Tag Archives: Origen

Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 1

This four-part series follows the perceptions of miracles and the doctrine of cessationism from inception until now in the protestant church, especially as it relates to the doctrine of tongues.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Table of Contents

  • Part 1
  • Introduction
  • Reasons for the rise of Cessationism
  • Part 2
  • The Excess of Miracles in the Medieval world
  • The earlier De-Emphatics: John Chrysostom, Augustine Bishop of Hippo, Cyril of Alexandria*, and Thomas Aquinas
  • Part 3
  • The Early Protestant De-Emphatics: Martin Luther and Jean Calvin
  • The Church of England and Miracles
    • The Puritan Influence: William Whitaker, William Perkins, James Ussher, the Westminster Confession, and later Confessions
    • The Latitudinarians
    • The Rationalists and Deists
  • Part 4
    Cessationism from the 1800s and onwards: the Baptists, Presbyterians, B. B. Warfield, christian higher education, John MacArthur, and more.

Introduction

Cessationism is a religious term used in various protestant circles that believe miracles in the church died out long ago and have been replaced by the authority of Scripture. Cessationist policy is typically found in Presbyterian, conservative Baptist, Dutch Reformed churches, and other groups that strictly adhere to early protestant reformation teachings.

It is a doctrine that had its zenith in the late 1600s, waned a bit in the 1800s and recharged in the 1900s. Today, the doctrine of cessationism has considerably subsided. However, it cannot be ignored if one is doing a thorough study of the doctrine of tongues. It is an important part of history.

Continue reading Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Part 1

Cessationism, Miracles, and Tongues: Infographic

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

 

Speaking in tongues Quiz 2

Gift of Tongues Quiz

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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   [ + ]

Origen on Tongues: the Source Texts

In keeping with the Gift of Tongues Project which is to provide the original sources in a digital format, enclosed are the source-works of Origen relating to the doctrine of tongues.

For the full English list of translations and analysis please go to Origen on the Dogma of Tongues.

Origenis. In Jeremiam Homilia. MPG. Vol. 13. Col. 384ff.

Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡνίκα μὲν οὐκ εκινοῦντο ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὐκ ἐσκόρπισεν αὐτοὺς ὁ Θεός· ὅτε δὲ ἐκίνησαν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, καὶ εἷπεν ἄνθρωπος πρὸς τὸν πλησίον αὐτου, Δεῦτε, καὶ οἰκοδομήσωμεν ἑαυτοῖς πόλιν καὶ πύργον, οὐ ἔσται ἠ κεφαλὴ ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, φησὶν ὁ Θεὸς περὶ τούτων· Δεῦτε, καὶ καταβάντες συγχέωμεν αὐτῶν έκεῖ τὴν γλῶσσαν. Καὶ συγχεῖται ἕκαστος, καὶ ἐπὶ τινὰ τῆς τόπον διασκορπίζεται. Καὶ ὁ λαὸς δὲ ὁ τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ, μὴ ἁμαρτάνων μὲν,ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἦν. ἁμαρτήσας δὲ διασκορπίζεται ἔπειτα ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκουμένης, καὶ διασπείρεται πανταχοῦ. Τοιοῦτόν τί μοι νόει καὶ περὶ πάντων ἠμῶν. Ἔστι τις Ἐκκλησία πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου Σιὼν ὅρος, καὶ πόλις Θεοῦ ζῶντος Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπουράνιος.

Origenis. Selecta in Ezechielem. MPG. Vol.13. Col 773

Οὐ πρὸς τὸν λαὸν βαθύχειλον. Εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἦσαν _ξ ἐπιπολῆς ἔχοντες τοὺς λόγους αὐτων, ἀλλ᾽ἡ καρ_ _α αὐτῶν διὰ τὸ βάθος τῶν νοημάτων στόμα ἦν αὐτῶν. καὶ οὐκ ἄν σὺ εἰσεληλύθεις πρὸς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. Ἀλλ᾽οὐδὲ βαρύγλωσσοί εἰσι· βάρος γὰρ καὶ κομψόν τι οὐκ ἔχει στίβος ἡ γλῶσσα αὐτῶν, ἤτοι ὁ λόγος· εἰσὶ δὲ κουφόγλωσσοι· ὅθεν ἀναγκαῖόν σε βαδίσαι πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὑποκάτω βαίνοντας τῆς ἕξεως σου. Ἐν ἐπαίνῳ οὖν εἰρῆται ὁ Βαθύχειλος καὶ ὁ βαρύγλωσσος. εἴρηται δὲ ταῦτα. Καὶ ὅρα εἰ περὶ τῶν ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν, οἳ ἕτεροι εἰσι τοῦ οἴκου Ἰσραὴλ, ταῦτα προφητεύεται, ὧν οὐκ ἄν ἤκουσε διὰ τὸ ἑτερόγλωσσον αὐτῶν ὁ Ἐβραῖος προφήτης. Βαθεῖς δὲ χείλεσιν οἱ αὐτοὶ δύνανται λέγεσθαι διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐξ ἐπιπολῆς τὰ θεῖα καταλαμβάνειν γράμματα, ἀλλὰ πιστεύειν εἰς τὰ βάθη τοὺ νόμου.

Origenis. Homiliis in Acta Apostolorum. MPG. Vol.14. Col 829ff

Retyped from the copy found at: Documenta Catholica Omnia

Ἐκ τῆς εἰς τὰς Πράξεις ὁμιλίας δ’

Ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν Γραφὴν, ἣν προεῖτε τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον διὰ στόματος Δαυΐδ περὶ Ἰούδα· ἐν ᾧ ψαλμῷ τὰ περὶ τοῦ Ἰούδα γέγραπται. Εἴποι τις ἄν, ὅτι οὐ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον λαλεῖ· σαφῶς γὰρ τοῦ Σωτῆρός εἰσιν οἱ λόγοι λέγοντος· Ὁ Θεὸς, τὴν αἴωεσίν μου μὴ παρασιωπησης· ὅτι στόμα ἁμαρτωλοῦ, καὶ στόμα δολίου, ἐπ’ ἐμὲ ἠωοίχθη· καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς ἕως· Καὶ τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν αὐτοῦ λάβοι ἕτερος. Πῶς οὖν, εἰ ὁ Σωτήρ ἐστιν ὁ ταῦτα λέγων, φησὶν ὁ Πέτρος· Ἔδει πληρωθῆαι τὴν Γραφὴν, ἥν προεῖτε τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον διὰ στόματος Δαυΐδ; Μήποτε οὖν ὅ διδασκόμεθα ἐνταῦθα, τοιοῦτόν ἐστι. Προσωποποιεῖ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις· καὶ ἐὰν προσωποποιήσῃ τὸν Θεὸν, οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Θεὸς ὁ λαλῶν, ἀλλὰ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἄγιον ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ λαλεῖ· Οὕτω, κἄν προσωποποιήσῃ τὸν προφήτην, ἤ τὸν λαὸν ἐκεῖνον, ἤ τὸν λαὸν τουτον, ἤ ὅ τι δήποτε προσωποποιεῖ, τὸ ἅγιον Πνεῦμά ἐστι τὸ πάντα προσωποποιοῦν.

