Below completes my translation of Opusculum 60 from Gautier’s edition of Psellos’s Theologica. Psellos continues his discussion on speaking in tongues and prophecy, in characteristically learned fashion. He cites an additional oration of Gregory (Or. 16) along with citing several classical myths and texts. Finally he extrapolates the discussion on spiritual gifts and applies it to his own context: a school with different subjects.
Regarding current day debates, Psellos makes no comment about the gift of tongues ceasing, nor the gift of prophecy. He does note in the prior part that the gift of prophecy was “most especially active during the time of Paul,” and he feels the need to apply this passage here to his own context after explaining what Paul and Gregory meant. His discussion of free-will is also noteworthy. Rather than understanding the spiritual gifts as something which “overcome” the will of the person, they are rather subject to the person’s discretion to encourage our restrain. He draws a contrast here with several classical examples (Ino and the Korybantes), where people lost control and gave themselves up in an ecstatic frenzy.
Other people, who receive gifts like administering souls, or interpreting tongues, think less about spiritual gifts, but those who speak in different languages, since they clearly have the breath of the Spirit on their tongue, make a big deal about their gift and think that they are superior to others because of their spiritual gift. The apostle Paul evaluates their position lower, as the least important in the Church. Thus the great father makes this clear when he says, “I would rather speak five words in the Church with understanding than thousands with the indistinct sound of a trumpet.”*
For he reveals both sides of the spiritual gifts. By saying, “five words” he refers to those that teach from themselves, without speaking in different languages, but by the “thousands of indistinct words” he indicates those who speak in all sorts of languages, who nevertheless do not encourage the divine soldier onto the spiritual battle. Thus the apostle exhorts these (if I may speak thus) overly-wordy ones to not entirely bridle the impulse for speaking in tongues. Nor does he encourage them, if they begin to speak, to stretch the message out for a long time, until they come upon every single language. Rather they are to speak in tongues, and then when the Spirit wills, another should be moved by the Spirit to interpret, as if they have “given up horsemanship”* to stand.
Lest any of these rabble-rousers say that bridling speech is for another, and that it’s not their responsibility to reign in the length of their message, he continues saying, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Cor 14:32) The prophetic gift does not alter your faculty of reason, he says, nor does this gift of the Spirit displace your mind, nor does it throw you into some sort of Korybantic* in frenzy and make you mad, replacing order for mania, like some sort of drunken Ino. Nothing could stop her running, neither hollow nor steep descent, nor a deep cave, nor thick wood.*
The Divine Spirit does not move the soul in this manner, but instead transforms it for the better, allows the faculty of reason, and even gives the faculty of reason as a bridle for the tongue. This is done so that, when one wishes, one can spur on the course of speech, and again, if one wishes, one can hold firm the reigns and restrain the course of speech. Since “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” it is the prerogative of each to encourage their speech or to keep it quiet. Has your talk run from the starting point to the finish line of your discussion? Then restrain yourself, and let another interpret, for the gift is under your control. Restrain yourself either before you begin, or when you’ve spoken a bit, and your speech has reached “full bloom” and you’re rounding the final-turn, then let another person interpret, while you restrain the impulse to speak.
This passage applies not only to these sorts of problems, but let us also consider our own instruction. Let there be disciplinary boundaries. Let one speak as a rhetor, another as a philosopher, and another speak about geometric figures. Let this one explain how the stars and sun are placed in the sky, and thus how the division of years is made. Let another teach something about music, and how the different notes combine to form a single harmony, which seems to be simple and undivided to listeners. But speak on these matters without confusion, without everyone talking at once. Rather while one is philosophizing, let the rhetor withdraw, and when the rhetor is teaching about the beauty of words let the philosopher be silent. If you do this, then you will wisely manage both your own nature, from where the flow of the tongue comes, and your shared river of learning, apportioned equally to all the different streams, which you will show with gentleness and without pain.
