The Pentecostal Rewrite of the History of Speaking in Tongues

Two Pentecostal Missionaries listening to Philip Schaff Cartoon

How Pentecostals built their historical framework for their doctrine of tongues from Higher Criticism literature–a necessary but unlikely relationship.

This merging of two opposed systems, one dependent on the supernatural, and the other focused on the rational and logical with no reference to any divine entity, makes for one of the most major shifts in the history of the christian doctrine of tongues.

As shown throughout the Gift of Tongues Project, tongues as an ecstatic utterance was a new addition to the doctrine of tongues in the 19th century. There is no historical antecedent for ecstatic utterance, glossolalia and their variances before this era. Nor is there a connection with the majority of ecclesiastical writings over 1800 years which had a different trajectory.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls and Angelic Tongues

The Community Rule Dead Sea Scroll Text first page snippet with a magnifying glass in front

Examining the nature, function, and history of angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls and two intertestamental books to find a connection with St. Paul’s reference of the tongues of men and angels.

Paul and the authors behind the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Testament of Job, and the Book of Enoch are products of a milieu that believed in the divine interplay between angels and the worshipper. So, if one wants to find an answer to Paul’s mysterious reference about angelic tongues, the highest probability exists in these texts.

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Greeks, Hellenic Judaism and the problem tongues of Corinth

A look at the problem tongues of Corinth being an internal linguistic struggle between Doric, Aeolic, and Attic Greeks.

As previously noted, Epiphanius’ asserted that the ancient synagogue liturgy of Hebrew as the language of instruction was the source problem in Corinth. He further commented it was a linguistic conflict between Doric, Aeolic, and Attic Greeks. They argued about which one was to be the base language for all translations and liturgy.

This article is an investigation into the ancient Greek world to see if these language conflicts were a potential problem, which in the end, will show that his claims hold true.

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The role of Hebrew in the Jewish-Aramaic World

The influence of Aramaic and Hebrew on Jewish life around the first-century.

The goal of any information gleaned from this inquiry is to find a possible connection with Hebrew being a part of the first-century Corinthian liturgy. A subsequent purpose is to confirm or deny an assertion by the fourth-century Bishop of Salamis, Epiphanius, that the mystery tongues of Corinth had its roots in the Hebrew language.

We cannot assume any synagogue outside of Israel, let alone Corinth, used the Hebrew language as part of their religious service. So, it requires digging deeper into the relationship between Hebrew and Aramaic to find answers.

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A Jewish-Greek Perspective on the Tongues of Corinth

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

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

A man and a young man reading the Torah together

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

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

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

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

Read moreA Jewish-Greek Perspective on the Tongues of Corinth

Summary of the Gift of Tongues Project: Introduction

A summary of the Gift of Tongues Project in three parts. The following are the results of a detailed study of the doctrine of tongues from inception until 1922. The results are drawn from the Gift of Tongues Project which had a fourfold purpose to: uncover new or forgotten ancient literature on the subject provide … Read more

A Catholic History of Tongues: 30 to 1748 AD

A Catholic history of speaking in tongues from the first Pentecost until the rule of Pope Benedict the XIV, 1748 A.D. This summary is the first portion of a three-part series on the christian doctrine of tongues from inception until the 1920s. For a general overview about the christian doctrine of tongues and the framework … Read more

An analysis of Gregory of Nyssa on speaking in tongues

Gregory of Nyssa on divine speech, human languages, and Pentecost. Gregory of Nyssa, along with Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and Gregory Nazianzus, set the framework for the christian doctrine of tongues from the fourth-century and onwards. Although there are other narratives during this period such as John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and … Read more

Gregory of Nyssa on Speaking in Tongues – English texts

English translations of Gregory of Nyssa’s references to speaking in tongues. Oratio de Spiritu Sancto sive in Pentecosten I could not find an English translation of this text, so I took the time to provide one. The following is a passage from Gregory of Nyssa’s Oratio de Spiritu Sancto sive in Pentecosten. This portion directly … Read more