Origenis. Comment. In. Epist. Ad Rom. MPG. Vol. 14. Col. 1100-1101

A Portion from his commentary on Romans 6:13

[Col. 1100] « Propter inhabitantem Spiritum ejus in vobis. » Si enim Spiritus Christi habitat in vobis, necessarium videtur Spiritui reddi habitaculum suum, templumque restitui. Velim tamen hoc ipsum quod dicitur vel Spiritus Christi, vel Spiritus Dei, vel etiam ipse Christus in nobis habitare, quale sit intueri : utrumnam ex initio omnibus iste Spiritus datur, et postmodum pessimis et a Deo alienis actibus effugatur, secundum illud quod scriptum est : « Nom permanebit Spiritus meus in hominibus istis, quia caro sunt, » an vitæ merito, et fidei gratia postmodum datur, secundum ea quæ in Actibus apostolorum docentur, quia Spiritus sanctus tanquam linguæ igneæ venit super unumquemque eorum; vel certe sicut in Evangelio docemur, cum ipse Salvator posteaquam resurrexit amortuis ad discipulos dixit : « Accipite Spiritum sanctum, et insufflavit un unoquoque eorum. » Unde mihi videtur quod et meritis conquiratur hoc donum, et vitæ innocentia conservetur, et unicuique secundum profectum fidei augeatur et gratiæ ; et quanto purior anima redditur, tanto largior ei Spiritus infundatur. Quod autem dixit, « Non permanebit Spiritus meus in hominibus istis, quia caro sunt. » illuc respicit ut, quoniam anima eorum, repudiata Spiritus servitute, ad carnis servitia se tota convertit, etiam ipsa ejus cui se conjunxit carni, et cum qua unum effecta est, nomen accipiat. Diveris ergo modis haberi potest Spiritus. Vel Spiritus Christi habetur, secundum id quod supra diximus, ex inspiratione divina, ubi ait : « Accipite Spiritum sanctum, et insufflavit in eis, » et rursum eo modo qui in Actibus apostolorum dicitur gesum, ut diversis linguis loquerentur apostoli. Est et ille modus, qui in Regnorum libris refertur, cum dicit Scriptura : « Et insiluit Spiritus super Saul, et cœpit prophetare. » Est et ille adhuc alius modus, ut, cum Salvator post resurrectionem cum Cleopha et alio discipulo iter agens et aperiens eis Scripturas, ignivit eos spiritu oris sui, ita ut illi dicerent : « Nonne cor nostrum erat ardens intra nos, cum aperiret nobis Scripturas ? » Vis autem scire quia non solum Jesus loquens tradidit audientibues Spiritum suum, sed et qui in nomine ejus loquitur verbum Dei, tradit audientibus Spiritum Dei? Vide in Actibus apostolorum quomodo loquente Petro ad Cornelium [Col. 1101] repletur Spiritu sancto ipse Cornelius, et qui cum eo erant. Unde et tu si loquaris verbum dei, et loquaris fideliter ex conscientia pura, nec ipse redarguaris ex verbis tuis quasi qui aliter doceas et aliter agas, potest fieri ut loquente te auditorum corda sancti Spiritus ignis inflammet, et continuo concalescant et ardeant ad complenda universa quæ doces, ut rebus impleant quæ sermonibus didicerint, et « quæ sursum sunt » sapiant, « non quæ super terram. »

Origen on I Corinthians; Header 49

Claude Jenkins, “Documents; Origen on I Corinthians,” Journal of Theological Studies 10 (1909). Pg. 29ff and another version found in Catenae: Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum. Tomus V. J.A. Cramer. ed. Oxonii.1844. Pg. 249

Ζητοῦμεν ἐνταῦθα εἰ δύναταί τις ἐν τῷ βίῳ τούτῳ καὶ προφητείαν ἔχειν καὶ τὰ μυστήρια ἅπαντα γνῶναι χωρὶς ἀγάπης, καὶ ὅλως εἰ δίδοταί τινι τὰ μυστήρια πάντα γνῶναι· φησὶ γὰρ ὁ Παῦλος εἰ τις δοκεῖ εγνωκέναι τι, οὔπω ἔγνω καθὼς δεῖ γνῶναι· καὶ παλιν Ἐκ μέρους φησὶ γινώσκομεν καὶ ἐκ μέρους προφητεύομεν· ὅταν ἄν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον, τὸ ἐκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται. Τὸ δὲ`ταῦτα λέγειν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν παραπλησίων ἀποστόλων αὐτῷ δηλοῖ ὅτι οὐ δυνατόν ἐστιν εἰδέναι πάντα τὰ μυστήρια καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνὼσιν. πῶς οὖν ὡς δυνατοῦ ὄντος τοῦ εἰδέναι πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν καὶ πάντα τὰ μυστήρια ἐπίστασθαι ταῦτα φησίν ; ἐὰν ἴδωμεν τὸ προοίμιον τῶν λόγων ἐν οἷς φησὶ Καὶ ἔτι καθ’ὑπερβολὴν ὁδὸν ὑμιν δείκνυμι, καὶ νοήσωμεν τἰ ἐστιν ὑπερβολὴ, ταῦτα πάντα ἔσται σεσαφηνισμένα. ὐπερβολὴ τοίνυν ἐστὶν, ὡς καὶ Ἕλληνες <ὡ>ρίσαντο, λόγος ἐμφάσεως ἕνεκεν ὑπεραίρων τὴν ἀλήθειαν καὶ χρῶνται ἐκεῖνοι παραδείγματι, ὅτι λευκότεροι χιόνος λέγονταί τινες εἶναι· οὐχ ὅτι δυνατόν τι εἶναι λευκότερον χιόνος, ἀλλὰ καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν λέλεκται. καὶ ἔτι Τρέχουσι τινες ἵπποι ὥς ἄνεμος· οὐχ ὅτι δυνατόν ἐστι τὸ τοιοῦτον, ἀλλ᾽ἐμφάσεως ἕνεκεν, ἵνα τὸ τάχος τῶν ἵππων παραστῇ, λέγεται τὸ τοιοῦτον περὶ αὐτῶν. καὶ ἐν τῇ γραφῇ δὲ λέγεται τῶν Ψαλμῶν περὶ τῆς θαλάσσης ἀναβαίνουσι τὰ κύματα αὐτῆς ἕως τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ καταβαίνουσιν ἔως τῶν ἀβύσσων· ὅπερ ἀδύνατον, ἀλλ᾽ἐμφάσεως ἔνεκεν εἴρηται. καὶ ἐν τῇ νόμῳ δὲ εὐρήσεις γεγραμμένον τῆς ὑπερβολῆς τὸν τρόπον ἔνθα γέγραπται Εἴδομεν πόλεις μεγάλας καὶ τειχήρεις ἕως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. πῶς δὲ τοῦτο δύναται εἶναι ; ἀλλ᾽ὑπερβολικῶς λέγεται, οὐ πάντως αὐτὸ τὸ δηλούμενον παριστῶντος τοῦ λόγου ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα δηλώσῃ τὸ μέγεθος τῶν κυμάτων ἤ τὴν ταπείνωσιν, καὶ τὸ μέγεθος τῶν τειχῶν, ἤ τι τούτοις παραπλήσιον. οὕτω καὶ ἐνθάδε ὔπόθεσιν λαμβάνει ὁ ἀπόστολος ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἐξετασθῆναι φύσιν χαρισμάτων φύσιν ἀγάπης. οὐχ ὅτι δυνατόν ἐστι εἶναι χάρισματα, καὶ ταῦτα τηλικοῦτον, χωρὶς ἀγάπης· ἤ ὅτι δυνατὸν ἐν τῷ Βίῳ τούτῳ είδέναι τινὰ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν χωρὶς ἀγάπης, ἤ ἔχειν πίστιν τηλικαύτην ὥστε ὄρη μεθιστάνειν· ἀλλὰ βουλόμενος παραστῆσαι ὅτι εἰ ἐν ζυγῷ τεθείη ἠ ἀγάπη καθ’ ὑπόθεσιν εἰρημένου τοῦ λόγου. δεῖ οὖν φησὶ μάλιστα ζηλοῦν τὴν ἀγάπην.
῎Αρα δὲ ἄγγελοι διαλεγόμενοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους ταύταις ταῖς γλώσσαις διαλέγονται αἷς καὶ ἄνθρωποι, ὥστε τῶν ἀγγελων τινὰς μὲν Ἕλληνας εἶναι τυχόν τινὰς δὲ Ἑβραίους καὶ ἅλλους Αἰγυπτίους ; ἤ τοῦτο ἄτοπον λέγειν περὶ τῶν ἄνω ἀγγελικῶν ταγμάτων ; μή ποτε οὖν ὥσπέρ εἰσιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις διάλεκτοι πολλαὶ, οὕτως εἰσὶ καὶ ἐν ἀγγέλοις ; καὶ ἐὰν ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῖν χαρίσηται ἀπὸ τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως ἐπὶ τὴν ἀγγελικὴν καταταγὴν<αι>, τοὺ Κυρίου μου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐπαγγελίαν λέγοντος ἰσάγελλοι ἔσονται καὶ Υἱοὶ Θεοῦ τὴς ἀναστάσεως υἱοὶ ὄντες, οὐκετι χρησόμεθα διαλέκτῳ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ διαλέκτῳ τῇ ἀγγελικῇ ; καὶ ὥσπερ ἄλλη διάλεκτος παιδίων καὶ ἄλλη τετρανωμένων τὴν φωνὴν, οὕτως πᾶσα ἐν ἀνθρώποις διάλεκτος οἱονεὶ παιδίών ἐστὶν διάλεκτος· ἡ δὲ ἀγγελικὴ οἱονεὶ ἀδρῶν ἔστι τελείων καὶ τετρανωμένων ; ἴσως δὲ κακεὶ κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς καταστάσεως καὶ διάλεκτοι εἰσιν. ἐὰν οὖν ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀνθρώπων λαλῶ καὶ`τῶν ἀγγέλων, ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω, γέγονα καλκὸς ἠχῶν ἤ κύμβαλου ἀλαλάζον. ὥσπερ ὅ χαλκὸς ἠχῶν ἄσημον δίδωσι φωνήν, ὥσπερ τὸ κύμβαλον τὸ ἀλαλάζον οὐδὲν τρανόν, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον χωρὶς μὲν ἀγάπης γλῶσσα κἄν ἀγγέλων ἐν ἀνθρώποις καθ’ ὑπόθεσιν ᾖ, ἀτρανωτός ἐστιν· οὐδὲν γὰρ ποιεῖ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἤτοι τῶν ἀγγέλων τρανῆ καὶ σαφῆ, ὡς ἡ ἀγάπη· ἀγάπης δὲ μὴ παρούσης τὸ λαλόυμενον οὐδέν ἐστιν.
Τίς δὲ ἡ διαφορὰ τῆς γνώσεως καὶ τῆς τῶν μυστηρίων εἰδήσεως ; περὶ δύο γὰρ πραγμάτων ὁ ἀποστολος λέγει. ἡγοῦμαι τοίνυν τὸ μὲν περὶ τῶν φανερῶν εἰδέναι τὴν γνῶσιν εἶναι γενικωτέραν οὖσαν τῶν μυστηρίων· ἐν μέρει γὰρ τῆς γνώσεως ἡ τῶν μυστηρίων ἐστὶν ἐπιστήμη· τὸ δὲ περὶ τῶν ἀπορρητοτέρων καὶ θειοτέρων εἰδέναι τοῦτ᾽εἶναι τὸ μυστήριον γινώσκειν, ὡς εἶναι γενικὸν μὲν λόγον τῆς γνώσεως οὐκέτι δὲ πάσης τῆς γνώσεως εἶναι τὴν κατάληψιν μυστηρίων περὶ ὧν λέλεκται Ἀλλὰ λαλοῦμεν Θεοῦ σοφίαν ἐν μυστηρίῳ τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην, ἤν προώρισεν ὁ Θεὸς πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς δόξαν ὑμῶν. ὅταν γὰρ εἰδῶ ταῦτα, τότε ἔχω τὴν γνῶσιν τῶν μυστηρίων.
Κἄν ἔχω πᾶσαν τὴν πίστιν ὥστε ὄρη μεθιστάνειν. γέγραπται ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ Ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ ἄρθητι καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ μεταβήσεται, καὶ οὐδὲν ὑμῖν ἀδυνάτησει. ὁ γὰρ ἔχων πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως ὅλην ἔχει τὴν πίστιν.

