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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   [ + ]

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   [ + ]

John of Damascus on Tongues: The Greek Text

The following are snippets from John of Damascus’ Commentary of I Corinthians as it relates to the doctrine of tongues. This is the actual Greek text. John of Damascus lived from 676 to a little after 750 AD.

The digitized edition attempts to follow the formatting supplied by Migne Patrologia Graeca. MPG has Biblical citations italicized but italic in digitized Polytonic Greek is difficult to read so bolded text is utilized instead. Verse numbers do not exist in the actual copy but is placed for convenience.

A portion from S. Joannis Damasceni. In Epist. ad Corinth. I. XIII. MPG Vol. 95 Col. 676

This paragraph relates to John’s coverage of Paul’s reference to the tongues of men and angels in I Corinthians 13.

« Ἐὰν ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀνθρώπων λαλῶ καὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων, ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω, γέγονα χαλκὸς ἠχῶν ἢ κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον. Καὶ ἐὰν ἔχω προφητείαν, καὶ ἴδω τὰ μυστήρια ἅπαντα, καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν, καὶ ἐὰν ἔχω πᾶσαν τὴν πίστιν, ὥστε ὄρη μεθιστάνειν, ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω, οὐθέν εἰμι. Κἂν ψωμίσω πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντά μου, κἂν παραδῶ τὸ σῶμά μου, ἵνα καυθήσωμαι, ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω, οὐδὲν ὠφελοῦμαι. »

Τοῦτο εἰπὼν, ᾐνίξατο αἰτίους ὄντας τοῦ τὰ ἐλάσσονα λαμβάνειν, καὶ κυρίους, εἰ βούλοιντο, τοῦ τὰ μείζονα. Ἔστι δὲ πολὺ μείζων ἡ ἀγάπη πάντων τῶν χαρισμάτων. Κατασκευάζει δὲ τοῦτο καὶ τὴν σύγκρισιν δεικνὺς, ὡς πάντα τὰ ἄλλα χαρίσματα οὐδέν ἐστι τῆς ἀγάπης ἀπούσης. Ὅρα δὲ πῶς αὐτὸ κατασκευάζει. Οὐ γὰρ εἶπεν, Ἐὰν ἴδω γλώσσας, ἀλλ’ Ἐὰν ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀγγέλων λαλῶ. Καὶ οὐκ εἶπεν ἁπλῶς, Ἐὰν προφητεύω, ἀλλ’ Ἐὰν ἴδω τὰ μυστήρια πάντα καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν, μετὰ ἐπιτάσεως. Καὶ οὐκ εἶπε, Δῶ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα, ἀλλὰ ψωμίσω, ἵνα πρὸς τῇ δαπάνῃ καὶ διακονία προσῇ. Πάντα οὖν μετ’ ἐπιτάσεως δείξας, δείκνυσι πολὺ ἥττονα τῆς ἀγάπης. Ὥστε εἰ μεγάλων χαρισμάτων ἐρᾶτε, τὴν ἀγάπην ἐπιτηδεύετε, φησί.

Εἰκότως μείζων τῶν χαρισμάτων ἡ ἀγάπη· εἴ γε ταῦτα μὲν διέσχισαν, αὕτη δὲ ἑνοῖτοὺς διαστάντας.

Ὅρα πόθεν ἄρχεται, ἀπὸ τοῦ μεγάλου δοκοῦντος παρ’ αὐτοῖς τοῦτῶν γλωσσῶν, καὶ οὐ μόνον τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων. Γλῶτταν δὲ ἀγγέλων ἐνταῦθα, οὐχὶ σῶμα περιθεὶς ἀγγέλοις. Ἀλλ’ ὃ λέγει τοιοῦτόν ἐστι· Κἂν οὕτω φθέγγωμαι, ὡς νόμος ἀγγέλοις πρὸς ἀλλήλους διαλέγεσθαι. Ὡς ὅταν λέγῃ, ὅτι Αὐτῷ κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων, οὐ γόνατα καὶ ὀστᾶ περιτιθεὶς τοῖς ἀγγέλοις ταῦτα λέγει, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἐπιτεταμένην προσκύνησιν διὰ τοῦ παρ’ ἡμῖν σχήματος αἰνίξασθαι βούλεται. Οὕτω καὶ ἐνταῦθα γλῶσσαν ἐκάλεσε, τὴν πρὸς ἀλλήλους αὐτῶν ὁμιλίαν τῷ γνωρίμῳ παρ’ ἡμῖν τρόπῳ ἐνδείξασθαι βουλόμενος.

