Kindle version of 'Tongues Revisited: A Third Way' now
Revisited: A Third Way
The thesis of 'Tongues Revisited: A Third Way'
That Biblical Tongues
normal human languages,
and normally spoken.
Below find a brief outline of
this thesis as
worked out in Acts 2,
Acts 10, 1 Corinthians
Acts 2 is taken to be clearly referring to normal human languages being
spoken - which were spoken directly to the hearers without
The question is; were these normal human languages normally
spoken - that is having been learnt through normal means and thus
already known to the speakers before the events described in Acts 2, - or supernaturally
spoken - that is unlearnt and unknown to the speakers prior to that
time, but spoken as a result of a language miracle occurring - the speakers having received a supernatural ability to immediately speak languages
they had not learnt?
It is assumed by virtually everyone that whatever languages
the disciples spoke, they spoke without having learnt them. The only way this
could have occurred is for the ability to have been acquired through
supernatural means. However, the text does not say this anywhere - though it
has been assumed by virtually everyone, that it does.
I propose that the disciples already knew the languages they
spoke that day and had acquired them through the normal means of language
I propose also that the languages spoken
by the disciples on the Day of Pentecost numbered at a minimum two, and at
a maximum about 10. It is geographical regions encompassing both the Eastern and Western
Diaspora of the Jews, and ethnic groups, that are listed, not languages.
It is known that the Western Diaspora,
which incorporated over half of the list in verses 9-11, spoke Greek, and
Eastern Diaspora spoke Aramaic or dialects of Aramaic. I propose that
among the 120 disciples gathered on the Day of Pentecost, were Diaspora
Jews which Jesus had drawn to himself during his ministry. Proselytes
there that day would also most likely be drawn from the Greek and Aramaic
speaking communities many of the Jews were part of. Even those disciples
who were from Galilee, could easily have been fluent in up to about four
Further, I propose that a little known cultural/linguistic factor called a 'diglossia' was
at work in the situation. The diglossia concept can account for some
of what is recorded in Acts 2.
In brief, the term diglossia refers to the situation that
prevails in many cultures where at least two languages are used in the culture,
but are reserved within the culture for distinctly different roles. One language
will most likely be the language of ceremony and learning - known as the 'high'
language. The other language (perhaps 'languages' if there is an
international aspect to the culture) being the everyday vernacular - known as
the 'low' language. William Tyndale was burnt at the stake for violating a diglossia
of his time, by translating the Bible from Latin (high language) into English
Research has shown that a diglossia prevailed in 1st Century Israel with Hebrew as
the high language - the 'Holy Tongue', and Aramaic and Greek being the 'low' languages -
Aramaic being at that time the primary language of Israel and the Eastern Diaspora, and
Greek being the language of the Western Diaspora, though Greek was also very
widely used in Israel.
Therefore I propose Acts 2 is to be understood with a Hebrew-Aramaic/Greek diglossia
functioning in the background.
Described in Acts 10 is another meeting
of people in a multilingual situation. There was a shared language,
presumably Aramaic, but also a non-shared language, presumably Latin. What
Peter heard was some speech he understood (Aramaic) and some speech he did
not understand (Latin). From the speech that he understood, he deduced
that Cornelius and friends (non-Jews) had become believers, and if this
was so they had received the Holy Spirit. This culturally was a severe
challenge to Jews such as Peter and the other believers in Jerusalem, and
is why the Lord prepared Peter in they way he had, through giving him a vision. It was in fact
such a momentous challenge to the cultural
expectations of the church that Peter had to defend what he had done
before a church council, and describe what had occurred. The speech that Peter
did not understand was some of the Roman group talking among themselves in
1 Corinthians 12-14
I propose that the situation being being addressed in 1 Corinthians 12-14 (in
particular chapter 14), was simply how to edify the multilingual Corinthian church. I
also propose there was underlying ethnic tension in this church
need for chapter 13) which expressed itself in the way various languages were
viewed or used in their meetings.
In the book I discuss almost every verse in 1 Cor 12-14 and identify clues which indicate both that the
languages being spoken were normal human languages, and that the speakers knew
what they were saying. If both of these propositions are correct, as I argue,
then they exclude from the chapter, the current phenomenon which today bears the name
'tongues'. (Actually, it is either excluded from, or unsupported by, every passage in the New Testament
that has the word 'glossa =
language' in it. Thus is not in the Bible at all.)
The approach taken enables several of the perennial problem
texts in 1 Corinthians 14 to be resolved in very straight forward ways, ways
that I am not aware have been published anywhere before.
The word 'glossa' is also used eight times in the book of
Revelation. On seven of those occasions it clearly refers to normal human languages,
normally learnt and normally spoken. 'Tongues Revisited: A Third Way' applies that same idea consistently to every other usage of the term in the
Twenty one objections to the thesis are dealt with in detail in a "Question and
Answer' format - every objection the author came across over the fourteen years
the book was in writing.
Regarding the two questions put up top on the home page:
'tongues' for today?' Of course! If Biblical tongues are simply
normal human languages, normally learnt and normally spoken, then every time we
speak we are using 'tongues'.
'Have 'tongues' ceased?' The answer to this one is an extremely
simply solution to what has been a perennial problem ...You'll have to read the
book to get the answer!
The book is unique. It is a step sideways out of the debate as it has been
framed for the last 100 years, and also out of the way the issue has been framed
for perhaps the last 1800 years.