Origen. Against Celsus

Please note the following texts are a revised version of the TLG text. It has been changed to conform to what is found in MPG Vol. 11.

3.46 — Origenis. Contra Celsum Lib. III. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 986.

Ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ μετὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν γεγραμμένα ἔλθῃς βιβλία, εὕροις ἂν τοὺς μὲν ὄχλους τῶν πιστευόντων τῶν παραβολῶν ἀκούοντας ὡς ἔξω τυγχάνοντας καὶ ἀξίους μόνον τῶν ἐξωτερικῶν λόγων, τοὺς δὲ μαθητὰς κατ’ ἰδίαν τῶν παραβολῶν μανθάνοντας τὰς διηγήσεις· Κατ’ ἰδίαν γὰρ τοῖς ἰδίοις μαθηταῖς ἐπέλυεν ἅπαντα ὁ Ἰησοῦς, προτιμῶν παρὰ τοὺς ὄχλους τοὺς τῆς σοφίας αὐτοῦ ἐπιδικαζομένους. Ἐπαγγέλλεται δὲ τοῖς εἰς αὐτὸν πιστεύουσι πέμψαι «σοφοὺς καὶ γραμματεῖς λέγων· « Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω εἰς ὑμᾶς σοφοὺς καὶ γραμματεῖς, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀποκτενοῦσι καὶ σταυρώσουσι. » Καὶ ὁ Παῦλος δ’ ἐν τῷ καταλόγῳ τῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ διδομένων χαρισμάτων πρῶτον ἔταξε « τὸν λόγον τῆς σοφίας » καὶ δεύτερον, ὡς ὑποβεβηκότα παρ’ ἐκεῖνον, « τὸν λόγον τῆς γνώσεως, » τρίτον δέ που καὶ κατωτέρω « τὴν πίστιν ». Καὶ ἐπεὶ « τὸν λόγον » προετίμα τῶν τεραστίων ἐνεργειῶν, διὰ τοῦτ’ « ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων καὶ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων » ἐν τῇ κατωτέρω τίθησι χώρᾳ παρὰ τὰ λογικὰ χαρίσματα. Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ τῇ Μωϋσέως πολυμαθείᾳ ὁ ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσι τῶν ἀποστόλων Στέφανος, πάντως ἀπὸ τῶν παλαιῶν καὶ μὴ εἰς πολλοὺς ἐφθακότων γραμμάτων λαβών· φησὶ γάρ· « Καὶ ἐπαιδεύθη Μωϋσῆς ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ Αἰγυπτίων. » Διὰ τοῦτο δὲ καὶ ἐν τοῖς τεραστίοις ὑπενοεῖτο, μή ποτ’ οὐ κατὰ τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ θεόθεν ἥκειν ἐποίει αὐτὰ ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὰ Αἰγυπτίων μαθήματα, σοφὸς ὢν ἐν αὐτοῖς. Τοιαῦτα γὰρ ὑπονοῶν περὶ αὐτοῦ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐκάλεσε τοὺς ἐπαοιδοὺς τῶν Αἰγυπτίων καὶ « τοὺς σοφιστὰς καὶ τοὺς φαρμακεῖς, » οἵτινες ἠλέγχθησαν τὸ οὐδὲν ὄντες ὡς πρὸς τὴν ἐν Μωϋσεῖ σοφίαν ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν Αἰγυπτίων σοφίαν.

7:3 — Origenis. Contra Celsum, Lib. VII. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 1424ff.

Φησὶν οὖν· Τὰ μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς Πυθίας ἤ Δωδωνίδων ἤ Κλαρίου ἤ ἐν Βραγχάδαις ἤ ἐν Ἄμμμωνος ὑπὸ μυρίων τε ἄλλων θεοπρόπων προειρημένα, ὑφ’ ὧν ἐπιεκῶς πᾶσα γῆ κατῳκίσθη, ταῦτα μὲν οὐδενί λόγῳ τίθενται· τὰ δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν Ἰουδαίᾳ τῷ ἐκείνων τρόπῳ λεχθέντα ἢ μὴ λεχθέντα, καὶ ὥσπερ εἰώθασιν ἔτι νῦν οἱ περὶ Φοινίκην τε καὶ Παλαιστίνην, ταῦτά γε θαυμαστὰ καὶ ἀπαράλλακτα ἡγοῦνται. Λέγωμεν οὖν περὶ τῶν κατειλεγμένων χρηστηρίων ὅτι δυνατὸν μὲν ἡμῖν συνάγουσιν ἀπὸ Ἀριστοτέλους καὶ τῶν τὰ τοῦ Περιπάτου φιλοσοφησάντων οὐκ ὀλίγα εἰπεῖν εἰς ἀνατροπὴν τοῦ περὶ τῆς Πυθίας καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν χρηστηρίων λόγου· δυνατὸν δὲ καὶ τὰ λελεγμένα τῷ Ἐπικούρῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀσπαζομένοις αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν παραθέμενον δεῖξαι ὅτι καὶ Ἑλλήνων τινὲς ἀνατρέπουσι τὰς νομιζομένας καὶ τεθαυμασμένας ἐν πάσῃ Ἑλλάδι θεοπροπίας. Ἀλλὰ γὰρ δεδόσθω μὴ εἶναι πλάσματα μηδὲ προσποιήσεις ἀνθρώπων περὶ θεοφορίας τὰ περὶ τὴν Πυθίαν καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ χρηστήρια· ἴδωμεν οὖν εἰ μὴ καὶ οὕτως δύναται τοῖς φιλαλήθως ἐξετάζουσι τὰ πράγματα(1)προστάγματα ἀποδείκνυσθαι ὅτι καὶ τῷ παραδεχομένῳ εἶναι ταῦτα τὰ μαντεῖα οὐκ ἀναγκαῖον προσέσθαι ὅτι θεοί τινες εἰσὶ παρ’ αὐτοῖς, ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ ἐναντίου δαίμονές τινες φαῦλοι καὶ πνεύματα ἐχθρὰ τῷ γένει τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ κωλύοντα τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς ἄνοδον καὶ δι’ ἀρετῆς πορείαν καὶ τῆς ἀληθινῆς εὐσεβείας ἀποκατάστασιν πρὸς τὸν θεόν. Ἱστόρητα(2)Ἱστόρηται τοίνυν περὶ τῆς Πυθίας, ὅπερ δοκεῖ τῶν ἄλλων μαντείων λαμπρότερον τυγχάνειν, ὅτι περικαθεζομένη τὸ τῆς Κασταλίας στόμιον ἡ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος προφῆτις δέχεται πνεῦμα διὰ τῶν γυναικείων κόλπων· οὗ πληρωθεῖσα ἀποφθέγγεται τὰ νομιζόμενα εἶναι σεμνὰ καὶ θεῖα μαντεύματα. Ὅρα δὴ διὰ τούτων εἰ μὴ τὸ τοῦ πνεύματος ἐκείνου ἀκάθαρτον καὶ βέβηλον ἐμφαίνεται, μὴ διὰ μανῶν καὶ ἀφανῶν πόρων καὶ πολλῷ γυναικείων κόλπων καθαρωτέρων ἐπεισιὸν τῇ ψυχῇ τῆς θεσπιζούσης ἀλλὰ διὰ τούτων, ἃ οὐδὲ θέμις ἦν τῷ σώφρονι καὶ ἀνθρώπῳ βλέπειν, οὔπω λέγω ὅτι καὶ ἅπτεσθαι· καὶ τοῦτο ποιεῖν οὐχ ἅπαξ που οὐδὲ δίς (ἴσως γὰρ ἔδοξεν ἀνεκτότερον τὸ τοιοῦτο τυγχάνειν), ἀλλὰ τοσαυτάκις, ὁσάκις προφητεύειν ἐκείνη ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος πεπίστευται. Ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ εἰς ἔκστασιν καὶ μανικὴν ἄγειν κατάστασιν τὴν δῆθεν προφητεύουσαν, ὡς μηδαμῶς αὐτὴν ἑαυτῇ παρακολουθεῖν, οὐ θείου πνεύματος ἔργον ἐστίν· ἐχρῆν γὰρ(3)Ἐρχῆν γὰρ τὸν κάοχον τῷ θειῳ Πνεύματι, τὸν συμβαλλόμενον εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ κατὰ φύσιν βίον, πολλῷ πρότερον παντὸς οὐτινοσοῦν τοῦ ἀπο τῶν χρησμῶν διδασκομένου, ἤ πρὸς τὸ λυσιτελὲς ἤ συμφέρον ὠφεληθῆναι. τὸν κάτοχον τῷ θείῳ πνεύματι πολλῷ πρότερον παντὸς οὑτινοσοῦν τοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν χρησμῶν διδασκομένου τὸ συμβαλλόμενον εἰς τὸν μέσον καὶ κατὰ φύσιν βίον ἢ πρὸς τὸ λυσιτελὲς ἢ πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ὠφεληθῆναι καὶ διορατικώτερον παρ’ ἐκεῖνο μάλιστα καιροῦ τυγχάνειν, ὅτε σύνεστιν αὐτῷ τὸ θεῖον.

