Speaking in tongues

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The Theotokos and the Twelve Apostles – Fifty Days after the Resurrection of Christ, awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit
An icon depicting the Theotokos with the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit, indicated by "cloven tongues like as of fire" (Acts 2:3) above their heads

Speaking in tongues, also known as glossolalia, is an activity or practice in which people utter words or speech-like sounds, often thought by believers to be languages unknown to the speaker. One definition used by linguists is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning. In some cases, as part of religious practice, some believe it to be a divine language unknown to the speaker.[1] Glossolalia is practiced in Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity,[2][3] as well as in other religions.[4][5]

Sometimes a distinction is made between "glossolalia" and "xenolalia" or "xenoglossy", which specifically relates to the belief that the language being spoken is a natural language previously unknown to the speaker.[6]


Glossolalia is a borrowing of the γλωσσολαλία (glossolalía), which is a compound of the γλῶσσα (glossa) 'tongue, language'[7] and λαλέω (laleō) 'to speak, talk, chat, prattle, make a sound'.[8] The Greek expression (in various forms) appears in the New Testament in the books of Acts and First Corinthians. In Acts 2, the followers of Christ receive the Holy Spirit and speak in the languages of at least fifteen countries or ethnic groups.

The exact phrase speaking in tongues has been used at least since the translation of the New Testament into Middle English in the Wycliffe Bible in the 14th century.[9] Frederic Farrar first used the word glossolalia in 1879.[10]


In 1972, William J. Samarin, a linguist from the University of Toronto, published a thorough assessment of Pentecostal glossolalia that became a classic work on its linguistic characteristics.[11] His assessment was based on a large sample of glossolalia recorded in public and private Christian meetings in Italy, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Canada, and the United States over the course of five years; his wide range of subjects included the Puerto Ricans of the Bronx, the snake handlers of the Appalachians and the spiritual Christians from Russia in Los Angeles (Pryguny, Dukh-i-zhizniki).

Samarin found that glossolalic speech does resemble human language in some respects. The speaker uses accent, rhythm, intonation and pauses to break up the speech into distinct units. Each unit is itself made up of syllables, the syllables being formed from consonants and vowels found in a language known to the speaker:

It is verbal behaviour that consists of using a certain number of consonants and vowels ... in a limited number of syllables that in turn are organized into larger units that are taken apart and rearranged pseudogrammatically ... with variations in pitch, volume, speed and intensity.[12]

[Glossolalia] consists of strings of syllables, made up of sounds taken from all those that the speaker knows, put together more or less haphazardly but emerging nevertheless as word-like and sentence-like units because of realistic, language-like rhythm and melody.[13]

That the sounds are taken from the set of sounds already known to the speaker is confirmed by others. Felicitas Goodman, a psychological anthropologist and linguist, also found that the speech of glossolalists reflected the patterns of speech of the speaker's native language.[14] These findings were confirmed by Kavan (2004).[15]

Samarin found that the resemblance to human language was merely on the surface and so concluded that glossolalia is "only a facade of language".[16] He reached this conclusion because the syllable string did not form words, the stream of speech was not internally organized, and – most importantly of all – there was no systematic relationship between units of speech and concepts. Humans use language to communicate but glossolalia does not. Therefore, he concluded that glossolalia is not "a specimen of human language because it is neither internally organized nor systematically related to the world man perceives".[16] On the basis of his linguistic analysis, Samarin defined Pentecostal glossolalia as "meaningless but phonologically structured human utterance, believed by the speaker to be a real language but bearing no systematic resemblance to any natural language, living or dead".[17]

Felicitas Goodman studied a number of Pentecostal communities in the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico; these included English-, Spanish- and Mayan-speaking groups. She compared what she found with recordings of non-Christian rituals from Africa, Borneo, Indonesia and Japan. She took into account both the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and the supra-segmental elements (rhythm, accent, intonation) and concluded that there was no distinction between what was practised by the Pentecostal Protestants and the followers of other religions.[18]


Classical antiquity[edit]

It was a commonplace idea within the Ancient world that divine beings spoke languages different from human languages, and historians of religion have identified references to esoteric speech in Greco-Roman literature that resemble glossolalia, sometimes explained as angelic or divine language.[19] An example is the account in the Testament of Job, a non-canonical elaboration of the Book of Job, where the daughters of Job are described as being given sashes enabling them to speak and sing in angelic languages.[20]

According to Dale B. Martin, glossolalia was accorded high status in the ancient world due to its association with the divine. Alexander of Abonoteichus may have exhibited glossolalia during his episodes of prophetic ecstasy.[21] Neoplatonist philosopher Iamblichus linked glossolalia to prophecy, writing that prophecy was divine spirit possession that "emits words which are not understood by those that utter them; for they pronounce them, as it is said, with an insane mouth (mainomenό stomati) and are wholly subservient, and entirely yield themselves to the energy of the predominating God".[22]

