Tag Archives: Gift of Tongues

7 Facts About Speaking in Tongues

A seven point historic portrait on the christian doctrine of speaking in tongues. The conclusions have been derived from the Gift of Tongues Project. A research work that has a fourfold aim of locating, digitizing, translating source texts and tracing perceptions from inception to modern times.

These seven points may change if any new documents arise with important new clues.

Click on any of the conclusions for more documentation.

The goal of tracing the perceptions of tongues through the centuries may not necessarily align with the actual realities that surrounds the events. The realities are up to the reader to decide. Go to the The Gift of Tongues Project for the source information.

This is only a general summation. There are many more details and movements at the above link.

*7 does not have a clickable link because no documented study has been found.

Summary of the Gift of Tongues Project: Introduction

A summary of the Gift of Tongues Project in three parts.

The following are the results of a detailed study of the doctrine of tongues from inception until 1922. The results are drawn from the Gift of Tongues Project which had a fourfold purpose to:

  • uncover new or forgotten ancient literature on the subject
  • provide the original source texts in digital format
  • translate the texts into English and add some commentary
  • to trace the perception of tongues in the church from inception until modern times.

The actual results can be found at the Gift of Tongues Project. Most readers have found the actual Project source texts, principally in Greek and Latin, along with the analysis too complex and desire to read a shortened version. This series of summaries is concerned with the big picture on how the doctrine of tongues was transmitted through the centuries, not the details.

The reader must understand that this doctrine has never been static and has been evolving. This aspect will be amply demonstrated.

People will always be inspired by the pentecostal narrative described in the Book of Acts and the mysterious tongues found later on in the New Testament epistle called I Corinthians. Those accounts have propelled many ardent students of the Bible and the christian faith to reproduce this phenomenon in their lives. The passion for a new Pentecost has cycled for twenty-one-centuries. How communities and persons perceived, practised and passed-on the right throughout these centuries is the goal of this study.

The christian rite of speaking in tongues has been controversial, especially over the last one-hundred years. Speaking in tongues is a practice expressed by Renewalists. Renewalism is the fastest growing christian faith in the world. Many have tried to explain this rite through experiential and psychological terms, but few have attempted an extensive study through historical literature.

This summary fills in the blanks of the historical record that have, up until now, been neglected.

This work is broken up into a three part series. Part 1 traces the evolution of Pentecost from the first to seventeenth-centuries which is inclusive of catholic perceptions. Part 2 focuses on the protestant perceptions which has three distinct doctrinal frameworks. Part 3 is an in-depth look into the Corinthian tongues saga.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • What is speaking in tongues today?
    • The absence of historical literature in the modern tongues debate
    • The start and later acceleration of the Gift of Tongues Project
    • Glôssa better translated as language rather than tongue
  • Part 1: A Catholic History of Tongues
    • A pictorial overview on the catholic history of speaking in tongues.

    • The doctrine of tongues from the first to third-century
    • The golden age of the christian doctrine of tongues: the fourth-century
      • The connection between Babel and Pentecost
      • Hebrew as the first language of mankind and of Pentecost
      • Pentecost as a temporary phenomenon
      • Augustine on tongues transforming into a corporate identity
      • Gregory of Nyssa and the one voice many sounds theory
      • Gregory Nazianzus on the miracle of speech vs. the miracle of hearing
    • The expansion of the christian doctrine of tongues from the tenth to sixteenth-centuries
      • Later Medieval accounts of speaking in tongues
      • The legend of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues
  • Part 2: A protestant history of speaking in tongues (in development)
  • Part 3: The corinthians tongue saga (in development)


This summary is the result of the Gift of Tongues Project which is designed for the advanced researcher. The Gift of Tongues Project has attempted to identify, collate and digitize the source texts in the original Greek, Latin, with some Syriac, French and a sprinkling of a few other languages. English translations have been provided with almost every text, along with my own analysis. The Gift of Tongues Project differentiates itself from others because the source texts available on the website allow for you to research and draw your own conclusions. All the legwork is already done. All one has to do now is read instead of the time consuming and never ending task of finding the source files. Better yet, the majority is digitally searchable.

Speaking in tongues owes its heritage to a book of the Bible called the Book of Acts. This book was written by a first-century christian follower and a physician named Luke. He only wrote 206 words1 to describe the formative event called Pentecost. Pentecost established the foundations for Messianic Judaism and its universal message. This event was described as the Holy Spirit arriving and causing the apostles and 120 others to instantly preach in diverse foreign languages that they did not previously study or know. This explanation is the standard one to help the reader to get started on the subject. The summary will proceed to demonstrate there are many alternative viewpoints.

Perhaps one could argue 800 words when you throw in the defense of the experience by Peter in Acts chapter 2 and the three other instances throughout the Book of Acts. Perhaps Paul could be credited with writing about Pentecost if his coverage in his first letter to the Corinthians contains a parallel, though Part III will show these are not connected. Why all the fuss over 206 words? If it was so important, why didn’t Luke go into much greater detail? This would have spared the modern day reader such a confusion. The clarification is going to take over 10,000 words and the parsing through a magnitude of documents found throughout the centuries to explain those few written words two thousand years ago.

Luke is vague on the actual mechanics and certainly short on details. This leaves his Pentecost and subsequent tongues narratives with many unanswered questions; did every inspired person speak in a single different language and together they were speaking the languages of all the nations? Was it one sound emanating and changed during transmission so that the hearers heard their own language? If it was a miracle of hearing, what was that sound? Were the people conscious of what they were saying or were they completely overtaken by a divine power and had no comprehension about what they were speaking? Was it a heavenly, non-human or prayer language? Did this miracle continue after the first-century? How did this tongues-event get passed down to the next generation? Did it become part of the church liturgy?

The various source manuscripts on the Book of Acts available today do not have any variance that brings about new clues. This necessitates digging deeper into other records.

The Gift of Tongues Project and this summary believe that Pentecostals and Charismatics have brought positive contributions to the greater society, and have made the world a better place. The purpose of this examination is not to attack or denigrate their character. The goal is simply to find the truth of the matter. Nothing more.

As a person who attends a charismatic church and involved in these type of communities for decades, I wanted the results to parallel their experiences. Unfortunately, the findings did not allow for this. Everyone who approaches the 2000 year narrative on speaking in tongues has to allow history to speak for itself – not to rewrite history to justify contemporary experience.

In comparison to the detailed articles posted within the Gift of Tongues Project, few footnotes will be given here, and some ancient authors and minor movements will be ignored. One can find substantiation at the Gift of Tongues Project webpage. Links to the Gift of Tongues Project pages will be highlighted throughout. The results are subject to change as new information comes forward.

This work traces the perception of tongues speaking through the centuries. Perception is not necessarily reality. On many occasions, the work will reference the perception with no remarks about the integrity of the event or person. This is up to the reader to decide.

What is speaking in tongues today?

Speaking in tongues is an inherent part of the present pentecostal and charismatic identities. This practice is one of the key features that distinguish them apart from other christian movements.

How popular is speaking in tongues? A Pew Forum study has concluded one-quarter of all Christians are Renewalist Christians – a term given for those who emphasize miracles, supernatural occurrences, and oftentimes speaking in tongues within the Christian’s everyday life. Really, it is an umbrella term for Pentecostals, Charismatics, Third-Wavers and those who remain in mainstream denominations influenced by Pentecostals and Charismatics. There are an estimated 584 million Renewalists in the world. Perhaps even more. 2 This does not mean all those defined as Renewalists emphasize this doctrine and practice it. The same Pew study further demonstrates that no more than 53% of Renewalists speak in tongues in any country they examined. In most instances, it is less.3 My conservative estimate tallies about 150 million people consistently practising the christian rite of speaking in tongues throughout the world.

The Renewalist faith, with its emphasis on holiness, mysticism, independence, and easy adaptability to different cultures, is the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world. Their christian mystic framework along with its distinctive theology of speaking in tongues makes a historical study imperative.

What do Renewalists presently believe speaking in tongues to be? There is a general agreement that speaking in tongues is a supernatural phenomenon — one that cannot be measured or defined by science. Some Renewalists call it a heavenly language that only the individual, God, and a special interpreter understands. Others say it is a private prayer language or a form of exalted worship. There are those who just shrug their shoulders and say it is simply a God thing that defies explanation. A handful may say speaking in tongues is the spontaneous ability to speak a foreign language. Most Renewalists believe that speaking in tongues is a deliberate outcome of a controlled mind – in other words, they are not crazies or kooks whose erratic behavior is in an uncontrolled hallucinatory state. They are regular people like the helpful neighbor across the street, the taxi driver, teacher, dentist, nurse, plumber, politician, lawyer or construction worker. Renewalists are found in all walks of life.

A good example of a Renewalist speaking in tongues is found in this video clip of the late Kenneth Hagin. He was a highly respected and influential pentecostal preacher in the mid-1900s.

Hagin appears as an elder statesman. He has a father like persona that the people in the audience are attracted to and appreciate. The young lady who is a distance behind Hagin in the video approves his message with an accepting smile. About four minutes into the video, he utters, “Memen hatsu toro menge kanga deging bango ondu konste fre peffe hemo outse,” and then begins to laugh. The laughter implies an overabundance of a spiritual force that overwhelms the senses, forcing the speaker into an uncontrolled fit. The audience cheered Hagin for more.

This is a typical example, though speaking in tongues is not always done in a Sunday service. It is practised more frequently in weekday services, prayer sessions, pastoral settings, and special events.

A more contemporary example is Reinhard Bonnke. Bonnke is a German-born evangelist whose work in Africa, especially Nigeria has earned him the rank of one the top preachers of all time in respect to audience reach. The example here is his public speaking in tongues at a large indoor gathering somewhere in Asia. His Christ for the Nations website claims over 55 million documented decisions for Christ under his ministry.

Bonnke’s demonstration is not as obvious as Hagin’s. He mixes regular language and charismatic, excitable speech between short outbursts of tongues-speech. The audience is energized but not surprised by this presentation. This is quite common in renewalist circles.

The absence of historical literature in the modern tongues debate.

After an exhaustive approach of locating, digitizing, translating and analyzing two-thousand years worth of texts, the results of the Gift of Tongues Project has found one of the main challenges to solving this debate is overcoming the embedded ignorance of history.

This finding was not anticipated at the start. The Project assumed at the beginning there was little christian literature throughout the centuries to build a case. Rather, there is a substantial corpus of ancient christian literature on the subject. The discovery about the abundance on the subject has created two rival stories. The first allows the building of a compelling narrative on the doctrine of tongues throughout the centuries. The second is the narrative about the ignorance of christian literature over the last two centuries and how it has contributed to the modern definition. Both play an important story in the modern definition and I am not sure which one is more important. They share a complex interplay that is difficult to untangle.

The start and later acceleration of the Gift of Tongues Project.

The Project was started in the 1980s, but little was done until the early 2000s. The initial goal was to parse through the collection of church writings found in the massive Migne Patrologia Graeca series and its Latin counterpart, Migne Patrologia Latina. There is no digital version of MPG available, so a page-by-page visual scan was required. This was a very time-consuming process – especially with over 135 volumes averaging 1200 pages each. This was a long process.

Thankfully the internet age came along. Museums and other institutions have posted many manuscripts online. Better manuscripts are now available than the ones found in MPG. The ability to do digital searches with Google’s search engine reveals even more texts. The Gift of Tongues Project is one of the direct benefactors of the digitization of libraries, museums, and institutions.

Glôssa better translated as language rather than tongue

Glôssa (γλῶσσα) is the pivotal key word for the doctrine of tongues in the original Greek text. This word is the central theme found in Paul’s address to the Corinthians and Luke’s description of the first Pentecost. This noun is further used by later Greek ecclesiasts and authors on the subject.

The challenge is how a contemporary researcher is to translate this word without a modern bias.

When the Greek keyword appears, or if it is found in a Latin text, which is lingua, my mind always wants to automatically translate it as tongue.

The word tongues, which is seldom used in our modern language to specifically mean a modern, regular or contemporary language, is usually understood to be something out-of-this-world, unusual or even weird. Sometimes it is used a synonym to language, but rarely in contemporary literature is it a predominant descriptor.

As I have worked over both Greek and Latin Patristic texts, from the likes of Greek writers such as Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanius, John of Damascus etc., to the Latin writers of Augustine, the Venerable Bede, Thomas Aquinas, the Ambrosiaster authors, and many more, they do not contain references to the gift being a strange, mystical or heavenly language that needs a new definition. It simply means a human language to them. To advance such a thought that it was different from a human language, they would have had to take extra steps to make it distinct. They never did.

Secondly, one must keep in mind that the noun language was the dominant English word used to translate glôssa/γλῶσσα before the introduction of the Geneva Bible in 1534.

See The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible for more information.

It would not be fair to translate the church fathers on the subject using tongues instead of languages. It significantly changes the nuance of the text when it is done.

One could argue that I am forcing my own interpretation on the text. However, it is believed that language is more accurate to what the writers meant.

This changes things considerably, instead of Acts 2:4 reading as other tongues the proper reading is other languages. The other tongues creates ambiguities that never existed in the Greek. Other languages immediately starts to clarify a difficult subject.

Now that the introductory remarks have been covered, it is time to get into the narrative itself.

Next: A Catholic History of Tongues

Early Pentecostal Tongues: Part 4

The relationship between Pentecostals and the historians Philip Schaff , F. W. Farrar and others along with their influence on the modern definition.