7:9 — Origenis. Contra Celsum, Lib. VII. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 1433.

Ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ τὸν τρόπον τῶν ἐν Φοινίκῃ καὶ Παλαιστίνῃ μαντείων ἐπαγγέλλεται, φράσειν ὁ Κέλσος ὡς ἀκούσας καὶ πάνυ καταμαθών, φέρε καὶ ταῦτα κατανοήσωμεν. Πρῶτον δὴ λέγει πλείονα εἶναι εἴδη προφητειῶν, μὴ ἐκτιθέμενος αὐτά· οὐδὲ γὰρ εἶχεν, ἀλλὰ ψευδῶς ἐπανετείνετο. Ὃ δέ φησιν εἶναι τελεώτατον παρὰ τοῖς τῇδε ἀνδράσιν ἴδωμεν. Πολλοί, φησί, καὶ ἀνώνυμοι ῥᾷστα ἐκ τῆς προστυχούσης αἰτίας καὶ ἐν ἱεροῖς καὶ ἔξω ἱερῶν, οἱ δὲ καὶ ἀγείροντες καὶ ἐπιφοιτῶντες πόλεσιν ἢ στρατοπέδοις, κινοῦνται δῆθεν ὡς θεσπίζοντες. Πρόχειρον δ’ ἑκάστῳ καὶ σύνηθες εἰπεῖν· Ἐγὼ ὁ θεός εἰμι ἢ θεοῦ παῖς ἢ πνεῦμα θεῖον. Ἥκω δέ ἤδη γὰρ ὁ κόσμος ἀπόλλυται, καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὦ ἄνθρωποι, διὰ τὰς ἀδικίας οἴχεσθε. Ἐγὼ δὲ σῶσαι θέλω· καὶ ὄψεσθέ με αὖθις μετ’ οὐρανίου δυνάμεως ἐπανιόντα. Μακάριος ὁ νῦν με θρησκεύσας· τοῖς δ’ ἄλλοις ἅπασι πῦρ αἰώνιον ἐπιβαλῶ καὶ πόλεσι καὶ χώραις. Καὶ ἄνθρωποις,(4)ἄνθρωποι οἳ μὴ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ποινὰς ἴσασι, μεταγνώσονται μάτην καὶ στενάξουσι· τοὺς δέ μοι πεισθέντας αἰωνίους φυλάξω. εἶτα τούτοις ἑξῆς φησι· Ταῦτ’ ἐπανατεινάμενοι προστιθέασιν ἐφεξῆς ἄγνωστα καὶ πάροιστρα καὶ πάντῃ ἄδηλα, ὧν τὸ μὲν γνὠρισμα(5)γνῶμα οὐδεὶς ἂν ἔχων νοῦν εὑρεῖν δύναιτο· ἀσαφῆ γὰρ καὶ τὸ μηδέν· ἀνοήτῳ δὲ ἢ γόητι παντὶ περὶ παντὸς ἀφορμὴν ἐνδίδωσιν, ὅπῃ βούλεται, τὸ λεχθὲν σφετερίζεσθαι.

8:37 — Origenis. Contra Celsum, Lib. VIII. MPG Vol. 11. Col. 1573.

Εἶτ’ ἐπιλαθόμενος ὅτι Χριστιανοῖς λαλεῖ, τοῖς μόνοις τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ εὐχομένοις, καὶ συμφύρων τὰ ἑτέρων καὶ ἀλόγως Χριστιανοῖς συνάπτων αὐτά φησιν· Ἐὰν μὲν βαρβάρως αὐτοὺς ὀνομάζῃ τις, δύναμιν ἕξουσιν, ἐὰν δὲ Ἑλληνικῶς ἢ ῾Ρωμαϊκῶς, οὐκ ἔτι. Δεικνύτω γὰρ τίνα ἡμεῖς βαρβάρως ὀνομάζομεν ὡς καλοῦντες αὐτὸν ἐπὶ βοήθειαν, καὶ πειθέσθω,(6)Reg. et Basil: πυθέσθω μάτην καθ’ ἡμῶν ταῦτα εἰρηκέναι τὸν Κέλσον ἐφιστὰς(7) TLG has: <ὁ> ἐφιστὰς ὅτι οἱ (8) λόγιοι is understood here in at least one manuscript while TLG has πολλοὶ τῶν Χριστιανῶν οὐδὲ τοῖς ἐν ταῖς θείαις γραφαῖς κειμένοις ὀνόμασι καὶ τεταγμένοις ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοῦ χρῶνται ἐν ταῖς εὐχαῖς· ἀλλ’ οἱ μὲν Ἕλληνες Ἑλληνικοῖς οἱ δὲ Ῥωμαῖοι ῾Ρωμαϊκοῖς, καὶ οὕτως ἕκαστος κατὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ διάλεκτον εὔχεται τῷ θεῷ καὶ ὑμνεῖ αὐτὸν ὡς δύναται· καὶ ὁ πάσης διαλέκτου Κύριος τῶν ἀπὸ πάσης διαλέκτου εὐχομένων ἀκούει ὡς μιᾶς, ἵν’ οὕτως ὀνομάσω, φωνῆς τῆς κατὰ τὰ σημαινόμενα ἀκούων, δηλουμένης ἐκ τῶν ποικίλων διαλέκτων. Οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐπὶ πᾶσι θεὸς εἷς τις τῶν κεκληρωμένων διάλεκτόν τινα βάρβαρον ἢ ἕλληνα καὶ μηκέτι τὰς λοιπὰς ἐπισταμένων ἢ μηκέτι τῶν ἐν ἄλλαις διαλέκτοις λεγόντων φροντίζειν.

References   [ + ]

Origen on Tongues Updated

A brief explanation to the update and revision of Origen on the Dogma of Tongues

Origen on the Gift of Tongues, now renamed as Origen on the Dogma of Tongues, was one of the first articles generated when the Gift of Tongues Project began over a decade ago. It was a time when the internet had little or few resources to offer in relation to Patristics. Doing morphological analysis was an extremely time consuming work that was in the most part a manual process; the Origen texts kindly offered lots of new words which exacerbated these challenges.

Everything that surrounded this first Origen article was experimental; I was a newbie with translating the Greek and Latin Patristic texts, to building, designing and maintaining a website. It was at a time when foreign languages, the ones like Greek, Hebrew and Syriac who were not of the Latin character set, had a hard time displaying properly on the internet. Workarounds had to be made to accommodate this with varying levels of success.

