Tag Archives: I Corinthians

John of Damascus on Tongues: Notes

Notes on John of Damascus’ work, Commentary of I Corinthians, chapters 13 and 14, as it relates to the christian doctrine of tongues.

John of Damascus

John of Damascus was an eighth-century church leader who lived in Syria under Muslim rule. The Greek texts originally written by him have been passed on through the ages and may have been heavily edited. Whatever historical information exists about him tends to be of mythical proportions. It is hard to separate the man from the myth.

A commentary on I Corinthians is credited to him. Whether the text accurately represents his original thought isn’t the most important point. For the purpose of the Gift of Tongues Project it represents the perception of tongues during the eighth- to tenth-centuries.

Discovering an old commentary on I Corinthians is always exciting because it offers potential to solve the Corinthian’s tongues riddle. However, his work doesn’t solve the problem but does offer a small clue. His text suggests Paul was addressing a problem of foreign languages. This will be explained in more detail below.

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia claims that he was the “the last of the Greek Fathers.” How the article arrived at this conclusion is not known. The same article proceeds to add, “His genius was not for original theological development, but for compilation of an encyclopedic character.” This became clearer as the translation of his Commentary on I Corinthians proceeded. His style reminded me of the structure and style used by the Latin writer, Thomas Aquinas, four centuries later. Aquinas liked to stitch together thoughts from a variety of sources and offer those considerations with the fewest words possible, assuming the reader understood the background and meaning. Damascus did the same thing. It gave some sense that John of Damascus was thinking in Latin and writing in Greek. Perhaps this wasn’t the correct approach and so the following was contemplated: he was thinking in Arabic and writing in Greek. The Greek style had a heavy dependency on participles rather verbs which showed something different not seen before and there was nothing that could explain this. However, there was not enough information to substantiate either claim.

His coverage of tongues and angels in I Corinthians 13 follows the thought originally penned by Origen that it was hyperbolic language and then borrows from Chyrsostom that angels don’t have bodies,(1)Catenae Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum. Vol. 5.J.A. Cramer. Oxonii. 1844. Catenae in Sancti Pauli Epistola Ad Corinthios. Pg. 251 using the same verbs and nouns, but constructed slightly different than what Chrysostom used.

Damascus made one important omission in his commentary — he doesn’t refer to Gregory Nazianzus on the doctrine of tongues. One would expect a Greek author and Church writer such as John of Damascus to quote liberally from the fourth-century Nazianzus who covered the topic in great detail and caused a great deal of controversy for centuries. This is surprising. The only logical conclusion found so far is that the controversy that Nazianzus began was discussed in the Western Latin Church — a large portion of the argument in the Western circles had to do with the improper Latin translation and hinged on this. It wasn’t an issue on the Eastern Greek front, nor in Damascus’ mind.

For more information on Gregory Nazianzus theory on the miracle of speaking or hearing, and transmission problems into Latin see: Rufinus’ Grand Omission.

The actual Greek text is found in Migne Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 95. Epistola in Corinth. The text itself is divided into two: Biblical citation followed by a short commentary. The Biblical citations have only minor differences than the standard Greek Bible text. I did not spend much time on translating the Greek when Biblical citations were made, relying instead on what is found in the New American Standard Bible. However, I had to make some changes to reflect what Damascus understood the text to mean. For example, I changed the English noun tongues which now has a much wider semantic range than what was intended 500 years ago, to languages, which is more specific to the initial intention.(2)See the The Difference Between Language and Tongues

Now that the details have been examined it is time to move on to the important global question. What did John of Damascus believe speaking in tongues to be? His commentary lacks any serious historical narrative and is a homily divided on love, and the subject of corporate good instead of individualism. He briefly touches on the gift of tongues as the human power to speak in a foreign language. He does not ascribe any emotional or supernatural attachment to this office.

His commentary on 14:10-12, does mildly clarify his understanding of the text:

[v10-12a] “There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.(3)]NASB So it is also with you.”

That is, so many languages, so many sounds, Scythian, Thracian, Roman, Persian, Mauretanian, Egyptian, other myriads of nations.

He directly connects foreign languages with Paul’s I Corinthians text.

This commentary does not recognize any controversy or doctrine inherited from the Montanist movement relative to tongues. This is consistent with the overwhelming majority of ecclesiastical texts on the subject. ■

Want to know more about what John of Damascus wrote? The following is a link to his actual text: John of Damascus on Tongues: an English Translation.

References   [ + ]

Rufinus' Grand Omission

Rufinus’ Latin translation mistake on Nazianzus’ Greek text on Pentecost.

How a very small oversight caused major problems later on.

As discussed previously in Is Tyrannius Rufinus a Reliable Translator?, Tyrannius was a dynamic rather than a static translator. He was freely ready to translate according to the sense of the text and not the literalness of it. The general consensus was that he was a good dynamic translator with some detractors from this. In the case of Gregory’s On Pentecost, he made two errors.

Gregory had outlined two different explanations for the miracle at Pentecost: one was with it being the miracle of hearing, and the other, a miracle of speaking. The nature and structure of the Greek text clearly made it out to be that the miracle of speaking was the correct interpretation for that of Pentecost.

However, Rufinus’ translation obscures Nazianzus’ preference. This caused major problems.

The first one was with Greek particle ara, ἆρα. Tyrannius did not understand Nazianzus purpose of this particle in this context. It is an interrogative particle that often is translated into English as: if. It also expresses some doubt at the validity of the question. Nazianzus was introducing an enthymeme styled delivery here. He was positing two ideas with one being clearly obvious and needing little substantiation. He thought the answer was clear.

