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Speaking in tongues. Christadelphian Presentation. Speaking in Tongues. “If with tongues of men I speak and/even of angels, and have not love…”. Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice . Dead Sea Scrolls Text Songs dedicated to particular Sabbaths in the first quarter of the year

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speaking in tongues

Speaking in tongues

Christadelphian Presentation

speaking in tongues1
Speaking in Tongues

“If with tongues of men I speak and/even of angels, and have not love…”

songs of the sabbath sacrifice
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
  • Dead Sea Scrolls Text
  • Songs dedicated to particular Sabbaths in the first quarter of the year
  • Songs are for angels to utter in the heavenly tabernacle-sanctuary
  • Dates for the texts range from c. 75-50 BCE to c. 50 CE
  • Songs functioned primarily to form the identity and confirm the legitimacy of the priestly community
songs of the sabbath sacrifice1
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
  • The recitation of the songs, which exhort the angels in the divine temple to praise God, would have been a way of associating the divine temple with the worshiping community at Qumran
  • They lift one up emotionally and imaginatively into the midst of heavenly choirs
songs of the sabbath sacrifice2
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
  • ...to praise your glory wondrously with the divinities of knowledge, and the praises of your kingship with the m[ost] holy ones...how will it be regarded [amongst] them? And how our priesthood in their residences? And [...] their holiness? [What] is the offering of our tongue of dust (compared) with the knowledge of the divinity[ies?...]
  • 4Q400 2 1, 6-7
songs of the sabbath sacrifice3
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
  • [...] through the wonderful height [...] tongue of purity [...] gods (~yhla), seven [...] 4Q400 3 1, 1-2
  • ...Psalm of praise, on the tongue of the fou[rth]...[Ps]alm of [tha]nksgiving, on the tongue of the fifth...[Psalm] of exultation, on the tongue of the sixth...Psalm of [singing, on the to]ngue of the seventh of the [chief] pri[nces,] a powerful song [to the God] of ho[lines] with its se[ven] wo[nd]er[ful songs] 4Q403 1 1, 1-6
songs of the sabbath sacrifice4
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
  • Proclaim his glory with the tongue of all who proclaim knowledge, his wonderful songs with the mouth of all who proclaim [him. For he is] God of all who sing {knowledge} for ever, and Judge in his power over all the spirits of understanding. 4Q4031 1 36-37
  • In the chiefs of the praise-offerings are tongues of knowledge. They bless the God of knowledge in all the works of his glory. 4Q405 23 2, 12
songs of the sabbath sacrifice5
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
  • There was awareness on the part of the Qumran sectarians that angels praised God in their own tongues
  • This may appear to be an unremarkable point except that it has a specific implication for 1 Cor 13:1. Paul’s reference to “tongues of angels” is a reference to tongues spoken within the Corinthian assembly when praising God.
testament of job
Testament of Job
  • Dated to between the 1c. BCE and 1c. CE
  • In the Testament, Job gives one of his daughters some sashes, 

And she took on another heart—no longer minded toward earthly things—but she spoke ecstatically in the angelic dialect, sending up a hymn to God in accord with the hymnic style of the angels. And as she spoke ecstatically, she allowed “The Spirit” to be inscribed on her garment. T. Job 48:2-3

testament of job1
Testament of Job
  • Job’s other daughters likewise took on “the dialect of archons”, “the dialect of those on high”, and the “dialect of the cherubim” (T. Job 49:1-50:3)
  • What is clear from the Testament is that there is a concept of angelic language being spoken
  • Crucially, the writing of these hymns is described in terms that allow for the role of interpretation
  • The process of “explanation” implies interpretation of the hymns and this corresponds to the requirement for interpretation in Corinth
testament of job2
Testament of Job
  • After the three had stopped singing hymns, while the Lord was present as was I, Nereus, the brother of Job, and while the holy angel also was present, I sat near Job on the couch. And I heard magnificent things, while each one made explanation to the other. And I wrote out a complete book of most of the contents of hymns that issued from the three daughters of my brother, so that these things would be preserved. T. Job 51:1-4

Speaking in tongues in Corinth was praising God; when a language was known, it was a tongue of men; when it was not known it was regarded as a tongue of angels.

1 corinthians
1 Corinthians
  • “sounding brass, tinkling cymbal” 1 Cor 13:1
  • “pipe or harp” 1 Cor 14:7
  • “trumpet” 1 Cor 14:8
  • Scholars have primarily asked whether the tongues mentioned in the account of Pentecost should be seen as glossolalia, akolalia, or xenolalia.
  • This is a debate about whether the phenomenon is a miracle of hearing or speaking and whether the speaking is intelligible foreign languages or unintelligible speech
  • Luke uses avpofqe,ggomai in Acts 2:4 (“utterance”) to describe the speech act

“Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph…who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” 1 Chron 25:1

  • In Pss 58:8 where the verb is used to describe the lying of the enemies of Israel, the Psalmist contrasts this with his singing (v. 17)
  • The related noun occurs in the Song of Moses (Deut 32:2, cf. Odes 2:2), “My doctrine (avpo,fqegma,) shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass”
  • Luke is therefore invoking a liturgical framework for understanding the speech acts engendered by the Spirit at Pentecost: these involve praise, but not ecstatic praise.
  • Luke places the disciples in the Temple on the day of Pentecost; the word “house” is used by him (Acts 7:47, 49; Luke13:35, 19:46) when he is directly using Jewish scriptural material about the temple
  • A setting in the Temple makes it more likely that the Spirit would have inspired praise amongst other speech acts
  • The subject matter of the tongues is denoted by ta. megalei/a (v. 11) and this noun is used with verbs of proclamation in the LXX (e.g. Sir 18:4, 36:8, 2 Macc 3:34) including the praise of God’s mighty acts (e.g. Sir 17:10, Pss 70:19)
  • The Gentile “Pentecost”, modelled on the account in Acts 2, uses the verb megalu,nw (“to magnify”) to characterize the tongues (Acts 10:46). This verb is used elsewhere by Luke in describing Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:46)
  • Peter’s speech is missiological and directed towards devout Jews of the Diaspora resident in Jerusalem, but there is no suggestion that this speech act had a multi-lingual character
  • Similarly, there is no evidence that the speech acts of praise initially initiated by the Spirit (v. 4) were directed towards any person or group. Their multi-lingual character allowed Diaspora Jews to understand something of what was being uttered, but this does not imply that the speech acts were delivered in their direction
  • The speech acts of tongues at Pentecost were “praise”.
  • The tongues at Corinth were “praise”.
  • Tongues could be tongues of men or angels depending on their human intelligibility to those present.
  • Tongues might need interpretation if tongues of men but would need interpretation if tongues of angels.
  • Tongues whether of men or of angels were engendered by the Spirit but were not ecstatic or frenzied-they were structured and hymnic