Today, things have greatly changed. The internet now offers a wide array of digitized Greek dictionaries, significantly more manuscripts have been digitized and available on the internet, the proliferation of ebooks is starting to make scholars’ works more easily accessible for research, and a personal morphological/grammar database that I created to track problem words and grammatical points over ten years ago has over 3,000 entries. Combining all these factors together means that the speed and accuracy of my translation work is likely 50 times faster, more accurate and indepth than it was before.

As I looked at the original blog article regarding Origen on the Gift of Tongues, it demonstrated how far the Gift of Tongues Project has progressed and matured. However, the Origen article showed aspects of the Gift of Tongues Project’s early problems and was in dire need of meeting the current standards of translation, analysis, style, and delivery.

The article name too has changed from Origen on the Gift of Tongues to Origen on the Dogma of Tongues because the Gift of Tongues presents a modern bias that the ancient christian writers didn’t have. The Dogma of Tongues is much better suited to this approach. On the other hand, the title of this subject matter Gift of Tongues Project shall remain because if I used the name, Dogma of Tongues Project, although more true to the current approach, it would be a flop from a marketing perspective. It may have a substantial negative effect on prospective readers and the target audience. So the old title name for this subject will remain.

A thank you to Thomas P. Scheck for his English translation of Origen’s, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans in ebook format. Although I don’t know him personally, this book helped elevate the revision of my Origen article on tongues to a higher level. His translation is a monumental work.

Here is a link to the updated article: Origen on the Dogma of Tongues.

Origen on Knowledge

How to properly translate and understand Origen when he uses knowledge words.

Origen, a third century Church Father considered by many historians to be a great writer and thinker, was very much steeped in Greek literature, structure and thought. This was very much reflected in his writings.

This is especially found in the catena ascribed to him on I Corinthians.(1) See Origen on the Gift of Tongues for the actual translation One is hard-pressed to comprehend the semantics of his knowledge words. This applies to the majority of his other works as well.

Understanding these three words: γνώσις–gnôsis, εἲδησις–eidêsis, and επιστήμη–epistêmê are critical. These words all pertain to different nuances of the word knowledge. First of all, the English vocabulary does not distinguish between different forms of knowledge as the Greeks did. It is a problem of the limitations of the English language. The demand is then to do some dynamic translating which requires personal interpretation. So the the culture, background, and time-frame must be understood to properly reflect Origen’s intent.

The second problem is understanding what Origen meant specifically by these words. The concepts of gnôsis, eidenai and epistêmê have not been static and it depends on which era, culture and religion it is being used in. He was one of the first Christian authors attempting to integrate such terms and may not reflect medieval usage or what we modernly understand these terms to be.

There have been many attempts to distinguish these words with mixed results. Here are a number of examples:

  • Ellen Pagels attempted to do this in her book The Gnostic Gospels:

    …gnosis is not primarily rational knowledge. The Greek language distinguishes between scientific or reflective knowledge (‘He knows mathematics’) and knowing through observation or experience (‘He knows me’). As the gnostics use the term, we could translate it as ‘insight’, for gnosis involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself… Yet to know oneself, at the deepest level is to know God; this is the secret of gnosis.”(The Gnostic Gospels, p xviii-xix) Bentley Layton provides a similar definition in The Gnostic Scriptures: “The ancient Greek language could easily differentiate between two kinds of knowledge… One kind is propositional knowing – the knowledge that something is the case (‘I know Athens is in Greece’). Greek has several words for this kind of knowing-for example, eidenai. The other kind of knowing is personal aquaintance with an object, often a person. (‘I know Athens well’; ‘I have known Susan for many years’). In Greek the word for this is gignoskein…The corresponding Greek noun is gnosis. If for example two people have been introduced to one another, each can claim to have gnosis or aquaintance of one another. If one is introduced to God, one has gnosis of God. The ancient gnostics described salvation as a kind of gnosis or aquaintance, and the ultimate object of that aquaintance was nothing less than God” (The Gnostic Scriptures, p 9).”(2)As foundgnosis.org

  • The influential modern German Philosopher Martin Heidegger added his own thoughts to this:

    To know a person is sometimes eidenai, sometimes gignoskein, which, with the noun gnosis, often has the flavour of knowledge by acquaintance. Epistasthai, ‘to know, etc.’, is, for Heidegger, ‘to be on top of [vorstehen, lit. ‘stand before’] something, know one’s way around it’ – he associates it (controversially) with histanai, histathai, ‘to place, set (up)’, ‘to stand’. The derived noun episteme, ‘knowledge’, means approaching something, knowing one’s way around it, mastering it, penetrating its substantial content (XXIX, 49). Aristotle gave it the meaning of ‘science’, but in a sense distinct from modern scientific ‘research [Forschung]’ and ‘experiment’ (AWP. 74/121. Cf. XIX. 31ff., 91ff.)(3)Michael Inwood. A Heidegger Dictionary. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Reprinted 2000. Pg. 112 as foundA Heidegger Dictionary

    Science can be one of the common terms used for epistêmê, but it conjures up the wrong images in the English reader’s mind. The translator should emphasize skill or expertise within this context.

  • The above solutions do not easily work with Origen’s Commentary on Corinthians. A more religious framework is needed. This can be found at Wikipedia:

    Gnosis (from one of the Greek words for knowledge, gnôsis is the spiritual knowledge of a saint[1] or mystically enlightened human being. In the cultures of the term (Byzantine and Hellenic) gnosis was a special knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all and above all,[2] rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world which is called Epistemological knowledge. [3] Gnosis is a transcendential as well as mature understanding.[4] It indicates direct spiritual experiential knowledge[5] and intuitive knowledge, mystic rather than that from rational or reasoned thinking. Gnosis itself is obtained through understanding at which one can arrive via inner experience or contemplation such as an internal epiphany of intuition and external epiphany such as the Theophany.(4)As found at: Wikipedia.

    At first reading, one may conclude that this Wikipedia text was a result of medieval Christian writings, so more inquiry has to be done. Stanford University’s webpage on philosophy is a good starting point. They outline the usage by the neo-Platonic position of Plotinus, whom Origen studied with, “In the first place, epistêmê refers to the particular cognitive state of the first hypostasis from the One, Nous, in which there is an identity between knowledge and what is known (VI. 6. 15). Our souls gain true knowledge by the presence of Nous, although Nous knows non-discursively while our souls characteristically know in a discursive way (V. 9. 7; IV. 3.18). It does all these things with certain knowledge (epistêmê) and not by opinion (I. 3. 4).”(5)As found at: Stanford.edu. Here Plotinus defines epistêmê as a “certain knowledge.”The translator has to be careful about the Christian definition of gnosis, as the early Church fathers such as Clement used the term but made it distinct from the actual term used by the gnostic movement itself. “To be sure, he constantly opposes the concept of gnosis as defined by the Gnostics.”(6) here.

  • Another Wikipedia articles describes the problem also can be found in a number of contemporary languages: “In 1865, philosopher John Grote distinguished between what he described as “knowledge of acquaintance” and “knowledge-about”. Grote noted that these distinctions were made in many languages. He cited Greek (gnônai and eidenai), Latin (noscere and scire), German (kennen and wissen), and French (connaître and savoir) as examples.”(7) The reference is found at Wikipedia.

  • Arthur Versluis, in his book, Magic and Mysticism: an Introduction to Western Esotericism, is one of the best sources for defining the early Church understanding of these words. He documents their use by Origen and other Christian leaders in this same time-frame:

    If heretical Gnosticism in its various forms died out relatively early, the concept of gnosis did not disappear from the Christian world. While heresiarchs like Valentinus and Basilides were remembered in the context of diatribes against them, still the concept of an orthodox Christian gnosis did continue into the medieval period through the work of those we might call “orthodox gnostics:” chiefly Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and most of all, Dionysius the Areopagite. These figures, and particularly the latter two, were imensely influential in later Christianity, and they insisted on the possibility, indeed, the necessity for direct experiential spiritual knowledge. Of these three seminal Christian writers, Origen discusses gnosis the least and largely by implication. For instance, in his Commentary on John, Origen distinguishes between “The Somatic [Bodily] and the Spiritual Gospel” and insists on the importance of both. He affirms the bodily coming of Christ but also affirms the immense importance of John’s “eternal Gospel,” properly called the “spiritual Gospel,” which concerns the “mysteries” and “enigma” of Christ’s life and words. We must, Origen concludes, be Christians “both somatically and spiritually” and partake in the Word (Christ) (I.9). And in his De Principiis. Origen alludes to the celestial “ordering and arrangement of the world,” to the “holy and blessed orders” through which humanity can ascend back to the condition of happiness from which many have fallen (VI.2). Here Origen is referring to the hierarchic orders of thrones, principalities, and dominions, of angelic hierarchies that, by implication, are realms through which humans can ascend to return to their divine condition. But whereas Origen is somewhat oblique about gnosis-it exists as a concept implicit in his work-Clement of Alexandria is much more implicit. In his Stromata, or Miscellanies, Clement writes at length about how “the gnostic alone is truly pious” (VII.1) and affirms that gnostic souls “surpass in the grandeur of contemplation” even the “holy ranks,” for the gnostic who is perfect in virtue and contemplation attains to the “nearest likeness possible to God and his son.” Clement is not at all endorsing heretical Gnosticism but rather is insisting on how gnosis is “a perfecting of man as man, [which is] consummated by acquaintance with divine things,” for by gnosis is faith perfected” (VII.10) In brief, the “gnostic soul, adorned with perfect virtue, is the earthly image of the divine power” (VII.11). The “life of the gnostic,” in Clement’s own view, is “nothing but deeds and words corresponding to the tradition of the Lord” (VII.16).(8)Arthur Versluis Magic and Mysticism: an Introduction to Western Esotericism.  Pg. 37

