beyond comparison that the activity of interpreting the prophets is in superiority than the act of speaking in a language.14 “For he builds himself up,” it says, “the one who is speaking in a tongue.” Of course he understands himself, but someone else, absolutely nothing. This one, who makes use with the voices of those holy prophets and with predictions in regards to [the] testimony, builds up the Church. Greater then also in the highest ranks, and in the most splendid hopes is the application of prophecy. Indeed it is better to mutually build up the Church than himself alone speaking out in a language.” ■

I Corinthians 14:515

“Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy;” (NASB)

Seeing that it was unexpected, and truly a gift of the gods,16 that men being of Hebrew background were being empowered to speak in languages of others,17 not that some suppose the Apostle rashly determined the nature of the practice to be purposeless, saying it had been given through the work of the Spirit.18 For it was given as a sign for believers, he favorably approves [the practice] and says, “Now I wish all of you to speak in tongues,” for he clearly cuts-off at once the eagerness in this certain thing, and moves to a better one, “even more that you prophesy.” Greater and more palpable the orator is who prophesies than the one who speaks in a language. The one who brings forth [in a language] shows that this is not entirely unprofitable in this action for those who hold such things [dear] and those who are listening.19 “Except if there is no interpreter,” that is to say, if he does not have someone who always sits near and interprets for the beginners.2021

I Corinthians 14:1022

“And none of them is without a voice.”

“Any persons of the status of itinerant teachers23 in the Churches who are endowed in the work of the Spirit should have the ability to speak in languages. Therefore it is necessary that prayers are to be made in these same languages, and certainly for the entreaties of those things, that is to say, of a Psalm,24 these ones who have the ability to proclaim25 in the language of those who are present. Certainly they were not doing this, indeed the persons who congratulate themselves in a self-satisfied way with the gift of languages, they were neither doing psalms or prayers. Paul teaches this, that if there does not exist persons who are hearing [with the] knowledge of the language, which those who have the gift are speaking forth, [then there is] no advantage out of the matter. For numberless are the nations and all the languages of mankind.26

He says, “Without a voice,” [is] absolutely never about the business in respect to the things of the reason, that is, in [concern to the things of] mankind. But if perhaps some may not have known the power of every voice, and certainly neither can these ones know his language, they will be barbarians to each other. Yet these ones are in fact correctly supposed to speak according to his own voice. It is necessary therefore those who are wishing to teach in other [languages], that the word should be uttered27 accustomed for those for those who are listening.

If in fact then the unintelligible sound was also an unaccustomed voice, the striking28 vainly produced in purposelessness with some type of noise,29 only the sound [is] heard of one who knows [the language].

It is necessary, he says, that those wishing to teach, that the word is to be spoken30 accustomed for those who are listening, after that he works for folly. For he that speaks in languages alone does not build up the Church.■

I Corinthians 14:1231

“Seeing that you are zealous about the things of the spirit.”

He defines the spirit in these things [as] the bestowment32 by the agency of the Spirit, that is, the ability to speak in languages. “If then”, he says, “I was to have offered prayers in the Churches by the Spirit,”33 that is, one who entirely has furnished34 in the language by the agency of the Spirit, I will have an unfruitful mind. For it is necessary for the person who should strain to the uttermost in prayers and those who are performing to seek for salvation by God, that it is not to be given a level of merit by a language [used], and a natural result of speaking in a [specific] language.35 In such a case an unfruitful mind develops, and the person who obtains favor for himself [has] not one advantage from such a [selfish] ambition either. ■

I Corinthians 14:1536

“I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the mind.”

It is necessary on my behalf, it says, if I indeed should choose to be praying in a language,37 that is to say, to be fond about speaking in a language; to eagerly try would not occupy an unfruitful mind, and not only would it produce speaking in a language, but to awaken the mind within me.38 and if I should perhaps sing a Psalm39 in a language, for the act of singing a Psalm [is] nothing inferior and for the mind is the power in the understanding of the psalmody,40 and of the prophets, and one is not bound to stop incomprehensible41 words such as these. For if I wish to be speaking useless sounds,42 “I have become a noisy gong.” (NASB).