A quote from Gregory Naz. Orat. 16.2, who in turn is paraphrasing Paul in 1 Cor 14:19. Gautier was unable to find this in Gregory, but (God be praised!) the TLG allows one to find it pretty easily. Gregory uses the passage here a bit ironically, to defend his father’s silence following a natural disaster.
This is a reference to Aristophanes’ Clouds 109, but I don’t exactly understand it. At this point in the play, two characters are discussing Socrates’ school of philosophy ironically, and one is urged to “give up horsemanship” and go to the school.
The Korybantes were said to have presided over the birth of Dionysus, and their ecstatic frenzies were comparable to the maenads of Dionysus.
Ino helped raised Dionysus, and killed herself by lunging herself into the sea. See here for more information and ancient citations.
Καὶ ἐπειδὴ οἱ μὲν ἄλλοι τῶν ἀξιουμένων τῆς χάριτος ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι τῶν ψυχῶν ἢ κυβερνῶντες ἢ διερμηνεύοντες ἔλαττον ἐφρόνουν ἐπὶ τοῖς χαρίσμασιν, οἱ δὲ διαφόρους διαλέκτους φθεγγόμενοι, ὡς ἐπίδηλον ἐπὶ τῆς γλώσσης τοῦ πνεύματος τὴν ἐπίπνοιαν ἔχοντες, ἐκόμπαζον ἐπὶ τῷ χαρίσματι καὶ προκεκρίσθαι τῶν ἄλλων κατὰ πνευματικὴν ἀξίωσιν ᾤοντο, καταστέλλει τούτους ὁ μέγας ἀπόστολος ὡς ἔλαττον τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ λυσιτελοῦντας· ὃ δὴ καὶ ὁ μέγας παρεμφαίνων πατήρ, ἐμοί, φησί, πέντε γένοιτο λόγους ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ λαλῆσαι μετὰ συνέσεως ἢ μυρίους ἐν φωνῇ σάλπιγγος ἀσήμῳ.
ἄμφω γὰρ δείκνυσι τὰ χαρίσματα, διὰ μὲν τῶν πέντε φωνῶν τοὺς αὐτόθεν διδάσκοντας καὶ μὴ διαφόροις γλώσσαις προσομιλοῦντας, διὰ δὲ τῶν μυρίων καὶ ἀσήμων λόγων τοὺς κατὰ πᾶσαν μὲν γλῶτταν φθεγγομένους, τὸν δὲ θεῖον ὁπλίτην πρὸς τὸν πνευματικὸν πόλεμον οὐκ ἐγείροντας. ὅθεν καὶ παρεγγυᾶται ὁ ἀπόστολος τούτοις δή, ἵν’ οὕτως εἴπω, τοῖς γλωττηματικοῖς μὴ πᾶσαν ἐνδιδόναι ἡνίαν τῇ φορᾷ τῶν γλωσσῶν, μηδέ, ἐπειδὰν ἄρξωνται λέγειν, εἰς μακρὸν κατατείνειν λόγον, μέχρις ἂν τὰς πάσας φωνὰς διεξέλθωσιν, ἀλλὰ φθέγγεσθαι μὲν γλώσσαις, ὁπόταν δὴ τὸ πνεῦμα βούλοιτο, ἑτέρου δὲ διερμηνεύειν κινηθέντος ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, ὥσπερ ‘σχασαμένους ἱππικὴν’ ἵστασθαι.
Ἵνα δὲ μή τις εἴπῃ τῶν οὕτω κατεγλωττισμένων ὡς ἐφ’ ἑτέρῳ ἡ τοῦ λέγειν ἡνία καὶ οὐ παρ’ ἐμοὶ τὸ ἀνασειράζειν ῥυτῆρσι τοῦ λόγου τὸν δρόμον, ἐπάγει ὅτι ‘τὰ τῶν προφητῶν πνεύματα τοῖς προφήταις ὑποτάσσεται’. οὐ γὰρ παραλλάττει σοι τὴν διάνοιαν τὸ προφητικόν, φησί, χάρισμα οὐδὲ τὸν νοῦν ἐξιστᾷ, οὐδ’ ὥσπερ οἴστρῳ βάλλον κορυβαντιᾶν καὶ μεμηνέναι ποιεῖ, εἰς μανιώδη μετάγον κατάστασιν, ὥσπερ τὴν μυθευομένην Ἰνώ, ἣν οὐδὲν ἵστα τοῦ δρόμου, οὐ κοῖλον, οὐκ ὄρθιον, οὐ φάραγξ βαθεῖα καὶ ὕλη συνηρεφής.
