Thursday, September 20, 2007

Glossolalia is commonly called "speaking in tongues". For other uses of "speaking in tongues", see Speaking in Tongues (disambiguation).
"Tongues" redirects here. For the body part, see Tongue, for other uses, see Tongue (disambiguation).
Glossolalia (from Greek glossa γλώσσα "tongue, language" and lalô λαλώ "speak, speaking") is the practice of making unintelligible utterances, often as part of religious practices. Frederic William Farrar first used the word glossolalia in 1879.
Xenoglossy "the phenomenon of uttering intelligible words of a language unknown to the speaker" which some authors use interchangeably with glossolalia meaning "speak in tongues", while others use it to differentiate whether or not the utterances are intelligible as a natural language.
While occurrences of glossolalia are widespread and well documented, there is considerable debate within religious communities (principally Christian) and elsewhere as to both its status (the extent to which glossolalic utterances can be considered to form language), and its source (whether glossolalia is a natural, supernatural, or spiritual phenomenon).
The origin of the modern charismatic Christian concept of speaking in tongues is the miracle of Pentecost, recounted in the New Testament book of Acts, in which Jesus' apostles were said to be filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages foreign to themselves, but which could be understood by members of the linguistically diverse audience.

New Testament
Twentieth-century Pentecostalism was not the earliest instance of "speaking in tongues" in church history; rather, there were antecedents in several centuries of the Christian era, e.g.

150 AD - Justin Martyr wrote "For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to this present time." . Irving further stated that "tongues are a great instrument for personal edification, however mysterious it may seem to us." Church history
The modern practice of glossolalia is often said to have originated around the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States. The city of Topeka, Kansas is often cited as the center of the Pentecostal movement and the resurgence of glossolalia in the Church. Charles Fox Parham, a holiness preacher and founder of Bethel Bible College in 1900, is given the credit to being the one who influenced modern Pentecostalism. During what has been called a sermon by Parham, a bold student named Agnes Ozman asked him for prayer and the laying on of hands to specifically ask God to fill her with the Holy Spirit. This was the night of New Year's Eve, 1900. She became the first of many students to experience glossolalia, coincidentally in the first hours of the twentieth century. Parham followed within the next few days, and before the end of January 1901, glossolalia was being discussed in newspapers as a sign of the second advent of Pentecost.
Parham now found himself as the leader of the movement and traveled to church meetings around the country to preach [in the terminology of that era] about holiness, divine healing, healing by faith, the laying on of hands and prayer, sanctification by faith, and the signs of baptism of the Holy Ghost and Fire, the most prominent being speaking in tongues.

Contemporary Christian
The discussion regarding tongues has permeated many branches of the Christian Church, particularly since the widespread Charismatic Movement in the 1960s. Many books have been published either defending the practice.
Like almost any other issue, it mostly depends on how centralized a church is, or how much they regulate policy for assemblies and individuals. Most churches fall into one of the following categories of the theological spectrum: 1) pentecostals - believe glossolia is the initial evidence of receipt of the full blessing of the Holy Spirit; 2) charismatics - believe glossolia is not necessarily evidence of salvation, but is edifying and encouraged; 3) cessationalists and dispensationalists believe glossolia is not evidence of salvation, and that most or all authentic miraculous gifts have either ceased abruptly, or were phased out gradually, sometime after the death of the "last" apostle John, and sometime before or around the time the bible was completed and canonised.

Aside from Christians, certain religious groups also have been observed to practice some form of theopneustic glossolalia.
Glossolalia is evident in the renowned ancient Oracle of Delphi, whereby a priestess of the god Apollo (called a sibyl) speaks in unintelligible utterances, supposedly through the spirit of Apollo in her.
Certain Gnostic magical texts from the Roman period have written on them unintelligible syllables like "t t t t t t t t n n n n n n n n n d d d d d d d..." etc. It is believed that these may be transliterations of the sorts of sounds made during glossolalia. The Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians also features a hymn of (mostly) unintelligible syllables which is thought to be an early example of Christian glossolalia.
In the 19th century, Spiritism was developed into a religion of its own thanks to the work of Allan Kardec and the phenomenon was seen as one of the self-evident manifestations of Spirits. Spiritists argued that some cases were actually cases of Xenoglossia (when one speaks in a language unknown to him). However, the importance attributed to it, as well as its frequency, has since decreased significantly. Present-day spiritists regard the phenomenon pointless, as it does not convey any intelligible message to those present.
Glossolalia has also been observed in shamanism and the Voodoo religion of Haiti.

Glossolalia Other religions

Glossolalia Scientific perspectives
The syllables that make up instances of glossolalia typically appear to be unpatterned reorganizations of phonemes from the primary language of the person uttering the syllables; thus, the glossolalia of people from Russia, the United Kingdom, and Brazil all sound quite different from each other, but vaguely resemble the Russian, English, and Portuguese languages, respectively. Many linguists generally regard most glossolalia as lacking any identifiable semantics, syntax, or morphology.

The first scientific study of glossolalia was done by psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin as part of his research into the linguistic behaviour of schizophrenic patients. In 1927, G.B. Cutten published his book Speaking with tongues; historically and psychologically considered, which was regarded a standard in medical literature for many years. Like Kraepelin, he linked glossolalia to schizophrenia and hysteria. In 1972, John Kildahl took a different psychological perspective in his book The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues. He stated that glossolalia was not necessarily a symptom of a mental illness and that glossolalists suffer less from stress. He did observe, however, that glossolalists tend to have more need of authority figures and appeared to have had more crises in their lives.
A 2003 statistical study by the religious journal Pastoral Psychology concluded that, among the 991 male evangelical clergy sampled, glossolalia was associated with stable extraversion, and contrary to some theories, completely unrelated to psychopathology.
Nicholas Spanos described glossolalia as an acquired ability, for which no real trance is needed (Glossolalia as Learned Behavior: An Experimental Demonstration, 1987).

In 2006, at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers, under the direction of Andrew Newberg, MD, completed the world's first brain-scan study of a group of individuals while they were speaking in tongues. The study concluded that while participants were exercising glossolalia, activity in the language centers of the brain actually decreased, while activity in the emotional centers of the brain increased. During this study, researchers observed significant cerebral blood flow changes among individuals while exercising glossolalia, concluding that the observed changes were consistent with some of the described aspects of glossolalia. Further, the researchers observed no changes in any language areas, suggesting that glossolalia is not associated with usual language function. One of the researchers is a practitioner of glossolalia and a self-described "born-again Christian".
New York Times wrote about the study, and it has been published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Volume 148, Issue 1, 22 November 2006, Pages 67-71.

See also

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