On which account the one who prophesies is better, that is43 interpreting the divine writings in the Church, than simply enjoying the use44 with languages.

Which one then will be the better alternative? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the mind. In this case once more it is with the spirit, he speaks with the gift by means of the Spirit.

Seeing that an overseer45 could show the unprofitability for him by means of the most greatest and moral senses [about] the act of speaking in a language, because a follower may not have the ability to clearly understand the meaning [concerning] the things of the prophets in alternative ways, and he46 brings up other [languages] through which some would have wished to understand a person who speaks clearly. ■

I Corinthians 14:16-1747

Else if you shall bless in the spirit48 how will the one who makes the room of the laypeople understand say the “Amen”?49

When, it says, you are to speak50, [and] the one who was appointed in the position of the laity,51 if he would have no knowledge of your voice, how will he appropriately supply52 the Amen in their own thanksgivings or prayers? For that the custom of the Churches is to compose53 their voices54 under authority with the prayers of the prefects55 together in all clarity. For these ones bring closure in their priestly voice, appropriately supplying the Amen with their own supplications to God, because it appears to be lacking in completion by the priests, it is to be finished in the meters of the common people, as if “[He has blessed them that fear the Lord] both small and great.”56 as God can hear57 in the unity of Spirit.

For these are common folk who join their own [voices]58 with the prayers of the priests, they believed that these are intended to be agreeable things. God calls to bring forth to the altar of the burnt sacrifices and needy offerings to the overseer, so that the little bit in the end mixed together, becomes acceptable to God.

For in all these things we are in the Lord. Therefore on this account when he says, you should speak in a language — for this is to bless in the spirit. The person [the overseer] did not have knowledge about what you would say, “How will he say the Amen in respect to his own blessing.”59 For how can you rightly do it alone, namely existing inside your mind, nevertheless “the other is not built-up.” For it is in fact necessary that all should achieve which pertains to us towards the building up and profit of the brethren. ■

Unfortunately this catena abruptly cuts-off here, skipping verses 18-40, and the next portion references I Corinthians 15 — which addresses a different theme. There are no more remarks about the tongues doctrine after I Corinthians 14:17.

——————–

A full synopsis of Cyril of Alexandria on tongues including commentaries, translations, and notes can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project menu. Scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Conclusion

Final thoughts on the texts attributed to Cyril of Alexandria about the doctrine of tongues.

A significant amount of time and labour has been spent on works attributed to Cyril of Alexandria on the Christian doctrine of tongues and for good reason. The Cyrillian coverage offers critical insights into the ancient practice of the gift of tongues within the earlier Church.

These works originate under the influence of the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt, which gives these works particular significance. The language of the New Testament is Alexandrian Greek with a Semitic influence which means the influence of Alexandria on early Christianity is centrally important. Without Alexandria, there may no Gospel, or at least many of the principal theological traditions passed down through the generations.

It has been learned from this study that the writings credited to Cyril of Alexandria are not exactly correct. Portions are from Didymus of Alexandria. Which parts are Cyril’s and others Didymus’, we do not know, though for the most part it is Cyril. There also may be medieval editorial emendations too. Even though there remain unanswered questions of authorship, it accurately portrays a fifth-century account on the doctrine of tongues as understood and practiced in Alexandria, Egypt.

The results gleaned from these Alexandrian texts do not align with the contemporary Christian practice or liberal interpretations on the Christian doctrine of tongues. They offer different outcomes. Here are the findings.

The Commentary on Zephaniah clearly indicates that the Alexandrian author(s) believed it be speaking a foreign language. There was an emphasis in this commentary about the “changing of tongues,” that defined the speech as a miraculous endowment. Furthermore, those that received this blessing continued to have this power throughout their lives, but it did not persist after their generation. For more information and the actual copy of the Commentary on Zephaniah see Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Zephaniah.

