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#21 H. Smith

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 06:37 AM

Dear Anna,
You made a good post about meekness, discernment, virtue, asceticism, and godly miracles, and how the approach to miracles in Orthodoxy differs from that of Pentecostals, who like Fr. David said do not emphasize these values when it comes to their gifts. Personally, I like this virtuous Orthodox approach, while the Pentecostal, much less discerning approach is weak.

Trying to think objectively, it is hard to say whether the Corinthians were practicing all those virtues to such an extent that it would be a consequence that they regularly received the gifts more often than believers would today.

Edited by H. Smith, 13 November 2015 - 06:50 AM.


#22 H. Smith

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 07:06 AM

Anna,

 

You wrote: "These saints are almost always also ascetics, which is something that you mention that Paul speaks against." Could you mention where Paul wrote against asceticism?

 

As for the rest of your last post about Ecclesiology, I completely agree. The early Church, with its emphasis on teaching the same things as the apostles, is like the Orthodox Church in harmonizing its views, rather than like the Pentecostals, who can each formulate their own doctrines in dissonance with each others. The result is that in Orthodoxy the Church can keep a certain teaching, while the Pentecostals can have lots of very contradictory beliefs without a path for them to collectively reach the one Truth. Instead, the Pentecostals have lots of opposing "truths".



#23 H. Smith

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 07:07 AM

I decided to research the Orthodox views on the alleged similarities between the Charismatics and the early Church, and wrote about them in an essay that I posted here:
http://www.monachos....smatic-movement

 

The essay focuses on these four elements that I found:

1. Expectations of the End Times to occur within the believers' generational cycle
2. Speaking in Tongues
3. Occasional Informal Worship
4. Widespread gifts of the Spirit


Edited by H. Smith, 13 November 2015 - 07:09 AM.


#24 Kosta

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 01:52 PM

Paul spoke many tongues because he was educated, not because he was given the gifts of tongues. He simply had no need of it. He spoke in greek in Athens because greek was his native tongue. All his epistles he wrote in greek. He studied under Gamaliel and was fluent in hebrew and aramaic. As a roman citizen he knew latin.

St John Chrysostom says that it wasnt that long ago when many of the brethren still spoke in tongues. He makes clear these were authentic languages, farsi and syriac etc. Todays charismatics speak gibberish. The tongues of 1 Corinthians were rational languages. Though perhaps they brought in excess baggage from their pagan past, Paul ending his 'scolding' by demanding the women should remain silent. Paul is trying to correct them gently. The oracles of the greeks such as Delphi follows the same pattern as what Paul criticizes in Corinthians. That is speaking in tongues, interpretors to explain the prophecy of the oracle to men by the appointed priestess women.

The occasional informal worship was probably put to an end slowly. Canon 59 of Laodicea in 363 AD. bans all privately composed psalms from being sung in liturgy.

#25 H. Smith

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 07:45 AM

Paul spoke many tongues because he was educated, not because he was given the gifts of tongues. He simply had no need of it. He spoke in greek in Athens because greek was his native tongue. All his epistles he wrote in greek. He studied under Gamaliel and was fluent in hebrew and aramaic. As a roman citizen he knew latin.

Kosta!

I agree that there is ambiguity in what "tongues" Paul is referring to here:

 

18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

 

But it looks like he means glossolalia for three or four reasons:

1. If you look at the surrounding paragraphs before and after these two verses, speaking with "tongues" is Paul's expression for glossolalia.

2. He contrasts his ability to speak in tongues with his speaking with "my understanding" (hence the word "yet") in verse 19. Previously in verse 14 he said that if he spoke in a "tongue", he would not understand it.

3. Paul knew Aramaic, and Greek and at least minimal Latin and some Hebrew (I don't know how much they relied on the LXX instead). But many people in the Roman empire could speak more than one language, and there could have been people in Corinth, a major Greek port, who knew two to four as well. But

4. The leading Orthodox theologian Lopukhin considered this verse to refer to Paul's glossolalia: "By itself, the gift of tongues deserves respect. The apostle even thanks God, that he is able to speak in tongues more than all Corinthians. But on the other hand, this gift, doubtlessly, is more useful for lone, home prayer."

 

St John Chrysostom says that it wasnt that long ago when many of the brethren still spoke in tongues. He makes clear these were authentic languages, farsi and syriac etc.

 

It's true that St. John Chr. commented in his Homily 6 on Corinthians, that upon Baptism, in the past Christians immediately spoke intelligible languages like Persian. However, according to the Philokalia, there was also

"formless prayer" that, according to St. Peter of Damaskos, exchanges human words for "the divine words of the Spirit".

(http://mistercorduro...-in-spirit.html)

 

 

Todays charismatics speak gibberish. The tongues of 1 Corinthians were rational languages.

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul was focusing on incomprehensible languages spoken by the Corinthians, not real human foreign languages. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13, he says: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels...", so he was presenting things as if one could speak a nonhuman language. He adds in 1 Cor. 14 that if a Corinthian speaks in unknown tongues, "no man understandeth him". If this was about a real human foreign language like Persian, then at least the Persians would understand it.

 

Lopukhin writes:

 

This expression 'no one' is a very important proof against the proposition that the speech of the “speaker of tongues” was speech in a foreign language. If the Apostle understood such speech, he could not say that "no one" understands it, since in Corinth there were not a few newcomers from various countries of the world  SOURCE: http://azbyka.ru/ote...a_biblija_64/14

 
You make an interesting observation about the similarity between his instruction for women's silence in this context and the pagan women's oracles:

Though perhaps they brought in excess baggage from their pagan past, Paul ending his 'scolding' by demanding the women should remain silent. Paul is trying to correct them gently. The oracles of the greeks such as Delphi follows the same pattern as what Paul criticizes in Corinthians. That is speaking in tongues, interpretors to explain the prophecy of the oracle to men by the appointed priestess women.

In Paul's case, he is telling them to use interpreters. I don't know if the Corinthians were already doing that, but they easily could have been.

 

This is very relevant:

The occasional informal worship was probably put to an end slowly. Canon 59 of Laodicea in 363 AD. bans all privately composed psalms from being sung in liturgy.

 

Granted, at some point many of our liturgical chants were privately composed, so I am not sure how that ban would work.

Thanks for your comments.


Edited by H. Smith, 15 November 2015 - 07:46 AM.


#26 Kosta

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 05:19 PM

Quote

4. The leading Orthodox theologian Lopukhin considered this verse to refer to Paul's glossolalia: "By itself, the gift of tongues deserves respect. The apostle even thanks God, that he is able to speak in tongues more than all Corinthians. But on the other hand, this gift, doubtlessly, is more useful for lone, home prayer."


