From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 26 1998 - 12:49:15 EST

At 11:31 AM -0600 2/26/98, Eric Weiss wrote:
>I'm in a discussion re: the LALEIN hETERAIS GLWSSAIS of Acts 2:4 ff. I
>suggest that a good case can be made that there was perhaps a miracle of
>hearing going on here, in addition to - and maybe even INSTEAD OF - a
>miracle of foreign languages being spoken.
>At Acts 10:46, it's written that the people at Cornelius' house that
>Peter had been speaking to - presumably in their own language - began
>LALOUNTWN GLWSSAIS - and Peter says in the next verse that they received
>the Holy Spirit "as (hWS) also we [did]" - and in Acts 11:15 Peter says
>the Holy Spirit fell on them "just as (hWSPER) also upon us in the
>beginning" and at 11:17 he says that God gave them the "same" (ISOS)
>gift. In other words, Peter thus seems to be identically equating (hWS
>KAI / hWSPER KAI) the reception/outpouring of the Spirit at Cornelius'
>house with what happened to him and the (119?) others at the Day of
>Pentecost in Acts 2. This to me weakens some persons' arguments that
>LALEIN hETERAIS GLWSSAIS means something distinctly different than
>LALEIN GLWSSAIS - an argument I think some use to say that I Corinthians
>12-14 is speaking about something different than Acts 2.
>In addition to my above argument that LALEIN hETERIAS GLWSSAIS can be
>equated with LALEIN GLWSSAIS, it seems the situation in Acts 2 favors a
>miracle of hearing rather than a miracle of speaking a true foreign
>language by Peter and the others which they had not naturally learned.
>For with 120 people (some argue that it was only the 12 that spoke in
>tongues here, but that's another issue!) speaking about 12 or 16
>different languages all at once, it's difficult to see how the (3,000 or
>more?) gathered people could distinctly hear their own languages being
>spoken. So I'd argue that there had to be a miracle of hearing at least
>in addition to a miracle of speaking, and that since some thought it was
>just drunken babbling, the understanding in their own languages may
>exclusively have been a miracle of hearing because the tongues that
>Peter and the others were speaking were not understood languages - in
>other words, no different than at Acts 10 and I Corinthians 12-14.
>The reason I ask this is the person I'm discussing this with has
>responded each time that the context of Acts 2 (I assume he means the
>Greek wording, too) strongly favors that Peter and the 119 were actually
>speaking the languages of the gathered people there - that it was
>definitely a miracle of speaking known languages, though it may have
>been accompanied by a miracle of hearing, too. He suggested I read
>Gordon Fee on this (I guess he means God's Empowering Presence as well
>as Fee's NICNT commentary on I Corinthians).
>Not having easy access to these volumes of Fee's, can anyone comment on
>whether the context and language of Acts 2 favors that they spoke real
>languages as opposed to my argument/suggestion above that it was perhaps
>a miracle of hearing and that the miraculous tongues of Acts 2 was no
>different than the Corinthian speech - i.e., it was
>ecstatic/Spirit-inspired speech, but not speech in known human

I have discussed this previously on this list, but not very recently. At
the moment I don't seem to be able to use the search engine at, so I'm not quite sure when that was. Let me say at the
outset that (a) my view of this passage really does not depend upon the
reading of the Greek text but upon an perspective on Lucan composition and
theology, and (b) Eric's way of reading this as an actual miracle of
hearing is possible and would be consistent with the way I read it. I will
just briefly say what I have in mind and drop it, because I think this gets
quickly into hermeneutical questions that are not appropriate to this forum.

I think the event as described by Luke in Acts 2 is in one dimension a
symbolic event; by that I don't mean that it didn't happen, but that either
(a) Luke has telescoped into his narrative of the event a theological
perspective on salvation history involving the impact of the descent of the
Spirit and the empowering of the apostles as a reversal of the dispersal of
the nations in Genesis 10 (Babel): the beginning of the reunification of
humanity is heralded in this event; or (b) the event took place exactly as
Luke describes it and also has this symbolic dimension as not only a
historical event but a historic event.

In any case I don't think that hETERAIS GLWSSAIS really has any
relationship to the glossolalia of 1 Cor 12-14 other than that it is a
manifestation of the Holy Spirit; it is not, I think, ecstatic speech
unintelligible to the ordinary ear as a cultic phenomenon. What Luke is
describing makes sense only as a communication of the gospel to people of
all nations, people that do not speak Aramaic or Greek; as I read it Luke
is building into his description of the Pentecost event an understanding of
the meaning of the descent of the Spirit as the beginning of a new era and
a process of worldwide evangelization that is still going on today.

But enough and probably too much.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:07 EDT