The Fragment on Acts has some more clues. The work emphasizes that those who spoke at Pentecost did not know the languages beforehand. It was a spontaneous event. Experienced interpreters, according to the text, were not accustomed to such a display. The purpose of Pentectost was to speak in every language to every nation. The Gospel was not to be a local religion for Jews only, but a universal one. The work goes on to describe a negative aspect of this event. People used it to promote their own extravagance and self-promotion. The actual text can be found at Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Acts.

The Catena on I Corinthians had the most information, and the following was discovered.

  • The Corinthian problem of languages was viewed as a consequence of Pentecost. The Corinthian situation is not considered a separate entity. In making the Corinthian situation connected to Pentecost, it creates ethnic rivalries. If a disciple comes speaking in tongues for the purpose of rejuvenating the Jewish faith, then it leaves out the Gentile participants. This would be an untenable position.

  • When the disciples spoke at Pentecost, each one spoke a different language.

  • The Cyrillian text associated I Corinthians 14 with their itinerant preachers whose duty was to visit routinely Churches throughout the Alexandrian Church empire. This was a vast region that had a number of ethnic and language groups. The ability to speak in the various languages was a requirement for these preachers to teach and pray.1

  • Prayers and language held a central part of the Church life. Prayers required mastery and comprehension of more than one written language. Literacy was very low in this period. Some think as low as 5%. The congregation then was entirely dependent on trained leadership to teach through readings, memorization and instruction. The prayers in the Church were led by leaders called prefects — a ruler over monks, clergy, and bishops (ὁ ἡγουμένος).2

    If someone would speak or pray in the Church, whether priest, prefect, or the itinerant preacher, it would be in a high-priestly voice, similar to preachers who speak in King James English, old style Catholics who perform the liturgy in Latin, or the use of High-German in Mennonite Churches. What exactly was high-priestly language to them — was it liturgical Greek, or regular Coptic? It is not known.

    The important requirement of any Church leader speaking to an audience or any layperson was that the Skopos (σκοπὸς) had to understand what they were saying, or someone available that “sits near and interprets for the beginners.”3

    The Skopos played an important position within the Church. The Skopos was an overseer who was to test, examine, and approve everything that was spoken, or done. He was also to translate, but that was likely a later attribute.4

    There was a function in the Church that assisted the lay-people in understanding what the priests were saying, singing, or doing. A type of translator, but more of an intermediary. In the Corinthian text it is the anaplérôn ( ἀναπληρῶν), but in Alexandria it is the keimenos (κείμενος).

    The keimenos is a critical keyword and potentially unlocks the mystery tongues of Corinth. A complete article on this can be found by reading The Mysterious Anapleron of I Corinthians 14:16

    All messages that the keimonos explained to the people were to be concluded with an Amen.

    If the keimonos did not understand the language, or message being spoken, he would not be able to translate or explain on behalf of the laypeople, and therefore would not be able to say Amen.

    All of the references to Alexandrian Church structure; the itinerant preacher, the high priestly language and need for a mediary for the laypeople to understand, the Skopos, the Keimenos, the use of multiple languages, and the amen construct, have a connection with Paul’s coverage of I Corinthians 14. Granted this is 500 years later, and there was likely much evolution in this structure, but the shadows do exist.

  • The Catena on I Corinthians gives a different idea of prophecy and its relationship with languages. 14:2 and 5 covers the office of prophecy. It is more comprehensive than what most practicing Charismatics or Pentecostals offer today. The Alexandrian idea of prophecy was the ability to collate disparate data such as thoughts, words, ideas, dreams, language etc., and make sense out of them. It goes beyond the mechanics of translating or interpreting. Prophecy looks for the meaning behind the words, not just the words themselves. Therefore, prophecy was considered one of the highest forms of Christian practice.

