Tongues, Confusion of @ at Babel, the cause of the early separation of mankind and their division into nations. The descendants of Noah built a tower to prevent their dispersion; but God "confounded their language" Genesis:11:1-8), and they were scattered over the whole earth. Till this time "the whole earth was of one language and of one speech." (See SHINAR.)
Tongues, Gift of @ granted on the day of Pentecost Acts:2:4), in fulfilment of a promise Christ had made to his disciples Mark:16:17). What this gift actually was has been a subject of much discussion. Some have argued that it was merely an outward sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit among the disciples, typifying his manifold gifts, and showing that salvation was to be extended to all nations. But the words of Luke Acts:2:9) clearly show that the various peoples in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost did really hear themselves addressed in their own special language with which they were naturally acquainted (comp. Joel:2:28-29). Among the gifts of the Spirit the apostle enumerates in 1Corinthians:12:10-14:30, "divers kinds of tongues" and the "interpretation of tongues." This "gift" was a different manifestation of the Spirit from that on Pentecost, although it resembled it in many particulars. Tongues were to be "a sign to them that believe not."
TONGUES, CONFUSION OF @ - The unity of the human race is most clearly implied, if not positively asserted, in the Mosaic writings. Unity of language is assumed by the sacred historian apparently as a corollary of the unity of race. (This statement is confirmed by philologists.) No explanation is given of the origin of speech, but its exercise is evidently regarded as coeval with the creation of man. The original unity of speech was restored in Noah. Disturbing causes were, however, early at work to dissolve this twofold union of community and speech. The human family endeavored b check the tendency to separation by the establishment of a great central edifice and a city which should serve as the metropolis of the whole world. The project was defeated by the interposition of Jehovah, who determined to "confound their language, so that they might not understand one another’s speech." Contemporaneously with, and perhaps as the result of, this confusion of tongues, the people were scattered abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth, and the memory of the great event was preserved in the name Babel. [BABEL. TOWER OF] Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar . --In the Borsippa inscription of Nebuchadnezzar there is an allusion to the confusion of tongues. "We say for the other, that is, this edifice, the house of the Seven Lights of the Earth, the most ancient monument of Borsippa, a former king built it [they reckon forty-two ages], but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words . Since that time the earthquake and the thunder had dispersed its sun-dried clay; the bricks of the casing had been split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps." It is unnecessary to assume that the judgment inflicted on the builders of Babel amounted to a loss, or even a suspension of articulate speech. The desired object would be equally attained by a miraculous forestallment of those dialectical differences of language which are constantly in process of production. The elements of the one original language may have remained, but so disguised by variations of pronunciation and by the introduction of new combinations as to be practically obliterated. The confusion of tongues and the dispersion of nations are spoken of in the Bible as contemporaneous events. The divergence of the various families into distinct tribes and nations ran parallel with the divergence of speech into dialects and languages, and thus the tenth chapter of Genesis is posterior in historical sequence to the events recorded in the eleventh chapter.
TONGUES, GIFT OF @ - I. glotta , or glossa , the word employed throughout the New Testament for the gift now under consideration, is used-- (1) for the bodily organ of speech; (2) for a foreign word imported and half-naturalized in Greek; (3) in Hellenistic Greek, for "speech" or "language." The received traditional view, which starts from the third meaning, and sees in the gift of tongues a distinctly linguistic power, is the more correct one. II. The chief passages from which we have to draw our conclusion as to the nature and purpose of the gift in question are-- Mark:16:17) Acts:2:1-13Acts:10:46Acts:19:6 ) ( 2Corinthians:12:1; 2Corinthians:14:1) ... III. The promise of a new power coming from the divine Spirit, giving not only comfort and insight into truth, but fresh powers of utterance of some kind, appears once and again in our Lord’s teaching. The disciples are to take no thought what they shall speak, for the spirit of their Father shall speak in them. Matthew:10:19-20; Mark:13:11) The lips of Galilean peasants are to speak freely and boldly before kings. The promise of our Lord to his disciples, "They shall speak with new tongues," Mark:16:17) was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when cloven tongues like fire sat upon the disciples, and "every man heard them speak in his own language." Acts:2:1-12) IV. The wonder of the day of Pentecost is, in its broad features, familiar enough to us. What views have men actually taken of a phenomenon so marvellous and exceptional? The prevalent belief of the Church has been that in the Pentecostal gift the disciples received a supernatural knowledge of all such languages as they needed for their work as evangelists. The knowledge was permanent. Widely diffused as this belief has been it must be remembered that it goes beyond the data with which the New Testament supplies us. Such instance of the gift recorded in the Acts connects it not with the work of teaching, but with that of praise and adoration; not with the normal order of men’s lives but with exceptional epochs in them. The speech of St. Peter which follows, like meet other speeches addressed to a Jerusalem audience, was spoken apparently