In his writings on early Christianity, the Greek philosopher Celsus includes an account of Christian glossolalia. Celsus describes prophecies made by several Christians in Palestine and Phoenicia of which he writes, "Having brandished these threats they then go on to add incomprehensible, incoherent, and utterly obscure utterances, the meaning of which no intelligent person could discover: for they are meaningless and nonsensical, and give a chance for any fool or sorcerer to take the words in whatever sense he likes".[21]

References to speaking in tongues by the Church fathers are rare. Except for Irenaeus' 2nd-century reference to many in the church speaking all kinds of languages "through the Spirit", and Tertullian's reference in 207 AD to the spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues being encountered in his day, there are no other known first-hand accounts of glossolalia, and very few second-hand accounts among their writings.[23]

1100 to 1900[edit]

  • 12th century – Bernard of Clairvaux explained that speaking tongues be no longer present because there be greater miracles – the transformed lives of believers.[24]
  • 12th century – Hildegard of Bingen is said to have possessed the gift of visions and prophecy and to have been able to speak and write in Latin without having learned the language.[25]
  • 1265 – Thomas Aquinas wrote about the gift of tongues in the New Testament, which he understood to be an ability to speak every language, given for the purposes of missionary work. He explained that Christ did not have this gift because his mission was to the Jews, "nor does each one of the faithful now speak save in one tongue"; for "no one speaks in the tongues of all nations, because the Church herself already speaks the languages of all nations".[26]
  • 15th century – The Moravians are referred to by detractors as having spoken in tongues. John Roche, a contemporary critic, claimed that the Moravians "commonly broke into some disconnected Jargon, which they often passed upon the vulgar, 'as the exuberant and resistless Evacuations of the Spirit'".[27]
  • 17th century – The French Prophets: The Camisards also spoke sometimes in languages that were unknown: "Several persons of both Sexes", James Du Bois of Montpellier recalled, "I have heard in their Extasies pronounce certain words, which seem'd to the Standers-by, to be some Foreign Language". These utterances were sometimes accompanied by the gift of interpretation exercised, in Du Bois' experience, by the same person who had spoken in tongues.[28][29]
  • 17th century – Early Quakers, such as Edward Burrough, make mention of tongues-speaking in their meetings: "We spoke with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and His Spirit led us".[30]
  • 1817 – In Germany, Gustav von Below, an aristocratic officer of the Prussian Guard, and his brothers, founded a religious movement based on their estates in Pomerania, which may have included speaking in tongues.[31]
  • 19th century – Edward Irving and the Catholic Apostolic Church. Edward Irving, a minister in the Church of Scotland, writes of a woman who would "speak at great length, and with superhuman strength, in an unknown tongue, to the great astonishment of all who heard, and to her own great edification and enjoyment in God".[32] Irving further stated that "tongues are a great instrument for personal edification, however mysterious it may seem to us".[33]
  • 19th century – The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), contains extensive references to the practice of speaking in tongues by Brigham Young, Joseph Smith and many others.[34][35] Sidney Rigdon had disagreements with Alexander Campbell regarding speaking in tongues, and later joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Speaking in tongues was recorded in contemporary sources, both hostile and sympathetic to Mormonism, by at least 1830.[36] The practice was soon widespread amongst Mormons, with many rank and file church members believing they were speaking the language of Adam; some of the hostility towards Mormons stemmed from those of other faiths regarding speaking in tongues unfavorably, especially when practiced by children.[36] At the 1836 dedication of the Kirtland Temple the dedicatory prayer asked that God grant them the gift of tongues and at the end of the service Brigham Young spoke in tongues, another elder interpreted it and then gave his own exhortation in tongues. Many other worship experiences in the Kirtland Temple prior to and after the dedication included references to people speaking and interpreting tongues. In describing the beliefs of the church in the Wentworth letter (1842), Joseph Smith identified a belief of the "gift of tongues" and "interpretation of tongues". The practice of glossolalia by the Latter-day Saints was widespread but after an initial burst of enthusiastic growth circa 1830–34, seems to have been somewhat more restrained than in many other contemporary religious movements.[36] Young, Smith, and numerous other early leaders frequently cautioned against the public exercise of glossolalia unless there be someone who could exercise the corresponding spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues, so that listeners could be edified by what had been said. Although the Latter-day Saints believe that speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues is alive and well in the Church, modern Mormons are much more likely to point to the way in which LDS missionaries are trained and learn foreign languages quickly, and are able to communicate rapidly on their missions, as evidence of the manifestation of this gift. This interpretation stems from a 1900 General Conference sermon by Joseph F. Smith which discouraged glossolalia; subsequent leaders echoed this recommendation for about a decade afterwards and subsequently the practice had largely died out amongst Mormons by the 1930s and '40s.[36]

20th century[edit]

Headline about the "Weird babel of tongues" and other behavior at Azusa Street, from a 1906 Los Angeles Times newspaper