I would say this theologian has been influenced by the modern day charismatic movement. Absolutely no one ever believed in the possibility of ecstatic utterance before 1910 or so. The original charismatics /pentecostals Of Topeka and then Azuza street truly thought they were speaking rational authentic languages.
In fact they believed this so much, they claimed not only to have the gift to speak chinese (among other foreign languages) but to write the chinese language as well !. They truly believed they spoke authentic languages for about a decade and even went on foreign missionary trips to only find out their tongue speaking is not the native's language as they thought. After it was exposed these are unintelligible languages, these charismatics invented the whole thing of the supposed tongues of angels.

The language of angels are the same languages we know. Whether in Isaiah 6.3 or Revelation 5 there is no evidence that angels have their own special language. Paul is just saying the Corinthians are speaking in a tongue no one knows so they should speak in the tongue they do know, hence speak five words that is understandable. Gibberish is not 'spoken' at all they are sound effects and cant relay to the hearer a prophecy or some doctrine or some knowledge (14.6-7)


Quote

It's true that St. John Chr. commented in his Homily 6 on Corinthians, that upon Baptism, in the past Christians immediately spoke intelligible languages like Persian. However, according to the Philokalia, there was also

This formless prayer is noetic prayer. Contemplative prayer is considered one of the gifts of the Spirit. John Chrysostom says that combining the gift of prayer with a tongue was common at one time:
"For there were of old many who had also a gift of prayer, together with a tongue; and they prayed and the tongue spoke, praying either in the Persian or Latin language but their understanding knew not what was spoken. Wherefore also, [Paul] said, If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, the gift which is given me and which moves my tongue, but my understanding is unfruitful'. (on corinth ch35)

Quote


In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul was focusing on incomprehensible languages spoken by the Corinthians, not real human foreign languages. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13, he says: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels...", so he was presenting things as if one could speak a nonhuman language. He adds in 1 Cor. 14 that if a Corinthian speaks in unknown tongues, "no man understandeth him". If this was about a real human foreign language like Persian, then at least the Persians would understand it.

Lopukhin writes:


This expression 'no one' is a very important proof against the proposition that the speech of the “speaker of tongues” was speech in a foreign language. If the Apostle understood such speech, he could not say that "no one" understands it, since in Corinth there were not a few newcomers from various countries of the world SOURCE: http://azbyka.ru/ote...a_biblija_64/14



Lopukhin must be reading a different bible than mine. I only see authentic languages being mentioned. No Father has ever taught that Corinthians maybe in reference to two types of 'tongues'.. Paul said, There are, it maybe so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore If i know not the meaning of the voice. I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me. (1 Cor 14.11-12). The is the whole reason for an interpreter. That the language can be authenticated and replicated.
St Hilary explains:
For the gift of the Spirit is manifest, where wisdom makes utterance and the words of life are heard, and where there is the knowledge that comes of God-given insight, lest after the fashion of beasts through ignorance of God we should fail to know the Author of our life; or by faith inGod , lest by not believing the gospel, we should be outside His gospel; or by the gift of healings, that by the cure of diseases we should bear witness to His grace Who bestows these things; or by the working of miracles, that what we do may be understood to be the power of God, or by prophesy, that through our understanding of doctrine we might be known to be taught of God; or by discerning of spirits, that we should not be unable to tell whether any one speaks with a holy or a perverted spirit; or by kinds of tongues, that the speaking in tongues may be bestowed as a sign of the gift of the holy Spirit; or by the interpretation of tongues, that the faith of those that hear may not be imperilled through ignorance, since the interpreter of a tongue explains the tongue to those who are ignorant of it (On the Trinity bk8 ch30)



Quote



Granted, at some point many of our liturgical chants were privately composed, so I am not sure how that ban would work.
Thanks for your comments.

Its speaking of a layman who composed a psalm over the week and wanted to read it in church, such psalms instead of revealing some knowledge most of the time did not possibly the opposite..

Edited by Kosta, 15 November 2015 - 05:28 PM.


#27 Kosta

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 06:57 PM

I tried looking through Alexander Lopuhin link. Google translate makes it a bit difficult. Since it says he died in 1904 and he translated many writings of John Chrysostom. I am not sure where  he got the idea that these were other-wordly languages then. I see where he says 'no one' can understand the language means 'no one'. But he does say later on  that if the speech does become intelligible (through interpretor???) then it becomes level with the gift of prophecy. Since some put him on the category of philosopher, possible he used a few historical precedents:

 

The Montanists spoke in ecstatic utterances in 160 AD. The area they originated had heavy influence from greek religions, so its not surprising.

 

This is always what i theorized about the Corinthian situation. Generally, people know things in the context of their cultures so the Corinthians were utilysing the tongues of the holy Spirit in a christianized version equating it with the pagan counterpart .

 

In the pagan oracles, the pythia were the priestesses of the oracle of delphi. They spoke in ecstatic utterances and these women would interpreted.  In Wikipedia (if you believe the source) says the writings of Plutarch's Moralia outlines:

... as many as three women served as Pythia, another vestige of the triad, with two taking turns in giving prophecy and another kept in reserve. Paul says something similar in 1Cor 14.27

 

The oracle of dodona had chimes hung from oak trees, as the wind passed through them sounds were considered prophecies and they would be interpreted by the priestesses. Hence there are four elements in the greek pagan version: tongues, prophecy, interpretations and women being crucial to it all.

 Paul says the women should remain silent, obviously they were playing a major role in what was happening in Corinth which would have been normal within the greek religion. I believe the tongues of Corinth were authentic languages as all the Fathers attest to, but there was baggage brought in from the greek religions fusing the two experiences.. 


Edited by Kosta, 15 November 2015 - 07:02 PM.


#28 H. Smith

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 01:28 AM

Hello, Kosta.

 

It's interesing writing to you.

I would say this theologian has been influenced by the modern day charismatic movement. Absolutely no one ever believed in the possibility of ecstatic utterance before 1910 or so. The original charismatics /pentecostals Of Topeka and then Azuza street truly thought they were speaking rational authentic languages.
In fact they believed this so much, they claimed not only to have the gift to speak chinese (among other foreign languages) but to write the chinese language as well !. They truly believed they spoke authentic languages for about a decade and even went on foreign missionary trips to only find out their tongue speaking is not the native's language as they thought. After it was exposed these are unintelligible languages, these charismatics invented the whole thing of the supposed tongues of angels.

That is a good story about the Azusa Pentecostals trying to write Chinese. This is a good example of why I don't trust Pentecostalism. I suppose if they hadn't tried writing Chinese and announced instead that their speech was just an unknown language (eg. an African tribal one), they could have kept it up for a long time, maybe indefinitely.
 

Firstly, Lopukhin, who you said died in 1904 wouldn't have been influenced by the 1910 wave of Pentecostalism.