Perhaps too much is being emphasized out of these words. Origen quotes I Corinthians 12:8-10 in the Header 48 “ἄλλῳ δὲ λόγος γνώσεως” and it simply means gnôsis as knowledge with no hidden, secret or divine meaning. The Septuagint also reflects this with epistêmê meaning only knowledge, ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ σοφία, ἐν δὲ πολλῷ βίῳ ἐπιστήμη.” “In length of time is wisdom, and in long life knowledge.”(9)As found at Elpenos Job 12:12

The modern Pentecostal movement may provide a clue. They make this distinction. There is an intellectual knowing, which is the result of using ones deductive reasoning and then there is knowing — a type of knowledge that changes ones perceptions and decision making processes, resulting in transformation, personal growth and changed behaviour. It is the prime impulse that motivates the Christian life and witness. It is not necessarily possessed by those with intellectual ability. They also believe that the intellect on occasion can impede the real knowing.

One also has to factor in two more important things: Origen was firstly a Christian religious zealot, and he not only was influenced by Greek philosophy, but by Jewish writings as well. He cannot be interpreted solely from classical Greek influences but all three. There isn’t strong enough evidence to demonstrate that Origen departed substantially from the Biblical use, but it is fair to assume a slight shift had occurred based on his play of gnôsis against eidenai, but not to the degree many of the above authors have suggested. With these above in mind Origen means gnôsis to be simply knowledge, the type that changes ones world-view and thought processes, ultimately being expressed in action. This is why Clement could write, “the gnostic alone is truly pious”.(10)IBID. Arthur Versluis, Magic and mysticism: an introduction to Western Esotericism.Pg. 37 So it is best to be left as ‘knowledge’. Eidenai is simply a factual knowing. ‘Grasping’ or ‘comprehending’ may be the most suitable English words as it refers the attempt to understand something from an intellectual perspective. Epistêmê is the skill, art or expertise in acquiring facts.

One must understand as well that Origen wasn’t trying to use mysterious philosophical words in his time to illustrate some esoteric christian life. He was attempting to be very practical. His concern in his coverage of I Corinthians was not in the literalness of the text but a personal application; how a person can be transformed and make positive decisions for daily living.■

References   [ + ]

Antisemitism in the Ancient Church

Trying to make sense out of the antisemitism found in a large corpus of Christian literature.

If anyone begins to read ecclesiastical writings with keen interest, it will be inevitable that one has to struggle with the anti-semitic remarks in ancient Christian literature. Anti-semitism is an over-simplification. This was a small part of a much larger problem. The church viewed anyone outside of the christian community as less-than-human especially Scythians (Russian type of peoples). The political and military aspirations of Christianity in some epochs sought to annihilate any person or communities that that did not embrace its message. Jews were lucky, due to their theological history, and were often spared. Although they got to live, they were second class citizens. At least they could tell their story of oppression. The many other pagans and whole unclassified communities who refused to convert have stories that will never be told.

Many familiar with Patristics will normally go first to the thoughts of John Chrysostom and will surprisingly find that he held the Jewish people with contempt. If he spoke today and wrote contemporary pieces on the Church and Jews, he would be charged with a hate crime under Canadian law.

It may be fairer to treat him in a little better light, but not much more. His intentions were defensive more than offensive because Judaism was a competing religion for his adherents. There existed at that time a warm relationship between Christianity and Judaism that allowed both parties to freely intermingle on many points, and there was a strong attraction by many of his adherents to Judaism. This proved to be a great challenge to Chrysostom to address. It was not a case of the stereotyped lowly Jew versus the Goliath of the Graeco-Roman Christian religion. It was a match of equals.

Antioch had a history of good community and Jewish relations, which undermined Chrysostom’s and the Church’s influence.

The following is a demonstration of how he reacted, and it is ugly:

“But the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. Jeremiah said: “Your house has become for me the den of a hyena”. He does not simply say “of wild beast”, but “of a filthy wild beast”, and again: “ have abandoned my house, I have cast off my inheritance”. But when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left? When God forsakes a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons.”(1)Chrysostom. Against the Jews. Homily 1, 3:1. http://www.todayscatholicworld.com/homily-i.htm

Chrysostom vehemently wanted to break the relationship for his own political purposes:

“Many, I know, respect the Jews and think that their present way of life is a venerable one. This is why I hasten to uproot and tear out this deadly opinion. I said that the synagogue is no better than a theater and I bring forward a prophet as my witness. Surely the Jews are not more deserving of belief than their prophets. “You had a harlot’s brow; you became shameless before all”. Where a harlot has set herself up, that place is a brothel.”(2)IBID. Chrysostom. Against the Jews. Homily 1, 3:1.

Another clue that motivated Chrysostom’s posture was a third group called the Anomoeans:

“And so it is that I hasten to anticipate this danger and prevent it. This is what physicians do. They first check the diseases which are most urgent and acute. But the danger from this sickness is very closely related to the danger from the other; since the Anomoeans’ impiety is akin to that of the Jews, my present conflict is akin to my former one. And there is a kinship because the Jews and the Anomoeans make the same accusation. And what charges do the Jews make? That He called God His own Father and so made Himself equal to God. The Anomoeans also make this charge—I should not say they make this a charge; they even blot out the phrase “equal to God” and what it connotes, by their resolve to reject it even if they do not physically erase it.”(3)IBID Chrysostom. Against the Jews. Homily1, 1:6

This group appears to be a popular quasi-Christian group that integrated both Christian and Jewish elements together and re-defined the Trinity.

One must understand also that Chrysostom had no patience or mercy for anyone or any faith outside of the Christian message.(4)Chrysostom. Homilies Against the Jews. Homily 1, 4:9 http://www.todayscatholicworld.com/homily-i.htm

Chrysostom’s message against the Jews contradicts the positive and warm relationship with the Jewish community espoused by Origen – a Church leader whom he respected.(5)The Jews in the Writings of Origen

Chrysostom was also known to have a brazen tongue and little tolerance for those even within the Church. He was banished for virulent language against a benefactor and leader, the Empress Eudoxia. He took contest against her because she erected a lavish statue of herself. He made some scathing remarks in regards to this(6)“Again Herodias raves; again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John’s head in a charger.” Schaff, Philip ed. NPNF2-02. Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories by Salaminius Hermias Sozomen and Socrates of Constaninople. Pg. 150 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf202.ii.ix.xix.html and was banished to Armenia for this protestation.(7)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom

The over-zealousness of his rhetoric inside and outside the Church and his subsequent banishment labeled him an extremist by his own peers. This person cannot be held as the definitive example of Jewish-Christian, or any other Church relation. Neither can he be held as a representative of the official Church position during his time or any other.

The Jewish based The Encyclopedia Judaica also believes there were both negative and favourable relations between the Jewish and Christian communities in the third and fourth centuries. It wasn’t a scene that can be pictured as black and white antisemitism.

This did change over time. The complete separation of Greek Christianity from its Jewish foundation can be traced back to the emperor Constantine, who issued a decree over the celebration of Easter:

“under the 79th header, which is the first Council of Antioch itself, this is expressed with these words, “If anyone would be bold enough to change the definition of the holy and great council which was by the Nicean gathering, in the present devout and reverenced leader Constantine, regarding the solemn healing of the passover, we assess those to be excommunicated and banished of the Church, if then they should remain unmoved, obstinately against that which they have decreed as good. And this also was decried to the laity. If then those who are presiding over the Church,either episcopates, presbyters, deacons, should attempt to alter this definition, through the subversion of people and disturbance of the Church, to separately gather, and to celebrate the Passover with the Jews, this holy synod declares this (person) a stranger from the Church. Not only himself but any who should proceed to cause with manifold corruption and agitation. Not only are such kind removed by a minister, but also those who should attempt to communicate afterwards with the damned, they are damned.”(8)My own translation taken from http://hermes.ulaval.ca/~sitrau/calgreg/denys.html, Liber de Paschate: Praefatio

This was the official beginning of legal ostracization of the Jews from the Christian realm and the loss of any Jewish identity within the movement — a movement originally founded by them.