S. Joannis Damasceni. In Epist. ad Corinth. I. XIV:1-34a. MPG Vol. 95 Col. 680 ff.

The following is a commentary on the mysterious and controversial tongues passage written by Paul; I Corinthians 14:1-34a.

[v1] « Διώκετε τῆν ἀγάπην. »

Καὶ γὰρ δρόμου σφόδρα ἡμῖν εἰς αὐτὴν χρεία.

« Ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ πνευματικὰ, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύτητε. »

Ἵνα μή τις νομίζῃ, ὅτι διὰ τοῦτο τὸν τῆς ἀγάπης εἰσήγαγεν λόγον, ἵνα σβέσῃ τὰ χαρίσματα, τούτου χάριν ἐπήγαγε, λέγων· Ζηλοῦτε τὰ πνευματικά· σύγκρισιν δὲ ποιεῖται τῶν χαρισμάτων, καὶ καθαιρεῖ τὸ τῶν γλωσσῶν, οὔτε πάντη ἄχρηστον, οὔτε σφόδρα ὠφέλιμον καθ’ ἐαυτὸ δεικνὺς.

[v2-4] « Ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ, οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ, ἀλλὰ τῷ Θεῷ· οὐδεὶς γάρ ἀκούει · πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια. Ὁ δὲ προφητεύων, ἀνθῥώποις λαλεῖ οἰκοδομὴν καὶ παράκλησιν καὶ παραμυθίαν. Ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ, ἑαυτὸν οἰκοδομεῖ· ὁ δὲ προφητεύων, Ἐκκλησίαν οἰκοδομεῖ. »

Τὸ μὲν λαλεῖν τῷ θεῷ, μέγα δείκνυσιν, τὸ δὲ μὴ οἰκοδομεῖσθαι τὴν Ἐκκλησίαν, μικρόν. Τοῦτο γὰρ πανταχοῦ ζητεῖ, τὴν οἰκοδομῆν τῶν πολλῶν.

[v5a] « θέλω δὲ πάντας ὑμᾶς λαλεῖν γλῶσσαις, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε. Μείζων γὰρ ὁ προφητεύων, ἤ ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσαις. »

Ἵνα μὴ νομίσωσιν ὅτι βασκαίνων αὐτοῖς καθαιρεῖ τὰς γλώσσας, διορθούμενος αὐτῶν τὴν ὑπόνοιαν, τοῦτό φησιν.

[v5b]« Ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ διερμηνεύῃ, ἵνα ἡ Ἐκκλησία οἰκοδομὴν λάβῃ. »

Ἔλαττον, φησὶ τοῦ προφητεύειν τὸ γλώσσαις λαλεῖν· εἰ μή τις ἄρα καὶ διερμηνεύῃ τὰ γλώσσας, οὐκ ἄν γένηται τοῦ προφητεύοντος ἵσος.

[v6a] « Νῦν δὲ, ἀδελφοὶ, ἐὰν ἔλθω πρὸς ὑμᾶς λαλῶν, τί ὑμᾶς ὠφελήσω ; »

Τί λέγω τοῦς ἄλλους, φησί; Κἄν γὰρ ἐγὼ αὐτὸς γλώσσαις ἔλθω λαλῶν, οὐδὲν ἔσται πλέον τοίς ἀκούουσι. Ταῦτα δὲ λέγει δεικνὺς, ὅτι τὸ ἐκείνων συμφέρον ζητεῖ, οὐ πρὸς τοὺς χάρισμα ἔχοντας ἀπεχθῶς ἔχει.

