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Speaking In Tongues


andyjj
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I was wondering whether anyone knows whether glossolalia (speaking in tongues) was a feature of pagan religion prior to Christianity?

 

(I was able to 'speak in tongues' with a realistic sounding language, long before I ever heard there was such a thing in Christianity).

 

I was wondering whether glossolalia was incorporated into Christianity from existing pagan religion

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From what I have picked up along the way, I believe the answer is 'Yes.' It was part of a process of an ecstatic experience of joining with a god and receiving special communication from that god.

 

Here's an excerpt from an article a about "Glossolalia in Contemporary Linguistic Study:"

Goodman concludes that "when all features of glossolalia were taken into consideration--that is, the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and its suprasegmental elements (namely, rhythm, accent, and especially overall intonation)-- she concluded that there is no distinction in glossolalia between Christians and the followers of non-Christian (pagan) religions . The "association between trance and glossolalia is now accepted by many researchers as a correct assumption," writes Goodman in the prestigious Encyclopedia of Religion (1987).

 

Here's a quote from another article on Speaking In Tongues :

 

Throughout recorded history there have been many occasions where people have spoken in what was called ecstatic tongues. Note most of these accounts predate Pentecost and were of non-Christian origin. Christians therefore can not say with confidence that every occurrence of glossolalia must be an expression of the will of God even though many do subscribe to this view. Those practicing speaking in tongues today portray Pentecost as the supreme example of supernatural tongues; however, the recorded cases of glossolalia go back as far as 1100 B.C. On that occasion a young Amen worshiper attracted historical infamy when he became possessed by a god and began to make sounds in a strange ecstatic tongue.

 

 

As with any internet article, you will want to search out the best sources to verify the correctness of the statements being made.

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Thanks for that - just what was looking for. My interest stems from a comment I read about (I think) Matthew 6:7 which is translated as

 

"When you are praying do not use vain repetition as the heathen do". the greek for which says "Do not say bata bata bata" or some similar. Robert M. Price says in his book

"The incredible shrinking son of man" that this is an attempt by non-Tongues speaking Christians to put words in Jesus' mouth to try and condemn the practice.

 

I find this all very fascinating...

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I was wondering whether anyone knows whether glossolalia (speaking in tongues) was a feature of pagan religion prior to Christianity?

 

(I was able to 'speak in tongues' with a realistic sounding language, long before I ever heard there was such a thing in Christianity).

 

I was wondering whether glossolalia was incorporated into Christianity from existing pagan religion

 

This brings back crazy memories from the 80's! Far as I know it's a Christian phonon.

 

I remember listing to different peoples "prayer language" as an older teen and seeing that they always said the same thing over and over each time they prayed (as I did as well). It was usually less than ten sounds (not words) There was a girl once that swore she could speak Swahili. Oh the laugh I had then even as a believer!

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From what I have picked up along the way, I believe the answer is 'Yes.' It was part of a process of an ecstatic experience of joining with a god and receiving special communication from that god.

 

Here's an excerpt from an article a about "Glossolalia in Contemporary Linguistic Study:"

Goodman concludes that "when all features of glossolalia were taken into consideration--that is, the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and its suprasegmental elements (namely, rhythm, accent, and especially overall intonation)-- she concluded that there is no distinction in glossolalia between Christians and the followers of non-Christian (pagan) religions . The "association between trance and glossolalia is now accepted by many researchers as a correct assumption," writes Goodman in the prestigious Encyclopedia of Religion (1987).

 

Here's a quote from another article on Speaking In Tongues :

 

Throughout recorded history there have been many occasions where people have spoken in what was called ecstatic tongues. Note most of these accounts predate Pentecost and were of non-Christian origin. Christians therefore can not say with confidence that every occurrence of glossolalia must be an expression of the will of God even though many do subscribe to this view. Those practicing speaking in tongues today portray Pentecost as the supreme example of supernatural tongues; however, the recorded cases of glossolalia go back as far as 1100 B.C. On that occasion a young Amen worshiper attracted historical infamy when he became possessed by a god and began to make sounds in a strange ecstatic tongue.

 

 

As with any internet article, you will want to search out the best sources to verify the correctness of the statements being made.

 

Nice to know.

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I believe the whole Pentecostal/Charismatic phenomenon (i.e. the Asuza street revival and the like) was a direct result of the backlash against Darwinism/Higher Biblical Criticism etc that undermined the whole basis of rational belief in Christianity -(the origin of Fundamentalism) once you get rid of Adam & Eve and demonstrate that the OT and NT are largely unhistorical, what do you have left to base Christianity on? Religious Experiences.

 

However - it has become quite clear to me after at least a decade of pondering that "charismatic renewal" experience are classic hysterical phenomena - just look at the things that were going on with the Toronto Blessing and the like. I don't think its a coincidence that charismatic churches are also the ones in which soft rock music is used to whip people up into a frenzy of emotion.

 

It used to be the case in many churches that the use of musical instruments was banned presumable because emotional reactions to music and spiritual experience could easily be confused.