During the 20th century, glossolalia primarily became associated with Pentecostalism and the later charismatic movement. Preachers in the Holiness Movement preachers Charles Parham and William Seymour are credited as co-founders of the movement. Parham and Seymour taught that "baptism of the Holy Spirit was not the blessing of sanctification but rather a third work of grace that was accompanied by the experience of tongues".[3] It was Parham who formulated the doctrine of "initial evidence". After studying the Bible, Parham came to the conclusion that speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence that one had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

In 1900, Parham opened Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, America, where he taught initial evidence, a Charismatic belief about how to initiate the practice. During a service on 1 January 1901, a student named Agnes Ozman asked for prayer and the laying on of hands to specifically ask God to fill her with the Holy Spirit. She became the first of many students to experience glossolalia, in the first hours of the 20th century. Parham followed within the next few days. Parham called his new movement the apostolic faith. In 1905, he moved to Houston and opened a Bible school there. One of his students was William Seymour, an African-American preacher. In 1906, Seymour traveled to Los Angeles where his preaching ignited the Azusa Street Revival. This revival is considered the birth of the global Pentecostal movement. According to the first issue of William Seymour's newsletter, The Apostolic Faith, from 1906:

A Mohammedan, a Soudanese by birth, a man who is an interpreter and speaks sixteen languages, came into the meetings at Azusa Street and the Lord gave him messages which none but himself could understand. He identified, interpreted and wrote a number of the languages.[37]

Parham and his early followers believed that speaking in tongues was xenoglossia, and some followers traveled to foreign countries and tried to use the gift to share the Gospel with non-English-speaking people. From the time of the Azusa Street revival and among early participants in the Pentecostal movement, there were many accounts of individuals hearing their own languages spoken 'in tongues'. The majority of Pentecostals and Charismatics consider speaking in tongues to primarily be divine, or the "language of angels", rather than human languages.[38] In the years following the Azusa Street revival Pentecostals who went to the mission field found that they were unable to speak in the language of the local inhabitants at will when they spoke in tongues in strange lands.[39]

The revival at Azusa Street lasted until around 1915. From it grew many new Pentecostal churches as people visited the services in Los Angeles and took their newfound beliefs to communities around the United States and abroad. During the 20th century, glossolalia became an important part of the identity of these religious groups. During the 1960s, the charismatic movement within the mainline Protestant churches and among charismatic Roman Catholics adopted some Pentecostal beliefs, and the practice of glossolalia spread to other Christian denominations. The discussion regarding tongues has permeated many branches of Protestantism, particularly since the widespread charismatic movement in the 1960s. Many books have been published either defending[40] or attacking[41] the practice.


Theological explanations[edit]

In Christianity, a supernatural explanation for glossolalia is advocated by some and rejected by others. Proponents of each viewpoint use the biblical writings and historical arguments to support their positions.

  • Glossolalists could, apart from those practicing glossolalia, also mean all those Christians who believe that the Pentecostal/charismatic glossolalia practiced today is the "speaking in tongues" described in the New Testament. They believe that it is a miraculous charism or spiritual gift. Glossolalists claim that these tongues can be both real, unlearned languages (i.e., xenoglossia)[42][43] as well as a "language of the spirit", a "heavenly language", or perhaps the language of angels.[44]
  • Cessationists believe that all the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased to occur early in Christian history, and therefore that the speaking in tongues as practiced by Charismatic Christians is the learned utterance of non-linguistic syllables. According to this belief, it is neither xenoglossia nor miraculous, but rather taught behavior, possibly self-induced. These believe that what the New Testament described as "speaking in tongues" was xenoglossia, a miraculous spiritual gift through which the speaker could communicate in natural languages not previously studied.
  • A third position claims that glossolalia does exist, but it is a form of prelest, not the "speaking in tongues" described in the New Testament. It believes glossolalia is part of a mediumistic technique where practitioners are manifesting genuine spiritual power, but this power is not necessarily of the Holy Spirit.[4]
  • A fourth position conceivably exists, which believes the practice of "glossolalia" to be a folk practice and different from the legitimate New Testament spiritual gift of speaking/interpreting real languages. It is therefore not out of a belief that "miracles have ceased" (i.e., cessationism) that causes this group to discredit the supernatural origins of particular modern expressions of "glossolalia", but it is rather out of a belief that glossolalists have misunderstood Scripture and wrongly attributed to the Holy Spirit something that may be explained naturalistically.[45]

Biblical practice[edit]

There are five places in the New Testament where speaking in tongues is referred to explicitly:

  • Mark 16:17 (though this is a disputed text), which records the instructions of Christ to the apostles, including his description that "they will speak with new tongues" as a sign that would follow "them that believe" in him.
  • Acts 2, which describes an occurrence of speaking in tongues in Jerusalem at Pentecost, though with various interpretations. Specifically, "every man heard them speak in his own language" and wondered "how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
  • Acts 10:46, when the household of Cornelius in Caesarea spoke in tongues, and those present compared it to the speaking in tongues that occurred at Pentecost.
  • Acts 19:6, when a group of approximately a dozen men spoke in tongues in Ephesus as they received the Holy Spirit while the apostle Paul laid his hands upon them.
  • 1 Cor 12, 13, 14, where Paul discusses speaking in "various kinds of tongues" as part of his wider discussion of the gifts of the Spirit; his remarks shed some light on his own speaking in tongues as well as how the gift of speaking in tongues was to be used in the church.