This is final of a four-part series covering how the traditional definition of tongues all but died and was replaced by the pentecostal practice of glossolalia — an umbrella term for the language of adoration, singing and writing in tongues, and/or a private act of devotion between a person and God.

Part 1 contained introductory comments. Part 2 gave a detailed account on the twofold problems of pentecostal tongues; the failure of the miraculous missionary tongues and negative image of gibberish promoted by the media. Part 3 focused on the solutions early pentecostals declared in resolving these two tensions.

Before 1906 there were only two definitions of speaking in tongues within the traditional christian practice: a miracle of speaking one or more foreign languages or a sound being transmitted and miraculously converting into a language within the hearers mind. After 1906, the definition expanded to four different types of tongues expressions. The most important and dominant theme was that of tongues as a personal expression of adoration and worship.

As documented in Part 3, the Pentecostals based their new definitions found in commentaries and historical accounts; mainly those of Philip Schaff, the renowned Anglican writer and speaker Frederick Farrar, the Anglican authors Conybeare and Howson, and a small number of other writers who belonged to the same interpretative framework called higher criticism.

This article is an extension of Part 3, but is a specific examination of the higher criticism authors and how they were incorporated into the pentecostal message.

Historians that Pentecostals rely on for their tongues practice.

Philip Schaff

Philip Schaff (January 1, 1819 – October 20, 1893) was the number one source that the early pentecostals used to trace their tongues-speaking history. This has already been demonstrated in part 3 of this series where Pentecostals built a historical framework for tongues largely through Schaff’s historical framework. Here are a few more additions to his already revealed relationship.

It is hard to go wrong with such a respected and venerated academic. He is one of the first American-based religious scholars to gain such universal admiration and a literary powerhouse. He produced and oversaw a vast library of publications relating to church history. The level of detail reflecting the history of Christendom is unrivaled even by today’s standards. The attempt by Pentecostals to align his scholarly history with their own experience would be more than enough to establish their newfound identity and acceptance into the religious echelons. They partially succeeded by doing so.

Philip Schaff

Schaff was a Swiss-born, German-educated professor who studied at three of the most prestigious schools of theology; the universities of Tübingen, then Halle, and finally Berlin. He studied under the greatest German names of theology and philosophy ever produced, especially that of August Neander who is considered the father of the modern glossolalia movement.

His qualities of ecumenism along with his disdain for sects and denominations would have been a welcome theme for Pentecostals. 1

This historian moved to the United States in 1843 and became a professor of Church history and Biblical Literature at the German Reformed Theological Seminary of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.2 He later taught at the Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and served there until his death.

Although Schaff himself was not a mystic, he had a keen interest in glossolalia, especially in applying it to the Irvingite movement which was one of the most discussed theological issues during his life. He was critical about the Irvingites and concluded it was nothing more than religious excitement—a practice tracing a lineage to the Montanists in the second century.3

Frank Bartleman, one of the integral proponents of the Azusa Street Revival, cited Schaff for affirmation of the tongues displayed in 1906:

We will quote from well known authors some interesting extracts on the subject of “speaking in tongues.” Dr. Philip Schaff, in his “History of the Christian Church,” Vol. I, page 116, says: “The speaking with tongues is an involuntary psalm – like prayer or song, uttered from a spiritual trance, and in a peculiar language inspired by the Holy Ghost. The soul is almost entirely passive, an instrument on which the Holy Ghost plays His heavenly melodies.4

The Assemblies of God publishing arm, Gospel Publishing House, thought so highly of Schaff that they produced a tract from his works, and put it up for sale through their flagship newspaper.

The tract, called the Person of Christ, showed how deeply ingrained Schaff had become in the pentecostal psyche. The actual advertisement is displayed along with a typed facsimile below:

“The Person of Christ” By Philip Schaff. “The one question pushing its way persistently into the hearts and minds of men is ‘What think ye of Christ?’ A clear, concise and convincing answer is given to the world in the pages of this book. No man can afford to miss from his library or his life the ripened fruit of Dr. Schaff’s mind. He has entered the Holy of Holies and brought back to his fellow men a divine message. For the man who desires to know Christ and desires to be more like Him, and desires to lead others to Him, this book is one of God’s choicest gifts.”5

Frederick Farrar

Frederick William Farrar was a gifted Anglican philologist, historian, writer and speaker. His talents was recognized by Queen Victoria who made him her honorary chaplain.6 He was later called Dean Farrar to reflect his later position as the Dean of Canterbury. His many publications, especially The Life of Christ, was highly successful both in England and the United States. He was a friend of Charles Darwin and a pallbearer at his funeral. There are two books published by him that have special interest to speaking in tongues. One highly regarded by early pentecostals, and the other oddly ignored.

Frederic William Farrar
Frederic William Farrar

Darkness to Dawn

Farrar rose to prominence in the pentecostal community when A. A. Boddy published in the May, 1914 edition of Confidence an article called “Glossolalia in the Early Church.”7 The author is an anonymous Church of England clergyman but it would have been nice to know his hame. The title is misleading because it is a book review of Darkness to Dawn. The book was written by the late Dean of Canterbury, Frederick Farrar. The reviewer had a high respect for the intellectual and historical genius of this high ranking Anglican leader. Although the book was a well-received story about fictional characters in early Rome, the historical framework was considered historically accurate – especially concerning the mode of worship and the rite of speaking in tongues.

The writer believed that Farrar had accidentally paralleled the early christian history of tongues with the modern day pentecostal movement and captured the sense that no other historian had accomplished:

Once more the Dean rightly dwells on the mystic character of “the tongue;” I also (this is worthy of special note) on the mixture of the different languages in “the tongue,” being, as it were, as he says, “the essence and idea of all languages.” Furthermore, how truly does he sum up the impression of the tongues upon the hearts of the hearers as being a blending of ecstatic worship, wonder, thanksgiving, and intercession, often untranslateable, but entering, and possessing with a like burden of worship, and intercession, the spirits of all who are “in the Spirit.”

THE SAME SPIRIT. As we read this marvellously accurate portrayal or the manifestations accompanying the Glossolalia, it is difficult to realise that Dean Farrar had never been present at one of these latter day Pentecostal gatherings (having died several years, at least, before the present Revival of the “Charismata” in the Church), and the extract we have dealt with not only shows how faithfully and successfully he has delineated, from history, the true Scriptural phenomena of the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit, but the whole passage is, to our minds, a very convincing proof of how, whether we examine the manifestations and operations of the’ Holy Spirit in the Christian assemblies of the days of Nero, or of the Twentieth Century. . .”8

This article started a long-lasting connection between Pentecostals and the late Frederick Farrar. The article itself made its rounds through the Pentecostal community for decades.9 By 1923 the book was converted into a tract. It was advertised and distributed by the Pentecostal Evangel, the official publication of the Assemblies of God. The advertisement in their newspaper reads: “The substance of this tract has been taken from “Darkness and Dawn” by Dean Farrar, and is based on a true account of the manifestations of the Spirit as they were seen in the Church in the days of Nero.”10

Darkness to Dawn tract found advertised in the Pentecostal Evangel

The tract advertisement promoted that the book was a true account. It became a seminal reading for all Pentecostals who wanted to know the historical background to speaking in tongues. It was advertised and promoted in every edition of the Christian Evangel for many years.

Comments about his book graced the lips of important pentecostal leaders. For example, Paul H. Walker, a prominent Church of God (Cleveland) minister included the book as part of his timeline for the history of tongues.11 Ernest S. Williams, Superintendant, Assemblies of God, opined about Farrar’s Darkness to Dawn book in a 1939 edition of the Pentecostal Evangel. He was encouraged by the parallels by Farrar’s view of early Christianity and modern Pentecostalism. He felt the lessons learned from the book can be applied to modern Pentecostal living.12

The Life of St. Paul

Farrar’s important theological work, The Life of St. Paul is omitted from any promotion within the pentecostal realm. This book had historical significance because it was one of the gateways of German religious thought into the English religious vocabulary. Oxford Encyclopedia co-credited Farrar as the creator of the English word glossolalia.

Farrar promoted that the tongues of Pentecost had nothing to do with a foreign language. “Pentecost, does not contain the remotest hint of foreign languages. Hence the fancy that this was the immediate result of Pentecost is unknown to the first two centuries, and only sprang up when the true tradition obscured.”13 This comment was almost verbatim from the great German scholar that he so greatly admired, August Neander.

Conybeare, and Howson

The new concept of tongues as a divine language was also found in Britain where a pentecostal newspaper, Confidence was published. This paper began in 1908 under the editorship of A. A. Boddy, an Anglican vicar at All Saints in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, England.

A picture of A. A. Boddy who had a large influence with early pentecostals on the historical understanding of tongues

Confidence gave a slightly more critical and intellectual nuance to the movement at a critical juncture in the movement’s infancy.

In the second issue of Confidence, Boddy immediately goes into the intellectual side and quotes from an 1850s publication, the Life and Epistles of St. Paul, by W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson. Two Anglican scholars whom Boddy relates; “No writers are more trusted in conservative and orthodox circles than these eminent scholars and Anglican Divines. They wrote about the year 1850, and have both passed away. Dr. Howson became Dean of Chester Cathedral. They would have rejoiced if they had been spared to the days of the Latter Rain, and themselves received the Gift of Tongues, in the Lord’s great goodness.”14

Title page from Conybeare and Howson’s The life and Epistles of St. Paul

What Boddy didn’t realize was the theological background of these two hallowed authors. These leaders had adopted the German higher criticism approach. By doing so they embraced the relatively new theory about tongues. The main component of this theory concerns the persons under the power of the Spirit was in an ecstasy, pouring forth utterances in communication with God that they themselves could not comprehend. They totally excluded the traditional interpretation and failed to resolve the tension between their conclusion and the ancient one. Here is a quote directly from their work:

Besides the power of working miracles other supernatural gifts of a less extraordinary character were bestowed upon the early Church. The most important were the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. With regard to the former there is so much difficulty, for the notices of it in Scripture, in fully comprehending its nature. But from the passages where it is mentioned we may gather thus much concerning it: first, that it was not a knowledge of foreign languages, as is often supposed; we never read of its being exercised for the conversion of foreign nations, nor (except on the day of Pentecost alone) for that occasion the foreigners present were all Jewish proselytes, and most of them understood the Hellenistic dialect. Secondly we learn that this gift was the result of a sudden influx of supernatural inspiration, which came upon the new believer immediately after his baptism, and recurred afterwards at uncertain intervals. Thirdly, we find that while under its influence the exercise of the understanding was suspended while the spirit was rapt into a state of ecstasy by the immediate communication of the Spirit of God. In this ecstatic trance the believer was constrained by an irresistible power to pour forth his feelings of thanksgiving and rapture in words; yet the words which issued from his mouth were not his own; he was even (usually) ignorant of their meaning. St. Paul desired that those who possessed this gift should not be suffered to exercise it in the congregation, unless someone present possessed another gift (subsidiary to this), called the interpretation of tongues, by which the ecstatic utterance of the former might be rendered available for general edification.15

Boddy and the majority of Pentecostals do not interpret Conybeare and Howson as higher criticism scholars, rather they saw two respected academics from an established and respected institution whose views align closely with their experience.

The Assemblies of God newspaper which briefly had the name, Weekly Evangel wrote a detailed piece in 1916 called “ Article VII. — The Gift of Tongues, and the Pentecostal Movement.” A writer named B. F. Lawrence concluded the miraculous endowment of tongues as a missionary aid was unfounded. He cited Schaff, Conybeare and Howson as his authority. Speaking in foreign languages can occur, but this is not the main purpose. The intent is to magnify God in whatever way that happens.16.

Encyclopedia Brittanica

This Encyclopedia was cited only on a few rare occasions, and the only one marked for this research was in the Church of God Evangel in 1933.17 This dictionary had little influence.

James Stalker

Frank Bartleman called upon a theologian named James Stalker (1902-1924ish) to support his experience.18 Stalker was a Free Church of Scotland minister and was widely known in the United States where he frequently spoke at seminaries and churches. Stalker didn’t think that the gift of tongues was a rite of speaking a foreign language – it was a tranced utterance and impassioned rhapsody.19 Here is yet another author borrowing from the Higher Criticism cupboard. This author fit in with Bartleman’s belief that the inspiration could express itself in musical forms.

Pulpit Commentary

The Pulpit Commentary was a large 23 volume work that approached Biblical exposition from a number of angles. Volumes began appearing in the later 1800s and took over thirty-years to complete. There were over 100 contributors to different sections of the Bible who were from clergyman to dissenting ministers.20 The editors were two Anglican-based clerics; Rev. H. D. M. Spence and Rev. Joseph S. Exell.

The Assemblies of God magazine published on two occasions using the Pulpit Commentary as an explanation for speaking in tongues. The first one was in 1916 by John S. Mercer, and the second time in 1927 by Ernest S. Williams. Ernest S. Williams was a general superintendent of the Assemblies of God and also an original participant at the Azusa Street revival.

The Pulpit Commentary was greatly held in esteem that it was republished by the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), a leading pentecostal denomination.21

The two sections of the Pulpit Commentary cited by Mercer are the Book of Acts by Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rev. Lord A. C. Hervey, and I Corinthians by F. W. Farrar.