in Aramaic. When St. Paul, who "spake with tongues more than all," was at Lystra, there is no mention made of his using the language of Lycaonia. It is almost implied that he did not understand it. Acts:14:11) Not one word in the discussion of spiritual gifts in 1Corinthians:12-14 implies that the gift was of this nature, or given for this purpose. Nor, it may be added, within the limits assigned the providence of God to the working of the apostolic Church,was such a gift necessary. Aramaic, Greek, Latin, the three languages of the inscription on the cross were media, of intercourse throughout the empire. Some interpreters have seen their way to another solution of the difficulty by changing the character of the miracle. It lay not in any new character bestowed on the speakers, but in the impression produced on the hearers. Words which the Galilean disciples uttered in their own tongue were heard as in their native speech by those who listened. There are, it is believed, weighty reasons against both the earlier and later forms of this hypothesis. It is at variance with the distinct statement of Acts:2:4) "They began to speak with other tongues." It at once multiplies the miracle and degrades its character. Not the 120 disciples, but the whole multitude of many thousands, are in this case the subjects of it. It involves an element of falsehood. The miracle, on this view, was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact. It is altogether inapplicable to the phenomena of ( 1Corinthians:14:1) ... Critics of a negative school have, as might be expected, adopted the easier course of rejecting the narrative either altogether or in part. What then, are, the facts actually brought before us? What inferences may be legitimately drawn from them? (a) The utterance of words by the disciples, in other languages than their own Galilean Aramaic, is distinctly asserted. (b) The words spoken appear to have been determined, not by the will of the speakers, but by the Spirit which "gave them utterance." (c) The word used, apoftheggesthai , has in the LXX. a special association with the oracular speech of true or false prophets, and appears to imply a peculiar, perhaps physical, solemn intonation. Comp. ( 1Chronicles:25:1; Ezekiel:13:9) (d) The "tongues" were used as an instrument not of teaching, but of praise. (e) Those who spoke them seemed to others to be under the influence of some strong excitement, "full of new wine." (f) Questions as to the mode of operation of a power above the common laws of bodily or mental life lead us to a region where our words should be "wary and few." It must be remembered then, that in all likelihood such words as they then uttered had been heard by the disciples before. The difference was that before the Galilean peasants had stood in that crowd neither heeding nor understanding nor remembering what they heard, still less able to reproduce it; now they had the power of speaking it clearly and freely. The divine work would in this case take the form of a supernatural exaltation of the memory, not of imparting a miraculous knowledge of words never heard before. (g) The gift of tongues, the ecstatic burst of praise, is definitely asserted to be a fulfillment of the prediction of Joel:2:28) We are led, therefore, to look for that which answers to the gift of tongues in the other element of prophecy which is included in the Old Testament use of the word; and this is found in the ecstatic praise, the burst of sang. ( 1Samuel:10:5-131Samuel:19:20-24; 1Chronicles:25:3) (h) The other instances in the Acts offer essentially the same phenomena. By implication in ch. Acts:14:16-10) by express statement in ch. Acts:10:47Acts:11:15-17Acts:19:6 ) it belongs to special critical epochs. V. The First Epistle to the Corinthians supplies fuller data. The spiritual gifts are classified and compared arranged, apparently, according to their worth. The facts which may be gathered are briefly these: The phenomena of the gift of tongues were not confined to one church or section of a church. The comparison of gifts, in both the lists given by St. Paul -- ( 1Corinthians:12:8-101Corinthians:12:28-30) --places that of tongues and the interpretation of tongues lowest in the scale. The main characteristic of the "tongue" is that it is unintelligible. The man "speaks mysteries," prays, blesses, gives thanks, in the tongue, ( 1Corinthians:14:15-16) but no one understands him. The peculiar nature of the gift leads the apostle into what at first appears a contradiction. "Tongues are for a sign," not to believers, but to those who do not believe; yet the effect on unbelievers is not that of attracting, but of repelling. They involve of necessity a disturbance of the equilibrium between the understanding and the feeling. Therefore it is that, for those who believe already, prophecy is the greater gift. The "tongues," however, must be regarded as real languages. The "divers kinds of tongues." ( 1Corinthians:12:28) the "tongues of men," ( 1Corinthians:13:1) point to differences of some kind and it is easier to conceive of these as differences of language than as belonging to utterances all equally mild and inarticulate. Connected with the "tongues" there was the corresponding power of interpretation. VI. Traces of the gift are found in the Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians. From the Pastoral Epistles, from those of St. Peter and St. John, they are altogether absent, and this is in itself significant. It is probable, however, that the disappearance of the "tongues" was gradual. There must have been a time when "tongues" were still heard, though less frequently and with less striking results. For the most part, however, the pierce which they had filled in the worship of the Church was supplied by the "hymns and spiritual songs" of the succeeding age, after this, within the Church we lose nearly all traces of them. The gift of the day of Pentecost belonged to a critical epoch, not to the continuous life of the Church. It implied a disturbance of the equilibrium of man’s normal state but it was not the instrument for building up the Church.