[v6b]« Ἐὰν μὴ ὑμῖν λαλήσω, ἤ ἐν ἀποκαλύψει, ἤ ἐν γνώσει, ἤ ἐν προφητείᾳ, ἤ ἐν διδαχῇ. »

Ἐὰν μἠ εἴπω, φησί, τὸ δυνάμενον ὑμῖν εὔληπτον γενέσθαι, ἀλλ’ ἐπιδείζω μόνον ὅτι γλώσσης ἔχω χάρισμα, οὐδὲν ἄν κερδήσαντες ἀπελεύσεσθε. Πῶς γὰρ ἀπὸ φωνῆς ἧς οὐ συνιεῖτε ;

[v7-9a] « Ὅμως τὰ ἄψυχα φωνὴν διδόντα, εἴτε αὐλὸς, εἴτε κιθάρα, ἐὰν διαστολὴν τοῖς φθόγγοις μὴ διδῷ, πῶς γνωσθήσεται τὸ αὐλούμενον, ἢ τὸ κιθαριζόμενον ; καὶ γὰρ ἐὰν ἄδηλον φωνὴν σάλπιγξ δῷ, τίς παρασκευάσεται εἰς πόλεμον ; Οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς διὰ τῆς γλώσσης. »

Τί λέγω, φησὶν, ὅτι ἐφ’ ὑμῶν τὸ πρᾶγμα ἀκερδές ἐστι ; καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀψύχων τοῦτο εἴδοί τις ἄν, καὶ ἐπὶ τὴς κιθάρας, καὶ ἐπὶ σάλπιγγος.

[v9b]« Ἑὰν μὴ εὔσημον λόγον δῶτε, πῶς γνωσθήσεται τὸ λαλούμενον. »

Ἀντὶ τοῦ, Ἐὰν μή διερμηνεύητε.

[v9c] « Ἔσεσθε γὰρ εἰς ἀέρα λαλοῦντες. »

Τουτέστιν, οὐδενὶ φθεγγόμενοι, πρὸς οὐδένα λαλοῦντες.

[v10-12a] « Τοσαῦτα εἰ τύχοι γένη φωνῶν ἐισιν ἐν κόσμῳ, καὶ οὐδὲν ἄφωνον·(1) The Byzantine/Majority text has καὶ οὐδὲν αὐτῶν ἄφωνον while the Textus Receptus has this as an optional reading, and the Tischendorf Edition agrees with John of Damascus Biblical citation. Ἐὰν οὖν μὴ εἴδω τὴν δύναμιν τῆς φωνῆς, ἔσομαι τῷ λαλοῦντι βάρβαρος, καὶ ὁ λαλῶν ἐμοὶ βάρβαρος· οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς. »

Τουτέστι, τοσαῦται γλῶσσαι, τοσαῦται φωναὶ, Σκυθῶν, Θρᾳκῶν, ῾Ρωμαίων, Περσῶν, Μαὺρων, Ἰνδῶν, Αἰγυπτίων, ἑτέρων μυρίων ἐθνῶν.

[v12b-13] « Ἐπεὶ ζηλωταί ἐστε πνευμάτων εἰς(2) The preposition: εἰς does not exist in any other popular Greek manuscript. This appears unique to John of Damascus. τὴν οἰκοδομὴν τῆς ἐκκλησίας, ζητεῖτε ἵνα περισσεύητε. Διὸ ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ, προσευχέσθω, ἵνα διερμηνεύῃ. »

Εἰ ζηλοῦν δεῖ, τὰ χαρίσματα ταῦτα ζηλοῦτε, ἅ τὴν Ἐκκλησίαν οἰκοδoμεῖ. Διὸ ἐπάγει λέγων, Προσευχέσθω, ἵνα διερμηνεύῃ.

[v14-15a] « Ἐὰν γὰρ εὔχωμαι(3) The verb: εὔχωμαι does not exist in any other popular Greek manuscript. This appears unique to John of Damascus. All other texts have Ἐὰν [γὰρ] προσεύχωμαι γλώσσῃ, τὸ Πνεῦμά μου προσεύχεται, ὁ δὲ νοῦς μου ἄκαρπός ἐστι. Τί οὖν ἐστι ; »

Τουτέστι, τὸ χάρισμα τὸ δοθέν μοι, καὶ κινοῦν τὴν γλῶσσαν.