Mercer quoted the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells that tongues were the languages of both men and angels.22 which nicely fit into the mechanics behind pentecostal mystical speech. However, this quote does not accurately reflect the Bishop thought. The Bishop thought that there was no doubt that it was a miracle of foreign languages. An alternative could have been a miracle of hearing, but he found that less convincing. He refuted the idea of tongues being for missionary purposes. He covers the positions of Farrar, Neander and other rationalists, and was not convinced by their arguments. The bulk of his exposition covers their positions. Neither did he believe it was gibberish. He concluded with a philosophical conclusion: tongues signified that all converges into the unity of Christ. The first Pentecost was a symbol that there will come a time that everyone and everything will speak and understand the same speech.23

The Pulpit Commentary on I Corinthians was written by none other than F. W. Farrar himself.

Ernest S. Williams wrote a work in defence against the pentecostal practice of tongues being one of indecency and frenzy. He aligned his argument with Farrar’s exposition in the Pulpit Commentary where Farrar stated that it was unhistoric and unwarranted “that ‘the gift of tongues’ was a power to speak in foreign languages.”24 After deconstructing the missionary tongues argument, Williams proceeded to affirm his definition of tongues through Farrar who insisted it was similar to the impassioned soliloquies of inarticulate utterance of the Montanists.25

T. B. Barratt’s defence against Higher Criticism literature

T. B. Barratt, a powerful Norwegian preacher and associate of Boddy, was partially responsible for the expansion of Pentecostalism in Europe. He recognized the encroachment of higher criticism within the ranks and fought against it.

T. B. Barratt.

He too provides a historical chart of tongues through the centuries that is very similar to what V. P. Simmons did in 1907 and makes a 1600 year jump from Augustine to the Lutheran Reformation, ignoring any catholic literature.26 He also wanted to emphasize that the gift was not to “usurp the ordinary study of Languages.”27

He does acknowledge that it could be a heavenly or divine language, but he downplays it. He also recognized it can also can be a combination of the person’s intellect and a divine intervention; “The human mind may use expression stored up by previous experiences, but God brings them out and uses them.”28 He later continues in 1909 to instill the idea of speaking in a foreign language as the most common practice.29

In 1909, Barratt produced the book, In the Last Days of the Latter Rain which may be the most comprehensive coverage on speaking in tongues from a pentecostal standpoint. In this book, he ardently struggled against higher criticism and tried to maintain a progressive traditional stance. The book is a reactionary one based on an article he read on tongues that he disagreed with. Unfortunately, he failed to identify the author, but the citations and structure closely parallel the works of Frederick Farrar. Barratt denounced the higher criticist idea that the Pentecost “does not contain the remotest hint of foreign languages,”30 and the real Pentecost was obscure so a later tradition two-centuries made it out as a miracle of speech. The anonymous writer added that Greek was an international language that the known world shared, and it was unnecessary to speak in foreign languages for the expansion of the Gospel.

He also refuted the idea that the tongues of Corinth were sounds instead of languages,31 and disagreed with Frederick Farrar’s assessment of tongues not being a foreign language.

Five years later a lecture by Barratt in 1914 was put into print: The Gift of Tongues. What is it? Delivered in Möllergaten 38, Kristania (Oslo, Norway), Saturday evening, June 20th, 1914 – a little more than a month before World War I began. It was an oration turned into a small book that “was specifically delivered to answer the criticism’s that had been made by the famed American Bible teacher, Dr. A. C. Dixon who had preached against ‘Pentecost’ the day before at The Tent of Meeting, Kristiania, on Friday 19th June, 1914.”32

The oration shows a shift in the pentecostal doctrine of tongues and movement towards the words; ecstasy and utterance. He once again entertains the idea that it is possible that sometimes it can be a non-human or heavenly language, but emphasizes the miracle of foreign language by a wide margin. He defends against the idea that Pentecost was a miracle of language and Corinth ecstatic utterances. “The Bible represents the same kind of tongues in both Jerusalem and Corinth. If they spoke in ecstatic exclamations in Corinth, then they did so in Jerusalem also. Possibly they spoke both in language and in ecstasy in both places.”33 He was aware of Neander’s redefining of tongues as an ecstatic rhapsody and rejected it. He had a strong emphasis in the book on the miracle of speaking in foreign languages. However, he does waffle on the subject. He declares that he has seen both. “We have personal experience of both of these forms of speaking in tongues, and have heard them extensively used by the Spirit at our meetings”[ref[/note]. He believed that when a person spoke, they did not know what they were speaking. It was an undefined sound. Barratt recognized the conflict in theories but he fails to clearly resolve this tension.

T. B. Barratt and the Confidence newspaper follow a similar pattern to that of the Apostolic Faith newspaper after 1910 where the activity of speaking in tongues has less coverage. One major reference happens in a 1913 issue where a woman wrote about speaking in tongues and expressed: “One is lost in God, swept up to heavenly places, and gives utterance in strange sounds, in an unknown tongue, which flow over our lips, now as shouts of joy, then as fervent utterances of love towards our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and then as petitions.”34 Her experience shows a change in attitude in tongues from a missionary to a personal and private one.

Unfortunately, Barratt’s attempt to reconcile the traditional interpretation with modern practice and his proper critique of historical criticism never took hold in the larger collective mind of the pentecostal hive. Both Barratt and Boddy became sidelined from the American corpus. The opening of World War I caused many countries to form isolationist thinking and actions which would have limited both Boddy and Barratt in the American affairs of Pentecostalism at a critical juncture of its emerging structure. Barratt was also mired in theological problems inside his Norwegian church and community that were unique to his situation. One must be cognizant of the fact that he was writing in the language of religious scholarship. This would be offputting for the majority of the collective pentecostal mind who were reactive against such an approach. Neither did Boddy nor Barratt fully endorse the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. This too would have been a factor.

In respect to speaking in tongues being foreign languages, he was in the same boat as the editors of the Apostolic Faith Newspaper, Clara Lum and Florence Crawford. They were old guards in an evolving and changing movement.


This completes the four-part series on why the traditional tongues of Pentecost was relegated mostly to the sidelines and replaced by glossolalia— an umbrella term for the language of adoration, singing and writing in tongues, and/or a private act of devotion between a person and God.

The new definitions arose because of the failure of missionary tongues and the media’s backlash of gibberish. Instead of admitting that their announcement of the miraculous return of speaking in tongues was a mistake, they chose to find a different meaning that explained what was really happening in their midst.

This series clearly shows that Pentecostals looked at certain histories that lined up with their own experience, especially that of Schaff, Farrar, a lesser input from Conybeare and Howson, and a few others. Philip Schaff and F. W. Farrar were so heavily relied upon that it would be fair to say that Pentecostals are followers of these authors tongues framework.

The shift began happening already in 1907 and continued an evolution whereby by 1947 Pentecostals believed solely in tongues as a private means of expression and that missionary tongues was a sad mistake that had been corrected.

This narrative demonstrates how early Pentecostals lacked the fundamental tools of hermeneutics to study the doctrine themselves and the longstanding effects of it. They had to leave it to third-party specialists who were capable of reading, interpreting and translating Greek, Latin and other texts and weaving a historical narrative. They had no sense that the external authors they depended on were solely from a higher criticism framework – who often didn’t even include the traditional interpretation. Even today, Pentecostal scholars have yet to make this connection or reevaluate this doctrine using a critical apparatus.

For more information

Charles Sullivan has been involved with the charismatic movement since the 1980s and presently attends a charismatic church in Winnipeg called The Church of the Rock.

Early Pentecostal Tongues: Part 3

Pentecostal solutions to the missionary tongues and gibberish crisis.

This is part-three of a four-part series covering how the traditional definition of tongues all but died and was replaced by the pentecostal practice of glossolalia — an umbrella term for the language of adoration, singing and writing in tongues, and/or a private act of devotion between a person and God.

The first article contained introductory comments. The second gave a detailed account on the twofold problems of pentecostal tongues that needed to be addressed immediately. The first was the failure of the miraculous missionary tongues and the second was the conclusion of outside observers believing the participants were simply practising gibberish.

This work delves into how the early pentecostals solved the doctrinal tongues crisis.

This research draws from the early pentecostal newspapers and authors. Special notes will be made where there are references to publications and authors who are from the higher criticism perspective. This is important because, as will be shown, the early pentecostal leaders were heavily influenced by a number of these authors and works.

Early Pentecostal Tongues builds on a previous series that focused on the origins of glossolalia doctrine in the early 1800s called The History of Glossolalia. The emphasis of the original series was how the concept of glossolalia overtook the traditional definition and became the only option in most primary, secondary and tertiary source materials produced after 1879. As will be shown, the dominance of higher criticism in the publication realm helped shape the framework for pentecostal tongues as well.

For those new to the Gift of Tongues Project or to the subject of speaking in tongues, The History of Glossolalia, is a good place to start in order to understand the following.

Table of Contents

Looking for a Solution

  • Ignore the Problem
  • Utterance vs. Gift of Tongues
  • Writing and Singing in Tongues
  • Tongues as an expression of praise and adoration
  • Tongues as a Heavenly or Private Prayer Language
  • Tongues as Glossolalia

Looking for a Solution

The redefinition process started almost simultaneously after speaking in tongues became fashionable in 1906.

The solutions are various. A few adhere to the traditional definition, while most looked to the popular religious encyclopedias, dictionaries and commentaries for answers.

Ignore the Problem

A prevalent theme in Pentecostal histories is to ignore that there was any tension at all. A miracle happened and delving into the details are not necessary.

This especially can be found with the early pentecostal editor, writer and pioneer, Stanley Frodsham. His book“With Signs Following: the Story of the Pentecostal Revival in the Twentieth Century,” was once the definitive book on anything Pentecostal by a Pentecostal. First published in 1926, and revised many times, even after 1946, it is a very good, well documented book. Likely the best of any early Pentecostal histories. The first 17 chapters of the book documents people miraculously speaking in foreign languages, and then an unexplained shift occurs in the last portion of his writing. He concludes at the end of the book that christian tongues is a secret speech, something between man and God.1 He never delved on what necessitated or caused this change.

Stanley Frodsham first encountered the pentecostal movement while a young man in England. His first personal encounter with speaking in tongues happened at A. A. Boddy’s church in Sunderland, England. Frodsham then started a religious periodical out his hometown, Bournemouth, called Victory. He later moved to the United States and was the editor for the Assemblies of God magazine called the Pentecostal Evangel. His involvement with Pentecostalism along with his editing and writing numerous compositions over the decades gave him a quasi-official status for creating an early biography of the movement.

This has been a very popular approach.

Utterance vs. Gift of tongues

One would naturally look at the Azusa Street based Apostolic Faith newspaper to see how they resolved the tongues problem. Unfortunately, the Mission was mired in personal conflict that took away all the momentum they had accrued. By 1909, Azusa was becoming a figurehead and a symbol, not a source of authority. The initial thrust and evangelistic zeal was composed of people from the east-coast and mid-west that converged upon Azusa. The power quickly shifted to these centres soon after the pentecostal outburst occurred.

Clara Lum and Florence Crawford were the longtime editors of the Apostolic Faith Newspaper which originated at Azusa Street and later moved their publishing office to Portland, Oregon, in 1909. The reasons are unclear about the move but historians believe it was a personal rift between Seymour and Crawford. Rumour has it they took the mailing list with them which severely crippled the Azusa Street Mission.

Florence Crawford

Perusing their Portland articles, the sense of awe is gone. The editorial reported little about what was happening internally within Los Angeles or Portland and reprinted snippets from other like religious periodicals.

The Apostolic Faith (Portland) Newspaper engaged with another like newspaper Bridegroom’s Messenger on an important theological level about speaking in tongues. The original editor of the Bridegroom’s Messenger, G. B. Cashwell, found his pentecost at Azusa Street and brought this energy back to Atlanta. The impact of Cashwell and his newspaper was considerable within the holiness hotbeds of the southeastern United States. In the seventh issue of the Bridegroom’s Messenger their was a formative theological assertion about speaking in tongues:

This speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is not the gift of tongues. Those who speak in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance have not the power to control it at will, it seems that it comes at such times as they are in close touch with God, the Spirit takes their tongues and speaks through them, gives them utterance. Those who have the gift of tongues, seem to be able to speak different kinds of tongues, and seem to be able to speak at will.2

Clara Lum and Florence Crawford, not wanting to be excluded from the discussion, and having almost 18 months to percolate on the subject, disagreed on a key point—they knew of no one who has ever had the ability to know and control which language they were speaking and change it on the fly. They also included a clause against the abuse of this gift which was not included in the Bridegroom’s Messenger:

We have no Scripture for speaking in tongues except as the Spirit gives utterance. It is not you that speaks, but the Holy Ghost, and He will speak when he chooses. Don’t ever try to speak at will. “It is not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord.” What is not of the spirit is of the flesh or the devil. We know that some, by getting out of the Word, have been led off into fanaticism and have become a prey for the devil. If we go beyond the Word in any demonstration, it leads into wild fire and fanaticism. Up to date, we know of no one that has received the real gift of tongues, for if they had, we believe they could go out and preach to any nation in their own tongue.3

Their statement solved two problems that plagued the movement. They concluded the person who miraculously utters does not know what foreign language they were speaking in, and even if they did, it was not a controlled condition, and therefore not suitable for missionary purposes. The gift of tongues was for those who had the miraculous ability to speak a foreign language at will and consequently a powerful tool for missionary and evangelistic purposes. Unfortunately they never witnessed this gift of tongues ever happening. This is antithetical to what was published in 1906 and may be the closest thing to an apology that existed about Azusa street.

