Calvin Speaks in an Unknown Tongue?

by jdarlack ~ September 16th, 2009

Christianity Today on Calvin

Christianity Today on Calvin

A friend* recently mentioned that Ben Witherington posted to the Christianity Today Blog about John Calvin as “A Man of the Bible“. In that post Witherington refers to his experience reading Calvin’s Institutes and being particularly impressed by Calvin’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit:

I have fond memories of working carefully through Calvin’s Institutes for the first time, and being especially surprised by and taken with his profound theology of the Holy Spirit. I remember reading in Gordon-Conwell’s newspaper a rather interesting historical curio from a letter of Calvin about how one morning he woke up and found himself speaking in lingua barbaria. The article went on to speculate that Calvin may have spoken in tongues!

Well, given the curiosity of my friend about this quote, and the fact that I’m a librarian at Gordon-Conwell and have access to the institution’s archives, I thought it would be worth tracking down this “historical curio.” Below is the text as I scanned it from The Paper. (Here is an image file of the actual printed article.)

Quent Warford, “Calvin Speaks Unknown Tongue,” The Paper: Student Paper of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary 1.6 (March 24, 1975): 6.

Forasmuch as there has been much inquiry concerning the discovery at the Episcopal Divinity School, I feel obligated to shed what light that I can on the matter. After, all, molehills do have a way of being made into mountains, given enough discussion.

Quite frankly, I personally find any notion preposterous, to the effect that Calvin experienced glossolalia. Therefore, the only logical thing to do is to take the advice of my dear Church History professor, and go to the primary source.

The volume which allegedly contains the account of Calvin’s ecstatic utterances is in the library at the Episcopal Divinity School. It is his biography by his friend and confidant, Theodore Beza, entitled De Vitam Iohannes Cauvin. It is contained in

The Vault, the Rare Book Room at E.D.S. Entering The Vault involves a great deal of red tape, and the invocation of the higher powers of the B.T.I. Prof. Hiles’ dining-hall pass also came in handy.

De Vitam Ihohannes Cauvin was published posthumously by Beza. All it

contains concerning glossolalia is a small entry, confided to Beza by Calvin, shortly before the latter’s death. On several oc­casions, Calvin, in his devotions, found himself uttering a lingua non nota et cognota mini. That is, the language was not known or understood by him.

Himself a skilled linguist, Calvin set about to discover the orthography of the utterance. Unable to trace it, he confided to Beza that although the language was Hebraic in character, he yet feared that he had spoken a lingua barbarorum. That is, he feared having spoken in an accursed tongue, such as what was spoken by the Canaanites.

The matter was only a minor one to Beza, who allots it only a few sentences in De Vitam Iohannes Cauvin. Calvin’s concern was only a matter of linguistics. Therefore, there is not enough primary source material to build a case one way or the other.

My roommate, Ken Macari, was most helpful to me in interpreting this passage from Beza, since Latin is more native to him than to me. Yet I must say, however, that I found Calvin’s Latin to be very smooth, elegant, and Vergilian.

So, that’s it. A colleague of mine (who happened to be teaching Hebrew at the seminary at the time of publication) does not remember this article, and he wonders if it was a prank in the first place. I’ve searched Beza’s and Calvin’s works on the Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts, but found nothing. If anyone knows anything about this work by Beza, please comment about it. I’m not sure if I’m motivated enough to try to get into “the Vault” myself.

*This friend is a student at GCTS and an employee at the Lego Store in the Burlington Mall. As George on Seinfeld would say “Worlds are colliding!”

Patristic Witnesses to Speaking in Tongues

by jdarlack ~ September 15th, 2009

Roger Pearse at the Thoughts on Antiquity blog has posted about an ongoing project to catalog and translate all references to speaking in tongues in the church fathers, undertaken by Charles Sullivan, a “patristic enthusiast.”   Dr. Sullivan then plans on publishing A History of the Gift of Tongues as a work reflecting the results of his 20 years of labor! I am sure that this work will be a welcome resource among Pentecostal scholars (and those interested in such phenomenon in the early church).

R.R.Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the LXX (PDF)

by jdarlack ~ August 14th, 2009

I’ve recently made scans of R. R. Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus), volumes 1 and 2 (Cambridge University Press, 1904-1906).

This is a handy little work that contains valuable textual notes on the Greek text of Isaiah (in vol. 2). The first volume contains an English translation of Isaiah, according to Alexandrinus, presented in parallel with a translation of the Hebrew text (this is how it had to be done before BibleWorks). The PDF consists of images scanned at a fairly high resolution. The English text has been OCR’ed and bookmarked, so the English commentary is searchable.  It’s a pretty big file (54MB). This book is old, and it is fairly difficult to obtain, but it’s proved valuable to me in the past.

The file is available for download here:

Feel free to upload it to your own sites or blogs and pass it along.

It’s in Public Domain, and I’d love to see the scans put to good use!

Forthcoming: Christ as Agent of Creation in the NT

by jdarlack ~ July 15th, 2009

Nijay Gupta points out that Sean McDonough (professor of NT at Gordon-Conwell) will soon be publishing a new book on “Christ as Agent of Creation in the New Testament.”

Here is a blurb from the description (which Nijay provides in full):

This book examines the New Testament teaching that Christ was the one through whom God made the world. While scholars usually interpret this doctrine as arising from the equation of Jesus and the Wisdom of God, Sean McDonough argues that it had its roots in the church’s memories of Jesus’ miracles. These memories, coupled with the experience of spiritual renewal in the early church, established Jesus as the definitive agent of God’s new creation in the New Testament writings and the teachings of the Early Church.

