Thursday, April 12, 2007
Part Three: Speaking in Tongues in the Middle Ages
I would like to claim my long silence on this blog as a metaphor for the historical silence of speaking in tongues during the middle ages. But truth be told, I did not think that far ahead. I just got busy these past few weeks and did not have time to update. But now I’m back and beg your pardon if I left any of you hanging.
Section 1: Speaking in Tongues in the Early Middle Ages
As you may have guess from my statement above, there is not any mention of speaking in tongues during the early Middle Ages (at least that my research could find). There could be several explanations for this relative silencing of tongues:
1) The Middle Ages were not known as a flourishing time of written works (or much else), in fact the opposite was true. The decline in recorded accounts of speaking in tongues may be, at least partially, attributed to an overall decline in scholarship during this time (it wasn’t called the dark ages for nothing).
2) The expansion of the
3) The expansion of Christianity throughout most of the western world made tongues less necessary. It is important to note that, although tongues is not referred to during this time, there is a plethora of accounts of other miraculous gifts such as healings and prophetic visions occurring during the Middle Ages.
These are just a few possible explanations for the lack of historical evidence for speaking in tongues during the early Middle Ages. Let me be clear in saying that these are theories at best. I cannot be sure that any of these accounts are definitely true. What I can be sure about is that there was no cessationist theology that developed during the Early Middle Ages and many miracles other than tongues did occur. So I would say that there should be no difficulty for Christians to believe that tongues continued beyond the first 4 centuries of the church regardless of this apparent “gap.”
Section 2: Speaking in Tongues in the Late Middle Ages
Many cases of speaking in tongues occurring in the Late Middle Ages took place among the various monastic orders of the time. Here is a list of accounts of speaking in tongues during this period:
St. Dominic (1170-1221)
While travelling from
St. Anthony of
Other ascetics that spoke in tongues include Angelus Clarenus and St. Clare of Montefalco.
My next post will bring us up through the reformation and one step closer to the real meat and potatoes of this subject, modern day Pentecostalism.
[i] Tr. Placid Conway, O.P., Lives of the Brethren of the Order of Preachers 1206-1259, II, x (London: Blackfriars Publications., 1955).