Secondly, the one who uttered in a language was an escape clause. Few, if any, knew exactly what the person was speaking. The expression was the result of a personal divine encounter that could not be immediately explained. Lum and Crawford were released from making any judgements or critical evaluations of the occurrences because of this.

Their editions after 1911 are much more subdued on the miracles of tongues with far fewer testimonies. By 1918, the only reference is general and appears as a narrative of the movement’s former days.

Writing and Singing in Tongues

The missionary tongues emphasis is dominant but the idea of writing in tongues also has some influence. The Irvingites had a demonstration of this writing in tongues doctrine in the 1830s and in the early 1900s, one of Charles Parham’s students, Agnes Ozman, was credited with writing in tongues, and another account described shortly by a Lillian Garr also strengthens that this was a frequent practice.4

A sample of Agnes Ozman’s writing in tongues can be found on the internet or in James Goff’s Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism

The appearance of writing in tongues shows that missionary tongues wasn’t entirely absolute and there was a subculture that had other traditions developing.

Singing in tongues is unique to the pentecostal movement. The Apostolic Faith Newspaper (Portland) described it in this way: “. . .One of the manifestations that followed Pentecost was the heavenly singing by a chorus of voices in supernatural sweetness and harmony. It was melting—wonderful. Praise God, many missions have had it since then. The song is inspired, it is an anointing of the Spirit. God gave new voices to old men and women and to people who had never been able to sing, and to those that had lost their voices.”5

Frank Bartleman described his Azusa experience as a new song and described the environment in musical terms. He first described the event as a linguistic miracle and then described a parallel experience as a personal emboldening to sing. “I felt after the experience of speaking in “tongues” that languages would could come easy to me. And so it has proven. And also I have learned to sing, in the Spirit. I never was a singer, and do not know music.”6

The above is a YouTube video demonstrating singing in tongues at a contemporary International House of Prayer meeting.

Writing and singing in tongues is symbolic for Pentecostals to channel feelings of an inexpressible joy. A 1916 edition of the Weekly Evangel described it as such: “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God.”–(I Cor. 14:2) The language of which the apostle is here speaking seems to have been of a very peculiar sort–an unintelligible vocal utterance, that which is often manifested at this present day, in great spiritual revivals. We are constituted that when there rises up in our souls a strong rush of tender emotions we feel utterly incapable to put them into words. If expressed at all they can only be in the quivering lip, the gleaming of the eye and the convulsive chest. The groans, the sighs, the rapturous shouts cannot be interpreted.”7

There may be much more to this speaking in tongues genre but there is very little historical literature to go by. It may have been passed down through oral rather than literary traditions.

Tongues as an expression of praise and adoration

Out of all the solutions, this is the major one.

The Apostolic Faith Newspaper slowly crept out of being at the forefront of the pentecostal voice. They were victims of their own success. New voices edged out the old ones, and a general sense of structure was beginning to develop.

Pentecostal authorities began to look critically at the speaking in tongues issue. The experiential factor that A. G. Garr pronounced God ordained and needed no defence or explanation was not sufficient for a growing and increasingly fractured movement.

The early Pentecostal search for an answer was a difficult one as they had not developed any analytical form of analysis. The highly respected pentecostal scholar, Gary B. McGee, described the early pioneers as high on personal experience and low on academic study or reflection. If they did reflect, they would not draw from their own distinct intellectual thoughts. The movement, having no history before the late 1800s, borrowed from scholars of other protestant traditions, assuming that “Pentecostal teachings could be easily integrated with some of these formulations without undermining the credibility of Pentecostal beliefs.”8

The conservative religious nature of the pentecostal movement, largely due to the influence by its holiness parent, also added to the complexity of the problem. They were totally opposed to any form of biblical interpretation that represented the German school of higher criticism. This strong position was featured in a 1919 edition of the Pentecostal Evangel — the voice of the Assemblies of God. They wrote;

These Assemblies are opposed to all radical Higher Criticism of the Bible and against all modernism or infidelity in the church, against people unsaved and full of sin and worldliness belonging to the church. They believe in all the real Bible truths held by all real Evangelical churches.”9

This established the pentecostal community identity with the fundamentalists on biblical authority. The polemic was limited to this threat and did not extend to the writings on higher criticism related to speaking in tongues. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated the conclusion supplied by higher criticism became the framework for the various pentecostal practices on tongues.

As previously stated in the introduction, lacking in-depth theological training, biblical or ecclesiastical language skills, missing a comprehensive view of church history, and a dislike for anything that represented an institutional christian position, they turned to the English Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and writers that they felt were non-dogmatic in order to solve the tongues dilemma. They especially had a great love for the German turned American historian and theologian, Philip Schaff; the Anglican writer, theologian and Dean of Canterbury, Frederick Farrar; the Anglican theologians Conybeare and Howson, and a very short list of other authors and publications. The early Pentecostals felt safe that Schaff’s American identity and the Anglican writers were reliable sources, free from modern bias.

This examination will show how much Pentecostals depended on the above authors for their new definitions and how much influence these authors accidentally had with this movement.

None of the following authors being examined or quoted would admit such an association, but the data is clearly evident.

V.P. Simmons

V. P. Simmons was the first one to attempt to reconcile the pentecostal experience of the 1900s with the German glossolalia timeline.

Simmons was a regular contributor to a pentecostal periodical called, The Bridegroom’s Messenger which was started by the G. B. Cashwell. Many pentecostal denominations today such as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland) can trace their history to G. B. Cashwell in some form.

It only took the third publication of the Bridegroom’s Messenger to attempt this connection. An article titled, “A History of Tongues” by V. P. Simmons (Frostproof, Fla.) was the first and foremost work on the subject. Simmons was a temperance worker, emphatic about the second coming of Christ, and had been involved with tongues speaking movements since the late 1850s. He was highly respected by the Bridegroom’s Messenger.

See V. P. Simmons on the Church History of Tongues for the original article.

This same work was repeated two more times in the Bridegroom’s Messenger throughout the years.10 The article was converted into tract form by the same newspaper and advertised for sale in the March 1, 1908 edition.

The article had a direct influence for over two-decades. The last reprint found was in a denominational newspaper called the White Wing Messenger (March, 1928) – which represented the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee).11 The Church of God is one the oldest and largest pentecostal denominations in the world.

This is his timeline for speaking in tongues.

  1. He starts with Irenaeus in the second century
  2. The Montanists12
  3. Tertullian
  4. Cyprian
  5. The Camisards13
  6. The Quakers and early Methodists
  7. The Lasure movement in Sweden
  8. The Irish revival in 1859
  9. Edward Irving14
  10. The Second Adventists/Gift Adventists
  11. Charles G. Finney

The structure from 1 to 8, with the exception of Cyprian, is similar to what is found in Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church15 and the Religious Encyclopedia16 which was edited by Schaff. Simmons does not break Schaff’s structure. Instead, he adds the Irvingites, which happened before the Quaker’s and Methodists, after Schaff’s list ends.

Simmons was hesitant about including Quakers and Methodists to the history of tongues because there was no primary information that connected them. However, since Schaff included them in his analysis, he left it in the list. The Second Adventists (a movement distinct from the present Second Day Adventists) is his own contribution because he personally knew the leaders.

The reference to the Camisards by consulting the Library of Universal Knowledge was to show that he wasn’t completely dependent on one author.17

He desperately wanted to connect Pentecostalism with Montanism; “Montanism was simply a reaction of the old, the primitive Church, against the obvious tendency of the Church today to strike a bargain with the world, and arrange herself comfortably in it.” However, he failed to cite it properly and attributed it to Schaff even though it was written by W. Möller in editor Schaff’s A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology entry on Montanism.

Secondly, he asserted that the early church leader Irenaeous, Tertullian, and Cyprian endorsed and defended the Montanists speaking in tongues. This is historically incorrect. There is no literature from any of these writers substantiating such a fact. The only connection can be made is that Tertullian supported the Montanist overall cause, but did not specifically cover Montanist tongues.

Neither did Simmons realize that the key word for tongues, γλῶσσα glossa, does not exist in the critical text related to Montanism. This, along with a number of other problems, makes the case for speaking in tongues by the Montanists a weak one, if at all.

For more information on the Montanists and their alleged speaking in tongues see; A Critical Look at Tongues and Montanism

Simmons would have been better off to side with the Donatists. This was a group described by Augustine. They would have been a better faith movement to identify with because they were proponents of tongues-speaking and were opponents of the institutional catholic church.

After Cyprian, he recognized that almost 1600 years of history had been omitted. He believed this was because most academics concealed the practice. “ They evidently consider tongue talking a fanaticism, a weakness, to be kept out of sight.”18 He felt that Schaff, along with a person named Andrew Findlater, LL. D., acting editor of encyclopedia of universal knowledge, as two historians that did not suppress the subject.19

Simmons did not provide an alternative 1600 year history of tongues that would inevitably draw from Catholic sources or review pertinent christian literature in the original texts. — a significantly large corpus hardly translated into English. He felt content the concealment by the establishment for over this period as a sufficient conclusion. This interpretation fit nicely in with the Pentecostal narrative.

A 1931 edition of the Bridesgroom’s Messenger updated Simmon’s timetable and added a few additions from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Francis Xavier was referenced where it was written: it “is said to have made himself understood by the Hindus without knowing their language.”20 This is a slight improvement over Simmon’s original. However, the Bridesgroom’s Messenger failed to comprehensively examine Xavier. The Sainthood process for Xavier was partly decided on the basis of speaking in tongues. However, the reality was otherwise. Xavier had linguistic difficulties. The successful political pedalling for his Sainthood, which had serious economic benefits for many parties involved, had been a source of embarrassment for the Catholic Church. It led to Pope Benedict the XIV issuing a treatise on the subject that set forth clear investigative rules for determining whether a person divinely spoke in tongues or not.

For more information on the legend of Francis Xavier see: Francis Xavier Speaking in Tongues

William Manley and the Household of God

In 1909, William Manley, another participant directly blessed at the Azusa Street church, and well known as an evangelist, published a detailed article in his Household of God periodical titled “Tongues: Their Nature and Use According to the Commentators”. The article compiled a list of books and commentaries to prove that speaking in tongues was a language of praise and thanksgiving; purposely shifting the emphasis away from foreign languages. Who was the author and when was this published? We know Manley was the editor and possibly the author. The article cannot be located in the incomplete Household of God archive. However, a reprint can be found in the Bridesgroom’s Messenger in the January 15th, 1909 edition.21

The work cited a number of critical commentaries: (Clicking on the names will take you directly to their books and pertinent pages cited on tongues):

Adam Clarke; Matthew Henry; Henry Alford; Philip Smith; Gotthard Lechler; Cunningham Geikie; Frédéric Godet; Jameson, Faucette and Brown; John Fulton (actually James Vernon Bartlett); and especially Philip Schaff. Schaff was the last on the list and given by far the longest quotation. 22 The article demonstrates how quickly the definition had evolved since 1906.

A closer look at the commentators selected gives some detailed clues on how editor Manley and Pentecostals in general were inclined to reach a conclusion of speaking in tongues being a language of prayer and adoration.

  • Adam Clarke, was one of the leading theologians in the Methodist movement. He promoted the idea of it being a tongue for the expansion of the Gospel.

  • Matthew Henry was a presbyterian minister in the early 1700s whose written works greatly impacted later protestant leaders. Manley quoted from him to assert that speaking in tongues is a manifestation of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • Henry Alford “The great work of his life, however, was his Greek Testament (4 vole., London, 1849-61; thoroughly revised in subsequent editions), which introduced German New Testament scholarship to English readers. . .”23 He was a disciple of August Neander — the foremost writer and promoter of tongues as glossolalia.

  • Philip Smith admittedly followed Schaff’s guidance along with another influence, canon Robertson. He admits he shares their defects.24

  • Gotthard Lechler studied in Germany and was a disciple of August Neander.25

  • Cunningham Geikie was a prolific presbyterian theologian and writer with strong ties both in Canada and England. He doesn’t appear to fit in any equation. His books contain a high number of references to German sources and in one of his publications thanks a certain Professor G. Ebers of Leipsic, Germany for his contributions.26 Charles Spurgeon and Franz Delitzsch highly recommended his works.27 His quotation by Manley gives the sense that there is a comprehensive community of theologians from different christian movements that are all in agreement with speaking in tongues.

  • Frédéric Godet, a Swiss-Protestant theologian, studied in Germany and was especially influenced by Neander.28

  • David Brown, the author of the commentary on the Book of Acts for Jameson, Faucett, and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible was one of the few who had no connection with Germany, but was an assistant to Edward Irving.29 Mr. Irving and his movement was the precedent setting event in protestant history that awoke the tongues debate out of a slumber and into a hotly debated subject.30

  • John Fulton was the editor of Ten Epochs of Church History that the Household of God lifted the citation from. Many authors contributed to the Ten Epochs. The quote in this case was from James Vernon Bartlett. There is little biographical information on either one.

  • Philip Schaff was left for the end of the article and was given slightly more space than the rest of the quotations. One of the more important Schaff quotations emphasized praise, adoration and a personal religious language.

    “It was an act of self devotion, an act of thanksgiving, praying, singing within the Christian congregation by individuals who were wholly absorbed in communion with God, and gave utterance to their rapturous feelings in broken, abrupt, rhapsodic, unintelligible words. It was emotional rather than intellectual. * * * * the language of the spirit or of ecstasy as distinct from language of the understanding.”31

  • More about Schaff will be explained in Part 4.