The Cyrillian texts are totally oblivious to any Montanist influence on the tongues doctrine. Nor were there any attempt to write about the need for a subsequent spirit baptism or counter any movements teaching such a proposition. Nor were the Alexandrians aware of a private prayer language.

The Catena on I Corinthians borrows many Greek keywords from the ancient Greek prophetic realm. Some of them new to the tongues debate. However, they are not used in a classical way. They have become Christianized by this period. For more information, see Notes on the Cyrillian catena on I Corinthians 14:10.

This conclusion may seem subtle and boring, but it took a laborious amount of work to achieve. The discovery of the actual texts themselves was a challenge. They were found only in the original Greek, and the publications they were found in posed difficulties. Comparative work between different texts was required. The Alexandrian Greek requires a slow translation process as this vernacular has some peculiarities and unique vocabulary. Then there is the challenge to make cohesive sense out of all of them. Anyone who has visited this site over the years will see the narration of the doctrine of tongues is the one that has taken the longest to achieve. It is not an easy task for such a big project.

The reader does not have to take these conclusions at face value either. The original Greek Cyrillian texts can be found at Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: The Original Texts. Or one can read the English translations and come up with a personal conclusion by going to the Gift of Tongues Project and scrolling down to the Cyril of Alexandria Category and clicking on the translation links.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:16 to 17

An English translation of the catena on I Corinthians 14:16-17 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This translation is based on two texts. The Monte Athos edition, found in Philippus Pusey’s publication, is the one selected as the basis. This is due to it having more copy than the text found in Migne Patrologia Graeca. MPG was extensively analyzed and compared where both accounts are similar.

Translated from: Cyrilli Alexandrini. Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey. London: Oxford. 1872, Page 296

Else if you shall bless in the spirit{{36}}[[36]]τῷ πνεύματι instead of πνεύματι without the article. This is consistent with the Byzantine but not present in the Tischendorf edition. Results analyzed from http://unbound.biola.edu[[36]] how will the one who makes the room of the laypeople understand say the “Amen”?{{37}}[[37]]This text is no different in the Cyrillian text from the Biblical one. However, I am translating it as the author(s) of this catena understood it. See the article, The ἀναπληρῶν of I Corinthians 14:16.[[37]]

When, it says, you are to speak{{38}}[[38]]λαλῇς[[38]], [and] the one who was appointed in the position of the laity, if he would have no knowledge of your voice, how will he appropriately supply{{39}}[[39]]πρσυπακούσεται[[39]] the Amen in their own thanksgivings or prayers? For that the custom of the Churches is to compose{{40}}[[40]]συγκαταλήγειν from the verb καταλήγειν which, according to Timothy J. Moore implies “delivery of poetic or other formalized texts in a mode approaching everyday speech.” He believes that oracles were communicated via καταλήγειν and were, ” usually in highly formal language and would have been pronounced with some melodic elaboration.” See by Timothy J. Moore. συγκαταλήγειν is not used outside of this text but I take this to mean to compose, recite, or speak together. [[40]] their voices{{41}}[[41]]τὰς The feminine accusative plural article does not have the noun that it is supposed to articulate. Nor is its antecedent entirely clear. The only logical antecedent would be from φωνὴν found in the first sentence of this paragraph. Therefore expanded, it should be τὰς φωνάς [[41]] under authority with the prayers of the prefects{{42}}[[42]]τῶν ἡγουμένων[[42]] together in all clarity. For these ones bring closure in their priestly voice, appropriately supplying the Amen with their own supplications to God, because it appears to be lacking in completion by the priests, it is to be finished in the meters of the common people, as if “[He has blessed them that fear the Lord] both small and great.{{43}}[[43]]παραδέχοιτο Latin: excipiat. Literally to receive, receive from, take out; remove; follow; receive; ward off, relieve; [[44]] in the unity of Spirit.