Secondly, before 1910 people believed in the possibility of ecstatic utterance, since you noted: "The Montanists spoke in ecstatic utterances in 160 AD. The area they originated had heavy influence from greek religions, so its not surprising."

 

Furthermore, the Philokalia cites ecstatic non-human languages with approval:

In the Spiritual writings of the Christian East, specifically the Philokalia [written in the 4th to 15th centuries AD], many types of prayer are described. One type of prayer that is often mentioned but not explained is "formless prayer" that, according to St. Peter of Damaskos, exchanges human words for "the divine words of the Spirit".  (http://mistercorduro...-in-spirit.html)

 

 

The language of angels are the same languages we know. Whether in Isaiah 6.3 or Revelation 5 there is no evidence that angels have their own special language.

The reason the angelic languages for Paul are different than the human ones is because he says:in 1 Cor. 13:

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass”.

What is the point of adding in the "language of angels" here, other than to distinguish it from the "language of humans"? And how is it that the "language" of angels would be the same exact languages that we know? Humans developed the Hebrew, Koine Greek and Slavonic that we use in our liturgies on earth in the course of centuries. In the Bible you can see how Hebrew changed between the Torah and the minor prophets' eras. Did the angels' language undergo natural evolution and change as the years on earth passed too? This seems strange.

 

Lopukin by the way proposes that the angels' "languages" here are not the same as human languages, but we should understand their "language" as spiritual praise "because angels are spirits and don't have tongues/languages (citing: Blessed Theodorit and Theophilact)"

http://azbyka.ru/ote...a_biblija_64/13

 

Paul is just saying the Corinthians are speaking in a tongue no one knows so they should speak in the tongue they do know, hence speak five words that is understandable.

I can't remember where I found an essay saying that Paul used the term for Barbarians' glossolalia. One Orthodox commentary I read today said that there is a division of opinions on whether Paul was talking about real languages in 1 Corinthians or if he meant the common Greek practice of tongues as spoken by pagans at that time.

 

However, Lopukhin's idea makes sense to me. Paul repeatedly says in the chapter that no one understands this kind of glossolalia. If these were real languages, then in fact some people would be able to understand it. Furthermore, if these were the same real languages that God on Pentecost used to spread the gospel to other nations, then it wouldn't make sense that Paul said (eg. in verse 2) that "he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him". If the tongues Paul were talking about were real languages meant to speak to other nations, then he who speaks in the tongues would in fact be speaking to other men, the foreigner, who would understand him.

 

Besides, why would the Holy Spirit choose to have Paul speak in a foreign tongue meant to convert foreigners if it was not aimed at foreigners? If it was an angelic, nonhuman tongue, I suppose it could at least make more sense why a person "in the spirit" would speak a heavenly tongue in "talking to God", which verse 2 mentions.

 

 

Gibberish is not 'spoken' at all they are sound effects and cant relay to the hearer a prophecy or some doctrine or some knowledge (14.6-7)


"formless prayer" that, according to St. Peter of Damaskos, exchanges human words for "the divine words of the Spirit".

This formless prayer is noetic prayer. Contemplative prayer is considered one of the gifts of the Spirit. John Chrysostom says that combining the gift of prayer with a tongue was common at one time:
"For there were of old many who had also a gift of prayer, together with a tongue; and they prayed and the tongue spoke, praying either in the Persian or Latin language but their understanding knew not what was spoken. Wherefore also, [Paul] said, If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, the gift which is given me and which moves my tongue, but my understanding is unfruitful'. (on corinth ch35)

It is confusing for me how this would be "contemplative prayer."

Firstly, I think that when it says that human words are exchanged for the words of the spirit, that it means that it is no longer talking about human languages like Latin, since those would at least be human words.

But second, whether this was in real foreign languages or not, how is this really "Contemplative prayer", Kosta? It seems to me that there is nothing contemplatable in the speech itself for the meditator, since Paul writes that his "understanding is unfruitful". Do you see what I mean?

 

 

 

 


Lopukhin must be reading a different bible than mine. I only see authentic languages being mentioned.

Lopukhin was referring to verse 2: "For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries."

Lopukhin's comment is that if this was an authentic language like Latin, then at least some people in the Roman cities where it was performed would understand it.

 

 

 

No Father has ever taught that Corinthians maybe in reference to two types of 'tongues'.. Paul said, There are, it maybe so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore If i know not the meaning of the voice. I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me. (1 Cor 14.11-12). The is the whole reason for an interpreter. That the language can be authenticated and replicated.
St Hilary explains:
For the gift of the Spirit is manifest, where wisdom makes utterance and the words of life are heard, and where there is the knowledge that comes of God-given insight, lest after the fashion of beasts through ignorance of God we should fail to know the Author of our life; or by faith inGod , lest by not believing the gospel, we should be outside His gospel; or by the gift of healings, that by the cure of diseases we should bear witness to His grace Who bestows these things; or by the working of miracles, that what we do may be understood to be the power of God, or by prophesy, that through our understanding of doctrine we might be known to be taught of God; or by discerning of spirits, that we should not be unable to tell whether any one speaks with a holy or a perverted spirit; or by kinds of tongues, that the speaking in tongues may be bestowed as a sign of the gift of the holy Spirit; or by the interpretation of tongues, that the faith of those that hear may not be imperilled through ignorance, since the interpreter of a tongue explains the tongue to those who are ignorant of it (On the Trinity bk8 ch30)

Lopukhin cited two Church fathers to the effect that this was a different, angelic language when Paul wrote "tongues of men and angels".

 

When Paul says "There are, it maybe so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification", this is a mistranslation. As Lopukhin notes, the word is not "signification", but "aphōnon", meaning "soundless" ("a-phonous").

See eg. Acts 8:32: "like a lamb dumb (aphonos) before his shearers".

 

These verses do not show that the languages spoken by the Corinthians were real, although they had sounds. If you talk glossolalia to someone, it is like you are a "barbarian" to them, as Paul says in verses 11-12.

 

Sure, I understand the need for interpreters as Paul required and St. Hillary recommended. However, according to Paul, one should pray for the ability to interpret the tongues of the Corinthians. Personally, I am inclined to think that if you tape-recorded the glossolalia and played it back separately to two different people with the "gift" of interpretation, the "interpreters" would give very different "interpretations" of the utterings.

 

 

Its speaking of a layman who composed a psalm over the week and wanted to read it in church, such psalms instead of revealing some knowledge most of the time did not possibly the opposite..

 

Yes, I understand for practical reasons why it was a good idea to impose the restriction. The issue is that some people want to try to recreate early Christian worship, and this search for early worship forms is a reason they join Orthodoxy. And if in Corinthians Paul says each person brought their own Psalm whenever they assembled, then it suggests that this was a common practice of early Church worship.

 


#29 H. Smith

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 02:19 AM

Kosta!