The reader can clearly see a pattern developing here where the Pentecostal framework for speaking in tongues was based on higher criticism. The combination of pentecostal experience plus the higher criticism approach of it being a language of adoration was a natural fit.

It is noteworthy to see three who were left off the list that would have appealed to the pentecostal protestant sense. The great seventeenth-century churchman and Hebraist John Lightfoot, whose commentary on I Corinthians, especially his coverage on tongues, published in English in 1859, was a masterpiece. John Gill, whose commentary follows that of Lightfoot, or Jean Calvin’s Commentary on Corinthians. None of these would easily agree with the above observations.

A. B. Cox

A. B. Cox wrote for the Bridal Call: Western Edition in 1919 on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit where he devoted some thought to the history of speaking in tongues. The magazine was started by popular pentecostal media icon Aimee Semple Mcpherson. She is noted as one of the major influences in the rise of Pentecostalism. Not much can be obtained about Mr. Cox except for his contribution to the Bridal Call.

A look at his historical timeframe on tongues is similar to that of Simmons. He went into a few more details but there are some flaws.

  • Cox asserted that Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, most of the church fathers believed the disciples of Pentecost were miraculously and permanently endowed with the power of foreign languages. This statement, with maybe the exception of Augustine, cannot be substantiated from these early church writers themselves.

  • The following quotation; “Augustine wrote in the fourth century, “We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Ghost on them, in the laying of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues,” cannot be substantiated in any of Augustine’s works.

    This citation has become part of the pentecostal myth. It is found in the Church of God Evangel in 1933,32 and was also repeated by the well known pentecostal theologian and radio speaker, Carl Brumback in his 1947 work, What Meaneth this? A Pentecostal Answer to a Pentecostal Question.33

  • Cox cites Gregory of Nazianzus to make a connection with the tongues of Babel, but makes no mention of Gregory’s miracle of tongues paradox—a central aspect of Gregory’s coverage on tongues. It makes the researcher ask if Mr. Cox actually looked at the text itself or simply lifted his quote from a third party source.

  • He goes on to claim further sources Oshausen, Baumgarten, Thiersch, Lechler, Hackett, Glaag, Plumptre, Schaff, Schmiedl and Zeller. Most of these are German higher criticism authors with an exception of Edward Hayes Plumptre. Plumptre was entirely familiar with the German position on tongues. His analysis was hesitant, but still followed their framework.34 A further look at sources by Cox demonstrates that this was an edited copy from Schaff’s History of the Christian Church35

Paul H. Walker

Mr. Walker was an important leader in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) denomination between the 1920s and 1960s. His article, “The Baptism with the Holy Ghost and the Evidence” written 1933, goes into historical detail to assert his position. It is one of the more lengthy works that follows the typical pentecostal historical framework. There are a few problems:

  • He cited Frederick Farrar’s book, Darkness to Dawn as a primary source, though it is only a work of fiction.

  • He too cites the same spurious reference to Augustine about converts being expected to speaking in tongues.

It must be noted that he too references Schaff’s History of the Christian Church in his reference to speaking in tongues through the ages.36

Tongues as a Heavenly or Private Prayer Language

The shift from missionary tongues to language and adoration allowed the definition to move into a new direction. One of the effects of this transition allowed the concept tongues as a heavenly devotional language—a language of men and angels. Most mixed this concept with the traditional one of foreign languages believing that the definition allowed for either to happen.

The first one was posted on April 22nd, 1916 for the “interest of the Assembly of God” on the nature of speaking in tongues.

This is not a gift of different languages as some have believed, but is an emotional or heavenly language, in which the speaker speaks only to God.37

The author then supports his claim from the Pulpit Commentary that it was “an unintelligible vocal utterance,” and that it was sometimes a human language, others heavenly or angelic ones. 38

Two months later, another article was posted that credited its teaching from A. A. Boddy and the pentecostal movement in England. There was a heavy emphasis on Conybeare and Howson’s Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” and Philip Schaff’s “Apostolic Church”. With these evidences the author included a double answer that integrated both the old and new definitions:

We see that the belief that the gift was for the preaching of the Gospel to foreigner, is unfounded. Foreign people did certainly hear their own languages on the day of Pentecost (the disciples were not, however, on that occasion, preaching the Gospel but magnifying God–the common use of the gift) therefore the Spirit must have sometimes given a known language.39

A 1920 edition of their publication acknowledged the ability to divinely speak a foreign language but moreso encouraged the personal aspect; “With an understanding of the private use of the gift of tongues as a medium of expressing the heart’s deepest emotions, a greater field of usefulness opens before us, and Christian believers should have a greater interest in being filled with the Spirit and power for the accomplishing of divine work in the world than they have in merely—for their own comfort and satisfaction–getting rid of a troublesome inward disposition.”40

A writer by the name of Herman L. Harvey weighed in on the subject for Aimee Semple McPherson’s, Bridal Call: Western Edition and he too vacillated on the definition. He gave more emphasis on the personal expression as a human, angelic or prayer language and did not believe speaking in tongues was for missionary activity. He cautioned about an unspecified group in California (clearly referring to the Azusa Street revival) who had made a “sad mistake,”41 for promoting such a doctrine.

Tongues as Glossolalia

Even though the early pentecostal followers were fond of historical criticism as it related to speaking in tongues, they hardly embraced the word glossolalia as a term that described their experience. There are some brief moments that surprise such as the Bridegroom’s Messenger (1909) that first quotes Schaff and then adds that the glossolalia at Pentecost was an act of worship and adoration, not a miraculous speech for the conversion and instruction of the masses.42 The writer understood the word close to its original intention, but this was not always the case. A writer named B. F. Wallace wrote in a 1916 periodical and defined glossolalia as speaking miraculously in a foreign language.43 Another account in 1920 states it can be declaring the works of God or uttering real languages on earth.44

In 1947, Donald Gee who is considered one of the fathers of the pentecostal movement went so far as to call tongues ecstatic speech, but he did not go so far as to call it glossolalia. However, it appears to be the same thing to him. Gee taught that the view of early pentecostals on missionary tongues was “mistaken and unscriptural”45 He then clarified the current pentecostal definition on tongues: “From the data presented to us in the Scriptures, it seems clear that the gift of tongues consisted of a power of more or less ecstatic speech, in languages with which the speaker was not naturally familiar.”46

Glossolalia does not appear to take any serious usage in the pentecostal realm until about the 1960s. The Pentecostal Evangel Magazine starts to use it as an abbreviation for speaking in tongues. In a 1962 issue it related about a Lutheran outbreak and described it as a “. . .“spiritual speaking,” known among theologians as “glossolalia” goes back to Christ’s Apostles. . .”47 The Magazine produced a special edition in 1964 with an article promoting glossolalia,48 and in the same year one more article and formation of a glossolalia archive occurred. The first one was a sort of clarification which avoids defining the very nature of tongues:

You may wonder, “what is meant by the word ‘Glossolalia’? It is a theological term applied to the practice of speaking with other tongues. . . it is as old as the Bible. Back in the days of the apostles (over 19 centuries ago) the followers of Jesus experienced glossolalia.49

The second one was the Assemblies of God announcement that they were setting up a “depository of writings on glossolalia (speaking in tongues)” at their main headquarters.50

A current popular pentecostal leader, Rev. Heidi Baker, wrote a thesis entitled Pentecostal Experience: Towards a Reconstructive Theology of Glossolalia in 1995. She branded speaking in tongues as glossolalic prayer. An idiom which she described as an “embodiment and manifestation of God’s real presence to the Pentecostal community and the Church in our world. . . Pentecostal glossolalic prayer may be seen as God’s supernatural union with a person in a pre-conceptual, contemplative way and as an “incarnation” of this in a certain person’s life.”51 I have never heard this being used by a lay pentecostal follower, preached from the pulpit, nor in any other pentecostal literature. Baker was attempting to wrap a comprehensive philosophical framework around tongues and wanted to retain the pentecostal distinctive while doing so. She failed to see the earlier connection between higher criticism or the early development of the word glossolalia when she built her argument. By ignoring or unaware of the antecedents, she demonstrates how thoroughly integrated the higher criticism influence has become. It is part of the DNA of pentecostal experience and no longer questioned.

Next: Early Pentecostal Tongues: Part 4 The connection between early pentecostalism and the writings of Schaff, Farrar, Conybeare and Howson and a few select others.

For more information

Early Pentecostal Tongues: Notes and Quotes

A digest of early Pentecostal based newsletters.

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

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

Table of Contents

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

    The Legend of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues

    The connection between the sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, and speaking in tongues.

    St. Francis Xavier depicted at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. A monument celebrating the Portuguese age of exploration.
    St. Francis Xavier depicted at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. A monument celebrating the Portuguese age of exploration.

    The story of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues is a complex one that straddles between the real and mythical person. Though a celebrated pioneer, great organizer, highly adaptive educator, and a prolific networker, his legend is even better. This is a study of Francis Xavier, how he became connected with and the controversy surrounding his speaking in tongues. In the end, the reader will understand how the christian doctrine of tongues was understood and practiced in this era.

    The controversies that surround Xavier speaking in tongues put him into the top five narratives of the christian doctrine of tongues throughout the centuries.

    Research was a lengthly process. This is a summary of the findings. For the actual source texts, extended quotes, and translations, see Technical Notes on Francis Xavier Speaking in Tongues

    Who was Francis Xavier?

    Francis Xavier lived from 1506 to 1552 and originally hailed from Sanguesa, in a country state called Navarre. The kingdom of Navarre is long gone, but the city of Sangüesa continues to exist in the northernmost reaches of Spain. This city borders on France and is a short distance from Portugal. Xavier studied in Paris, and after finishing his education, made his way to Venice where he passionately worked among the sick. King John the III of Portugal had solicited Ignatius of Loyola and his newly formed Society of Jesus to evangelize the West Indies, especially the regions controlled by Portugal. Ignatius had already selected a number of individuals which excluded Xavier, but due to sickness of one of the original members, he was called in as a replacement. Thus began the story of one of the greatest foreign missionaries of all time.

    Continue reading The Legend of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues

    Technical Notes on Francis Xavier speaking in tongues

    The following are quotes from the principal sources on the real Francis Xavier and the legend of his speaking in tongues. This is a quotes only document — a comparative analysis of all this information is in the final stages and will be posted as a separate article.

    The debate and controversy that surrounded St. Francis Xavier’s alleged speaking in tongues was a source of internal friction within Catholicism, especially the among the Jesuits themselves, and a rallying point for Protestants. The real Francis Xavier did not speak in tongues, but the legend of Francis did.

    How this legend began and grew is an interesting and complex story.

    This leads into a journey about how Medieval Catholics viewed speaking in tongues; what it meant to them, how it was applied, and the politics that surrounded this practice.

    The legend of Francis Xavier speaking in tongues ranks within the top five themes throughout the two-thousand-year history of the christian doctrine of tongues. There is no doubt that this legend is the most complex one out of any documents in the Gift of Tongues Project. There are numerous reasons why the mystery of Francis Xavier is difficult. The original documentation is multilingual; spanning Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Latin, and French. The subject is wrapped in Medieval Catholicism, which has its own unique history, customs, personalities and procedures that outsiders such as myself have a difficult time to grasp. Xavier’s gift of tongues is deeply embedded with international and national politics. The topic is shrouded in religious symbols and shifts into the Protestant realm where Rationalists especially took critical aim. It spans across continents and new worlds that most Europeans hardly knew at the time. The maps, names and locations mentioned in the texts are far from the modern English mind.

    This article is produced to meet a requirement of the Gift of Tongues Project which is the digital capturing of source texts. The following are actual quotes from testimonies, writers, and publications that highly influenced and perpetuated this myth. These are actual quotes with little or no commentary from myself relating to Xavier speaking in tongues. They are organized according to date; from the earliest publications shortly after Xavier’s death, all the way into the twentieth-century. The Italian, Spanish and Portuguese originals are not digitally captured because I have no knowledge of these languages or the ability to do data-entry in them. However, links to the original text along with an English translation is supplied where appropriate.

    This file is designed for the researcher, not for the casual reader. This is the longest article found in the Gift of Tongues Project because of the amount of source material. It may take a few moments to load the full contents into the browser, please be patient.


    • Pedro de Ribadeneira
    • Giovanni Pietro Maffei
    • Horatius Tursellinus
    • João de Lucena
    • The Book Monumenta Xaveriana:
      • Emanuel Fernandez
      • Thomas Vaz
      • Antonio Peirera
      • Pope Urban VIII
    • Daniello Bartoli
    • Dominique Bouhours
    • Pope Benedict XIV
    • John Douglas
    • Hugh Farmer
    • Charles Butler
    • Henry James Coleridge
    • Andrew Dickson White
    • A Jesuit response to Andrew Dickson White
    • Edith Anne Steward
    • James Brodrick
    • Georg Schurhammer
      • Volume II
      • Volume IV

    Continue reading Technical Notes on Francis Xavier speaking in tongues

    A Bollandist Rebuttal in the Francis Xavier Debate

    The following French text is one source of many being put together for a major article in development on St. Francis Xavier speaking in tongues.

    The debate surrounding Francis Xavier supposed speaking in tongues is one of the larger pieces to fit in with the narrative of the christian doctrine of tongues. For this reason, particular attention to detail is being made to properly document and explain this topic.

    The text taken is from Analecta Bollandiana – one of the foremost and longest running Catholic-based publications on the lives of the saints.