For these are common folk who join their own [voices]{{45}}[[45]]τὰς ἑαυτῶν — no noun here. See comment 40 for more information.[[45]] with the prayers of the priests, they believed that these are intended to be agreeable things. God calls to bring forth to the alter of the burnt sacrifices and needy offerings to the overseer, so that the little bit in the end mixed together, becomes acceptable to God.

For in all these things we are in the Lord. Therefore on this account when he says, you should speak in a language — for this is to bless in the spirit. The person [the overseer] did not have knowledge about what you would say, “How will he say the Amen in respect to his own blessing?{{46}}[[46]]The Greek text here is italics suggesting it is a Bible quotation πὼς ἐρεῖ τό Ἀμὴν ἐπι τῇ ἰδίᾳ εὐχαριστίᾳ ; but I do not see any manuscript with such wording. [[46]] For how can you rightly do it alone, namely existing inside your mind, nevertheless “the other is not built-up.” For it is in fact necessary that all should achieve which pertains to us towards the building up and profit of the brethren. ■

Unfortunately this catena abruptly cuts-off here, skipping verses 18-40, and the next portion references I Corinthians 15 — which addresses a different theme. There are no more remarks about the tongues doctrine after I Corinthians 14:17.

This is the last series of translations covering the works attributed to Cyril of Alexandria on the doctrine of tongues. A full synopsis of Cyril of Alexandria on tongues including commentaries, translations, and notes can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project menu. Scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

The mysterious anaplêrôn of I Corinthians 14:16

The mysterious anaplêrôn in the Corinthian Church.

The Apostle Paul referred to the word anaplêrôn as part of the highly controversial gift of tongues passage (I Corinthians 14:16). Discovering the historical meaning to this word may offer a significant clue that may work towards unlocking the meaning of the this problem text.

The tongues passage is an age-old mystery that has never been completely resolved. Some think Paul referred to heavenly speech, or a form of glossolalia, while others thing he assumes it to be religious ecstasy. Another alternative was that he referred to something that was a liturgical rite.

A closer look at the meaning of anaplêrôn suggests that it was liturgical. The dominant dictionaries, Latin text, Jewish, and a text attributed to Cyril of Alexandria point to it being an occupation — someone who would take the speech, whether foreign, high-priestly, specialized or articulate, and transfer it into a language that the common person would understand.

However, there is significant tension here to establish such a concept; contemporary English Bibles do not support such a reading of I Corinthians 14.

This requires further inquiry to resolve the problem. It is necessary to backtrack and look at the historical evidence in two ways; first of all to trace the development of how the Greek word anaplêrôn has been traditionally transmitted through the English Bible translation history, and why it is translated the way it is, and secondly, develop a more clearer picture what the word anaplêrôn really means through the extensive use of dictionaries and ecclesiastical literature.

English translations clearly demonstrate that there was no office of the anaplêrôn at all. It was used in an adjectival sense that describes the state or character of the layperson. Here are some examples of how anaplêrôn was translated.

  • King James Version (Cambridge ed): “how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen.”

  • New International Version (1984): “how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen”.”

  • New American Standard Bible (1995): how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen ”1

More recent translations have taken a less-literal approach to resolve this ambiguity:

  • New Living Translation (2007): “how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you?

  • New International Version (2008): “how can an otherwise uneducated person say “Amen”.2

A closer look at the Greek unravels the mystery.

Ἀναπληρῶν is a participle based on the verb ἀναπληρόω. It is found in I Corinthians 14:16 as a present active masculine nominative singular. Some of the dictionaries support the English Bible translations, while others don’t.

  • Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon supports the contemporary English translations.3 This is not a surprise as this dictionary specializes in classical Greek sources. It does not focus on Biblical or Patristic sources.

  • Sophocles’ Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, captures the spirit of the English translation and offers this as his definition. “Locum impleo to fill the place, occupy the room of anyone.”4

  • Lampe’s A Patristic Greek Lexicon is very general and it agrees with the English Bibles above, or to a lesser degree, it could be someone assisting the lay-person in understanding.5

The following dictionaries emphasize ἀναπληρῶν as someone assisting or attending to a layperson.