Rufinus chose instead to make both statements have equal weight, which was not Nazianzus’ intention. This subtle change caused much controversy in the Latin reading world. The Latin text conveyed it was up to the reader to determine what the answer was. This mistaken discussion raged on in the eighth century when the Venerable Bede delved into the issue, and later forced Thomas Aquinas to take a clear position on this.{{1}}[[1]]See Thomas Aquinas on the Miracle of Tongues for more info.[[1]]

A second problem flows from the first. In the Greek text, a brief sentence follows the two preferences which was given to show which one was his preference. Gregory wanted to make it even clearer, just in case the reader didn’t understand the enthymeme, that he preferred that it was a miracle of speaking, Καθὰ καὶ μᾶλλον τίθεμαι. Rufinus did not include this statement in his translation.

It forces one to ask the question, why was it missing? Either Rufinus was unaware that the passage existed or he ignored it. Both the Greek and Syriac texts have this text included. One must keep in mind that the Greek texts are from the ninth century onwards. There is no early Greek record to work with. The Syriac, which goes back to the eighth century, and maybe earlier has it, but the publisher of the manuscript has the text highlighted, noting that it is not clear in meaning.{{2}}[[2]]Sancti Gregorii Nazianzeni opera. Versio Syriaca, II. Orationes XIII et XLI (Corpus Christianorum. Series Graeca, 47. Corpus Nazianzenum, 15), 151. A. SCHMIDT ed.,  Turnhout – Leuven, 2002 Pg. 90[[2]]

The evidence so far suggest, though not conclusively, was that he ignored it.■

John of Damascus on Tongues: an English Translation

A translation of the eighth century John of Damascus’ Commentary on I Corinthians as it relates to the doctrine of tongues.

In Epist. Ad Corinth I. by Joannis Damasceni. Migne Patrologia Graeca. Vol. 95. Col. 676ff as translated from the Greek by Charles A. Sullivan.

I Corinthians 13:1-3

[v1-3] “If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and I know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I distribute all my possessions, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

By saying this, he insinuates the holding of negligent responsibilities results in receiving much less, and those who remain steadfast,(1) κυρίους if they so wish, results in something much greater. So love is much greater than all the gifts. He thus establishes this and lays-out the combination, as all the gifts are nothing with the absence of love. For see how he builds this premise. Namely, he does not say, If I knew languages,(2) Ἐὰν ἴδω γλώσσας but instead, if I should speak in the languages of angels. Nor does he simply say, If I am going to prophesy, but, I know all the mysteries and all knowledge, with careful detail(3) μετὰ ἐπιτάσεως And he does not say, If I could give possessions,(4) Δῶ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα but, if I could distribute,(5) ψωμίσω so that he combines service with the cost. In fact demonstrating all here with careful detail, he shows it is greatly inferior with that of love. On which account if you passionately are desirous of the greater gifts, he says, pursue love.

Love is rightly the greatest of the gifts. For these other things naturally had been the cause of division,(6) διέσχισαν while on the other hand love unites those who disagree.

See from where it begins, by the greatness appearing with them of these languages, and not only of men but also of angels. Furthermore, about the tongue of angels, a body is not assumed for angels. The matter being referred to is like this: although I should utter a sound in this way as the means that the angels dialogue between each other, for instance when he says, every knee should bow to him: of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth,(7) Philippians 2;10. Damascus has slightly modified his Greek text replacing “to Jesus” with “to him”. he is not saying these things as one who assumes knees and bones with angels, but wishes to allude to the fervent-pitched act of worship by means of this imagery to us. That is why he cited language here, wishing to show to the rest of the audience a sermon(8) ὁμιλίαν in a familiar way with us.■

I Corinthians 14:1-33

[V.1]“Follow after charity.”

And consequently to us, the work of the race is supremely for this.

“And desire the spiritual things, rather that you may prophesy.”

In order that someone may not suppose that he introduced the word of love so that he could put an end to the gifts, regarding this he introduced a grace, saying: desire the spiritual things. He makes the case of aggregating together those things belonging to the family of gifts and lessens the gift of languages, neither is the gift useless by any means, nor does it show(9) The text has δεικνὺς which would render it in context here as pres ind act 2nd sg OR pres act masc nom/voc part sg. Neither of which fits in verbally with the flow here. I think it a print error and should read δεικνὺσι the benefit in respect to this.

[v2-4] “For one who speaks in a language, speaks not to men, but to God; for no one hears, moreover he speaks mysteries in the spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and consolation to men. The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but the one who prophesies edifies the Church.”

The one who has the ability to speak to God, points out greatness, but on the other hand smallness since this person does not have the ability to edify the Church. For he absolutely desires this; the edification of the many.

[v5a] “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in languages,”

Not that they should form an opinion here that the person who is critical condemns(10)καθαιρεῖ the languages by these, that this one is in the act of being set right about the suspicion concerning them, he says this:

[5b]“Unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”(11) NASB

It is less, he says, the act of speaking in languages than that of prophesying. Unless of course someone also can interpret the languages.(12)The Greek has τὰ γλώσσας which I think is a copyist/print error. It should read τὰς γλώσσας The Latin has “Nisi forte aliquis etiam interpres adsit, qui linguas sciat interpretari.” the emphasis here is anyone having the ability to interpret the foreign language being spoken, not just the speaker. It was by no means to be a reference to equality made with the one who prophesies.

[v6] “But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking,(13)The Greek has ἐὰν ἔλθω πρὸς ὑμᾶς λαλῶν, which I think is a copyist/print error. It should read τὰς γλώσσας while all other editions contain ἐὰν ἔλθω πρὸς ὑμᾶς γλώσσαις λαλῶν it is likely a copyist or print error. The commentary below suggests that this was a mistake too. what will I profit you?”

What if I speak other things? He says, if I myself come speaking in languages, it will not be greatly beneficial for those who are listening. Thus he speaks these things, the one who demonstrates enthusiasm for that which is beneficial for these people, he does not have hostility against those who possess the gift.

[v6b] “Unless I speak to you whether by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?”(14)NASB

Unless I speak, he says, that can be easily apprehended by you but otherwise will have shown only that I have a gift of a specific language, consequently you all will have gone away having gained nothing in these things. Why should it be from a voice that you all do not understand?