οὐχ οὕτω τὸ θεῖον πνεῦμα κινεῖ τὴν ψυχήν, ἀλλὰ μεταποιεῖ μὲν ταύτην ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον, ἐᾷ δὲ τὴν διάνοιαν, μᾶλλον δὲ ἐφιστάνει τῇ γλώττῃ ὥσπερ ἡνίοχον, ἵν’, ὅτε μὲν βούλοιτο, πρὸς τὸν δρόμον μυωπίζῃ, ὅταν δ’ αὖ ἐθέλοι, ἐπέχῃ τὴν ἡνίαν καὶ τοῦ δρόμου ταύτην ἱστᾷ. ὑποτάσσεται τοιγαροῦν τοῖς προφήταις τὰ πνεύματα, πρὸς τὴν ἐκείνων διάνοιαν καταστελλόμενα ἢ ἐγειρόμενα. τρέχει σοι ἡ γλῶττα ἐκ πρώτης ἀφετηρίας πρὸς τὴν τῶν διαλέκτων νύσσαν; ἀλλ’ ἔπεχε ταύτην, ἑτέρου διερμηνεύοντος, ὑποτάττεται γάρ σοι τὸ χάρισμα· ἔπεχε δὲ ἢ καὶ πρὶν ἄρξασθαι, ἢ καὶ βραχύ τι προβάς, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκμάζων καὶ πρὸς τῷ καμπτῆρι τυγχάνων, ἑτέρου διερμηνεύειν λαχόντος, ἀναστέλλου σὺ τῆς φορᾶς.
Τοῦτο μὴ ἐξήγησιν μόνον τῶν διαπορηθέντων, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡμετέραν παιδαγωγίαν ἡγώμεθα. ἔστωσαν τοιγαροῦν ὑμῖν ὅροι τῶν διαλόγων, καὶ ὁ μέν τις ῥητορευέτω, ὁ δὲ φιλοσοφείτω καὶ ἄλλος περὶ σχημάτων ἀποδεικνύτω, καὶ οὗτος μὲν ὅπως τὰ ἄστρα στηρίζοιντο διερμηνευέτω καὶ τὴν κατὰ μῆκος ἐποχὴν τοῦ ἡλίου τρανούτω καὶ τὴν ἐντεῦθεν ἀναφαινομένην διαίρεσιν τῶν ὡρῶν, ἐκεῖνος δὲ περὶ μουσικῆς τι διδασκέτω καὶ ὅπως τὰ διάφορα τῶν μελῶν εἰς μίαν ἁρμονίαν κιρνάμενα μονοειδῶς ἐμπίπτει ταῖς ἀκοαῖς· φθέγγεσθε δὲ ταῦτα μὴ συγκεχυμένως μηδὲ κατὰ θροῦν ἄσημον, ἀλλ’ ἑτέρου φιλοσοφοῦντος ὁ ῥητορεύων ὑποχωρείτω, κἀντεῦθεν τούτου περὶ κάλλους ὀνομάτων διδάσκοντος ὁ περὶ τὸν νοῦν σιγάτω. ἂν οὕτω ποιῆτε, τήν τε πηγήν, ἵνα μὴ λέγω ἐμέ, ὁπόθεν ὑμῖν τὸ ῥεῦμα τῆς γλώττης ἐρρύη, ἥτις ἐστὶ τὴν φύσιν, σαφῶς παραστήσετε, τόν τε ὑμέτερον ποταμόν, ὁμαλῶς τοῖς ὀχετοῖς μεριζόμενον, ἀλυπότατον καὶ προσηνέστατον τοῖς ῥεύμασι δείξετε.