  • The Greek-Latin Dictionary, Stephanus’ Thesaurus Graecae Linguae, takes it as a person who helps complete a task. The ἀναπληρῶν is someone who completes, supplies, sometimes finishes, sits among the uneducated, and to satisfy the uneducated on the word.6

  • The Dictionnaire Grec-Française also agrees with Stephanus. The ἀναπληρῶν is someone who provides information such as missing words, stands in for someone else, and carries out a task.7

  • Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker’s (BAGD) “The Greek English of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,” suggests that the above English translations are weak.8 It surmises that ἀναπληρῶν is a person or position that is replacing or representing those of the lay population. It is independent of τοῦ ἰδιώτου the layman. It should not be used as an adjective that further describes a layman because these are different entities.

Perhaps clues can be found from translations based on the Greek.

The Latin:

I Corinthians 14:16 according to the Latin Vulgate shows and important clue:

“qui supplet locum idiotae.”9 — He who supplies the place of the uneducated.

The Latin clearly makes the passage to mean that ἀναπληρῶν and τοῦ ἰδιώτου are two totally different entities. The ἀναπληρῶν is doing something on behalf of the τοῦ ἰδιώτου.

However, the Douay-Rheims English translation of the Latin tends to obscure this, “how shall he that holdeth the place of the unlearned say, Amen.”10 This may be the start of where the ambiguity began in the English translations.

The Syriac text was looked at to see if it offered any clues to the Greek. It offers no insights and follows the Greek text literally.

ܗܰܘ ܕ݁ܰܡܡܰܠܶܐ ܕ݁ܽܘܟ݁ܬ݂ܶܗ ܕ݁ܗܶܕ݂ܝܽܘܛܳܐ ܐܰܝܟ݁ܰܢܳܐ ܢܺܐܡܰܪ ܐܰܡܺܝܢ

“How can one who occupies the place of the unlearned say Amen.” (Translated by George Lamsa)11

Another text consulted was from the great theologian and scholar, Franz Deilitzsch, who translated the New Testament into Hebrew in the late 1800s.

הָעֹמֵד בְּמַצַּב הַהֶדְיוֹט אֵיךְ יַעֲנֶה אָמֵן 12

“How will he who stands in the position of the layman say amen.”

Deilitzsch didn’t seem to take any side to this. He seemed rather ambiguous.

There may have been a Hebrew connection to all of this.

Paul Tomson has proposed that the whole expression of ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου is the equivalent of the Jewish position of the שליח צבור Shaliach Tzibbur.13 A Hebrew-Roots based Christian website described this ancient position as this:

The shaliach tzibbur functions as the representative of the community who recites the prayers on behalf of the people. Some prayers are said by everyone, and some are recited aloud by the shaliach tzibbur, to which the congregation responds “Amen” (the chazzan (cantor) is specially trained in Jewish music (cantillation) and liturgy for this role).14

A traditional Jewish website finds the historical origins of the Shaliach Tzibbur unclear. It may be a second to fourth century one and not earlier. It would not apply to what Paul wrote.15

It is apparent from Paul’s words and grammar that ancient Jewish liturgical customs are interwoven in his work. The “Amen” construct that Paul used in I Corinthians 14:16 suggests that the expression ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου is representative of an office, but something earlier than the Shaliach Tzibbur.

The idiom actually may be the evolution of the Jewish office of the מתורגםן, Meturgeman.

The Jewish Encyclopedia describes it as this:

The weekly lesson from the Pentateuch and the Prophets was read by a member of the congregation, and the meturgeman had to translate into the vernacular the Pentateuchal lesson verse by verse; . . . He did not limit himself to a mere literal translation, but dilated upon the Biblical contents, bringing in haggadic elements, illustrations from history, and references to topics of the day.16

The Meturgamen died out as an active part of the Jewish liturgy around 1000 AD. Epiphanius described something potentially similar to the Meturgamen being practiced in the early Church; see A Translation of Epiphanius on the Tongues of Corinth for more information.