[v7-9] “Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?(15)NASB Likewise you also in this manner, by the office of language.”

What I speak,(16)Τί λέγω he says, is it that the matter is unprofitable with regards to you all? Also wouldn’t anyone have instinctively known this about lifeless things and the harp and bugle?

[v9b] “Unless all of you are given an intelligible word, how will it be known what the person is speaking?”

The alternative,(17)Ἀντὶ τοῦ, unless you all can interpret.

[v9c] “For you will be speaking into the air.”(18)NASB

That is, a person is uttering for no one else, for this one is speaking to no one.

[v10-12a] “There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.(19)NASB So it is also with you.”

That is, so many languages, so many sounds, Scythian, Thracian, Roman, Persian, Mauretanian, Egyptian, other myriads of nations.

[v12b-13] “Since you are zealous of spiritual things, seek to abound for the edification of the church. Therefore let one who speaks in a language pray that he may interpret.”

If it is necessary to be zealous, be zealous for the gifts which builds up the Church. On which account he adds, saying: Pray, that he may interpret

[v14-15a] For if I pray in a language, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do?

That is, the gift which had been given to me, and summons the language.

[v15b-16] “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. Otherwise, when you are praising in the Spirit, how can the one who leads the place of the laymen, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?”

It has a meaning something like: who then is the one apt to teach and be beneficial? And what manner was it necessary to speak? And why is it necessary to request from God? And he responds saying that one ought to pray by the Spirit that is by the gift and with the intent,(20)διανοίᾳ so that when the language is uttered, the mind equally is not ignorant about the things being spoken. For if this should not be [the case where] a strange bewilderment is produced. For the layperson did not know to respond(21)ὑποφωνεῖν Amen. He naturally did not know what you are saying.

[v17] “For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified.”(22)NASB

So that he did not appear to utterly hold the gift as worthless, he provides this. On the contrary this was elevated when he was saying, This one who is speaking speaks mysteries as well speaks to God and builds himself up.(23)A modified version of I Corinthians 14:2 by John. You, therefore, he says, give thanks well. For you are speaking, being moved by the Spirit. But the person hears nothing, nor knows the things being spoken, and remains standing(24)ἔστηκεν this is in the perfect 3rd sg but it doesn’t fit with the present participles or the flow of the sentence. I agree with the Latin that it should be understood as present tense. — the one who receives does not benefit much.

[v18-19a] “I give thanks to my God that I speak in a language more than you all. But in the Church.”

He says this so that it would not show that he is hostile as one depriving [them] of the gift.

[v19b] “I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also.”(25)NASB

That is, understanding that which I speak and having the ability also to interpret for others.

[v19c] “Rather than ten thousand words in a language.”

He says In fact this is holding a performance(26)ἐπίδειξιν without a companion,(27)Τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ ἐπίδειξιν ἔχει μόνην The Latin is: Hoc enim ostentationem solam praefert.. On the other hand the greater benefit is to be for the other people.

[v20] “Brothers, do not be children in thoughts, but on the other hand be like a child with evil.”

Namely the little ones gape at astonishment(28)κέχηνεν This is a pluperfect 3rd pl verb but it doesn’t fit here. The Latin translates it as present 3rd pl. Neut to the littlest of things, while on the other hand does not contain so much an admiration of the great things. Seeing too then that those who have the gift of tongues, they were supposing to have the ability to master everything, albeit it was the least of them all. For that reason he says, do not be children in thoughts. That is, these things should not be senseless,(29)μὴ ἀνόητοι The verb is omitted here but is intimated. whereby it is necessary that these things to be intelligible.(30)ἔνθα συνετοὺς εἶναι χρή But in that predicament they are children and simple minded, some at one side are vain-glorious, some at the other are puffed-up. On the latter note, what does it mean to be children in evil? Or does it mean not ever having the ability to know what is evil?

[v21] “In the [Law] it is written, that “in strange tongues, and other lips I will speak to this people and even so they will not hear me” says the Lord.”

The Divine Scripture is called [the] Law, and the Prophets.

[v22-30a] “So then tongues are for a sign, not for those who believe but for unbelievers. Prophecy on the other hand is for a sign, not to unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore, if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and uneducated or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uneducated person enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, and thus the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.

What is the outcome then, brothers? When you assemble, each one of you has a psalm, teaching, tongue, revelation, interpretation. Let all be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a language, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. On the other hand if a revelation was to be made to someone else sitting by…”(31) Verses 22-29 are a mixture of a direct quotation of the NASB and others adapted from the NASB to match the slight differences of the Damascus text.

That is a shocked feeling,(32) ἔκπληξιν not so much for the purpose of instruction.(33) κατήχησιν usually refers to elementary instruction or teaching of initiates

[v30b] “Let the first one be silent.”

Namely it was not appropriate, while the one who is being moved in the matter of prophecy, this person can speak.

[v31] “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted.”(34) NASB

He says this for the one has been put to silence(35) τὸν ἐπιστομηθέντα The Latin has “ut eum qui loqui prohibitus sit” — that of the person who has been prohibited to speak so that this is made more bearable.(36) παραμυθούμενος The whole sentence reads: Τοῦτο φησι, τὸν ἐπιστομηθέντα παραμυθούμενος. — the sentence works using only participles, but this is not a typical construct used by most ancient Greek authors.

[v32] “And the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.”(37) NASB

So that there should not be someone who is contentious or slanderous, he shows the gift itself being placed under authority.(38) αὐτὸ τὸ χάρισμα δείκνυσιν ὑποτασσόμενον For then he cites the work as of the spirit. So if the spirit is being placed under authority, you too can be with fullness.(39) πολλῷ δ’ ἄν σύ.