Other verses by inference may be considered to refer to "speaking in tongues", such as Isaiah 28:11, Romans 8:26 and Jude 20.

The biblical account of Pentecost in the second chapter of the book of Acts describes the sound of a mighty rushing wind and "divided tongues like fire" coming to rest on the apostles.[46] The text further describes that "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages". It goes on to say in verses 5–11 that when the Apostles spoke, each person in attendance "heard their own language being spoken". Therefore, the gift of speaking in tongues refers to the Apostles' speaking languages that the people listening heard as "them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God". Glossolalists and cessationists both recognize this as xenoglossia, a miraculous ability that marked their baptism in the Holy Spirit. Something similar (although perhaps not xenoglossia) took place on at least two subsequent occasions, in Caesarea and Ephesus.

Glossolalists and cessationists generally agree that the primary purpose of the gift of speaking in tongues was to mark the Holy Spirit being poured out. At Pentecost the Apostle Peter declared that this gift, which was making some in the audience ridicule the disciples as drunks, be the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel, which described that God would pour out his Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17).[43]

Despite these commonalities, there are significant variations in interpretation.

  • Universal. The traditional Pentecostal view is that every Christian should expect to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, the distinctive mark of which is glossolalia.[47] While most Protestants agree that baptism in the Holy Spirit is integral to being a Christian, others[48] believe that it is not separable from conversion and no longer marked by glossolalia. Pentecostals appeal to the declaration of the Apostle Peter at Pentecost, that "the gift of the Holy Spirit" was "for you and for your children and for all who are far off" (Acts 2:38–39). Cessationists reply that the gift of speaking in tongues was never for all (1 Cor 12:30). In response to those who say that the baptism in the Holy Spirit be not a separate experience from conversion, Pentecostals appeal to the question asked by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian believers "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts 19:2).
  • One gift. Different aspects of speaking in tongues appear in Acts and 1 Corinthians, such that the Assemblies of God declare that the gift in Acts "is the same in essence as the gift of tongues" in 1 Corinthians "but different in purpose and use".[47] They distinguish between (private) speech in tongues when receiving the gift of the Spirit, and (public) speech in tongues for the benefit of the church. Others assert that the gift in Acts was "not a different phenomenon" but the same gift being displayed under varying circumstances.[49] The same description – "speaking in tongues" – is used in both Acts and 1 Corinthians, and in both cases the speech is in an unlearned language.
  • Direction. The New Testament describes tongues largely as speech addressed to God, but also as something that can potentially be interpreted into human language, thereby "edifying the hearers" (1 Cor 14:5, 13). At Pentecost and Caesarea the speakers were praising God (Acts 2:11; 10:46). Paul referred to praying, singing praise, and giving thanks in tongues (1 Cor 14:14–17), as well as to the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 14:5), and instructed those speaking in tongues to pray for the ability to interpret their tongues so that others could understand them (1 Cor 14:13). While some people limit speaking in tongues to speech addressed to God – "prayer or praise",[42] others claim that speaking in tongues be the revelation from God to the church, and when interpreted into human language by those embued with the gift of interpretation of tongues for the benefit of others present, may be considered equivalent to prophecy.[50]
  • Music. Musical interludes of glossolalia are sometimes described as singing in the Spirit. Some hold that singing in the Spirit is identified with singing in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:13–19,[51][52] which they hold to be "spiritual or spirited singing", as opposed to "communicative or impactive singing" which Paul refers to as "singing with the understanding".[53]
  • Sign for unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22). Some assume that tongues are "a sign for unbelievers that they might believe",[54] and so advocate it as a means of evangelism. Others point out that Paul quotes Isaiah to show that "when God speaks to people in language they cannot understand, it is quite evidently a sign of God's judgment"; so if unbelievers are baffled by a church service they cannot understand because tongues are spoken without being interpreted, that is a "sign of God's attitude", "a sign of judgment".[55] Some identify the tongues in Acts 2 as the primary example of tongues as signs for unbelievers.
  • Comprehension. Some say that speaking in tongues was "not understood by the speaker".[42] Others assert that "the tongues-speaker normally understood his own foreign-language message".[56] This last comment seems to have been made by someone confusing the "gift of tongues" with the "gift of the interpretation of tongues" , which is specified as a different gift in the New Testament, but one that can be given to a person who also has the gift of tongues. In that case, a person understands a message in tongues that he has previously spoken in an unknown language.