    The article is a refutation against Andrew Dickson White — a late nineteenth-century Protestant professor at Cornell University who wrote in his book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom that St. Francis never had the gift of tongues, only later legends and his canonization attached this.

    The controversy greatly ventures into Protestant – Catholic polemics and apologetics. Overall, the argument over St. Francis is hardly about him, but symbolic of issues relating to the role of mysticism, miracles, the place of theology in critical analysis, and the function of science in the religious discussion. The gift of tongues is a by-product of these debates.

    As found in Analecta Bollandiana. Carolus de Smedt et al, ed. Vol. XVI. Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes. 1897. Pg. 53ff.

    Les Miracles de S. François Xavier

    Dans un récent ouvrage de M. André Dickson White; ancien professeur d’histoire à Cornell University (Ithaca, États-Unis), un chapitre entier est consacré à la question des miracles de S. François Xavier.

    Voici comment l’auteur a été amené à traiter ce sujet: Il a entrepris de montrer de quelle façon les faits merveilleux qui émaillent les Vies des saints, ne sont pas autre chose que le produit de l’évolution des légendes. Pour la plupart des saints; le manque de documents, la distance considérable de temps qui nous sépare de l’époque à laquelle ils vécurent, ne permettent pas de tracer les étapes successives que la croyance populaire a parcourues avant d’arriver au complet épanouissement dont la légende écrite représente le dernier terme. Il faut suivre ce développement dans l’existence d’un saint assez rapproché de nous et pour laquelle tous les documents sont en notre possession. C’est le cas pour la vie et les miracles de S. François Xavier.

    Est-il besoin de dire que, sur la thèse générale défendue par M. Dickson White, nous sommes, du moins dans une certaine mesure, d’accord avec lui? Les documents hagiographiques, en effet, sont loin, tant s’en faut, d’étre tous d’égale valeur, et mieux que d’autres, les bollandistes savent avec quelle facilité et quelle richesse d’imagination certaines hagiographes, au moyen âge par exemple, ont forgé sans scrupule les miracles dont ils présentent le récit à leurs lecteurs. Toutefois, il y a lieu de distinguer soigneusement entre différentes catégories de Vies de saints. Certaine critique est trop portée à généraliser, et quand elle a découvert le procédé employé par quelque écrivain du moyen âge, elle prétend expliquer par le même procédé toutes les oeuvres hagiographiaques. C’est une erreur grave: Chaque cas requiert une étude particulière que la (Pg. 53) Légende de tel saint fabuleuse; on n’a rien fait pour les Actes de tel autre: En hagiographie surtout, il importe de se défier de l’application trop étroite du principe ab uno disce omnes.

    Mais en voilà assez sur la thèse générale soutenue par M. Dickson White, que du reste nous n’avons pas l’intention d’examiner plus au fond. C’est, au contraire, le cas particulier de S. François Xavier qui nous intéresse davantage, et qui nous parait mal choisi pour appuyer la théorie de l’auteur sur les miracles qu’on lit dans les Vies des saints.


    Voici comment procède l’argumentation de M. Dickson White; nous l’analyserons d’abord tout entière pour n’eu pas affaiblir la portée.

    Dans toute la correspondance de Xavier, si volumineuse pourtant, si détaillée, on ne relève pas la moindre trace d’un fait miraculeux. Bien au contraire, les biographes ont souvent travesti des faits rapportés par Xavier. Ainsi, un jour qu’il faisait voyage avec un ambassadeur, un serviteur de celui-ci fut sur le point de se noyer: Xavier raconte que l’ambassadeur se mit en prière et cette délivrance au compte de l’apôtre des Indes.

    Quand il arriva à Lisbonne, Xavier trouva Simon Rodriguez malade de la fièvre. Rodriguez fut si heureux de revoir Xavier que du coup il se trouva guéri. A cela rien d’étonnant; car la joie de revoir Luther eut un résultat égal sur la santé de Melancthon. Ailleurs, Xavier raconte qu’ayant baptisé une pauvre femme indienne très malade, elle recouvra la santé.

    Tels sont les faits, bien simples et nullement surnaturels, que Xavier rapporte lui-même et qui seuls ressemblent de loin à des prodiges. En effet, c’est sur eux qu’on a bàti tout l’échafaudage de la légende des miracles de Xavier.

    Les collaborateurs de l’apôtre ne parlent pas de ses miracles; ainsi la correspondence d’Emmanuel Acosta est absolument muette sur ce point. Bien plus, Xavier, qu’on nous représente comme ayant joui du don des langues, se plaint fréquemment des grandes difficultés qu’il éprove à s’assimiler les idiomes indigènes. En outre, si Xavier avait réellement accompli les prodiges que lui prétent si libéralement ses biographes, comment expliquer qu’en 1374, dix-neuf ans après la mort du grand thaumaturge, Joseph Acosta, provincial, pose, dans un de ses ouvrages, la question suivante : Cur miracula in conversione gentiu, non fiant nunc, ut olim, a Christi praedicatoribus? Quant au miracle de la préservation du corps de Xavier après sa mort, M. Dickson White (Pg. 54) rappelle d’autres faits du même genre, et qui eux excluent toute idée de prodige.

    Voici maintenant comment l’évolution a commencé. En 1554, deux ans après la mort de S. François Xavier, Melchior Nuñez cite trois miracles, et encore ne les rapporte-t-il que par oui dire: Jean Deyro aurait, dit-il, affirmé que l’apôtre des Indes avait le don de prophétie; mais Deyro ne mérite aucune créance, Xavier lui-même dut le réprimander pour sa mauvaise foi. On ajout qu’au cap Comorin certaines personnes affirment vaguement que Xavier ressuscita un mort; enfin Paul de Sainte-Foi a entendu dire qu’on Japon Xavier rendit la vue à un aveugle.

    Tel est le premier noyau de la légende; elle n’a plus qu’à se développer. Un an plus tard, en 1555, Quadros, provincial d’Éthiopie, connait déjà neuf miracles. L’année suivante, le roi Jean III de Portugal demande au vice-roi des Indes, Barreto, un rapport authentique sur les miracles de S. François Xavier. Le travail devait étre exécuté « avec rèle et promptitude ». On devine ce que l’obséquieuse flatterie du vice-roi, jaloux de plaire au monarque, réussit à obtenir des ignorants et crédules indigénes de toutes les petites villes de l’Inde portugaise.

    Puis en 1562, Almeida rapporte toute une série de guérisons obtenues par un livre qui avait appartenu à Xavier. (Pg. 57) On le voit, la legende continue son évolution. Toutefois, elle n’a point encore osé affronter les milieux éclairés. Car, dans le discours prononçe la même année 1562, devant les Pères du Concile de Trente, par Jules-Gabriel Eugubinus, il n’est point fait mention des miracles de Xavier, malgré l’occasion favorable que l’orateur avait de les produire, étant donné le sujet qu’il avait choisi de traiter. De même, le P. Maffei en 1588 dans ses Historiae Indicae est très modéré relativement le dessus dans la Vie de S. François Xavier du P. Turselin, publiée en 1594, et dans le discours prononçe, lors de la canonisation de Xavier en 1622, par le cardinel del Monte. Celui-ci mentionne une série de dix miracles, parmi lesquels celui de l’écrevisse rapportant à Xavier le crucifix qu’il a lassé tomber au fond de la mer.

    Après la canonisation de l’apôtre des Indes, la légende se donna libre carrière, et les divers biographes n’eurent qu’un souci, celui de dépasser leurs devanciers par le nombre et l’importance des prodiges. C’est surtout le cas de la Vie publiée sur l’ordre du P. Vitelleschi et de celle que composa Bouhours. Toutefois, ce dernier emporte la palme ; un seul détail suffira à le montrer. Alors que premiers biographes de Xavier parlent vaguement et timidement de la résurrection d’un mort, Bohours rapporte quatorze faits de ce genre. Autre exemple, (Pg. 55) Xavier lui-même et le P. Joseph Acosta décrivent avec insistance les pénibles efforts que dut faire l’apôtre pour s’approprier les idiomes de tant de peuples auxquels il alla porter la lumière de l’Évangile. Le P. Bouhors n’est point embarassé par ces aveux ; il déclare carrément que Xavier parlait toutes ces langues barbares, sans les avoir étudiées. Turselin reconnait ingénument que les prédications de Xavier en japonais, en leur langue, avec tant de naturel et d’aisance qu’on l’eut jamais pour un étranger.

    M. Dickson White conclut en ces termes : « Il est incontestable que les orateurs et les biographes en général sont enclins à l’erreur. C’est pour eux la règle de penser, de parler et d’écrire, sous l’empire des lois naturelles qui régissent la luxuriante effloraison du mythe et de la légende, dans la chaude atmosphère de l’amour et de la dévotion qui s’attachent aux grands chefs religieux, en des temps où l’homme ignorait les lois de la nature, où l’on faisait peu de cas de recherges scientifiques, et où celui qui croyait davantage obtenait le plus large crédit. »


    Avant de reprendre point par point l’objection formulée par M. Dickson White, une remarque préalable s’impose. En quoi consiste l’évolution prétendument constatée par lui dans l’histoire des miracles de S. François Xavier? Est-ce un reçit primitif se développant successivement sous la plume de nouveaux biographes, sans qu’aucun document ultérieur soit venu justifier les accroissements successifs subis par la première narration? Nullement, et l’évolution dont M. Dickson White nous a fait le tableau, n’a rien de commun avec celle d’autres légendes qui se transforment de leur propre fonds. L’évolution signalée par M. Dickson White, est celle qui se produit tout naturellement, lorsque des pièces nouvelles viennent continuellement enricher une biographie. Quand Xavier mourut à Sancian, le 2 décembre 1552, le bruit de sa mort fut lent à se répandre, et ce ne fut qu’en 1554, dat du retour de son corps à Goa, que l’histoire commença à s’emparer de l’apôtre des Indes. Ses Frères d’abord, ensuite les Portugais répandus dans tout l’Extrème Orient, se firent l’écho des faits merveilleux qui se racontaient partout. Puis il y eut l’enquète ordonnée par Jean III et le procès juridique instruit par l’archevéque de Goa, autant de documents nouveaux qui vinrent enrichir l’histoire de S. François Xavier. Il n’est donc pas surprenant que pendant un certain nombre d’années la liste des miracles attribués à l’apôtre des Indes ait pu s’augmenter, et que les diverses notices publiées sur ce sujet, à différentes époques, soient plus abondantes les unes (Pg. 56) que les autres en faits miraculeux. Il y eut cependant une limite, c’est celle posée en 1623 par la bulle de canonisation d’Urbain VIII, et assurément rien n’est moins comparable à la composition d’un récit légendaire qu’une pièce officielle de la chancellerie romaine. Au XVIIe siècle déjà, s’observaient avec la plus grande rigueur les règles posées par l’Église pour la canonisation des saints.

    Mais, dira-t-on, et M. Dickson White a insinué cette objection, peut-on ajouter foi aux témoins qui déposèrent dans l’enquête instituée sur l’ordre de Jean III et dans le procès que fit instruire l’archêveque de Goa? Rome a cru à ces témoins, et rien ne nous autorise à suspecter son jugement ; M. Dickson White n’a aucune bonne raison de se montrer plus exigeant que la congrégation des Rites, qui a pesé la valeur des témoins et apprécié l’exactitude de leurs dépostions. Il ne fut d’ailleurs pas si malaisé de choisir ces témoins et de contrôler leurs affirmations. M. Dickson White parle des « ignorants et crédules indigènes des petites villes de l’Inde portugaise ». Il est commode de rejeter en bloc ces témoins, sous le méprisant prétexte que nous venons de rapporter. Mais on a interrogé d’autres personnes que celles que M. Dickson White traite si dédaigneusement. Parmi ces témoins, nous trouvons les noms de Rodrigue Diaz Pereira, aulae regiae patritus, de Gaspar de Cerqueiros Abreu, commandant de l’expédition japonaise, d’Emmanuel Fernandez, notable de Cochin, de don Marcio, ambassedeur du roi de Bungo. Il est superflu d’allonger cette liste, et nous ne prolongerons pas davantage non plu ces considérations sur la valeur du procès de canonisation. Quand on aura fait valoir des objections positives contre les témoignages, nous verrons ce qu’il y a à y répondre ; pour le moment, nous resterons dans le débat précis soulevé par l’ancien professeur de Cornell University.

    Ce débat n’est pas aussi nouveau qu’on pourrait le penser. M. Dickson White n’a fait que reprendre pour son compte une thèse déjà ancienne. Même les arguments qu’on présente aujord’hui ne sont pas neufs, et il est assez piquant de signaler ce rejeunissement périodique de vieilles objections.
    En 1734, le Dr Douglas, devenu plus tard évêque de Salisbury, publiait son Criterion ; or Rules by which the true Miracles of the New Testament are distinguished from the spurious Miracles of Pagans and Papists. Dans cet ouvrage, il parle des miracles de S. François Xavier, et voici ce qu’il en dit : « Pendant les trente-cinq années qui suivirent » la mort de Xavier, il ne fut pas question de ses miracles ; j’en ai pour la mort de Xavier, il ne fut pas question de ses miracles ; j’en ai pour preuve l’assertion de Joseph Acosta, qui lui-mème fut missionaire aux Indes, et qui dans son liver De procuranda Indorum salute, imprimé en 1389, trente-sept ans après la morte de Xavier, avoue que les missionnaires des Indes n’ont accomplie aucun miracle. »

    On le voit, M. Dickson White n’a pas même le mérite de l’invention ; il n’a fait que répéter ce qu’après le Dr Douglas ont dit Le Mesurier, Hugh Farmer, Peter Roberts et R. Greer, pour ne parler que des écrivains anglais.