[v33] “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—and so I direct in all the holy Churches.”(40) a modification of the NASB along with Damascus adding an extra verb and adjective ταῖς Ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων διατάσσομαι

He shows this as also appeasing to God, so that the person who holds a contrary position may not spread strife.■

The actual Greek text is found here: John of Damascus on Tongues: the Greek Text.

References   [ + ]

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Cyrillian text associated I Corinthians 14 with their itinerant preachers whose duty was to visit routinely Churches throughout the Alexandrian Church empire. This was a vast region that had a number of ethnic and language groups. The ability to speak in the various languages was a requirement for these preachers to teach and pray.(1)This is discussed in more detail at Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:10

  • Prayers and language held a central part of the Church life. Prayers required mastery and comprehension of more than one written language. Literacy was very low in this period. Some think as low as 5%. The congregation then was entirely dependent on trained leadership to teach through readings, memorization and instruction. The prayers in the Church were led by leaders called prefects — a ruler over monks, clergy, and bishops (ὁ ἡγουμένος).(2)ὁ ἡγουμένος as found in Lampe’s Patristic Lexicon, Pg. 601, and Stephanus Lexicon Vol. 4. Col. 94

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

    The important requirement of any Church leader speaking to an audience or any layperson was that the Skopos (σκοπὸς) had to understand what they were saying, or someone available that “sits near and interprets for the beginners.”(3)I Corinthians 14:2 catena

    The Skopos played an important position within the Church. The Skopos was an overseer who was to test, examine, and approve everything that was spoken, or done. He was also to translate, but that was likely a later attribute.(4)Stephanus Vol. 7, Col. 431

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References   [ + ]

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: I Corinthians 14:10

A translation of the Greek of I Corinthians 14:10 attributed to Cyril of Alexandria

This portion is working from two different manuscripts, both attribute the text to have been edited by Cardinal Angelus Maius but with different outcomes. An edition edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey has more text but seems to be missing copy and has some repetitive sentences—this indicates there was some copyist or print errors. However the word usage indicates that the origins of this copy was quite ancient. The Migne Patrologia version has less text and no repetitive sentences. The MPG version does have the catalogue numbers of the manuscripts used such as Cod. f.311 b. for I Corinthians 14:10 but does not elaborate on what this means.

Translated from a mixture of two manuscripts: The primary: Cyrilli Alexandrini. Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Edited by Philippus Edvardus Pusey. London: Oxford. 1872, Pages 293-294. And some additions from, S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. In Epistolam I Ad Corinthios. XIV, 10. MPG Vol. 74, Col. 891

“And none of them is without a voice.”

“Any persons of the status of itinerant teachers{{17}}[[17]]Εἰσεφοὶτων This word is not fully known. This is the only usage in any manuscript found so far. It comes from the root, φοιτάω[[17]] in the Churches who are endowed in the work of the Spirit should have the ability to speak in languages. Therefore it is necessary that prayers are to be made in these same languages, and certainly for the entreaties of those things, that is to say, of a Psalm,{{18}}[[18]]ψαλμῳδίας The recitation and singing from the Book of Psalms was a common part of the ancient Church liturgy.[[18]] these ones who have the ability to proclaim{{18}}[[18]]κεχρῆσθαι It is in the passive and this suggests “to be declared, proclaimed by an oracle, to consult a god or oracle, to inquire of a god”[[18]] in the language of those who are present. Certainly they were not doing this, indeed the persons who congratulate themselves in a self-satisfied way with the gift of languages, they were neither doing psalms or prayers. Paul teaches this, that if there does not exist persons who are hearing [with the] knowledge of the language, which those who have the gift are speaking forth, [then there is] no advantage out of the matter. For numberless are the nations and all the languages of mankind.{{19}}[[19]]ἄφωνον δὲ οὐδὲν τῶν ἄπαξ τελούντων ἐν λογικοῖς ἤ ἐν ἀνθρώποιςFor “Without a voice,” [is] never once about the business in respect to the things of reason or mankind.” This piece was ignored as it seems to be a printer error as similar; a better copy is printed in the next sentence. [[19]]

He says, “Without a voice,”” [is] absolutely never about the business in respect to the things of the reason, that is, in [concern to the things of] mankind. But if perhaps some may not have known the power of every voice, and certainly neither can these ones know his language, they will be barbarians to each other. Yet these ones are in fact correctly supposed to speak according to his own voice. It is necessary therefore those who are wishing to teach in other [languages], that the word should be uttered{{20}}[[20]]προσαράξας aor part masc nom sg. The Greek Dictionaries have only a faint account of this word and I am unsure whether the translation is satisfactory here.[[20]] accustomed for those for those who are listening.

If in fact then the unintelligible sound was also an unaccustomed voice, the striking{{21}}[[21]]ἐρεύγεσθαι literally to belch out, utter, roar.[[21]] vainly produced in purposelessness with some type of noise,{{22}}[[22]]πεποίκε μάτην εἰκαίῳ τινὶ κτύπῳ προσαράξας μόνον τὴν μανθάνοντος ἀκοήν I am uncomfortable with this translation of this text. My first thoughts are that this Greek is a later emendation from a number of sources and not correctly edited. There are missing parts and possibly mis-spellings in the Greek.[[22]] only the sound [is] heard of one who knows [the language].

It is necessary, he says, that those wishing to teach, that the word is to be spoken{{23}}[[23]]λαλεῖν[[23]] accustomed for those who are listening, after that he works for folly. For he that speaks in languages alone does not build up the Church.■

For notes, commentary, and a deeper look at a number of words here, see Notes on the Cyrillian Catena on I Corinthians 14:10.

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

A Sample Process of Translating Alexandrian Greek

A sample of the trials, struggles, and success with translating Alexandrian Greek into English.

Third to fifth century Alexandrian Greek is often difficult to translate. It is a melting pot of many different Greek dialects, plus their own oddities. This distinct nuance of the Alexandrian writers during the early centuries has not been clearly documented. Therefore when one approaches these writers, it is a big challenge. And if one likes challenges, this can be fun, but frustrating as well.

