Re: 1Cor. 14:14

From: Stephen Carlson (
Date: Mon Oct 09 1995 - 09:08:19 EDT wrote:
> So in conclusion, the Bible really gives no support for any "unknown
> prayer language." In fact, every evidence points to the fact that these
> tongues were a known language that could and should be interpreted (cf. 1
> Cor. 14:28).

That the technical terms GLWSSAI, GENH GLWSSWN, and EN GLWSSHi (-AIS)
LALEIN (always anarthrous) refers to xenolalia, as suggested supra, is
a minority position.

I think it is fairly clear that those terms referred to ecstatic utterances
["GLWSSA," BADG (2d ed. 1979) "There is no doubt about the thing referred
to, namely the broken speech of persons in religious ecstasy."]. This is
not surprising, given the cultural context of the Corthinian church. [See
33 (1995) (explaining why the Corinthians would be so eager about tongues
and including an example of Attic GLOTTAI).]

Textually, this seems to be the case. GLWSSAI are sometimes described as
"of angels" (TWN AGGELWN 1Co12:10). A charism (hERMHNEIA GLWSSWN 13:1) is
needed to interpret them (14:13). As a "prayer language," that may be
inferred from 14:28 (hEATWi DE LALEITW KAI TWi QEWi).

For a good scholarly treatment and bibliography, I recommend C.M. Robeck,
Jr., "Tongues," A DICTIONARY OF PAUL & HIS LETTERS (1993).

Stephen Carlson

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