 

I tried looking through Alexander Lopuhin link. Google translate makes it a bit difficult. Since it says he died in 1904 and he translated many writings of John Chrysostom. I am not sure where  he got the idea that these were other-wordly languages then. I see where he says 'no one' can understand the language means 'no one'. But he does say later on  that if the speech does become intelligible (through interpretor???) then it becomes level with the gift of prophecy. Since some put him on the category of philosopher, possible he used a few historical precedents:

 

The Montanists spoke in ecstatic utterances in 160 AD. The area they originated had heavy influence from Greek religions, so its not surprising.

 

This is always what i theorized about the Corinthian situation. Generally, people know things in the context of their cultures so the Corinthians were utilysing the tongues of the holy Spirit in a christianized version equating it with the pagan counterpart .

 

In the pagan oracles, the pythia were the priestesses of the oracle of delphi. They spoke in ecstatic utterances and these women would interpreted.  In Wikipedia (if you believe the source) says the writings of Plutarch's Moralia outlines:

... as many as three women served as Pythia, another vestige of the triad, with two taking turns in giving prophecy and another kept in reserve. Paul says something similar in 1Cor 14.27

 

This is a good example- since the women in Pythia and elsewhere were speaking in nonsense glossolalia in pagan Greece, it makes sense that Paul was thinking in this context when he instructed the women to be silent when he talked about glossolalia.

 

 

After reading your responses I read some more commentaries. It seems like they say it's a controversy among Orthodox what the tongues of Corinthians were. Some Church fathers or saints I believe proposed that the Corinthians were speaking real foreign languages. But then others were not so clear in writing commentaries on that. It could be suggested that when he says he seems like a "barbarian" if he speaks a unknown tongue in the verse you quoted before, that he is thinking about real foreign languages of barbarians. But then again, Paul did say that "no one" understands the Corinthians' style of glossolalia, suggesting that this is not a real language of people.

 

The oracle of dodona had chimes hung from oak trees, as the wind passed through them sounds were considered prophecies and they would be interpreted by the priestesses. Hence there are four elements in the greek pagan version: tongues, prophecy, interpretations and women being crucial to it all.

 Paul says the women should remain silent, obviously they were playing a major role in what was happening in Corinth which would have been normal within the greek religion. I believe the tongues of Corinth were authentic languages as all the Fathers attest to, but there was baggage brought in from the greek religions fusing the two experiences.. 

In what way were the greeks' experiences being fused, such as to undermine the Corinthians? Paul objected to women using glossolalia. But were there no women prophets in ancient israel, that is, in the Bible? The Corinthians were all speaking at once, and Paul complained that it looked disorderly enough that a bystander would think they were "mad". However, that appears to be the same experience the apostles claimed at Pentecost when the apostles would have been speaking real, but different languages in unison.



#30 Kosta

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 06:35 AM

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this. I'll just give a few of my thoughts on this. There is no church Father that has ever considered the Corinthian experiance to be anything other than authentic human languages. St Irenaeus says that his contemporaries did speak in tongues and i'm sure you will agree that Irenaus means human languages:

...In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms “spiritual,” they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual. For if any one take away the substance of flesh, that is, of the handiwork [of God], and understand that which is purely spiritual, such then would not be a spiritual man but would be the spirit of a man, or the Spirit of God. But when the spirit here blended with the soul is united to [God’s] handiwork, the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit, and this is he who was made in the image and likeness of God. (Against heresies bk 5 ch 6.1)

The tongue of angels is nothing more than liturgical forms of prayers, praise, hymns etc. Its liturgical language. There is no evidence that it ever meant an incoherent unintelligible 'other-wordly' language.
The closest one can come to equate the angelic tongue with ecstatic utterance is found in the pseudographical Testament of Job. While the text may seem to refer to an 'other-wordly angelic language, in context it seems to be a jubilant singing of spontaneous psalmody where the words were coherent and understandable. In fact it makes clear that the "dialects of angels' they spoke in were then recorded in hymnal books for anyones edification to read and learn:

Then rose the one whose name was Day (Yemima) and girt herself; and immediately she departed her body, as her father had said, and she put on another heart, as if she never cared for earthly things. 24 And she sang angelic hymns in the voice of angels, and she chanted forth the angelic praise of God while dancing.

25 Then the other daughter, Kassia by name, put on the girdle, and her heart was transformed, so that she no longer wished for worldly things. 26 And her mouth assumed the dialect of the heavenly rulers (Archonts) and she sang the donology of the work of the High Place and if any one wishes to know the work of the heavens he may take an insight into the hymns of Kassia.

27 Then did the other daughter by the name of Amalthea’s Horn (Keren Happukh) gird herself and her mouth spoke in the language of those on high; for her heart was transformed, being lifted above the worldly things. 28 She spoke in the dialect of the Cherubim, singing the praise of the Ruler of the cosmic powers (virtues) and extolling their (His) glory.

29 And he who desires to follow the vestiges of the "Glory of the Father" will find them written down in the Prayers of Amalthea’s Horn. (ch11) The Wesley Center Online: Testament Of Job


So the concept of angelic tongues did exist during the second temple period. It was 'praise' language. Yes some of it is singing (1Cor 14.14-15) in obvious human language. As Paul says if no one understands the tongue how will they know when to say the 'Amen' at the giving of thanks?(v16) So Paul has in mind human rational languages.
Also some of this angelic language is recorded in the NT . The Trisagion is considered the cherubic hymn brought to us from heaven. One of the more popular is the heavenly hymn of Revelation 19.1-6 where the word halleluyah is used multiple times. People spoke in angelic tongues in Mark 11.8-10 when they cried out in joy 'Hosanna in the Highest!.
The scripture itself on the other hand condemns incoherent speech:

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt 6.7 niv)

Now as far as imageless and/or formless prayer, many of the ascetics spoke much about this but none meant ecstatic utterance. It tended to be silent prayer and was indeed considered angelic prayer. In context Peter of Damascus quotes does not seem to infer any sort of tongue to this formless prayer:The Philokalia and the Inner Life: On Passions and Prayer - Christopher C.H. Cook - Google Books

St Gregory of Sinai wrote about this formless prayer:

"According to theologians, noetic, pure, angelic prayer is in its power and wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. A sign that you have attained such a prayer is that the intellects vision when praying is completely free from form and that the intellect sees neither itself nor anything else in a material way. On the contrary, it is often drawn away even from its own senses by the light acting within it, for it now grows immaterial and filled with spiritual radiance, becoming thru ineffable union a single spirit with God"..

Edited by Kosta, 16 November 2015 - 06:41 AM.