I am very much looking forward to seeing this book in production! I spent a few years helping Dr. McDonough with bibliographic research on the topic. I’ve taken several classes with him, and he was one of my MA thesis supervisors.

The Secret Underground World of Lego

by jdarlack ~ June 5th, 2009

I’ve not played with my Legos nearly enough lately! This little snippet has reminded me to get back to it! Anyway, this is a great little description of one AFOL’s transition out of the “dark ages.”* On the one hand Hillel’s story mirrors mine… On the other hand, at least he had the excuse of having a 4-year-old kid to get him back into it.

* Disclaimer: There is a little bit of “language” in this video, so I wouldn’t watch in front of the kids.

HT: Bill Ward

Solomon’s Temple in Lego

by jdarlack ~ June 5th, 2009

I just came across the “Assembling Solomon’s Temple” blog via GodBricks. I must say, that this Lego model of Solomon’s Temple is absolutely brilliant!

Picture of Temple

Inside View

High Priest

Check out Thomas’s blog for more pics.

help with an article?

by jdarlack ~ May 9th, 2009

William R. Baker (of Cincinnati Christian University) recently published an article in the Tyndale Bulletin titled “Searching for the Holy Spirit in the Epistle of James: Is ‘Wisdom’ Equivalent?” (TynBul 59.2 [November 2008]). I believe that this is a revision of a paper that Dr. Baker presented at ETS (available at Reclaiming the Mind).

Baker’s article addresses a fascinating take on the the function of “wisdom” in the Epistle of James proposed by J. A. Kirk (”The Meaning of Wisdom in James: Examination of a Hypothesis,” NTS 16 [1969]: 24-38). Kirk proposes that James uses “wisdom” in a way that is “more or less interchangeable with that in which other writers of the New Testament use the concept of the Holy Spirit” (Kirk, 24). Baker takes issue with Kirk’s hypothesis in his ETS paper.

I’d love to get a hold of this article, but this particular issue is missing from the library’s shelf at GCTS! Drat! So, if anyone out there has a copy and can send me a scan, I’ll be your best friend! :)

Incidently, Mariam Kamell of The Greek Geek’s Bletherings (and coauthor with C. Blomberg of the “James” volume of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) did her master’s thesis on the topic: “Wisdom in James: An Examination of the Roles of Wisdom and the Holy Spirit” (TREN).

Jacked Up Journal Prices

by jdarlack ~ March 19th, 2009

Roger Pearse at Thoughts on Antiquity has posted a letter to the VP of Wiley Publishing by varous theological libraries in the UK and in Asia regarding the astronomically increased prices of theological journals. Read the letter here.


I hope to post more on this in the near future.

TLG Facelift; Updates to Perseus

by jdarlack ~ March 18th, 2009

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) has been updated with a new look. From the website:

The TLG site has just been updated. The new site was designed by Marcie Hague. Cindy Moore put the finishing touches and added the extensions to the TLG databases. The new page includes a brief history of the TLG illustrated by a timeline, a link to Google Maps showing TLG Real-Time Access and FAQs for subscribers. The Abridged version has been expanded with more than 600 works from Migne’s Patrologia Graeca (MPG). The lemmatized search engine is now available on the Abridged version.

The full-version of TLG is only available to subscribers or individuals who are using their institution’s subscription. As the paragraph above mentions, however, there is an abridged version that is available to all which includes a subset of the works available in the subscription version (which now includes over 600 works from Migne’s Patrologia Graeca.

My co-blogger on the BibleWorks blog, Michael Hanel, reports that Perseus has recently made some updates to its library (see here). In addition to a new job announcement at Perseus, there have also been some improvements and additions:

  • Many improvements to the Art & Archaeology data and interface. You can now search the A&A data and image captions.
  • Euclid’s Elements have been added, as well as a large number of Plutarch texts, edited by Bernadotte Perrin. Links to these texts can be found on the Greek and Roman collection page.

Here are links to the additions from Euclid:

Below is a full list of the items added in Plutarch:

Panoramic Views on

by jdarlack ~ March 12th, 2009

Ephesus in Ephesus

I stumbled upon - an interesting site. In essence, it collects 360 degree panoramic views of various locations throughout the world, cataloged by location and linked with Google Maps. Point and click on the image above to move the picture around (both to the left and the right and up and down). This site has a great deal of potential for teachers. It allows you to virtually step inside a location and look around.

Here’s what the site says about itself:

Bringing the world to a wide audience in a new way, is a guide that lets you step inside. We bring the full spectrum of high-resolution immersive, virtual reality experience to the web. 360 Cities brings you closer to the reality of a place than has ever been possible before…

The site’s pretty nifty. The image embedded above is of ruins in Ephesus (Turkey). Below are some links to other countries of interest.

Here’s the page that’s for the Middle East in general.

There’s a similar downloadable program that is available for free from Ted Hildebrandt (professor at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.). Get Lost in Jerusalem (550 MB download) provides similar 360 degree views of various locations in Jerusalem that allow you to take a virtual tour. If you don’t know about Ted’s Biblical eSources site, you need to take a look. He has some absolutely fantastic resources available! His bibliography on Proverbs is a thing of beauty!