Continue reading A Sample Process of Translating Alexandrian Greek

Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Technical Notes on Acts

The nature, purpose and problems of translating a medieval narrative on Pentecost and tongues attributed to the fifth century Church Father, Cyril of Alexandria.

The initial purpose of translating was to find out and demonstrate to English readers Cyril of Alexandria’s position on Pentecost from his commentary on the Book of Acts.

The commentary on Acts is not available as a complete edition. Only a small part exists today.

This text is an odd work. It does not make complete sense, and is a large shift in thought from any Ecclesiastical literature on the subject–especially fifth century. Halfway through the Cyril text, it makes an abrupt literary transition. The author(s) write that the people speaking in tongues at Pentecost became arrogant and narrow minded. Whether this is referring to the actual apostles or the other 120 that spoke in tongues at this event is not clear.

A closer look reveals this is not a work that St. Cyril authored. It is a digest of Cyril’s works done by a later copyist. One cannot find an accurate date found from word usage or style, and since this is a printed text, dating cannot be ascertained through calligraphy. It can be broadly assumed a medieval work. Although it is not the work of St. Cyril, it still has some importance in respect to a medieval view of the mystery of tongues. The author(s) do provide some clues as to how the medieval Christian world viewed and interpreted the doctrine of tongues.

What evidences are used to conclude this? Continue reading Cyril of Alexandria on Tongues: Technical Notes on Acts

Aquinas on Tongues: ICor 14:27-33

A translation of Thomas Aquinas on I Corinthians 14:27-33 from the Latin into contemporary English.

Translated from the Latin text: Reportationes 088 R1C cp 14 Pg. 390 lc6

I Corinthians 14:27 – 33

The Apostle maps out here how they ought to conduct themselves in regards to the gift of tongues. In respect to this, he does it in two ways. With the first he shows in which they ought to utilize the gift of tongues. With the second when they ought to cease from [its] use. In that place it says, “But if there will be no [interpreter], etc..” he then says, with the first, that the manner in which the gift of tongues ought to be applied is to be such among you that “If any,” which is if someone should speak in a tongue, that is he is going to narrate visions or dreams, of such things, a speech probably cannot be done by many on account of the occupation of time in tongues and no place remains for the prophets and generates confusion but, “Let it be by two,”(1) Douay-Rheims that is by two persons, and if necessary it ought to have been done according to “the most three,” that it should be enough at three.

“In the mouth of two or three, etc..” (Deuteronomy 17:6) but it must be noted that this habit for the most part is being served in the Church for we have the [public] readings and the epistles and also the gospels in the place of tongues, and for that reason it follows in Mass two are being delivered, because only two are being said whose antecedent is to the gift of tongues, specifically the epistle and the gospel. Accordingly in Matins many are done, in fact you say three readings in one. For in the former times they used to read a nocturn the next three night watches separately. Now however they are being spoken at the same time but on the other hand the procedure is not only to be preserved in regard to the number of those who are speaking but as well in regards to the way [it is done]. And this is what he says, “and through sharing,”(2) I Corinthians 14:27 “et per partes” that is in order that those who are speaking are to follow in turns with one another, a fact that one is to speak after another, or “through sharing,” that is interrupted, specifically that one is to speak on part of a vision or of instruction and is to explain it, and afterwards another and explains the very thing being shared and so follows one after another. Preachers have become accustomed to preserve that way when they are to preach to men of an unknown tongue by means of an interpretation.(3)”interpretationem” The Elementary Lewis Latin dictionary says that it can also mean translation. The Aquinas text is stating that the preacher would speak to foreigners which would require a translation And for that reason it says, “Let one interpret.”(4)Only one interpret so as to not cause any confusion as he result he says, “if there will not be available, etc.,” he shows when it is not to be practiced with tongues, saying that the one who is about to speak is through sharing and the one ought to interpret but, “if there will not be available,” anyone [who is an], “interpreter,” that is who understands, [then] those who have the gift of tongues, “are to keep silent in the Church,” that is he(5) Men are only to speak in the Church, not women so this is gender correct for this time period. is not to speak because he himself understands and this silence is to be manifested in prayer or in meditation. “I will speak in the bitterness of my soul, I will speak to God, etc.,”(6) Douay-Rheims (Job 10:1). “on the other hand the prophets two [or three let them speak], etc.,” The apostle is setting out here for them as to how they ought to conduct themselves with respect to the use of prophecy. In regards to this he does two things. With the first he shows in which way prophecy is to be utilized also in respect to the number and to the order [of things]. With the second he shows to whom the use of prophecy is being prohibited. In which place it says, “the women in the Church [let them keep silent], etc.,” In regards to the first he does three things. With the first he points out the order by which the gift of prophecy ought to be applied. With the second he applies a reason regarding this, where it says, “for you can all [prophecy], etc..” With the third he removes and objection where it says, “the spirits of the prophets [are subject to the prophets], etc..” With the first he defines the number of those using the appointed gift. With the second he points the manner or order by which it ought to be utilized where it says, “But if any thing [be revealed to another sitting], etc.,”(7) Douay-Rheims In regards to the first it is noted that the use of prophecy [is] according to what the apostle seems to grasp here. It is to forward the word of encouragement to the people, by which [the word] clarifies the sacred Scriptures. Because also there was in the early Church many who possessed this gift from God and the faithful were not yet multiplied, but confusion and weariness did not exist, the apostle wishes that all who are qualified to explain the prophecies and the sacred Scripture are to prophecy, but also to those ones who have been designated. And this is what he says, “the prophets [two or three let them speak], etc.,” as if he was saying: “I do not wish that everyone who comes together [prophecy]” but “two” only or at most, “three” as the need requires for one to perform as a speaker, “let them speak,” that is they are to encourage and furthermore this is designed to agree to Scripture. “In the mouth of two or three [witnesses every word may stand],”(8) Douay-Rheims. The Aquinas text also has “supra xvii, v. 6” which normally would mean “see I Corinthians 17:6” but there is no such chapter. Larcher ignores this reference and I agree with him and follow suit. (Matthew 18:16).