However, the Meturgamen, like the Shaliach Tzibbur, was an office that may not have existed during Paul’s time. It does suggest a more primitive form existed and this may be what the anaplêrôn identified with.

A strong clue can be found in the fifth century or later text attributed to Cyril of Alexandria. The writer believed the expression of the ἀναπληρῶν was an archaic way of explaining a function of the priest, prefect, or overseer to communicate in the language, thoughts, and speech that would be understood by a general audience.

The text described it as an office in the Church, ὅ γε μὴν ἐν τάξει τῇ τοῦ λαϊκοῦ κείμενος, “the one who was appointed in the position of the laity.”

The Cyril text would suggest an English translation this way; “how will the person who helps the audience of the laypeople understand say the “Amen”?” Or as a paraphrase, “how would the person who takes a thought, speech, language, or argument, and clearly explains it to the regular common folk articulate in a way that they understand, say the “Amen”?”

If the office of the anaplêrôn existed, what happened to it? The word itself is not found in any later writings referring to any type of Church functions.

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:15

The following is a translation from the Greek, with some help from a parallel Latin translation of a catena on I Corinthians 14:15 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This is part of an ongoing series on identifying the Christian tongues doctrine from the texts attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This translation is based on two manuscripts. The Monte Athos edition found in Philippus Pusey’s publication is the one selected as the basis due to it having more copy, though the Greek and Latin of Migne Patrologia Graeca has value and is consulted.

Translated from: Cyrilli Alexandrini. Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey. London: Oxford. 1872, Pg. 295

“I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the mind.”

It is necessary on my behalf, it says, if I indeed should choose to be praying in a language,{{28}}[[28]]Latin: et lingua per Spiritum data uti velim — in a language having been given by the Spirit that I would wish.[[28]] that is to say, to be fond about speaking in a language; to eagerly try would not occupy an unfruitful mind, and not only would it produce speaking in a language, but to awaken the mind within me.{{29}}[[29]]ἀλλὰ διεγείρειν ἐν ἐμαυτῷ τὸν νοῦν. The MPG version has, συναγείρειν δὲ ὥσπερ ἐν ἐμαυτῷ τὸν νοῦν. The MPG text is awkward and unclear and forced the Latin translator to go dynamic, imo potius meam veluti mecum mentem colligere — as if it is my own language that is assembled together with my own mind [[29]] and if I should perhaps sing a Psalm{{30}}[[30]]ψάλοιμι. Most standard dictionaries omit the ecclesiastical usage of this word and emphasize the playing of a stringed instrument. However, the Latin, the context, and the root of the word all suggest Psalm singing. [[30]] in a language, for the act of singing a Psalm [is] nothing inferior and for the mind is the power in the understanding of the psalmody,{{31}}[[31]]understand the nuances and art of psalm singing[[31]] and of the prophets, and one is not bound to stop incomprehensible{{32}}[[32]]ἀζητήτους. It is rarely used. Lidell and Scott suggests unexamined or untried which the Latin tends to agree. Lampe’s, Patristic Lexicon suggests insearchable or incomprehensible. The context here agrees with Lampe.[[32]] words such as these. For if I wish to be speaking useless sounds,{{33}}[[33]]εἰκαίας. This word is associated with the official function of the Church reader, who read from the pulpit to the assembly. Stephanus Dictionary (Vol. 2. Col. 219) refers to as εἰκαίας ἀναγνώστης. Cyril may have not meant this correlation here. The use of this word in this way may be a tradition after the time of this writing.[[33]] “I have become a noisy gong.” (NASB).