[v15b-16] « Προσεύξομαι πνεύματι,(4) Προσεύξομαι τῷ πνεύματι is typically found here in all the major Greek manuscripts. προσεύξομαι καὶ τῷ νοΐ· , (5) προσεύξομαι δὲ καὶ τῷ νοΐ is typically found here. ψαλῶ τῷ πνεύματι, ψαλῶ δὲ καὶ τῷ νοΐ. ,(6) ψαλῶ δὲ καὶ τῷ νοΐ. is typically found here. Ἐπεὶ ἐὰν εὐλογῇς πνεύματι, ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου, πῶς ἐρεῖ τὸ Ἀμὴν τῇ σῇ εὐχαριστίᾳ ; ἐπειδὴ τί λέγεις οὐκ οἶδεν ; »

Ὥσπερ τινὸς λέγοντος, Τί οὖν ἐστι τὸ διδακτικὸν, καὶ ὠφέλιμον ; Καὶ πῶς χρὴ λέγειν ; Καὶ τί χρή αἰτεῖν παρά τοῦ Θεοῦ ; Ἀποκρίνεται λέγων τὸ, καὶ τῷ πνεύματι, τουτέστι τῷ χαρίσματι καὶ τῇ διανοίᾳ προσεύχεσθαι, ἵνα καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα φθέγγηται, καὶ ὁ νοῦς μὴ ἀγνοῇ τὰ λεγόμενα. Καὶ γὰρ ἐάν μὴ τοῦτο ᾖ, καὶ ἑτέρα σύγχυσις γίνεται. Οὐ γὰρ οἴδεν ὑποφωνεῖν ὁ λαϊκός τὸ Ἀμήν· οὐκ οἶδε γὰρ τί λέγεις.

[v17] « Σὺ μὲν γὰρ καλῶς εὐχαριστεῖς, ἀλλ’ ἕτερος(7) ἀλλ᾿ ὁ ἕτερος is typically found here in all the major Greek manuscripts. οὐκ οἰκοδομεῖται. »

Ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ σφόδρα ἐξευτελίζειν τὸ χάρισμα, τοῦτο φησι· τοὺτο δὲ καὶ ἀνωτέρω ἐποίησεν ὅτε ἔλεγεν, Ὁ λαλῶν μυστήριον, καὶ τῷ Θεῷ λαλεῖ, καὶ ἑαυτὸν οἰκοδομεῖ. Σὺ οὖν, φησὶ, καλῶς εὐχαριστεῖς· Πνεύματι γὰρ κινούμενος φθέγγῃ· Ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνος οὐδὲν ἀκούων, οὐδὲ εἰδὼς τὰ λεγόμενα, ἔστηκεν, οὐ πολλὴν δεχόμενος τὴν ὠφέλειαν.

[v18-19a] « Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ Θεῷ μου, πάντων ὑμῶν μᾶλλον γλώσσῃ(8) The standard NT text has it in the pluralγλώσσαις. λαλῶν(9) λαλῶν agrees with Textus Receptus, and Byzantine/Majority. The UBS (3rd ed) and Tischendorf has λαλῶ .· Ἀλλ᾿ ἐν Ἐκκλησίᾳ. »

Ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ κατατρέχειν ὡς ἐστερημένος τοῦ χαρίσματος, τοῦτο φησι.

[19b] « Θέλω πέντε λόγους τῷ νοΐ μου λαλῆσαι, ἵνα καὶ ἄλλους κατηχήσω. »

Τουτέστι, νοῶν ἅ λέγω. καὶ δυνάμενος καὶ ἑτέροις ἑρμηνεῦσαι.

[v19c] « Ἤ μυρίους λόγους ἐν γλώσσῃ. »

Τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ ἐπίδειξιν ἔχει μόνην, φησί· ἐκεῖνο δὲ πολλὴν τὴν ὠφέλειαν.

[v20] « Ἀδελφοί, μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε ταῖς φρεσίν, ἀλλὰ τῇ κακίᾳ νηπιάζετε, ταῖς δὲ φρεσὶν τέλειοι γίνεσθε. »

Καὶ γὰρ τὰ παιδία πρὸς μὲν τὰ μικρὰ κέχηνεν, τῶν δὲ σφόδρα μεγάλων οὐ τοσοῦτον ἔχει θαῦμα. Ἐπεὶ οὖν καὶ οὗτοι γλωσσῶν ἔχοντες χάρισμα τὸ πᾶν ἔχειν ἐνόμιζον, ὅπερ τῶν ἄλλων ἕλαττον ἦν, διὰ τοῦτο φησι, Μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε ταῖς φρεσί· τουτέστι, μὴ ἀνόητοι, ἔνθα συνετοὺς εἶναι χρή. Ἀλλὰ ἐκεῖ νήπιοι καὶ ἀφελεῖς, ἔνθα κενοδοξία, ἔνθα φυσίωμα. Τί δὲ ἐστι νήπιον εἶναι κακίᾳ. ἤ τὸ μὴ εἰδέναι τί ποτέ ἐστι κακία ;

[v21] « Ἐν τῷ [νόμῳ] γέγραπται ὅτι ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις, καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέροις λαλήσω τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, καὶ οὐδ᾿ οὕτως ἀκούσονταί(10) εἰσακούσονταί is typically found here in the majority of Greek manuscripts. μου, λέγει Κύριος. »

Νόμον ἡ θεία Γραφὴ, καὶ τοὺς προφήτας φησίν.