Pentecostal and charismatic practices[edit]

People speaking in Portuguese and languages during a Christian prayer as an assembly of gods on a hill in Tingua, Rio de Janeiro

Baptism with the Holy Spirit is regarded by the Holiness Pentecostals as being the third work of grace, following the new birth (first work of grace) and entire sanctification (second work of grace).[57][3] Holiness Pentecostals teach that this third work of grace is accompanied with glossolalia.[57][3]

Because Pentecostal and charismatic beliefs are not monolithic, there is not complete theological agreement on speaking in tongues.[citation needed] Generally, followers believe that speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift that can be manifested as either a human language or a heavenly supernatural language in three ways:[58]

  • The "sign of tongues" refers to xenoglossia, wherein followers believe someone is speaking a language they have never learned.
  • The "gift of tongues" refers to a glossolalic utterance spoken by an individual and addressed to a congregation of, typically, other believers.
  • "Praying in the spirit" is typically used to refer to glossolalia as part of personal prayer.[59]

Many Pentecostals and charismatics quote Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 14 which established guidelines on the public use of glossolalia in the church at Corinth although the exegesis of this passage and the extent to which these instructions are followed is a matter of academic debate.[60]

The gift of tongues is often referred to as a "message in tongues".[61] Practitioners believe that this use of glossolalia requires an interpretation so that the gathered congregation can understand the message, which is accomplished by the interpretation of tongues.[citation needed] There are two schools of thought concerning the nature of a message in tongues:

  • One school of thought believes it is always directed to God as prayer, praise, or thanksgiving but is spoken in for the hearing and edification of the congregation.[citation needed]
  • The other school of thought believes that a message in tongues can be a prophetic utterance inspired by the Holy Spirit.[62] In this case, the speaker delivers a message to the congregation on behalf of God.[citation needed]

In addition to praying in the Spirit, many Pentecostal and charismatic churches practice what is known as singing in the Spirit.[63][64][65]

Interpretation of tongues[edit]

In Christian theology, the interpretation of tongues is one of the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. This gift is used in conjunction with that of the gift of tongues – the supernatural ability to speak in a language (tongue) unknown to the speaker. The gift of interpretation is the supernatural enablement to express in an intelligible language an utterance spoken in an unknown tongue. This is not learned but imparted by the Holy Spirit; therefore, it should not be confused with the acquired skill of language interpretation. While cessationist Christians believe that this miraculous charism has ceased, Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians believe that this gift continues to operate within the church.[66] Much of what is known about this gift was recorded by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14. In this passage, guidelines for the proper use of the gift of tongues were given. In order for the gift of tongues to be beneficial to the edification of the church, such supernatural utterances were to be interpreted into the language of the gathered Christians. If no one among the gathered Christians possessed the gift of interpretation, then the gift of tongues was not to be publicly exercised. Those possessing the gift of tongues were encouraged to pray for the ability to interpret.[66]

Non-Christian practice[edit]

Other religious groups have been observed to practice some form of theopneustic glossolalia. It is perhaps most commonly in Paganism, Shamanism, and other mediumistic religious practices.[4] In Japan, the God Light Association believed that glossolalia could cause adherents to recall past lives.[5]

Glossolalia has been postulated as an explanation for the Voynich manuscript.[67]

In the 19th century, Spiritism was developed by the work of Allan Kardec, and the practice was seen as one of the self-evident manifestations of spirits. Spiritists argued that some cases were actually cases of xenoglossia.

Medical research[edit]

Glossolalia is classified as a non-neurogenic language disorder.[68] Most people exhibiting glossolalia do not have a neuropsychiatric disorder.[69]

Neuroimaging of brain activity during glossolalia does not show activity in the language areas of the brain.[69][70] In other words, it may be characterized by a specific brain activity[71][72] and it can be a learned behaviour.[73][71]

A 1973 experimental study highlighted the existence of two basic types of glossolalia: a static form which tends to a somewhat coaction to repetitiveness and a more dynamic one which tends to free association of speech-like elements.[74][71]

A study done by the American Journal of Human Biology found that speaking in tongues is associated with both a reduction in circulatory cortisol, and enhancements in alpha-amylase enzyme activity – two common biomarkers of stress reduction that can be measured in saliva.[75] Several sociological studies report various social benefits of engaging in Pentecostal glossolalia,[76][77] such as an increase in self-confidence.[77]

As of April 2021, further studies are needed to corroborate the 1980s view of glossolaly with more sensitive measures of outcome, by using the more recent techniques of neuroimaging.[71] [better source needed]


Analysis of glossolalics reveals a pseudo-language that lacks consistent syntax, semantic meaning, usually rhythmic or poetic in nature and is similar to the speaker's native tongue. Samples of glossolalia show a lack of consistency needed for meaningful comparison or translation. It also is not used to communicate between fellow glossolalia speakers, although the meaning might be translated by the leader involved, in line with and supportive of whatever message or teaching had been given that day, in some way giving divine legitimacy to what is said. However it's more common that others than the leader translate.[78]