On which account the one who prophesies is better, that is{{34}}[[34]] ἤτοι especially when used in close proximity to automatically suggests whether… or, but the context, and the Latin suggest that is. A further look into this disjunctive particle suggests that it can be used in this way. I have tried the standard usage of whether… or and it just doesn’t make sense here. One of the historical definitions of prophecy is to read-out loud the divine Scriptures with an interpretation[[34]] interpreting the divine writings in the Church, than simply enjoying the use{{35}}[[35]]κατακεχρῆσθαι Perfect Infinitive middle passive. If the root is from χράω then the Latin and the above translation is correct. If it is from καταχράω which means to suffice, satisfy, or less often, abuse, the meaning could shift towards a more negative viewpoint. If it is from καταχράομαι to make use of a thing for a purpose, to waste, make ill use of a thing, to abuse, misuse, to treat ill, to kill. The translation could possibly read, “On which account the one who prophecies is better, that is, interpreting the divine writings in the Church, than simply enjoying wasting time with languages.[[35]] with languages.

Which one then will be the better alternative? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the mind. In this case once more it is with the spirit, he speaks with the gift by means of the Spirit.

Seeing that an overseer could show the unprofitability for him by means of the most greatest and moral senses [about] the act of speaking in a language, because a follower may not have the ability to clearly understand the meaning [concerning] the things of the prophets in alternative ways, and he{{36}}[[36]]the one who is publicly speaking in a language[[36]] brings up other [languages] through which some would have wished to understand a person who speaks clearly. ■

For the background, analysis, and partial commentary of this translation, see the article, Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:15.

A full synopsis of Cyril of Alexandria on tongues including commentaries, translations, and notes can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project menu. Scroll down to the Cyril of Alexandrian sub-category.

Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:15

The challenges and discoveries related to translating the catena of I Corinthians 14:15 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

I Corinthians 14:15 has a high difficulty level for translation. First of all it uses older Greek forms than New Testament Greek.

There is no subjunctive used here. Mostly the infinitive, and infrequently the optative are utilized instead. This is unusual because the infinitive used as a subjunctive and the use of the optative were to have been removed from the Greek language centuries before.

This may reflect that Alexandria was a city of imported Greek. History demonstrates that the language of ethnic groups who have moved to a foreign country retain, protect, and propagate a static form of their language. This may be the reason why this text appears with such old Greek forms.

It could also be that the Alexandrian Christians treated Christian texts much like many do the King James Bible. The old Greek was the language of religion, while their contemporary Greek was street talk.

The Migne Patrologia Graeca version has less text to work with but it reads much smoother. The Monte Athos version has an expanded text but it is much more unconnected. Catenas are not commentaries but brief excerpts from important texts relating to a subject. The thought does not always flow smoothly between paragraphs because this was not the intention. The reader is expected to read between the lines, knowing intuitively the history of the thought and what the author intended. The quotes are like memnonic devices. However, understanding the authors thoughts and the movements that surrounded those writings are difficult to piece together. Followers in the fifth century would have had access to Cyril’s commentaries and would have known the details. We do not have the same privilege.

The reference to prophecy being superior to tongues is a traditional position. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century used this similar argument as his basis for his lectures on I Corinthians 14 The Aquinas text parallels closely to what the Cyril has written but Aquinas goes into much more detail.

The last section that starts with overseer is in italics because of its high-level of translation difficulty. I hesitate to forward this as a final copy because it may change as new evidences on grammar or morphology appear. However, it is a good start. For those who could contribute or improve on this translation, here is the Greek text.

It is clear that the Cyril text only uses the doctrine of tongues when it relates to liturgy, and especially to that of Psalm singing. Psalm singing was an entrenched rite in his community, and it appears here that one could perform it in a different language. Also there is mention of an overseer — an office considered lower than a bishop but higher than laity. The function of the overseer was to compare it to sound doctrine for acceptance or rejection.

The catena on 14:15 is better understood reading the preceding translations on I Corinthians, especially 14:12