#31 H. Smith

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 08:29 AM

Kosta,
I would like to think more about your reply. I note that Ephrem the Syrian (4th century) wrote in Hymn 11 about the angelic tongues:
 

Man is too little to be able to hear all languages, and if he sufficed to hear the tongue of Angels that are spirits, so might he life himself up to hear the silence which speaketh between the Father and the Son. Our tongue is estranged to the voice of beasts; the tongue of Angels is estranged to every tongue.

The Tongues of Angels: By John C. Poirier, Mohr Siebeck, 2010, p. 100.

 

The author trawls through Jewish and early Christian literature to propose that the language of angels was something many Jews and early Christians considered its own language.He writes: "the construction of 1 Cor 13:1 implies a belief in angeloglossy of some sort: the fact that lalo interposes ton anthropon and kai ton aggelon 'invites us to read 'and even kai of angels' and to consider the angelic language as real a language as human speech, but of a higher order."


Edited by H. Smith, 16 November 2015 - 08:38 AM.


#32 Olga

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 11:17 AM

To my knowledge, the hymn referred to is not a liturgical hymn, but a work of personal devotion by the saint, and the authors of the abovementioned book are not Orthodox. Caveat emptor.



#33 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 01:10 AM

Anna,

 

You wrote: "These saints are almost always also ascetics, which is something that you mention that Paul speaks against." Could you mention where Paul wrote against asceticism?

Sorry this was confusing, I was not saying that Paul spoke against it. The person I had been replying to had said that. I should probably not have posted something from a conversation with someone else. Things get confusing when taken out of context.



#34 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 01:38 AM

Trying to think objectively, it is hard to say whether the Corinthians were practicing all those virtues to such an extent that it would be a consequence that they regularly received the gifts more often than believers would today.

Dear Mr. Smith,

 

God's economy is not mechanical in its operations. In other words we cannot say that there is some mechanical law that if someone reaches some particular level of virtue then automatically in consequence they will receive gifts and if they do not reach this level of virtue this they do not. Imputing this kind of mechanistic cause and effect to God's economy is a common and oft repeated mistake among many of us that we really have to guard against. God works according to His own purposes, which often have many and various considerations - and these just among the ones that we might be cognizant of.

 

Our struggle in the Christian life is to attain to natural human virtue, and if we read the lives of the saints, we see that a stable, pure, and incorruptible natural virtue is something that we have a long way to go to reach. 

 

All of us can be good some of the time, and in a way where good and bad are mixed, but it takes Christ and His work in healing our nature to have virtue that is unchanging even under all kinds of stresses and which is completely selfless, unmixed with any self-protectiveness or self-love.

 

Beyond this, we are told not to seek any kind of gifts, but recognize that God distributes gifts for the sake of His people according to what is needed by various individuals and as signs pointing to His activity, presence, and divine economy. The fathers warn strongly about seeking gifts. This does not contradict St Paul, but is a recognition that times have changed. St Paisios of Athos echoes the strains of Orthodox tradition when he says not to seek lights, or visions or miracles, anything else, but to seek only repentance.

 

Consider the life of Christ in the Gospels - The Fathers point out that Christ in His life teaches us both what is of man and what is of God. Divine gifts are well.... gifts.... something given above and beyond our nature as part of God's love for man and for the sake of God's self-revelation.

 

St Gregory the Theologian Oration 29-(ch 19-20 deal with this theme)

 

He was baptized as Man— but He remitted sins as God — not because He
needed purificatory rites Himself, but that He might sanctify the element of
water.

He was tempted as Man, but He conquered as God; yea, He bids us be of good
cheer, for He has overcome the world. John 16:33

He hungered— but He fed thousands; yea, He is the Bread that gives life, and
That is of heaven.

He thirsted— but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.
Yea, He promised that fountains should flow from them that believe.

 He was wearied, but He is the Rest of them that are weary and heavy
laden. Matthew 11:28

He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea.

He rebuked the winds, He made Peter light as he began to sink.

He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; yea, He is the King of those who demanded
it. John 19:19

He is called a Samaritan and a demoniac; — but He saves him that came down from
Jerusalem and fell among thieves; the demons acknowledge Him, and He drives out
demons and sinks in  the sea legions of foul spirits, Luke 8:28-33 and
sees the Prince of the demons falling like lightning.

He is stoned, but is not taken.

He prays, but He hears prayer.

He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.



 


Edited by Anna Stickles, 17 November 2015 - 01:53 AM.


#35 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 01:45 AM

Just a note on the Corinthian church. They were suffering from various spiritual problems that are commonly associated with spiritual pride. (challenging authority, excessive asceticism, the disorderly problem with ecstatic manifestations, etc.)  But St Paul is gentle and pastoral in his approach to correcting them, not trying to cut off everything wrong all at once, but adjusting his corrections to what he knows they can hear.  There are warnings throughout our Orthodox spiritual writings to beware and not to take advice given at a particular time, to a particular person or group of people, and try to make universal principles out of it.

 

And yet, without a grounding in Orthodox Tradition, this is exactly what happens in Biblical interpretation. People try to take what they see in the Bible, that was written in a particular context and make universal principles.  Outside the Church and learning from her experience what spiritual pride is, what problems are commonly associated with it, what pastoral approaches are generally used - someone who has no familiarity with all this, is invariably going to read the whole situation in the Corinthian church out of context.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 17 November 2015 - 01:51 AM.


#36 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 03:06 AM

One question in regards the Pentecostals which we have to ask is why are they trying to imitate the Corinthians who are being rebuked for lacking love, being immature, disorderly, and in rebellion against their spiritual father?  If we want to go to the NT and find a mature and more perfect example of spiritual gifts we should look to St Paul himself. 

 

The miracles that he did (There is a list here which does not include his several visions, or the times God kept him miraculously alive)  are much more substantial and more selfless than anything we see going on in the Corinthian church, and we do not see the saint himself talking about these miracles or the Spirit's gifts, nor promoting himself because of these, nor seeking these.

 

Rather the example that he sets is one of dying to himself so that Christ can live in him. He does not look at what he has accomplished but keeps striving for what is ahead, he does not base his confidence on these, but says that God gave him a thorn in the flesh to humble him. We don't hear about these from St Paul himself except for his vision on the road to Damascus, and when he is painfully forced to put forward His many times of miraculous preservation in the face of death in an attempt to reassert his authority and credibility to his weak and doubting spiritual children who were being led astray by leaders teaching a false spirituality.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 17 November 2015 - 03:07 AM.


#37 H. Smith

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 07:55 AM

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this. I'll just give a few of my thoughts on this. There is no church Father that has ever considered the Corinthian experiance to be anything other than authentic human languages.

Kosta!

The commentaries on 1 Corinthians from the Fathers I checked did not indicate whether they thought the tongues were human languages, except for St. John Chrysostom, as I mentioned.