Various Christian groups have criticized the Pentecostal and charismatic movement for paying too much attention to mystical manifestations, such as glossolalia.[79]

In certain evangelical and other Protestant Churches, this experience was understood as a gift to speak foreign languages without having learned them (xenoglossy) for evangelization, the end of which was prophesied in the First Epistle to the Corinthians in chapter 13, an end which would correspond to the end of the writing of the Bible.[80][81]

Theologians have recalled that on the day of Pentecost, the disciples who received a baptism of the Holy Spirit, did not speak in unknown tongues, but praised God in other tongues that non-believers in various parts of the world could understand, making it a useful gift for evangelism.[82][83]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colman, Andrew M., ed. (2009). "Glossolalian". A Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  2. ^ Lum, Kathryn Gin; Harvey, Paul (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American History. Oxford University Press. p. 801. ISBN 978-0190856892. ... would prove influential on the development of black Pentecostalism in the early twentieth century, as glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, would be understood as a third work of grace following Holiness and receipt of the Holy Spirit.
  3. ^ a b c d The Encyclopedia of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 1999. p. 415. ISBN 978-9004116955. While in Houston, Texas, where he had moved his headquarters, Parham came into contact with William Seymour (1870–1922), an African-American Baptist-Holiness preacher. Seymour took from Parham the teaching that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not the blessing of sanctification but rather a third work of grace that was accompanied by the experience of tongues
  4. ^ a b c Rose, Seraphim (1997). Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. St Herman Press. p. 137. ISBN 188790400X. There is scarcely to be found an example of "speaking in tongues" in any even nominally Christian context for over 1,600 years after the time of Paul...and yet this "gift" is possessed by numerous shamans and witch doctors of primitive religions, as well as by modern spritistics mediums and the demonically possessed.
  5. ^ a b Whelan, Christal (2007). "Shifting Paradigms and Mediating Media: Redefining a New Religion as "Rational" in Contemporary Society". Nova Religio. 10 (3): 54–72. doi:10.1525/nr.2007.10.3.54.
  6. ^ Cheryl Bridges Johns and Frank Macchia, "Glossolalia", The Encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill, 1999–2003), 413.
  7. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "γλῶσσα". In Jones, Henry Stuart; McKenzie, Roderick (eds.). A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  8. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "λαλέω". In Jones, Henry Stuart; McKenzie, Roderick (eds.). A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  9. ^ Mark 16:17
  10. ^ "glossolalia". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). 1989.
  11. ^ Samarin, William J. (1972). Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism. New York: Macmillan. OCLC 308527.[page needed]
  12. ^ Samarin, William J. (1972). Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism. New York: Macmillan. p. 120. OCLC 308527.
  13. ^ Samarin, William J. (1972). "Sociolinguistic vs. Neurophysiological Explanations for Glossolalia: Comment on Goodman's Paper". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 11 (3): 293–296. doi:10.2307/1384556. JSTOR 1384556.
  14. ^ Goodman, Felicitas D. (1969). "Phonetic Analysis of Glossolalia in Four Cultural Settings". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 8 (2): 227–35. doi:10.2307/1384336. JSTOR 1384336.
  15. ^ New Zealand Linguistic Society: Heather Kavan Massey University: Heather Kavan "We don't know what we're saying, but it's profound"
  16. ^ a b Samarin, William J. (1972). Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism. New York: Macmillan. p. 128. OCLC 308527.
  17. ^ Samarin, William J. (1972). Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism. New York: Macmillan. p. 2. OCLC 308527.
  18. ^ Goodman, Felicitas D. (1972). Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226303246. OCLC 393056.[page needed]
  19. ^ Petruzzello, Melissa. "Glossolalia". Encyclopedia Britannice. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  20. ^ Martin 1995, pp. 88–89.
  21. ^ a b Martin 1995, p. 90.
  22. ^ Martin 1995, p. 91.
  23. ^ Warfield, Benjamin B. (1918). Counterfeit Miracles. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 10. ISBN 978-0851511665. OCLC 3977281. The writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers contain no clear and certain allusions to miracle working or to the exercise of the charismatic gifts, contemporaneously with themselves.
  24. ^ "Premier Serrmon Pour Le Jour de L'Ascension. Sur l'Evangile du jour." Archived 7 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine "3. Il y des signes plus certains et des miracles plus salutaires que ceux-là, ce sont les mérites. Et je ne crois pas qu'il soit difficile de savoir en quel sens on doit entendre les miracles dont il est parlé en cet endroit, pour qu'ils soient des signes certains de foi, et par conséquent de salut. En effet, la première oeuvre de la foi, opérant par la charité, c'est la componction de l'âme, car elle chasse évidemment les démons, en déracinant les péchés de notre coeur. Quant aux langues nouvelles que doivent parler les hommes, qui croient en Jésus-Christ, cela a lieu, lorsque le langage du vieil homme cesse de se trouver sur nos lèvres, et que nous ne parlons plus la langue antique de nos premiers parents, qui cherchaient dans des paroles pleines de malice à s'excuser de leurs péchés".
  25. ^ L. Carlyle, May (February 1956). "A Survey of Glossolalia and Related Phenomena in NonChristian Religions". American Anthropologist. 58 (1): 75. doi:10.1525/aa.1956.58.1.02a00060.
  26. ^ Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Question 176.
  27. ^ Burgess, Stanley M. (1991). "Medieval and Modern Western Churches". In Gary B. McGee (ed.). Initial evidence: historical and biblical perspectives on the Pentecostal doctrine of spirit baptism. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 32. ISBN 978-0943575414. OCLC 24380326.
  28. ^ Lacy, John (1707). A Cry from the Desert. p. 32. OCLC 81008302.
  29. ^ Hamilton, Michael Pollock (1975). The charismatic movement. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 75. ISBN 978-0802834539. OCLC 1008209.