Why such a strong statement? If the Jewish people were recognized as the people of God and holders of the oracles of God, then two possibilities could occur:

  • The power of religion, which was the base of any governmental authority in ancient times, would shift from Rome to Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders would be the ones establishing law, spiritual piety and directing the national social conscience. This would undermine the Roman governmental system.

  • The Romans and the Greek populace with such pride in their own identity could not be forced to adapt to a foreign religion belonging to a minor territory. They would naturally overthrow any monarchy or leadership that proposed such a thing.

The only option the Roman leadership had to retain their own power and integrate the originating Jewish faith into their own system was to scrub out the Jewish element and make it into a Greek identity.

And that is what Constantine started with the decree.

Neither Chrysostom nor Constantine can be declared official icons of fourth century Jewish-Christian dialogue. There were other powerful voices within the Church which promoted a different position.

Epiphanius, the fourth century Bishop of Salamis, wrote a book called the Panarion which was a polemic against certain groups that contested or challenged the institutional Church teachings. This writing is at times written in a condemning tone, almost a street-level vernacular. There are numerous references to Jews and movements within Judaism, but Epiphanius refrains from any serious attack on standard Judaism.

This isn’t always the case.

For example the Ambrosiaster document, first written in the fourth century and emendated up to the 13th illustrated Jews as antithetical to the Christian message. The Ambrosiaster writer(s) used the Jews as an abstract illustration of what one must not be.

Some go as far to say that the New Testament has an anti-semitic bias to it, especially from the book of John onwards. This may be taking it too far. Rabbi Dr. Pesach Schindler, a professor at the Hebrew University, directed another approach. He specifically addressed our Introductory Talmud class on the subject of antisemitism in the Bible, “You have to realize this was in-house fight.” The discussions in the New Testament are for the most part hostile tensions between various Jewish groups and individuals who were shooting fiery barbs at each other over Jewish legal issues. Third parties who are not Jewish that read these accounts can easily take it out of context.

This may be too simplistic, as the Book of John does appear in places to be written from a non-Jewish perspective and for a non-Jewish audience. It could easily be interpreted as critical of the Jewish race. One passage in particular, John 8:44 where Jesus stated, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire,” has given special license to many ignorant Christian leaders, movements and peoples over the centuries to treat Jewish people maliciously. Prof. Van der Horst, a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences cites this as one of the most destructive passages:

“In later Christian literature, that expression is picked up. This fatal short remark has had lethal consequences over two millennia. It cost tens of thousands of Jewish lives in later history, especially in the Middle Ages. This verse was taken by Christian Jew-haters as a license to murder Jews. These murderers thought: ‘If Jesus says that Jews have the devil as their father, we should eradicate them as best as we can.’

…I once argued before an audience of Christian ministers that if we were to confront John with the consequences of what he wrote, he would deeply apologize and say, ‘Please, delete it from my Gospel.’ Until the present day these words have their influence, because the average Bible reader cannot contextualize them in the first century when they were written.”(9)http://writingtw.blogspot.com/2009/05/origins-of-christian-antisemitism.html

It is not the actual problem of the Johanine writing, but the selective interpretation of it.

The great eighth century European ruler, Charlemagne, forced conversions on all his defeated territories. If they refused, they would be killed, regardless if they were Jews or otherwise. This brought on the ire of Alcuin of York who entreated Charlemagne that “that faith is a free act which cannot be enforced; that instruction, persuasion, love and self-denial are the only proper means for converting the heathen.”(10)History of the Christian Church, Volume IV: Mediaeval Christianity. A.D. 590-1073.

Some would also want to single out the Jews as the object of Church oppression. This too is an overgeneralization. The Church had no respect for anyone who was not converted, whether it was a Barbarian German, Gaul, Spaniard, or a pagan. This was also extended to those within the Church realm too – Donatists, Montantists, Arianists, Marcionists, and the list goes on, were not treated much better. Those who were unconverted were considered less-than-human and did not have the same rights as those who were.

Chrysostom also reflected the spirit of the times. In this period the problem was not of antisemitism, but an issue of accepting a religion that did not have Greek or Roman origins, especially something as obscure as the Hebrew religion.

The Romans and Greeks considered the Hebrew religion unknown, foreign and non-Greek — everybody knew that the Greeks or to a lesser extent Romans were superior in every way. Nothing could originate outside of Greece or Rome that could be the center of their religion. The only way to make it universal within their world was to strip it of its Jewish identity, or any other nationality, and make it Graeco-Roman.

One must realize as well the writing style of the New Testament, which utilizes ‘the Jews’ in manifold ways within the texts was not written to mean from a non-Jewish standpoint. All the authors of the New Testament, with perhaps the exception of Luke, are Jewish. But then why is it written in such a third-party form? The Jewish historian Josephus utilized the same term, ‘the Jews’ in a similar context, as if he himself appeared to be a historian above Jewish bias, though his whole intention was to defend the Jewish people against antisemitism. This writing style is also found in the Talmud, though the frequency of usage is unknown,(11)Talmud Yerushalmi, Berakhot ix:1 as found in Ephraim E. Urbach. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs. Trans. by Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. 1979. Pg. 81. Note here that R. Tanhuma was attempting to demonstrate the superiority of the Jewish religion over the Greek one. He recognized these two influences were in conflict. The New Testament writers were simply following the writing conventions of that time and it was not meant as a slight against the Jewish people.

What is one to make out of this? It is a human trait to want to lord over the vulnerable, the minorities, the poor, the widow, the orphan and rival groups. History is full of such examples of human nature. The Church has not been exempt. It is not simply a case against the Jews, but the Church’s stance against any group different than them. Other ethnic groups could also make a historical claim that they were discriminated against, but they were annihilated. The Jews escaping this pogrom because of their historic religious identity, still endured discrimination and were treated with lesser rights, but unlike the others, have lived to tell the story.

This is a dark part of our Christian heritage that many don’t know, or don’t want to know about. It is antithetic to the message Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:38). Unfortunately the historic Church writings on the subject cannot be erased or rewritten. The only option is to use these as examples in the past as lessons in what not to do in building a better world.

References   [ + ]

Is Tyrannius Rufinus a Reliable Translator?

A closer look at the reliability of Tyrannius Rufinus’ Latin translation of Gregory Nazianzus’ Greek work On Pentecost.

Little attention, if any, has been directed towards his Latin translations of Gregory Nazianzus, but debate has surrounded Rufinus’ translation of his other works. Using these other established discussions as a guide, this article ventures into determining how Rufinus fits in the Gregory narrative.

In a number of scholarly circles, the translations of Rufinus have been under careful scrutiny, and the consensus was that Rufinus’ translations were not reliable. However, this attitude is changing.

Jason Engwer over at triablogue blogspot argues that Rufinus has been vindicated against such negative claims. He quoted Thomas Scheck’s translation of Origen’s Commentary On Romans (1)(Origen: Commentary On The Epistle To The Romans, Books 1-5 [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 2001]) as proof:

“If Schelkle’s investigation is correct, it seems that Rufinus’s Latin translation has been vindicated, at least in large part. It offers us the best source and most reliable witness for Origen’s thoughts, though Rufinus has expressed these thoughts in his own words. Even Scherer, who thinks that Rufinus has substituted his own exegesis at several points, admits, “The translation is often accurate, exact, and in large measure faithful.”

Engwer asserted his position in an earlier article by quoting two specialists:

John McGuckin refers to Rufinus as “generally a reliable translator” (WHO, 31).

Barbara Bruce, in her introduction to a recent translation of the homilies, comments that the “general reliability” of Rufinus’ Latin translations of Origen have been vindicated, despite the doubts of earlier scholarship and some scholars in our day (HOJ, 11). She continues:

“Other studies have confirmed the paraphrastic nature of his [Rufinus’] work, but have judged the changes to make for clarity and the thought to remain faithful to the Greek. …After explaining how he had expended much labor on changing the hortatory manner of the homilies on Leviticus into the form of an exposition and supplying what was wanting in the homilies on Genesis and Exodus, he said he translated the homilies on Joshua and a few others ‘just as we found them, literally and without great effort.’ Annie Jaubert, in her French translation of the Homilies, supported Rufinus’s statement. She noted constructions that were more dependent on Greek than on Latin syntax and a curtness of speech and density of expression that gave the feel of unpolished notes he may have been working from.”(16-18)(2)The full article along with footnotes can be found at the following article, The Twenty-Seven-Book New Testament Before Athanasius

Mark Humphries adds to the positive chorus when he investigated the reliability of Rufinus’ Latin translation regarding Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, where he concluded:

“Rufinus’s Latin translation of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History is customarily regarded as an inferior creature to the Greek original. By examining Rufinus’s complete translation and continuation together, however, a more sympathetic understanding of his Latin version can be reached. This shows that Rufinus’s version was by no means a clumsy version of the Greek followed by a mediocre continuation, but was conceived of as a unified whole. Hence Rufinus revised Eusebius’s text not only where he found it to be deficient, but also in order to make it fit with a new vision of Christian history that took account of events subsequent to the age of Constantine. Viewed in this light, Rufinus’s version emerges as a more original contribution to ecclesiastical historiography than has been acknowledged hitherto.”(3)Rufinus’s Eusebius: Translation, Continuation, and Edition in the Latin Ecclesiastical History

No author has engaged in this question more than Ronald E. Heine in his book, Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus:

“Rufinus has long been maligned as a translator by critics. Hal Koch makes the statement that Koetschau’s edition of the de Principiis and de Faye’s investigations have shown that Rufinus cannot be trusted in his translation of that work. . . .J.E.L Oulton in comparing Rufinus’ translation of the Church History of Eusebius with the Greek text says, “Rufinus transgressed the bounds of freedom which every translator must be expected to observe.” Heinrich Hoppe says Rufinus sometimes misreads the Greek text because of the haste with which he works and his insufficient mastery of the Greek language, and that he makes additions and alterations in the areas of both theology and rhetoric.