 

 

St Irenaeus says that his contemporaries did speak in tongues and i'm sure you will agree that Irenaus means human languages:

...In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms “spiritual,” they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual. For if any one take away the substance of flesh, that is, of the handiwork [of God], and understand that which is purely spiritual, such then would not be a spiritual man but would be the spirit of a man, or the Spirit of God. But when the spirit here blended with the soul is united to [God’s] handiwork, the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit, and this is he who was made in the image and likeness of God. (Against heresies bk 5 ch 6.1)
 

Actually, from this quote, Kosta, it isn't clear to me that Ireneus means human, understandable languages in this quote, as opposed to "incomprehensible" "unknown tongues",(as in 1 Corinthians) that "no one understands" because "languages" is just another word for "tongues". In any case I think that according to the accounts of our church, saints have occasionally, even after Biblical times, been able to miraculously speak real foreign languages, so I wouldn't have a problem with reading the quote you gave as referring to real, known languages.

 

 

The tongue of angels is nothing more than liturgical forms of prayers, praise, hymns etc. Its liturgical language. There is no evidence that it ever meant an incoherent unintelligible 'other-wordly' language.

For Ephrem the Syrian it was a real language.  When I see the "language of humans and of angels", my plain reading of that is that the language of angels is distinct from that of humans. Simply having prayers doesn't distinguish it from a normal human language, since the same prayer in Greek could be said by a person or by an angel. If a person asks God for something in a prayer, I don't know why that would automatically be the language of an angel, since angels and people are different categories of beings and can both talk to God.

Lopukhin's answer about this distinction as I understand it was that angels are spirits and so they don't use phonetic words for their language. So an angel could just ask god something without putting it into actual words.

 

 

 


The closest one can come to equate the angelic tongue with ecstatic utterance is found in the pseudographical Testament of Job. While the text may seem to refer to an 'other-wordly angelic language, in context it seems to be a jubilant singing of spontaneous psalmody where the words were coherent and understandable. In fact it makes clear that the "dialects of angels' they spoke in were then recorded in hymnal books for anyones edification to read and learn:

Then rose the one whose name was Day (Yemima) and girt herself; and immediately she departed her body, as her father had said, and she put on another heart, as if she never cared for earthly things. 24 And she sang angelic hymns in the voice of angels, and she chanted forth the angelic praise of God while dancing.
25 Then the other daughter, Kassia by name, put on the girdle, and her heart was transformed, so that she no longer wished for worldly things. 26 And her mouth assumed the dialect of the heavenly rulers (Archonts) and she sang the donology of the work of the High Place and if any one wishes to know the work of the heavens he may take an insight into the hymns of Kassia.
27 Then did the other daughter by the name of Amalthea’s Horn (Keren Happukh) gird herself and her mouth spoke in the language of those on high; for her heart was transformed, being lifted above the worldly things. 28 She spoke in the dialect of the Cherubim, singing the praise of the Ruler of the cosmic powers (virtues) and extolling their (His) glory.
29 And he who desires to follow the vestiges of the "Glory of the Father" will find them written down in the Prayers of Amalthea’s Horn. (ch11) The Wesley Center Online: Testament Of Job

The plain meaning is that she spoke in a different "tongue"(language) or "dialect", the language of angels. Next it says that you can look at the hymns of Kassia. However, are the hymns of Kassia the same hymns that she sang when she was transformed and speaking the angels' language? Were the hymns of Kassia a supposed translation of the angels' language into Greek?

 

 

 


So the concept of angelic tongues did exist during the second temple period. It was 'praise' language. Yes some of it is singing (1Cor 14.14-15) in obvious human language. As Paul says if no one understands the tongue how will they know when to say the 'Amen' at the giving of thanks?(v16) So Paul has in mind human rational languages.

Sorry, I am not sure how this shows that Paul was talking about human languages. Just because the incomprehensible uttering is being sung (eg. vv. 14-15) doesn't mean that it is a real human language. Sure, Paul is right that if no one understands the speech then they won't know when to say Amen, but that doesn't mean that the thankful utterings of an incomprehensible tongue the Amen ended at was a real dialect either.

 

 

 


Also some of this angelic language is recorded in the NT . The Trisagion is considered the cherubic hymn brought to us from heaven. One of the more popular is the heavenly hymn of Revelation 19.1-6 where the word halleluyah is used multiple times.

Both of those could be translated into Greek as the words that the saints miraculously understood in the visions. And Mark 11:8-10 as far as I can tell doesn't specify that Hosanna is angelic speech.

 

 

People spoke in angelic tongues in Mark 11.8-10 when they cried out in joy 'Hosanna in the Highest!.
The scripture itself on the other hand condemns incoherent speech:

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt 6.7 niv)
 

Here it says not to use "vain repetitions" (βατταλογήσητε), hence Jesus noted that their words were extra, that is, the fact that they were many did not make them really efficacious as they thought. In the case of the Corinthians' incomprehensible glossolalia they were not necessarily repetitions.

 

 

 

Now as far as imageless and/or formless prayer, many of the ascetics spoke much about this but none meant ecstatic utterance. It tended to be silent prayer and was indeed considered angelic prayer. In context Peter of Damascus quotes does not seem to infer any sort of tongue to this formless prayer:The Philokalia and the Inner Life: On Passions and Prayer - Christopher C.H. Cook - Google Books

When Peter says that it exchanges human words for divine words, what else can that mean but abnormal words?

If I write: "Hello, nice to see you" or "Hola! ?Como estas?", I have just written human words, which someone can understand. When something is exchanged for those human words, something that "no one understands", what else could that be but not normal human words when something is exchanged for human words?

 

 

Regarding your quote from St Gregory of Sinai, in his talk about formless prayer it doesn't mention about taking out human words and putting in divine words like Peter Damaskos did.

 

But prayer can be silent. So maybe even in Peter Damaskos' quote he was not talking about making verbal sounds at all, but even in quiet prayer there is no longer human words based phonetically in human languages but rather direct human thought. In a dream for example, you might ask someone something, but in your dream you don't necessarily envision out the words, perhaps. So maybe you have a good explanation for this.

 

That is, Kosta, if the formless prayer here is totally quiet it doesn't matter if we are talking about incomprehensible utterings or not, because there is no sound to utter. Do you see what I mean? So in this case, this quote from Peter of Damaskos may not be referring to the same kind of glossolalia as in Corinth, since that was vocalized.



#38 Kosta

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:03 AM

The commentaries on 1 Corinthians from the Fathers I checked did not indicate whether they thought the tongues were human languages, except for St. John Chrysostom, as I mentioned.



I used to believe that the Corinthian experience was a combination of human languages and ecstatic utterances as well . Though I always believed that Paul was gently rebuking them for abnormal behavior. That the whole thing was just pagan baggage (as i said before). This is because of the uncanny similarities to the explanations of the oracles by the ancient greeks.