  30. ^ Burrough, Edward (1831) [1659]. "Epistle to the Reader" in Fox, George. The great mystery of the great whore unfolded; and Antichrist's kingdom revealed unto destruction. The Works of George Fox. 3. p. 13. OCLC 12877488.
  31. ^ Hogue, Richard (2010). Tongues: A Theological History of Christian Glossolalia. Tate Publishing. p. 211.
  32. ^ Irving, Edward (January 1832). "Facts Connected With Recent Manifestations of Spiritual Gifts". Fraser's Magazine. 4 (24): 754–761. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  33. ^ Carlyle, Gavin, ed. (1865). "On the Gifts of the Holy Ghost". The Collected Writings of Edward Irving (Volume 5 ed.). Alexander Strahan. p. 548. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  34. ^ "Speaking in Tongues and the Mormon Church". www.frontiernet.net. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000.
  35. ^ "Speaking in Tongues". Archived from the original (MediaWiki) on 17 October 2008.
  36. ^ a b c d Copeland, Lee. "Speaking in Tongues in the Restoration Churches" (PDF). Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 24 (1).
  37. ^ Square brackets indicate faded parts that are no longer readable.
  38. ^ D. Swincer, Tongues: Genuine Biblical Languages: A Careful Construct of the Nature, Purpose, and Operation of the Gift of Tongues for the Church (2016) pp. 88–90 [ISBN missing]
  39. ^ Faupel, D. William. Glossolalia as Foreign Language: An Investigation of the Twentieth-Century Pentecostal Claim. "31-1-05". Archived from the original on 29 April 2005. Retrieved 27 April 2005.
  40. ^ Example: Christenson, Laurence, Speaking in tongues: and its significance for the church, Minneapolis, MN : Dimension Books, 1968.[ISBN missing][page needed]
  41. ^ Example: Gromacki, Robert Glenn, The Modern Tongues Movement, Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1973, ISBN 0875523048 (Originally published 1967)[page needed]
  42. ^ a b c Grudem, Wayne A. (1994). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press. p. 1070. ISBN 978-0851106526. OCLC 29952151.
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  44. ^ Grudem, Wayne A. (1994). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press. p. 1072. ISBN 978-0851106526. OCLC 29952151.
  45. ^ Carey, Benedict (7 November 2006). "A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues". The New York Times.
  46. ^ Geisler, Norman L. (11 February 2022). "Was it Only the Apostles Who Spoke in Tongues at Pentecost?". Christian Publishing House. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  47. ^ a b Assemblies of God (1961). "Statement of Fundamental Truths" (PDF). General Council of the Assemblies of God of the United States. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 June 2006. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  48. ^ "Baptism with the Holy Spirit". christians.eu. 22 July 2015.
  49. ^ Grudem, Wayne A. (1994). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press. p. 1073. ISBN 978-0851106526. OCLC 29952151.
  50. ^ Masters, Peter; John C. Whitcomb (1988). The Charismatic Phenomenon. London: Wakeman Trust. p. 49. ISBN 978-1870855013. OCLC 20720229.
  51. ^ Bible 1 Corinthians 14:13–19
  52. ^ Johns, Donald A. (1988). Stanley M. Burgess; Gary B. McGee; Patrick H. Alexander (eds.). Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 788. ISBN 978-0310441007. OCLC 18496801. Cited by Riss, Richard M. (28 July 1995). "Singing in the Spirit in the Holiness, Pentecostal, Latter Rain, and Charismatic Movements". Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  53. ^ Alford, Delton L. (1988). Stanley M. Burgess; Gary B. McGee; Patrick H. Alexander (eds.). Dictionary of Pentecostal and charismatic movements. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 690. ISBN 978-0310441007. OCLC 18496801. Cited by Riss, Richard M. (28 July 1995). "Singing in the Spirit in the Holiness, Pentecostal, Latter Rain, and Charismatic Movements". Retrieved 9 June 2009.
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  55. ^ Grudem, Wayne A. (1994). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press. p. 1075. ISBN 978-0851106526. OCLC 29952151.
  56. ^ Masters, Peter; John C. Whitcomb (1988). The Charismatic Phenomenon. London: Wakeman Trust. p. 106. ISBN 978-1870855013. OCLC 20720229.
  57. ^ a b The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers – Issue 56. West Tennessee Historical Society. 2002. p. 41. Seymour's holiness background suggests that Pentecostalism had roots in the holiness movement of the late nineteenth century. The holiness movement embraced the Wesleyan doctrine of "sanctification" or the second work of grace, subsequent to conversion. Pentecostalism added a third work of grace, called the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is often accompanied by glossolalia.
  58. ^ Casanova, Amanda (6 April 2018). "10 Things Christians Should Know about the Pentecostal Church". Christianity.com. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  59. ^ Wright, N. T. (2008). Acts for Everyone, Part One. Louisville: WJK. pp. 210–211.
  60. ^ Richardson, William Edwin (June 1983). "Liturgical Order and Glossolalia. 1 Corinthians 14:26c–33a and its Implications". Andrews University. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  61. ^ Gee, Donald (1993). Pentecostal Experience. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House. p. 154. ISBN 978-0882434544.
  62. ^ Chantry, Walter J. (1973). Signs of the Apostles. Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth Trust. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0851511757.
  63. ^ Mookgo S. Kgatle (2019). "Singing as a therapeutic agent in Pentecostal worship". Verbum et Ecclesia. 40. doi:10.4102/ve.v40i1.1910. hdl:10500/26433. S2CID 150696864.
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  65. ^ "Religion – Christianity – Pentecostalism". BBC. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
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  75. ^ Lynn, Christopher Dana; Paris, Jason; Frye, Cheryl Anne; Schell, Lawrence M. (2010). "Salivary Alpha-Amylase and Cortisol Among Pentecostals on a Worship and Nonworship Day". American Journal of Human Biology. 22 (6): 819–822. doi:10.1002/ajhb.21088. ISSN 1042-0533. PMC 3609410. PMID 20878966.
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  78. ^ Semenyna, Scott; Schmaltz, Rodney. "Glossolalia meets glosso-psychology: why speaking in tongues persists in charismatic Christian and Pentecostal gatherings". Gale Academic Onefile. Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
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  81. ^ Mal Couch, A Bible Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles, Kregel Academic, USA, 1999, p. 38
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Further reading[edit]