    Finissons-en tout de suite avec l’affirmation relative à Joseph Acosta, dont M. Dickson White avec le Dr Douglas, a fait grand état. Il y a beau temps que le Dr John Milner, vicaire apostolique du district de Londres en 1818, a remarqué, dans son livre The End of religious Controversy, que le P. Acosta, contrairement aux assertions de plusieurs protestants, parle « du bienheureux maitre François », comme on appelait S. François Xavier avant sa canonisation, et voici ce qu’il dit : « De si nombreux et de si grands miracles ont été rapportés à son sujet » par témoins oculaires, que peu d’autres, si l’on excepte les apôtres, ont accompli de plus grands prodiges ». Le Dr Douglas et tous ceux qui l’ont suivi jusqu’à M. Dickson White inclusivement, ont tronqué le témoignage d’Acosta. Nous nous contenterons de signaler pareil procédé ; il se qualifie de lui-même. Il a déjà, et à juste titre, été reproché à M. Dickson White par le R. P. Thomas Hughes S. I., qui réfuta l’article du professeur de Cornell University, quand il parut pour la première fois dans les numéros d’août et de septembre 1891 de la revùe américaine The Popular Science Monthly. L’ouvrage que publie aujourd’hui M. Dickson White n’est en effet qu’un réédition d’articles qui ont paru dans la revue que nous venons de citer. Pourtant l’auteur a eu connaissance des deux articles que le R. P. Thomas Hughes consacra à son étude sur les miracles de S. François Xavier. Cela ne l’empêche pas de reproduire, malgré le texte si formel qui lui a été opposé, l’assertion gratuite du silence d’Acosta relativement aux prodiges de l’apôtre des Indes. Cette récidive n’améliore pas le cas de M. Dickson White.


    Il est temps d’aborder en détail les arguments que fait valoir le professeur de Cornell University pour établir le caractère légendaire des miracles de S. François Xavier. Le premier de ces arguments est tiré des lettres du saint missionnaire. Nulle part, dit M. Dickson White, il n’y est fait allusion à des prodiges qu’il aurait opérés. Observation au moins naïve, et qui prouve que l’écrivain américain n’a guère compris le caractère de Xavier. Autant l’ancien professeur de Saint-Barbe avait autrefois recherché la gloire humaine, autant le disciple d’Ignace (Pg. 58) s’efforce d’ensevelir dans le plus profond oubli les merveilles que Dieu opère en lui par lui. Non, ce n’est pas à Xavier qu’il faut demander s’il a fait des miracles; et l’on sait que le jour où on lui posa nettement la question s’il avait ressuscité un mort, il esquiva la réponse.

    Mais, insiste M. Dickson White, les contemporains et les collaborateurs de Xavier n’avaient pas les mêmes raisons de se taire, et pourtant ils ne disent rien des miracles de l’apôtre. La correspondance à laquelle l’auteur fait allusion, est celle contenue dans les Epistolae Japanicae de multorum in variis Insulis Gentilium ad Christi fidem conversione, Lovanii 1570. C’est à ce recueil que M. Dickson White en appelle lui-même. Or si nous analysons cette correspondance, qu va de 1549 à 1564, nous voyons que sur les vingt-neuf lettres qui composent le recueil, cinq sont de François Xavier et par conséquent hors de cause; les autres sont postérieures à la mort de l’apôtre des Indes, et par suite ne rentrent pas dans les conditions où M. Dickson White a placé le débat. Du reste, quoi qu’on en ait dit, il y est assez rarement question de S. François Xavier. Les auteurs des lettres adressées aux supérieurs rendent le plus souvent compte de leurs propres travaux.

    N’oublions pas non plus que Xavier fut presque toujours seul dans ses courses apostoliques, ou du moins sans être accompagné d’un autre père de la Compagnie, surtout pendant les premières années de son séjour aux Indes. Les anciens missionaires ne furent donc pas témoins des miracles de Xavier. Mais ils durent en entendre faire le récit? Peut-être, mais ce n’est pas certain; car tant que vécut Xavier; on semble avoir fidèlement respecté la défense qu’il fit aux témoins des prodiges que Dieu opérait en sa faveur.

    Toutefois, les contemporains et les collaborateurs de Xavier sont moins muets au sujet de ses miracles qu’on veut le faire croire. Ainsi, Gaspar Barze dit, dans une lettre du 10 décembre 1548, en parlant de Xavier : « Tout à coup, le bruit courut que le Père Maitre François était mort; et chacun disait comment, à sa manière. Ses amis en furent tristes au delà de toute expression. « Quand il nous en coûterait, disaient-il, trente mille cruzados, nous le ferons canoniser » et ils racontèrent des miracles, de très grands miracles qu’il fit, vivant en ce pays : je ne vous les raconte pas, parce qu’il ne nous convient pas de parler de ces choses, si ce n’est à Dieu, pour lui en rendre grâces. (Pg. 59) Certes, nous sentirions bien, nous, le vide que ferait dans ces contrées la mort du Père François; mais nous ne laissons pas, pour cela, d’aller notre chemin ».

    Dans une lettre de François Perez aux pères de Coimbre, et rapportée la double prophétie que François fit à Malacca de la victoire remportée par la flotte portugaise et de la mort d’Arausio. Cette lettre ne porte pas de date, mais le contexte montre qu’elle fut écrite du vivant de Xavier. Le même François Perez répète les mêmes faits dans un autre missive également adressée à Coimbre.

    En 1543, Jean Vaz, licencié en théologie, qui fut pendant six mois le compagnon de S. François Xavier, raconta, à son retour de Rome, des choses merveilleuses à son sujet.

    Il y a encore une allusion évidente aux miracles de Xavier dans les lignes suivantes écrites de Travancor, en 1548, par Balthasar Nuñez : « Dans les pays où il passa, il demeure de lui un tel renom, que ce que l’on en devrait dire ne paraitrait pas croyable. Ces choses-là, je ne veux pas écrire ; elles sont tellement dignes de considération qu’on ne doit pas les confier au papier. Si grand est l’éclat de la vie de Maitre François, que ne son nom est célèbre dans toute l’Inde. . . Quel regret j’ai de ne pas vous exposer en détail les merveilles que l’on raconte de Maitre Françoise ; j’en ressens plus d’ennui que vous n’en ressentirez. Sachez, et n’en parlez pas, que Dieu opère par son moyen beaucoup de choses desquelles, comme j’ai dit, il n’est point licite de parler ».

    Parmi les contemporains que furent témoins de la vie et des prodiges de François Xavier, se trouve le fameux don Fernand Mendez Pinto. Parti de Lisbonne pour les Indes en 1337, il arriva au mois de janvier 1347 à Malacca. « Là, dit-il, nous treuuasmes le Reuerend Pere Maistre François Xauier, Recter vniuersel de la Compagnie de Iesus en ces contrées des Indes, qui depuis peu de iours estoit arriué de Molucques auec vne grande reputation de sainct homme, tiltre que tous les peuples luy donnoient pour les grands miracles qu’on luy voyoit faire ». Plus loin, Pinto rapporte au long le récit de la prédiction faite à Amboyne de la mort de Jean de Araujo, et de celle faite à Malacca de la victoire des Portugais. Après avoir rappelé cette double prophétie, Pinto ajoute : « l’obmets que par ce bien-heureux seruiteur de Dieu, » nostre Seigneur fist plusiers autres grandes merueilles, dont i’en ay (Pg. 60) veu quelques-unes et ay ouy dire les autres, desquelles ie ne fais point mention maintenant, pource que cy-apres i’ espere d’en rapporter quelques-vnes. » En effet, il raconte comment, durant la traversée du Japon à la Chine, où il accompagne Xavier, celui-ci, le 17 décembre 1531, apaisa une terrible tempête, et comment se vérifia prophétie de Xavier relative à don Alonso, gouverneur de Malacca.

    En voilà assez, croyons-nous, pour mettre à néant l’assertion de M. Dickson White sur le silence absolu des contemporains et des collaborateurs de Xavier. Cette assertion est absolument controuvée, et les extraits que nous venons de fournir prouvent surabondamment que, dès son vivant, l’apôtre des Indes jouissait auprès de ses frères et de ceux qui l’avaient vu à l’œuvre, d’une réputation bien établie de thaumaturge. Sans doute, nous ne trouvons pas dans les relations des missionaires de l’Inde et du Japon, la trace de tous les miracles que l’enquête juridique révéla plus tard. Faut-il en conclure qu’il y à eu évolution de légende? D’aucune façon ; ce que nous avons dit tout à l’heure explique suffisamment certaines omissons, et nous avons déjà fait remarquer combien les frères de Xavier furent prudents et réserve un témoignage bien curieux dans le passage suivant d’une lettre du P. Balthasar Diaz : « Quanta alla morte de nostro Padre Francesco, molti uomini si ritrovarono in questa citta (Goa), quali si erano ritrovati in diversi luoghi con esso, e lo hanno visto fare e dire cost fra gl’ infideli, quali evidentemente erano sopranaturali e non minori di quelle che leggiamo delli Sancti antichi. Person di molto credito venivano da me dimandando, perchè non faceuamo inquisizione, e pigliavamo testimoni de queste cose, accio fosse canonizzato : ma perchè questo debbe essere fatto per persona autentica, e per altri rispetti onesti, non ho voluto io essere l’autore di questo . . . .

    On a vu que, pour étayer sa théorie de la légende des miracles de S. François Xavier, M. Dickson White établit que de Maffei à Bouhours, l’évolution de ces prodiges suit un cours ascensionnel. « Maffei, dit-il, bien que rempli d’admiration pour son héros, passe légèrement sur les miracles, tandis que l’ouvrage de Turselin révèle un développment considérable dans le nombre des prodiges. »

    Que répondre à cela? Il est oiseux de vouloir établir une comparaison, au point de vue qui nous occupe, entre Maffei et Turselin, parce que les deux biographes poursuivaient l’un et l’autre un but très différent. « D’autres, écrit Maffei, ont raconté ses prédictions infaillibles et ses miracles en plus grand nombre que nous ne l’avons fait, parce que (Pg. 61) nous nous proposions un autre dessein ». Il semble que Maffei avait prévu l’abus que M. Dickson White allait faire de son travail.

    Quant à Turselin, il est intéressant de noter le changement d’attitude pris à son égard par M. Dickson White en 1891 et 1896. Lorsqu’en mai 1891, l’article sur les miracles de S. François Xavier parut pour la première fois dans The Popular Science Monthly, Turselin fut pris comme point de départ de l’évolution de la légende. M. Dickson White affirmait alors que le livre de Turselin était « maigre en fait de miracles ». Mais le R. P. Thomas Hughes releva vigoureusement cette assertion inexacte, et montra que Turselin, ce prétendu point de départ d’évolution, et qui, d’après le professeur de Cornell University, avait écrit un livre maigre en fait de miracles, en raconte cinquante et un opérés par Xavier de son vivant. Aussi M. Dickson White, dans la nouvelle édition de son travail; a-t-il déplacé Turselin sur l’échelle de l’évolution. Il était curieux de signaler ces variations, d’autant plus que dans une note de son livre, M. Dickson White écarte, avec une mauvaise humeur visible, les articles du P. Hughes; où il n’y a, d’après lui, que des affirmations sans preuves. Pas si peu que cela, nous parait-il, puisque l’affirmation relative à Turselin, affirmation du reste solidement établie par le P. Hughes, a produit tout son effet sur M. Dickson White. Il nous sera permis aussi de faire remarquer du professeur de Cornell University ; au contraire, ils prouvent, comme d’autres assertions que nos avons relevées, combien il s’aventure à la légère.

    Il nous reste à répondre aux objections soulevées par le publiciste américain sur deux faits miraculeux relatifs à S. François Xavier : la conservation de son corps et le don des langues. Pour le premier fait, M. Dickson White l’ecarte d’une façon très sommaire, en rappelant d’un cadaver, sans qu’il y ait lieu de crier au miracle. C’est très vrai. Assurement, toute conservation de corps est loin de prouver une intervention extraordinaire de la Providence, et dans bien des cas, les lois naturelles fournissent une explication satisfaisante. Toutefois, en d’autres circonstances, cette conservation et absolutement contraire aux règles de la nature et échappe à toute interprétation scientifique. M. Dickson White aurait dù démonstrer, s’il avait voulu faire œvre de science sérieuse, que dans le cas particulier de S. François Xavier tout s’explique naturellement. Au lieu de cela, le professeur de Cornell University s’est contenté d’un paralogisme. Nous n’insisterons pas davantage sur ce point. Ce n’est pas ici le lieu de reprendre l’étude (Pg. 62) de la question de la conservation du corps de Xavier tant de fois élucidée, et nous croyons superflu de démontrer à nouveau que tout autre cadavre inhumé dans les conditions où le fut le corps de l’apôtre des Indes, eùt été la proie certaine de la destruction.