I stopped believing that this was ecstatitc utterances after i started looking at the passages closer. What you are implying (if i'm not mistaken) is that Paul is refering to three types of languages. First is that of foreign human languages, secondly angelic languages which can be interpreted and thirdly another form of angelic language which cannot be interpreted into human understanding.

Long ago after I took a closer look at what was being said in the 1 Corinthian epistle, I rejected the non-human angelic tongue interpretation. It is said, "No one understands him" because no one present was comprehending the language. In fact i do not find the word 'understanding' in the koine at all! It says 'No one hears him" just bad translation./(gr: akou)

In verse 5 Paul says these 'mysteries in the Spirit' are less in value than prophecy UNLESS one can interpret it so the entire church can be edified. In other words the mysteries in the spirit are only mysteries because no one is there to interpret them but once they are interpreted the mystery is converted to a knowledge, or a psalm or a revelation or a teaching (verses 6 & 26)

Verse 11 is certainly speaking of human languages, "But if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a barbarian (foreigner) to the speaker and the speaker a barbarian (foreigner) to me. This is no different that the complaints of converts to Orthodoxy in America. Converts find certain parishes to ethnic. An all greek speaking parish will look at the native as a foreigner and the native will feel like a foreigner. Refering to foreigner as 'barbaroi' would be nonsensical if he had in mind angelic utterance..

In verse 13 Paul also says the one that speaks in a tongue should be the very same person who should strive to receive to interpret his own message. Otherwise if there is no interpretor and no one understands this language; he should just use the gift of tongues in private prayer and not publicly in church, hence back to 'no one understands (or hears) him'.

This is further advanced when Paul says in verse 16 "Otherwise if you bless with the Spirit, how can anyone in the position of unlearned (idiot) say the 'Amen' to your Eucharist . This can only make sense if the speaker is using a human language, the foreign christian will be able to answer with AMEN, and the unlearned (inquirier or catecumen) should be able to also when its interpreted as well.
He then brings this point home by quoting a prophecy from the OT, "In the Law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people, and yet they will not hear me(v.21). Obviously men of other tongues can only refer to the languages of the gentiles.


 

Actually, from this quote, Kosta, it isn't clear to me that Ireneus means human, understandable languages in this quote, as opposed to "incomprehensible" "unknown tongues",(as in 1 Corinthians) that "no one understands" because "languages" is just another word for "tongues". In any case I think that according to the accounts of our church, saints have occasionally, even after Biblical times, been able to miraculously speak real foreign languages, so I wouldn't have a problem with reading the quote you gave as referring to real, known languages.




There are a few Fathers that spoke about this, My conclusion is that none ever meant ecstatic utterance. I will give some examples:

Hillary Poiters: The phrase Spirit of God denotes also the Paraclete, and that not only on the testimony of the prophets but also of apostles, when it is said...It shall come to pass on the last day , says the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and their sons and daughters shall prophecy. And we learn ALL this prophecy was fullfilled in the case of the apostles, when, after sending of the Holy Spirit, they all spoke with the tongues of gentiles.(On the trinity bk8)

Eusebius of Emesa: But when God gave literary ability to ignorant men so they could write gospels, giving the ability to write he gave the Roman tongue to Galileans, and the languages of the world to his apostles, for the teaching and admonition and exhortation of the nations of the world.

Cyril of Jerusalem: John and the reast of the apostles spoke every tongue of those of gentile extraction...This is in truth vast wisdom, this is power divine. What a contrast of their long ignorance in times past to their sudden, complete and varied and unaccustomed exercise of these languages.(catechetical lectures 17)

Severian of Gabala 390 AD: 'The person who speaks in the Holy Spirit speaks when he choosesto do so and then can be silent, like the prophets. But those who are posessed by an unclean spirit speak even when they dont want to. They say things they do not understand.(Pauline commentary of the Greek church)

Pseudo Constantius 405 AD: (After quoting 1 Cor 14.3-5 he adds)..'He says, If I shall come to you and shall speak to you in the Syrian or Persian tongue, what good is that to you who do not understand?" (commentary on 1Corinthians)

Rufinus of Aquilea: They were thus enabled to speak a variety of different languages, with the result they found no nation strange to them , and no foreign speech beyond their powers of comprehension." (commentary on apostles creed)

Theodoret of Cyrus: "To another the interpretation of words". This also was a spiritual gift. For often a person who knew only the Greek tongue, after discoursing with another in the language of Scythia and Thrace, brought an interpretation to the hearers... For one who speaks in a tongue, speaks not to people but to God, for no one hears....(commentary on 1 Corinthians)

Eusebius of Ceasaria quoting from an earlier document on the Montanists:
There is said to be a certain village called Ardabau in that part of Mysia, which borders upon Phrygia. There first, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning.
8. Some of those who heard his spurious utterances at that time were indignant, and they rebuked him as one that was possessed, and that was under the control of a demon, and was led by a deceitful spirit, and was distracting the multitude; and they forbade him to talk, remembering the distinction drawn by the Lord and his warning to guard watchfully against the coming of false prophets. But others imagining themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of a prophetic gift, were elated and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the distinction of the Lord, they challenged the mad and insidious and seducing spirit, and were cheated and deceived by him. In consequence of this, he could no longer be held in check, so as to keep silence. (church history bk5 ch16)

 

 

I don't know why that would automatically be the language of an angel, since angels and people are different categories of beings and can both talk to God.
Lopukhin's answer about this distinction as I understand it was that angels are spirits and so they don't use phonetic words for their language. So an angel could just ask god something without putting it into actual words.



This could actually make sense, as angelic contemplative prayer is meant to be inaudible. It may also make sense in his reference to "no one understands". As i said my google translate on the link didnt do it justice and I would be surprised that with his credentials that he did not pick up on the original koine greek word (akouw) which means hear or listen.

 

The plain meaning is that she spoke in a different "tongue"(language) or "dialect", the language of angels. Next it says that you can look at the hymns of Kassia. However, are the hymns of Kassia the same hymns that she sang when she was transformed and speaking the angels' language? Were the hymns of Kassia a supposed translation of the angels' language into Greek?


 

I still believe it was in a melodic form of worship (Psalm 148.1-3& 150) possibly sung in hebrew psaltery (this writing originates no later 100bc from greek or aramaic speaking jews)
There is a jewish tradition that there are 70 human languages of the gentiles (reference to genesis and 1Cor 14.21)) and the one angelic language of hebrew. There maybe something to it as the angelic praises sung in heaven of Rev 19.1-6 uses the untranslated hebrew word Alleluia four times, but in Rev 21.6 and 22.13 the revelation is assumed as being dictated in the greek tongue with the saying. 'I am the alpha and omega.
Lets say this is indeed a non-human language of angels. At the very least we can say it can be interpreted, that it can be conveyed using human words accompanied with musical notations.
 