  • Cartledge, Mark J., ed. (2006). Speaking in Tongues: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives. Paternoster Press.
  • Ensley, Eddie (1977). Sounds of wonder: Speaking in tongues in the Catholic tradition. New York: Paulist Press.
  • Goodman, Felicitas D. (1972). Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-cultural Study of Glossolalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Gromacki, Robert G. (1976). The Modern Tongues Movement. Baker Books. ISBN 978-0801037085.
  • Harris, Ralph W. (1973). Spoken by the Spirit: Documented Accounts of 'Other Tongues' from Arabic to Zulu. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House.
  • Hoekema, Anthony A. (1966). What about tongue-speaking?. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  • Johnson, Luke Timothy (1998). Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity: A Missing Dimension in New Testament Studies. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN 0800631293.
  • Keener, Craig (2011). Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. Vol. 1–2. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
  • Kelsey, Morton T. (1964). Tongue-Speaking: An Experiment in Religious Experience. New York: Doubleday.
  • Kostelnik, Joseph (1981). Prayer in the Spirit: The Missing Link. Prophetic Voice Publications. ISBN 9798764898568.
  • MacArthur, John F. (1993). Charismatic Chaos. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0310575726.
  • Malony, H. Newton; Lovekin, A. Adams (1985). Glossolalia: Behavioral Science Perspectives on Speaking in Tongues. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195035690.
  • May, Jordan D. (2013). Global Witness to Pentecost: The Testimony of 'Other Tongues'. Cleveland, TN: CPT Press.
  • Mills, Watson E. (1986). Speaking in Tongues: A Guide to Research on Glossolalia. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
  • Roberson, Dave (22 January 1999). The Walk of the Spirit — The Walk of Power: The Vital Role of Praying in Tongues (PDF). Dave Roberson Ministries. ISBN 978-1-929339-10-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2013.
  • Roybal, Rory (2005). Miracles or Magic?. Xulon Press. ISBN 9781597812504.
  • Ruthven, Jon (2012). On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Post-biblical Miracles (2nd ed.). Word & Spirit Press.
  • Sadler, Paul M. (2001). The Supernatural Sign Gifts of the Acts Period (PDF). Berean Bible Society. ISBN 1-893874-28-1. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  • Sherrill, John L. (1964). They Speak with Other Tongues. New York: McGraw Hill.
  • Stronstad, Roger (1984). The charismatic theology of St. Luke. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  • Tarr, Del (2010). The Foolishness of God: A Linguist Looks at the Mystery of Tongues. Springfield, MO: Access Group Publishers.
  • Yun, Koo D. (2003). Baptism in the Holy Spirit. New York: University Press of America.

External links[edit]