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I used to go to a Pentecostal Church and a couple times summer camp. Most of what I heard, so far as speaking in tongues, sounded like babbling nothing. For me, it was more like I was violently shivering and just made the same sounds over and over again.

 

I hadn't heard of this being part of any other religion, though. Something to look into...

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By the way, the Pentecostals (so far as I know) started it because of a verse in Acts. On the day of Pentecost the apostles started speaking in tongues. The Pentecostals (yeah, Azusa St) brought it back. There's a book called "Fire from Heaven" that describes the history pretty well but it's been awhile since I've read it so I can't remember all the details.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On the other hand, I suspect that the whole "speak in tongue" situation is misunderstood. If you are able to reach beyond this earthly realm, you might have noticed that there is no language barrier on the other side. There's a tricky mechanism out there to allow you (your soul to be more specific) to speak without a language barrier. The so called "speak in tongue" is just a borrowing of part of this mechanism. If you are willing to pay attention, you will notice that the mechanism itself should be artificially created just for the purpose of breaking the language barrier.

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You gotta be kidding me that I'm the one that comes in to tell Hawkins that it's called a Bablefish and it's most notable usage is in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Andyjj - I was a Pentecostal at one point too like TheUnchosen. I remember members of my church running around the entire church with their eyes literally closed. They said it had to be "in the spirit" because if it wasn't they would've hit someone. When I was "in the spirit" my words were "bala ka la la bashoh ba la la la basho kotah." I can emulate these words today because even "in the spirit" I didn't feel an outside force making me want to talk in another language. I guess I just wanted to fit in. I mean, my mother believed in it and "spoke in tongues" in almost everyday language. My peers seemed to be very versed in it and acted like it was all normal. Why not me?

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You gotta be kidding me that I'm the one that comes in to tell Hawkins that it's called a Bablefish and it's most notable usage is in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Basically, my own experience tells me all the things I need to know.

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Is this of any help, Andy?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythia

 

The Delphic oracle is not an exact pagan example of the Christian mode of 'speaking in tongues', but there are indirect connections.

 

1.

In the second paragraph down, we read, "One common view has been that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she spoke gibberish which priests reshaped into the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature."

This is not dissimilar to Christian tongues, where one believer speaks and another is given an interpretation of what was spoken.

 

2.

In the third paragraph of the, 'Oracular Procedure' section, we read, "...and the cleft from which emerged the sacred Pneuma."

The New Testament was written in Koine, a widely-used form of Greek. If you go here... http://interlinear.biblos.com/acts/2.htm you'll find an account of Pentecost, given in transliterated Koine/English. Please note that in verse 4, we see the words, 'Pneumatos' and 'Pneuma'. If you click on the blue bullet points to the immediate right of each word, you'll come to a more detailed explanation of what they mean and where they can be found in the Bible.

Once again, there is a connection between the pagan pneuma of Delphi and the Christian pneuma of the Holy Spirit, albeit a general overlap of descriptive terms.

 

3.

Here... http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/NTpdf/act16.pdf ...in verses 16 to 18, we read how the Christian pneuma of the Holy Spirit overcame the pagan pneuma puthOnos (second line of verse 16, second and third words) , when Paul casts out the maid's spirit of divination.

The word, puthOnos is significant here. This is same kind of Pythian spirit found at Delphi, manifesting itself in the servant girl. Paul's ability to command it shows that Jesus' words (Luke 10:16-20) had come to pass. Now, we are not told if the maid spoke in a 'tongue' when she divined the future, but, given that the name of the spirit is the same as the Delphic one, it's certainly a possibility.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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Just a Scripture verse and a question. 1 Cor. 14:19 (NIV) "But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." Other than a private prayer language, why does anyone bother?

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Just a Scripture verse and a question. 1 Cor. 14:19 (NIV) "But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." Other than a private prayer language, why does anyone bother?

 

 

It shows status within the group. Every religion needs some sort of esoteric behavior to use with which to gain status and show signs of "moving up." Tongues is also a sign that you have truly been "baptized by the Holy Ghost." And , as such, many paths to leadership in many churches are blocked for you unless you speak in tongues.

 

I also think that, combined with an interpreter of tongues, the utterances are considered prophesying. Paul basically said don't speak in tongues in the assembly unless someone is there to interpret. Of course, I don't know how participants in the glossolalia free-for-alls we see in many churches would explain this. I'm sure they have their excuses.

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Just a Scripture verse and a question. 1 Cor. 14:19 (NIV) "But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." Other than a private prayer language, why does anyone bother?

 

You are right. If everyone is speaking the same language in the church, then it becomes a private prayer language. However at a time in history that a church is made up of people from various languages. Then "Speak in Tongue" is useful. To its maximum extent when one person speaks "in tongue", all others will hear their own first language. Yet from my speculation, it seems that this is only described once, that is, the Pentecost scenario. At other times, it seems that the church can still rely on some gifted persons to translate the "in tongue" language to those who don't speak the same language as the preacher.

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Hawkins, you are aware that nobody speaks in a foreign language, right? Unless you count baby talk as an actual language, they are only babbling.

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