“However the others,”(9) “Caeteri vero,” whereas the Vulgate has just “ceteri”. namely those who do not gain [from it] “let them judge,” them who are being put forward by these demonstrations, specifically whether good or bad may have been said: what good has been said can result in commendation, and what bad has been said can result in causing one to retract [the statement]. See I Corinthians 2:15 “the spiritual man is to judge everything.” On the other hand it is the order which is being observed in the designated gift which is waiting to be used, that if one of those who were sitting and remain silent, and they judge, had made some better revelation than those who were encouraging are currently standing in front, now those who are standing ought to sit and him to whom is a better revelation ought to rise and encourage. And this is what he said, “But if anything,” to the one sitting “has been revealed” in fact by the holy Spirit, “the prior” one standing, “let him keep silent” and grant him [the honor]. “come before one another in honor” (Romans 12:10). And it is for this reason because according to this way “you are able” as one who has submitted “to prophecy by one at a time,”(10) Aquinas text has “prophetare per singulos,”the Vulgate has “per singulos prophetare” that is everyone namely “that all,” that is the greater “may learn, and all” that is the lesser “may be encouraged.” “A wise man who hears [shall be wiser],” (Proverbs 1:5).

And if someone should say “O apostle, I cannot keep silent while another is to prophecy or yield to sitting from which I have become [stirred] because I cannot restrain the Spirit who speaks in me,” follow that with Job 4:2, “Who is able to hold words which have been conceived?” As a result the Apostle removes this when he says, “and the spirit of the prophets, etc.,” as if he is to say, on the contrary he can well be silent and sit down because, “the spirit of the prophets that is the spirit who gives the prophecies, and sets in plural with the number on account of the many revelations roused in him, “are subject to prophets” even in reference to knowledge. Because as Gregorius says that the spirit of prophecy is not always present to the prophets, from whom it is not a habit, as it certainly is with knowledge. In fact it [knowledge] was intended to follow in a different way, that furthermore in reference to knowledge, it would be subject to them, and they could have utilized it whenever they so desired, and not to have used [as well]. But [prophecy] it is a certain power or impression by God who illumines and touches the heart of the prophets, and then only when they are being touched in this way do they become aware. One arrives at the fact that he is not subject to them in the same way [as knowledge]. Neither is the word of the Apostle to be understood according to this, but the spirit of the prophets are subject to prophets in reference to the proclamation because in fact it is in their power when they want to pronounce or not to pronounce that which they are being shown to them. And so the excuse has no such value worth mentioning because the spirit does not compel that you are not able to keep silent.

And this is to be true, he demonstrates when he says, “for He [God] is not of dissension, etc.,” and he made so great a reason. God never compels to that from which a quarrel or conflict is to arise but peace. But if the spirit of prophecy was to compel men for the purpose of speaking, then it would be a cause of dissension, because they want so much to always speak or teach or to not keep another from speaking regarding things which others were likely being thrown into confusion. Therefore, the holy Spirit does not compel man to speak. “The God of peace and life will be with you, etc..”(11) Aquinas text has “dues pacis et dilectionis erit vobiscum,”the Vulgate has “Deus dilectionis et pacis erit vobiscum” But nevertheless because to this point one is able to object that he was not doing this, that he only mandated with those which he refers specifically to and not to other Churches, from which place also it can appear as an annoyance, therefore the Apostle supplies this is not only to them but also to be taught in every Church. And this is what he says, “as also I teach in all the churches of the saints, ”(12) Douay-Rheims. It is odd here that the Douay-Rheims follows something similar to the Aquinas text when the Vulgate is missing “doceo” “I teach.” specifically about the use of tongues and prophecy. (See I Corinthians 1:10) “that you all speak the same thing.”

This is the last significant reference to the doctrine of tongues in I Corinthians 14. Therefore, the rest of the chapter has been left untranslated.

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Aquinas on Tongues: ICor 14:23-26

A translation of Thomas Aquinas on I Corinthians 14:23 — 26 from the Latin into contemporary English.

Translated from the Latin text: Reportationes 088 R1C cp 14 Pg. 389ff lc5

I Corinthians 14:23 – 26

A gloss suggests that perhaps in this place a different reason commences for making clear the purpose. But according to what has been written, it is not, except for one reason which has been settled and as it were, he is in the middle of his argument, namely that prophecy is more valuable than that to which the gift of tongues is ordained for. From which place he does two things in respect to this. With the first he demonstrates the divisiveness(1) inconveniens: typically means, “not suiting, dissimilar” but I think Aquinas is on a word-play here with I Corinthians 14:23 “si ergo conveniat universa ecclesia” He is using inconveniens here as the opposite to conveniat. which follows to such an extent to the unbeliever by the gift of tongues. From which place it says, “However if all [speak in tongues]”. The falling-out(2) inconveniens which follows from the gift of tongues without prophecy applies as well to the unbeliever. It is because they are being reckoned of an unsound mind who thus speak only in tongues, though the gift of tongues is to be ordained for the conversion of unbelievers, as is already well known.