. . .On the other hand, there has been a more positive evaluation of Rufinus’ work paralleling that of his critics. . . .Henry Chadwick . . .“I think it is evident that, so far as general fidelity is concerned, Rufinus emerges well from the scrutiny.” Gustave Bardy regarded Rufinus’ translation of De Principiis as a paraphrase, but one which renders correctly the general sense of the text. . . .Annie Jaubert’s conclusion regarding the reliability of Rufinus’ translation of the homilies on Joshua can be regarded as representing the general conclusion of the various scholars who have studied the different translations of Rufinus and have concluded that they can be trusted within certain limits.

. . .Jaubert’s study of the homilies on Joshua has shown that while Rufinus has remained true to Origen’s thought, his work should not be thought of as a translation, but as a free adaptation.

Henry Chadwick . . .“The voice is the voice of Origen, even though the hands are the hands of Rufinus.”(4)Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus by Origen and Ronald E. Heine. Pg. 30ff

Rufinus was well aware that Origen’s texts had begun the process of corruption immediately after they were originally written.(5)Origen: Homilies on Genesis and Exodus by Origen and Ronald E. Heine. Pg. 34ff To combat this, Rufinus had early manuscripts available to him that we do not today, and was able to reconstruct. This was likely how he approached the work of Gregory Nazianzus’ On Pentectost.

With all this information at hand, how should a Rufinus translation of Gregory’s work be treated? I don’t think one should reject Rufinus’ writings as being too opinionated and not true to the original. It is, as noted above, a free adaptation that is committed to the sense, but adds a few hints of later Latin theological and doctrinetic perspectives.

It may be too early to make this conclusion. More comparative analysis need to made between the Greek and Latin texts.

This is looked into greater detail in the following article: Nazianzus tongues of Pentecost Paradox where it is found that he makes a critical translation error from the Greek that started a centuries long debate. ■

References   [ + ]

Notes on the Cyrillian catena on I Corinthians 14:10

Some quick thoughts on concepts, and critical words in the translation of the I Corinthians 14:10 catena attributed to Cyril of Alexandria.

This text outlines a number of very interesting particulars: how ancient Greek words previously used in classical Greek rituals had become Christianized, and the office of the circuit preacher which required the knowledge of many languages. These elements are examined in more detail below.

A number of words have Greek antecedents to them that must be carefully examined. Did the Christian community in Alexandria import these into their vocabulary as is, or did they change the meaning to match what their experience was?

The text being discussed is contained in a sequence not found in Migne Patrologia Graeca, but in Phiippus Edvardus Pusey’s, Cyrilli: Archiepiscopi Alexandrini In D. Joannis Evangelium. Pusey based his text on a copy found at the Library of Pantokratoros on Mount Athos.

Both Migne and Pusey claim the origins of their works to be from Cardinal Angelus Maius, but contain different texts. Migne’s version has fewer words. It is also clear and concise. Pusey’s version has more text with some sentences being repeated with a few slight variations. It also appears some words are missing. Reading it feels choppy.

The Greek used in Pusey’s version is old. It has Doric, Attic, and Ionic representations in them. This would not be unusual for an international centre that the City of Alexandria was. It was a melting pot of many Greek languages and dialects.

It also does not contain a Latin parallel text. The Latin typically provides quick clues on how to translate problem words.

The first important word to note is εἰσεφοὶτων. This word is used exclusively in this text. It is found nowhere else (at least so far). A scouring of the internet, and all the major dictionaries, provided no clues. However, the root of εἰσεφοὶτων is φοιτάω, which means:

  • Perseus online: go to and fro, backwards and forwards, keep going from one part to another, roam wildly about, roam about in frenzy or ecstasy of a Bacchant; of sexual intercourse go into a man or woman; resort to a man, woman or place for any reason; As object of commerce—to come in constantly or regularly, be imported

  • Lampe’s Patristic Lexicon: spring-up, pollulate, of doctrines (Pg. 1847)

  • Donnegan’s A New Greek and English Lexicon; Principally on the plan of the Greek and German Lexicon of Schneider: to wander, roam about, come frequently, to go to school as a disciple or learner, wander about in a state of frenzy (Pg. 1348)

  • Schrevelius’ Greek Lexicon Translated into English: to frequent as a scholar, not as a master, come, go, approach, rave, be mad (Pg. 616)

  • Stephanus’ Thesaurus Graecae Linguae: This text is in Latin but all the definitions above, with perhaps the exception of Perseus, are taken from this source text. (Didot Bros. Volume 8. Pg. 989)

Perseus has defined φοιτάω from classical Greek sources. This is not surprising because Perseus uses Liddel and Scott’s Greek Dictionary as their basis. Lidell and Scott hardly reference Patristic writings in any of their dictionary definitions. However it does show where the word originated. It was used to describe the Bacchants who roamed about in a frenzy or ecstasy, but it also had other meanings as well.

Stephanus, Lampe, Donnegan, and Schrevelius recognize that φοιτάω has the quality of raving, or frenzy, but another principal attribute was that of frequently visiting or traveling to a place. It also became associated with going to school, discipleship, and learning. Lampe put a more developmental aspect to it. It was to initially seed doctrine within a community. Schrevelius specifically stated that φοιτάω was a verb referring to a scholar, not a master.

There are also other words that come from the same root that give hints on how to translate εἰσεφοὶτων. Donnegan is especially descriptive of these:

  • φοὶτητήρ one who goes and comes, any place, especially a school. A disciple, learner. One who is frantic (Pg. 1349).

  • φοῖτος roaming about, the wandering of the mind, insanity, also frenzy, that of the frantic votaries of the Bacchus and Cybele (Pg. 1349).

Schrevelius, spells φοὶτητήρ as φοιτητής as one who comes frequently to a master or scholar (Pg. 616).

These definitions give greater confidence in correctly translating the I Corinthians 14:10 catena portion.

The above definitions, plus the context of the Cyril text, demonstrate that εἰσεφοὶτων is considered as a localization of φοιτάω or perhaps intensified. The person is repeatedly going into Churches for the purpose of teaching the doctrines. The above dictionary definitions give the appearance that it was an entry or mid-level position, educating on the doctrines of the Church, but not by a Bishop or a Cardinal.

The English equivalent would be a circuit rider. This was a system devised by the Methodists for clergy to serve more than one congregation at a time. In Cyril’s explanation, the emphasis was on teaching in a circuit where the the Churches were linguistically different, and the base requirement for this person was to be multilingual.

The second term that is used to describe tongues-speaking was κεχρῆσθαι. This is not an exclusive term used by Cyril but one shared by Origen. This one has a wide semantic range. Perseus defines it as to furnish what is needful, to declare, pronounce, proclaim. In the passive it is to be translated as: to be declared, proclaimed by an oracle, to consult a god or oracle, to inquire of a god. It hasn’t really changed. In the instance of this catena, to proclaim was used, but this may be too weak. “To prophecy,” in the traditional religious sense, would be more suited, but this word now carries a number of contemporary meanings that would mislead many readers.

The verb ἐρεύγεσθαι is another unique word. Its root is ἐρεύγομαι: to belch out, bellow, or roar. Hence, to loudly utter, as in a public display, or simplified, to utter, is a good English word choice.

Μανθάνοντος. This present active participle masc. gen. sg form of μανθάνω was used in the Septuagint and also by Origen. One of the dictionaries defines it as: learn, especially by study but also by practice, learn by heart, acquire a habit of, and in past tenses, to be accustomed to, perceive, remark, notice, understand. Hence it is not a supernatural phenomenon, in this context of I Corinthians 14:10 people hearing a language that they have learned or is their principle language.

It is clear from the text that the standard Greek words that were used for the Bacchus Greek prophets in the past, had evolved and changed into Christian definitions. The past history of the word was known and understood, but fell out of popular usage.