    Le prodige de la vie de Xavier sur lequel M. Dickson White insiste le plus, est celui du don des langues, car là surtout il croit saisir sur le vif le travail de développement de la légende. Le nouveau critique refuse toute créance à ce don merveilleux; à ses yeux, c’est la crédulité des historiens complaisants qui en gratifié l’apôtre des Indes. Or M. Dickson White veut sure ce point s’en tenir exclusivement aux affirmations de Xavier lui-même. « Que nous apprend, dit-il, Xavier à cet égard? Au cours de toutes ses lettres, depuis la première jusqu’à la derniere, il ne cesse de décrire les difficultés qu’il éprouve à s’assimiler les différents idiomes des tribus si variées, au milieu desquelles il doit vivre. Il nous rapelle comment il essaya de surmonter ces difficultés, parfois en apprenant tout juste assez de la langue pour traduire quelques formules liturgiques, parfois en empruntant le secours des autres afin d’apprendre les éléments mêmes de la langue, d’autres fois en employant des interprètes. »

    Voilà tout l’argumentation de M. Dickson White! Que prouve-t-elle? Que Xavier n’eut pas le don des langues en certaines occasions? D’aucune façon, elle montre seulement que S. François Xavier mit en œuvre tous les moyens humains que pouvaient lui mériter un secours surnaturel. L’argument de M. Dickson White fut déjà produit, lors du procès de canonisation de S. François Xavier, per Jacques Picenino, auquel le Cardinal Gotti répondit fort à propos que les difficultés alléguées par Xavier ne contredisent nullement le fait qu’en certaines occurrences Dieu lui donna, malgré ses rudimentaires connaissances des langues exotiques, d’être compris de ceux auxquels il s’adressait dans un idiome qui n’était pas le leur. Du reste, Xavier ne jouit pas continuellement de ce privilège, que semble ne lui avoir été accordé qu’une ou deux fois, à Travancor et à Amanguci. Il pouvait donc, quand Dieu ne l’assistait point d’une façon surnaturelle, éprouver toutes les difficultés dont il fait la description. Aussi accorderons-nous volontiers à M. Dickson White que le P. Bouhours qu’il cite à propos du don des langues, a passablement exagéré l’usage de cette prérogative. On sait d’ailleurs que chez le P. Bouhours les libres allures du littérateur ont assez mal servi l’historien.

    Toutefois, en ce cas encore, M. Dickson White a mal posé la question ; ce qu’il s’agit de savoir, c’est si de preuves suffisantes attestent en (Pg. 63) Xavier le don des langues. Eh bien, le témoignages sont formels à cet égard, et pour dénier à Xavier la miraculeuse faculté de parler des idiomes étrangers ou de se faire comprendre par les peuples les plus divers en sa propre langue, il eût fallu démolir les témoignages produits au cours de procés canonique. Telle était la marche logique à suivre, tandis que les considérations émises par M. Dickson White n’entament d’aucune façon les témoignages positifs que affirment l’apôtre des Indes le don merveilleux des langues.

    Nous croyons avoir fait justice des objections soulevées par M. Dickson White contre les miracles de S. François Xavier. Ceux-ci, nous le voulons bien, sont de nature à déconcerter les esprits que hante le dédain systématique de surnaturel ; mais vouloir expliquer par l’évolution de la légende la vie merveilleuse de Xavier, telle que nous l’ont transmise des historiens dignes de foi, c’est une entreprise illusoire et que les faits démentent formellement. En tout cas, l’essai tenté par M. Dickson White n’est guère encourageant, et nous croyons qu’on s’accordera généralement à le trouver peu réussi.

    Three Welsh men speaking in tongues

    The story of three sixth-century Welsh Christian Saints and their encounter with the gift of tongues.

    St. David, Padarn, and Teilo are important figures in the history of Wales. Who exactly were they and how do they fit in the history of tongues speaking? It is necessary to narrate the lives of these revered Welsh icons before the coverage of speaking in tongues can begin.

    The legends behind these people are interesting, especially that there is a connection between two of them and the legendary King Arthur.

    The life of St. David has the most coverage and the most controversial. The Encyclopedia of World Biography describes his biography in this way:

    Most information about Saint David comes from the writings of an eleventh-century monk named Rhygyfarch (also Rhygyvarch, Rhigyfarch, and Ricemarch), son of Bishop Sulien, of Saint David’s Cathedral, Saint David’s favorite of the churches he established. Rhygyfarch claimed to have gathered his information from old written sources, but those have not survived. Rhygyfarch’s life of Saint David is regarded by many scholars as suspect because it contains many implausible events and because he had a stake in enhancing Saint David’s history so as to support the prestige of the Welsh church and its independence from Canterbury, the center of the English church (still Catholic at the time). According to David Hugh Farmer in The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Rhygyfarch’s history of Saint David “should be treated as propaganda, which may, however, contain some elements of true tradition.” 1

    Teilo, often written by his Cornish name Eliud, was a bishop and founder of monasteries and Churches in south Wales. “Reputed to be a cousin, friend, and disciple of Saint David.”2 He is the patron Saint of fruit trees and horses and there are more than 25 Churches in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany dedicated to him. A great feat, but St. David still has more Churches honoured to him.3

    Padarn, was an early 6th century British Christian who is considered one of the seven founding saints of Brittany. Padarn is one of a small group that mention King Arthur independently of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae.4

    These three made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Shortly after leaving Britain, they discovered linguistic barriers between themselves and the countries they were journeying through. The solution was a divine one. St. David was “endowed with the gift of tongues, just as the apostolic company was, so that when they were staying among foreign peoples they should not lack an interpreter, . . .”

    There are different versions of the account that are not in complete agreement. Rhygyfarch’s text, which contains the above quote, is the most popular. His original work was written in the eleventh-century but there are so many variations of his text today, it is unclear which one is the original. The version used here is from Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David. Ed. and transl. Richard Sharpe and John Reuben Davies. They have done the comparative manuscript work. The English translation and the Latin text provided at the end of this article is from their contribution.

    Rhygyfarch supports the idea that St. David had the same gift as the Apostles had, but fails to describe the miracle. This requires a further look into another version. The Nova legenda Anglie, a biographical collection of English Saints started by John of Tynemouth in the fourteenth-century, provides some insight. “He [Teilo] began to expound the sacred Scriptures. And each one of those standing heard him speaking in his own language.” The Nova legenda Anglie is promoting the miracle of hearing rather than speaking.

    However, the Nova legenda Anglie takes a twist in the narrative. It was Teilo who first spoke in tongues. St. David and Padarn followed later. This is different from Rhygyfarch who emphasised St. David over Teilo and Padarn. This explanation may be connected to a rivalry between the Church organisations led by St. David and Teilo where each one later wanted to position themselves as a superior order. The demonstration of miracles, including the gifting of tongues, was to demonstrate their exclusive superiority. This is not the first time this has happened. This same competition was found between two religious orders in France; l’abbaye Saint-Clément and l’abbaye Saint-Arnould during the tenth and fourteenth centuries. L’abbaye Saint-Arnoud argued that their founder, St. Patiens of Metz, supernaturally spoke in tongues to support their claim as the more credible Church order.5

    The legends of St. David, Teilo, and Padarn speaking in tongues may be a later medieval interpretation and this is fine. Their story further reinforces how the medievalist biographers understood the Christian doctrine of tongues. They understood it as a divine infusion of either speaking or hearing a foreign human language. These texts demonstrate no connection to uttering incoherent words, speaking an angelic or prayer language.

    Another text that closely parallels that of Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David is the one found in Acta Sanctorum. The text truncates a few lines when compared to Rhygyfarch. I wonder if the editors of Acta Sanctorum were concerned about the Rhygyfarch text being added and revised at a later date. Unfortunately, medieval textual criticism is not my forte and will have to leave that problem for a medievalist enthusiast to solve.

    As per the goals of the Gift of Tongues Project three original texts in the Latin are provided. Two contain an English translation. The third does not have an English translation which is the Acta Sanctorum. This text is left only in the Latin because it closely parallels Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David. It is pointless to spend the time translating this text but may be of value to those Latin readers who like to see subtle shifts in textual transmission.

    English translation of Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David.

    § 44. As his merits increased, so also did his rank and respect. For one night, an angel came to him, and said, “Tomorrow, put your shoes on and set out to travel to Jerusalem and make the journey you have longed for. I shall also call two others to be your companions on the way, namely Eliud” (who is now commonly called Teilo and was formerly a monk of this monastery), “and also Padarn” (whose life and miracles are contained in his own history). The holy father, wondering at the authority of the command, said, “How shall this be done? For those whom you promise to be my companions live three days’ distance or more away from us and from each other; therefore we cannot by any means meet tomorrow.” The angel said to him, “Tonight, I shall go to each of them, and they will come to the appointed place, which I shall now reveal.” Saint David made no delay, but having organized the useful things of his cell, he received the blessing of the brethren and began his journey early in the morning. He reached the appointed place, met the promised brethren there, and they went on their way together. They were equals as fellow travellers, no one considered himself to be above the other, each one of them was a servant, each one master. Constant in prayers, they watered the road with tears. The further their feet took them, the greater was their gain. They had one mind, one joy, and one sorrow.

    § 45. When they had sailed across the British sea and arrived in Gaul, they heard the strange languages of different nations, and father David was endowed with the gift of tongues, just as the apostolic company was, so that when they were staying among foreign peoples they should not lack an interpreter, and also that they should confirm the faith of others by the word of truth.6

    Latin source of Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David.

    44 Crescentibus autem meritis, crescunt eta honorumb dignitates. Nam quadam nocte ad eum angelus affuit, cui inquit, ‘Crastina die precingens calciad te, Ierusalem usque pergeree proficiscens, optatam carpe uiam. Sed et alios duos comites itineris uocabo, Eliud, scilicet,’ qui nunc Teliau uulgo uocatur, qui quondam eius monasterio interfuit monachus, ‘necnon et Paternum,’ cuius conuersatio atque uirtutes in sua continentur hystoria. Sanctus autem pater, admirans imperii preceptum, dixit, ‘Quomodo hoc fiet, nam quos promittis comites trium uel eo amplius dierum spatio a nobis uel a semetipsis distant? Nequaquam ergo pariter crastina conueniemus die.’ Angelus ad eum nuntiat, ‘Ego hac nocte ad quemquam illorum uadam, et ad condictum, quod nuncf ostendo, conuenient.’ Sanctus autem [Dauid], nichil moratus, dispositis cellul” utilitatibus, accepta fratrum benedictione, primo mane iter incepit. Peruenit ad condictum, repperit ibi promissos fratres, pariter guiam intrant. Equalis commeatus, nullus enim mente alio prior, quique eorum minister, quique dominus, sedula oratio, lacrimis uiam rigant. Quo amplius pes incederet, merces excresceret, una illish anima, una leticia, unus dolor.

    45 Cum autem trans mare Brittannicum uecti Gallias adirent ac alienigenas diuersarum gentium linguas audirent, linguarum gratia ceu apostolicus ille cętus ditatus est [pater Dauid], ut ne in extraneis degentes gentibus interprete egerent, et ut aliorum fidem ueritatis uerbo firmarent.7

    An English translation from Nova Legenda Anglie 2:365-66.

    However, in order to satisfy their desire and the people’s supplications, he [Teilo] began to expound the sacred Scriptures. And each one of those standing heard him speaking in his own language. Therefore, when all who had been moved by so great a pleasing speech and they heard him for such a long time, the more they desired to hear him. Lest one should appear to presume about the business regarding which he was going to speak, as if he was preaching on his own account, he said to the people: “Hear now the words of life from my brethren who are more perfect in life than me, and or more diligent in learning.” Therefore Saint David and Padarn arose and they preached to the people and everyone in their own language perfectly understood them.8

    The Latin source from Nova Legenda Anglie 2:365-66.

    Vt tamen populo supplicanti et illorum voto satisfaceret, sacras scripturas exponere cepit: et unusquisque astantium illum sua lingua loquentem audiuit. Cumque omnes tanta dulcedine sermonis illius essent affecti, ut quanto eum diutius audirent, magis illum audire desidarent; ne predicandi officium videretur presumere si solus predicassset, populo dixit: ‘Audit iam a fratribus meis verba vite, qui me perfectiores in vita sunt, et diligentiores in doctrina.’ Surrexerunt ergo sanctus Dauid et Paternus, et predicauerunt populo, omnibusque in sua lingua perfect intelligentibus eos.”

    Acta Sanctorum.

    AASS Mar., I. 44-45. Pg. 45

    Chapter IV

    Quadam nocte Angelus S. Dewi apparens, ait : Crastina die cingens et calceans te, Jerusalem peregre proficiscens, optatam carpe viam. Sed et alios duos comites vocabo : Eliud scilicet, qui nunc Telion vulgo nonimatur, qui quondam ejus monasterio interfuit monachus, et Paternum, cujus virtutes in sua continentur historia. Sanctus autem Pater admirans imperii præceptum, dixit : Quomodo hoc fieret? Nam quos promittis socios, trium vel amplius dierum spatio a nobis vel a semetipsis distant : nequaquam ergo crastina conveniremus die. Cui Angelus : Ego hac nocte ad quemlibet illorum vadam : et ad condictum, quod tibi modo ostendo, convenient. Sanctus autem nihil moratus, dispositis cellulæ utilatibus, accepta Fratrum benedictione, primo mane incepit iter, pervenit ad condictum, reperit ibi præmissos Fratres, pariterque intrant viam : una illis anima, una lætitia, unus dolor. Cum autem trans mare Britannicum vecti, Gallias adirent, ac alienas diversarum gentium linguas audirent, linguarum gratia, sicut Apostolicus ille cœtus, ditatus est David Pater : ut ne in extraneis degentes gentibus, interprete egerent.