And this is what he says, “However if all [speak in tongues] etc.,”. as if he is saying, “it is well known from this place that tongues are not something that ought to be preferred to prophecy because, “if [the Church] comes together”, specifically all the believers, “in one”, not only in body but also with the mind, “and the multitude of believers was one heart, etc.,” (Acts 4:32) are to be speaking in tongues, to foreign letters,(3) Larcher has this section as “strange, or speak unknown and obscure things” In the contemporary English Christian tradition this would be a correct rendering, but it is not reflective of the text. My translation follows it more literally. Aquinas is including reading of a foreign text as part of speaking in tongues. or they are speaking unfamiliar and not recognized things,(4) vel loquantur ignota et obscura and, as long as they speak in a disorderly way, “someone uneducated enters”(5) “intret aliquis idiota,” The Aquinas text has this all in the singular and the Vulgate has it in the plural. “intrent autem idiotae” that is he who does not understand except his own language or the “unbeliever” for the reason which tongues had been given, “will they not say this,” that they are saying as follows, “that you are mad?” (6) Douay-Rheims In fact whoever is not being understood is being reckoned as mad. For if a language is being understood and nevertheless the things which they are saying are concealed, it is still bad if it they are not to be explained. Because those who remain confident of the heathens who were concealing things which they did in their ritual on account of their own shame, can believe of you if you speak in secret. And this too is something of madness.

A contrary argument. It is the same to speak in tongues and to speak clearly enunciating [the Latin words] (7) “Although written Latin had remained homogenous, the pronunciation of spoken Latin had come to vary considerably from one part of Europe to another. How was spoken Latin to be unified as part of the movement to promote the cohesion of the Carolingian state? It was decided that Latin pronunciation should be firmly anchored to spelling and that when Latin was read out it should be pronounced litteraliter, ‘sounding every letter’, without accommodating the speaker’s pronunciation of local phonology as had traditionally happened in Romance-speaking regions.” French, from dialect to standard. By R. Anthony Lodge. Pg. 91 to such a degree for the uneducated. Since then everyone is to speak clearly enunciating in the Church, that all is being said in Latin. It appears that it is madness in the same way. One ought to say to this: Madness existed in the early Church on that account because they were unacquainted in the custom of the Church, consequently they were ignorant of what they should do here unless it was to be explained to them. But certainly in the present all have been educated. Although from this point everything is being spoken in Latin, they still know what is taking place in the Church.

Consequently when he says, “On the other hand, if all prophecy,” he shows what usefulness follows from the gift of prophecy, and in regards to this he does three things. First he shows what kind of thing follows through the usefulness of prophecy in reference to the unbeliever. With the second he shows how this is going to follow where it says, “For the secrets, etc.,” [v25]. Third, he adds what kind of effect is to come out of such an experience, where it says, “and so, falling down on his face, etc.,” (8) Douay-Rheims Then he says it is well known that the unbelievers are not feeling convicted by the gift of tongues.

“if then…” but instead; if these who come together, “prophecy,” that is all are to speak for the purpose of being understood, whether they explain the Scriptures or likewise revelations to them that they are interpreting things which have been brought about. (9) interpretentur: the Aquinas text usually reserves this word for actively utilizing the prophetic office. I say all not at the same time, but one after another they ought to prophecy in such a way. “and there come in,” (10) Douay-Rheims specifically [to] the Church, “anyone uneducated,” (11) I am not sure if the Aquinas text is referring to verse 24 or 25 which has the same structure. He does differ with either here by using “idiota aliquis” instead of either the Vulgate’s “intrent autem idiotae” verse 24 or “intret autem quis infidelis vel idiota” verse 25 who does not have [the ability] except a mother tongue, this is good in respect to what follows after, because, “He is being convicted about some error,” (12) Aquinas text: ” convincitur de aliquo errore” Vulgate: “convincitur ab omnibus” which is being shown to him. “after you showed me, I am confused” (Jeremiah 31:19) (13) I am not sure if the Aquinas Biblical reference of Jer. 31:19 parallels the Vulgate, where it starts or ends. about everything which they prophecy. “He is judged by all,” (14) Douay-Rheims as if he [Paul] is saying, the person is being shown the condemnation by his evil habits and sins.

“But the spiritual,” (15) Aquinas text: “spiritualis autem…” as opposed to the Vulgate: “spiritalis autem” that is a teacher, (16) Latin: “doctor”: a Church leader with a strong reputation in theology and a moral lifestyle “judges everything, etc.,” For these two things he values prophecy, namely for the purpose of establishing of faith and the instruction of character. Moreover, how is this good to follow from the gift of prophecy? (17) There is no question mark in the Latin but I think it should be there. “quomodo autem hoc bonum sequatur ex prophetiae dono” He supplies it when he says, “the secrets of [his] heart,” that is it can be understood in three ways. One way and this is to be literal, that some in the early Church possessed the gift, they theoretically knew the secrets of the hearts and the sins of man. Whereby it is read of Peter, (Acts 5:1ff) that he condemned Ananias about the falsified value of land. And according to this it is read, “the secrets,” that is his hidden sins, “they are made evident,” by those who show them.

In another way from this, wherein someone sometimes touches on many things in preaching that men carry in the heart, as it is well known in the books of the blessed Gregory, where it says anyone can discover almost every emotion of the heart, as if he is saying that they are being exposed because “the secrets of his heart,” that is those things that they carry in the heart. “As the faces of them that look therein, shine in the water, so the hearts of men are laid open to the wise.” (18) Douay-Rheims (Proverbs 27:19) They are laid open, that is they are being touched by them. In another way, because other times that this is being said about the secret of the heart that it is an uncertain entity to anyone and cannot be authenticated by him.