[v22-30a] « Ὥστε αἱ γλῶσσαι εἰς σημεῖόν εἰσιν, οὐ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀπίστοις· ἡ δὲ προφητεία, οὐ τοῖς ἀπίστοις, ἀλλὰ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν. Ἐὰν οὖν συνέλθῃ ἡ Ἐκκλησία ὅλη ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ, καὶ πάντες γλώσσαις λαλῶσιν, εἰσέλθωσι δὲ καὶ(11) καὶ is unique to Damascus here. ἰδιῶται, ἢ ἄπιστοι, οὐκ ἐροῦσιν, ὅτι μαίνεσθε; Ἐὰν δὲ πάντες προφητεύωσιν, εἰσέλθῃ δέ τις ἄπιστος, ἢ ἰδιώτης, ἐλέγχεται ὑπὸ πάντων, ἀνακρίνεται ὑπὸ πάντων· καὶ οὕτω τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ φανερὰ γίνεται, καὶ οὕτω πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον προσκυνήσει τῷ Θεῷ, ἀπαγγέλλων, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ὄντως ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστι. Τί οὖν ἐστιν, ἀδελφοί; ὅταν συνέρχησθε, ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ψαλμὸν ἔχει, διδαχὴν ἔχει, γλῶσσαν ἔχει, ἀποκάλυψιν ἔχει, ἑρμηνείαν ἔχει. Πάντα πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν γενέσθω. Εἴτε γλώσσῃ τις λαλεῖ, κατὰ δύο, ἢ τὸ πλεῖστον τρεῖς, καὶ ἀνὰ μέρος, καὶ εἷς διερμηνευέτω. Ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ᾖ διερμηνευτὴς, σιγάτω ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἑαυτῷ δὲ λαλείτω, καὶ τῷ Θεῷ. Προφῆται δὲ δύο ἢ τρεῖς λαλείτωσαν, καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν· ἐὰν δὲ ἄλλῳ ἀποκαλυφθῇ καθημένῳ. »

Τουτέστιν ἔκπληξιν, οὐκ εἰς κατήχησιν τοσοῦτον.

[v30b] « ὁ πρῶτος σιγάτω. »

Οὐ γὰρ ἔδει, τούτου κινηθέντος πρὸς προφητείαν, ἐκεῖνον λέγειν.

[v31] « Δύνασθε γὰρ καθ’ ἕνα πάντες προφητεύειν, ἵνα πάντες μανθάνωσι καὶ πάντες παρακαλῶνται. »

Τοῦτο φησι, τὸν ἐπιστομηθέντα παραμυθούμενος.

[v32] « Καὶ πνεύματα προφητῶν προφήταις ὑποτάσσεται »

Ἵνα μὴ φιλόνεικός τις ᾖ, ἤ βάσκανος, αὐτὸ τὸ χάρισμα δείκνυσιν ὑποτασσόμενον. Πνεῦμα γὰρ ἐνταῦθα τὴν ἐνέργειαν λέγει· εἰ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα ὑποστάσσεται, πολλῷ δ’ ἄν σύ.

[v33] « Οὐ γὰρ ἐστιν ἀκαταστασίας ὁ Θεός, ἀλλὰ εἰρήνης, ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς Ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων διατάσσομαι.(12) The verb: διατάσσομαι does not exist in any other popular Greek manuscript. This appears unique to John of Damascus. It may be a copyist error. Similar wording can be found in I Corinthians 7:17 »

Δείκνυσιν ὡς καὶ τῷ Θεῷ τοῦτο δοκεῖ, ἵνα κρῖμα ἔχων ὁ ἀντιταττόμενος, μὴ φιλονεικῇ.

The English translation can be found here: John of Damascus on Tongues: an English Translation.

References   [ + ]