Here it says not to use "vain repetitions" (βατταλογήσητε), hence Jesus noted that their words were extra, that is, the fact that they were many did not make them really efficacious as they thought. In the case of the Corinthians' incomprehensible glossolalia they were not necessarily repetitions.

 

Not really batta means to stammer (usually in an uncontrolable manor). It means to speak foolishly without self restraint. Its translated as vain repititions because the english translator is translating Batto as 'stutter'. Of course the quote is not implying heathen have speech impediments.

 

But prayer can be silent. So maybe even in Peter Damaskos' quote he was not talking about making verbal sounds at all, but even in quiet prayer there is no longer human words based phonetically in human languages but rather direct human thought. In a dream for example, you might ask someone something, but in your dream you don't necessarily envision out the words, perhaps. So maybe you have a good explanation for this.

 

Thats plausible, thats what it seems he is saying.


Edited by Kosta, 18 November 2015 - 09:14 AM.


#39 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 05:27 PM

I was taught that silent prayer - or, as it was described to me, 'wordless prayer' - is the highest form of prayer. I cannot just now quote sources but I think the Holy Fathers do say this. Angels speak to men in a way men will understand - usually: Greek to a Greek and so forth. Where an angel speaks to a man in a language that the man does not understand - and I mean a real language such as Greek to someone who is not Greek and does not know Greek well - that is a prompt to that man to consult his spiritual father.



#40 H. Smith

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Posted 19 November 2015 - 02:46 PM

Anna!

You write:

"Trying to think objectively, it is hard to say whether the Corinthians were practicing all those virtues to such an extent that it would be a consequence that they regularly received the gifts more often than believers would today."

God's economy is not mechanical in its operations. In other words we cannot say that there is some mechanical law that if someone reaches some particular level of virtue then automatically in consequence they will receive gifts

Sure. However, I thought that you were implying in your messages from August 27 (eg. #18 and 19) that deep Orthodox spirituality and virtue of our saints and the very weak discernment of modern Charismatics make the miracles in Orthodoxy legitimate and the Charismatics' miracles unlikely. At least this is a common argument - Orthodox saints follow the spiritual commandments and thus they reliably have miracles, and while Charismatics claim to have frequent miracles, they must be suffering from prelest, delusion, etc because they lack asceticism, special virtue, etc. To me, this argument by Orthodox makes sense.

Meanwhile, some Charismatics imagine that they have more faith than Orthodox and they give this as an excuse for why they claim frequent miracles - they claim that there was less faith in Byzantine times and this explains why there were less miracles in Byzantine times than in the gospel era.

In truth though, it seems to me that the problem with all these arguments is that it seems rather that much of the early laity, while it seemed to experience frequent gifts, eg. in Corinth, also suffered from doubts, didn't necessarily follow asceticism and extreme virtue, etc. Meanwhile, it seems that there were serious numbers of pious and virtuous Christians in Byzantine times, reflected in the flowering of monasteries. So for me, the explanation that loss of faith and virtue explains lesser frequency of "gifts" in Byzantine times seems weak.

But then, what would be the best explanation for why the "gifts" diminished?

and if they do not reach this level of virtue this they do not. Imputing this kind of mechanistic cause and effect to God's economy is a common and oft repeated mistake among many of us that we really have to guard against. God works according to His own purposes, which often have many and various considerations - and these just among the ones that we might be cognizant of.

Sure, I suppose that one answer to the question of why the "gifts" underwent "Cessation" in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD or so can be that it's a mystery and that God works according to his purposes.

The problem rises for me when I try to think about these kind of quanderies objectively. If I find a famous medieval book on alchemy/chemistry, and it gives a recipe on how to make gold or another precious metal, and on following the recipe I instead produce brass or something that looks like gold but isn't, then objectively speaking it makes me question whether back in medieval times the alchemists were able to make gold this way. Granted, someone can respond that it's a mystery and that we don't know how the alchemists did it, but it still creates a major question why the recipe doesn't work.

There are problems with analogizing this to Christianity. Our religion is not a mechanical economy like you said. It is not a "science book", in which you add X parts acid and Y parts base and get a certain PH. Still, if we read that certain beliefs and practices - faith, good works, prayer, fasting, can work miracles, and when we follow these instructions the results are nowhere near what we read about in the good book in comparable situations, then it creates the question of why we don't see the results that they did. If in Byzantine times there was a far larger total number of righteous and pious in monasteries, etc. due to the exponential growth of the faith, why did the miracles not return or continue at the supposed previous levels?

We don't "know" that the Bible is right, we have faith that it is, and we would count on certain results if it were true. So if the results don't occur, then is the faith unreliable or is it the promise of results random, arbitrary, or no longer fulfilled in our era for no known reason, anymore than in other religions?

Our struggle in the Christian life is to attain to natural human virtue, and if we read the lives of the saints, we see that a stable, pure, and incorruptible natural virtue is something that we have a long way to go to reach.

All of us can be good some of the time, and in a way where good and bad are mixed, but it takes Christ and His work in healing our nature to have virtue that is unchanging even under all kinds of stresses and which is completely selfless, unmixed with any self-protectiveness or self-love.

Beyond this, we are told not to seek any kind of gifts,

...St Paisios of Athos echoes the strains of Orthodox tradition when he says not to seek lights, or visions or miracles, anything else, but to seek only repentance.

Anna, I am not trying to argue for Pentecostalism. I have some feeling that I don't want to try to get God to give me "special powers" like in the Harry Potter garbage. I don't really have some goal of "ambition" toward "achieving" strange "gifts" like magical abilities to speak in unlearned tongues. So I feel sympathy with your sentiments, Anna. Yet Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to "zealously" desire the gifts, especially "prophecy".

but recognize that God distributes gifts for the sake of His people according to what is needed by various individuals and as signs pointing to His activity, presence, and divine economy. The fathers warn strongly about seeking gifts. This does not contradict St Paul, but is a recognition that times have changed.

I don't know... People say women shouldn't care about head coverings in church now because times changed. Maybe they are right. People say that Paul was writing in a different culture in which women covered their heads, but we don't do that now in our culture so it's not an issue. It's OK with me although personally I would be inclined to just follow Paul on this since it's in the Bible and I don't see headcoverings as bad.

But how can the same logic about changing times be used to explain why we wouldn't seek gifts like Paul said either? Is it just that in our culture people don't care about prophecy or speaking unknown tongues much, so now we are warned strongly against it? This seems like a weaker argument. It's one thing not to care much about headcoverings and prophetic "gifts" because of changing times or cultures, and another to strongly warn against them. Why would it be important for the Christians in Corinth to seek "gifts" but bad for people to do so later? If the answer is the risk of Prelest, why wouldn't Prelest be a risk for the Corinthians?

Edited by H. Smith, 19 November 2015 - 02:47 PM.





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