And it is being read according to this, “the secrets of his heart,” that is secrets about something in his heart which things he was doubting and not believing, they are laid open, namely when one frequently goes to Church they are made open to him. Likewise, Augustine speaks about himself that he went to the Church only for the singing and yet in that place he was uncertain about many things and in regards to this, things which he did not come for, were laid open to him. In fact reverence was the outcome because having been proven guilty, he was revering God. And it is to this that [Paul] says, “And so the one falling down,” that it is from that then he was proven guilty of and clearly shown the secrets of his heart, “the one falling down on the face will adore God,” “and falling down they adored him,” (Matthew 2:11) in respect to which it is a sign of reverence. On the other hand about the obstinate ones, it is being read that they fall backwards. “The way of the wicked is darksome: they know not where they will fall,” (19) The Vulgate has the sentence in the subjunctive: “via impiorum tenebrosa nesciunt ubi corruant” while the Aquinas text in the future tense:”via impiorum tenebrosa, nesciunt ubi corruent” (Proverbs 4:19). The true elect fall down on the face because it shows with whom he is being prostrated for, that it is a sign of reverence, “they praised the Lord, falling on their faces,” (Matthew 2:11 and Leviticus 9:24). “in His presence, the Ethiopians will prostrate,” (20) The Vulgate reads, “ante eum procident Aethiopes” and the Aquinas text has, “coram illo procident aethiopes”. Larcher realized the difference and skipped verse 9 altogether thinking 71:11 was the correct one. However, verse 9 is correct. and not only will he show reverence to God but also to the Church, because, “one who affirms,” ought to say that God is truly, “among you,” which you are prophesying in the Church. “We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” (21) Douay-Rheims. (Zechariah 8:23).

Consequently, it appears that the gift of prophecy is useful in relation to the unbelievers.

“How is it then, brethren?” (22) Douay-Rheims. In this verse here he maps out for them in relation to the use of the gifts of speech. And in regards to this he does two things. With the first he shows in which way they ought to maintain themselves towards the use of these gifts. With the second he constructs the principal intent. Where it says, “Wherefore, brethren, be zealous to prophesy,” etc., (23) Douay-Rheims. In regards to the first he does two things. With the first he shows how in an orderly manner they ought to maintain themselves in the use of the gifts of speech. With the second he expresses their presumption, where it says, “Or did the word [of God come out from you?] etc.” (24) Douay-Rheims. The Vulgate reads: “an a vobis verbum” while the Aquinas text has: “an a vobis sermo”. He does three things in regards to the first. With the first he shows how in general they personally are obligated to behave in all the gifts. With the second, how they personally must behave in respect to the gift of tongues. With the third, he shows how they personally must behave in respect to the gift of prophecy. Where it says, “Let two or three prophecy” etc., (25) The Vulgate reads: “prophetae duo aut tres dicant”, whereas the Aquinas text has “prophetent duo aut tres”. He therefore says: to prophecy is better than to speak in tongues.

“How is it then, brethren,” should the speech be delivered? For this delivery in fact is to be applied: for instance, “When you come together,” it is obvious that one [person] does not have all the gifts and therefore it is not expected to be utilized in anyone of you all of the gifts, but to each one a gift which he specially receives from God and that it should be much better for the building up [of the Church].

“Every one of you have,” some special gift, “some have a psalm,” (26) Vulgate Reads: “unusquisque vestrum psalmum habet.” while the Aquinas text has: “alius habet psalmum”. that is a song for the purpose of praising God’s name, or explains psalms. “He will lead me upon my high places [singing psalms],” (Habakkuk 3:19).

“Another has,” “a teaching,” that is he possesses public speaking for the purpose of building up character, or for an explanation and spiritual experience. “A man is known by his learning,” (27) Douay-Rheims. Vulgate reads: “doctrina sua noscetur vir,” while the Aquinas text has, “doctrina sua cognoscitur.” (Proverbs 12:18). Another has an apocalypse, that is a revelation, whether in dreams or in a vision by some means. “God is in heaven who reveals mysteries,” (Daniel 2:8).

“Some have a tongue,” that is the gift of tongues, or for the purpose of reading the prophets. (28) “vel legendi prophetias” – I am not sure how to translate prophetias here. Larcher has it as “he reads prophecies” but I think it is the actual reading office here from a portion of the Bible. “And they began to speak in various tongues, etc.,” (Acts 2:4).“Another interpretation,” (I Corinthians 12:10) “To others interpretation of speech,” etc., But these are being mapped out in such a way because either they are from solely from natural ability or they for the praise of God, and so he says, “has a psalm,” or for the instruction of a neighbour, and likewise says, “has a teaching.” If they are from God alone it follows in two ways: either they are inwardly hidden ones and says as follows, “has an apocalypse,” or externally hidden ones and he says as follows, “has a tongue.” And to the manifestation of these is a third, specifically, “interpretation,” and it must be done, “that all may be edified.” “Let every one of you please his neighbour unto good, to edification.” (Romans 15:2).■

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The Unknown Tongues in the English Bible: Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These passages were consulted to especially look for the word unknown or similar. The results do indicate when the tradition started, and how it developed. It doesn’t answer the question of why. These were the results.(1) excepting I Corinthians 12:11; I cannot remember why I excluded this

The English Hexapla(2)The English Hexapla. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons. 1841 2 Volumes is a parallel Bible of Six English Translations. They are the following:

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

These works outside of the Hexapla have been added:

  • Protestant French Bible, 1551 (Short as P)(3)La Bible. Geneva. 1551
  • Latin Bible, ND (Short as L)
  • Jean Calvin, 1565 (Short as J)(4)The Corinthian quotes are from: Commentaires De M. Iehan Calvin sur toutes les Epistres de l’Apostre Sainct Paul The Acts references are from Commentaires de Jehan Calvin sur le Nouveau Testament Paris: Libraire de Ch. Meyrueis et Compagnie. 1854

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

Out of the 21 usages that are quoted here:

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

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

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

Mark 16:17

Hexapla. Volume 1

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

Acts 2:4

Hexapla. Volume 2

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

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

Acts 10:46

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

Acts 19:6

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

I Corinthians 12:28

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

I Corinthians 12:30

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

I Corinthians 13:1

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

I Corinthians 13:8

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

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

I Corinthians 14:2

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

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

I Corinthians 14:4

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

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

I Corinthians 14:5

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

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

I Corinthians 14:6

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

I Corinthians 14:9

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

I Corinthians 14:10

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

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

I Corinthians 14:11

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

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

I Corinthians 14:13-14

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

I Corinthians 14:18-19

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

I Corinthians 14:21-22

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

I Corinthians 14:23

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

I Corinthians 14:26-27

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

References   [ + ]