Re: Gift of languages

Ken Hall writes:
>         I do not consider the gift of interpreting other languages as a
> spiritual
> gift.  To me, interpreting other languages is an entirely natural process.  It
> requires much time, effort, and education.  Anyone on earth, Christian or
> non-Christian, can interpret other language.  A certain talent of language
> interpretation couldn't hurt, but that talent would be a natural enduement
> and not supplied by the Holy Spirit.

Are we not in danger of confusing several separate issues here?

Paul talk of glossolalia - speaking in a language which the speaker
himself does not understand, apparently - which was a feature of certain
elements in the early Church.

Luke (or the writer/editor of Acts) seems to be talking about a
different idea in his portrayal of Pentecost. The "languages" there seem
to be a symbolic way of prefiguring the preaching of the Gospel "to all
nations". Whether it actually happened in anything like the way he
describes, I would personally very much doubt. The symbol has made the
event, or at least that particular aspect of the event, a lot of NT
scholars would say.

At the same time the idea of "understanding" all languages is itself a
fine symbol. Solomon was meant to have been so wise that he understood
even the animals. Apollonius of Tyana (at least in Philostratus' Life of
him) was also meant to understand "all languages" - though when people
spoke to him in anything but Greek he needed an interpreter! Perhaps the
idea is that of understanding someone without needing words - rather akin
to the way a good meditation teacher can see how a person is getting on
just by looking at them and hearing the quality of their voice. It
doubtless also refers to the idea contained in Wordsworth's

       Think you mid all this mighty sum
       Of things forever speaking,
       That nothing of itself will come,
       But we must still be seeking?

I don't think we should confuse these with actual linguistic ability or
training as we normally encounter them.

John Richards                                       Stackpole Elidor (UK)