Proof Of The Truth
By Rev. D. L.. Segraves
In an effort to discredit present day speaking in tongues, The Plain Truth magazine unwittingly printed irrefutable proof that this practice, sometimes referred to as glossolalia, is genuine.
Here’s the way this startling development occurred: Mr. Lester L. Grabbe wrote an article entitled, “GLOSSOLALIA – The New ‘Tongues’ Movement,” which was printed in the October 1971 issue of The Plain Truth on pages 20 through 24. The first two paragraphs of his article proved fatal to the theory Mr. Grabbe was trying to promote.
Just the way they appeared in the magazine, here are the two paragraphs:” ‘Ra na kab ale meeka du bima,’ ” cried a woman.”” ‘Thus saith the Lord, my spirit is moving among ordinary people, breaking forth in revival, not in the temple or tabernacle, but among all my children in this hour,’ came the interpretation by another.”
Perhaps the circulation department of The Plain Truth did not realize that Rev. Paul Ferguson, M. Div., M.A., who was currently pursuing his doctrinal studies – and working a great deal with Semitic- languages (in particular, Aramaic) – would chance to read the article. But he did! And as Bro. Ferguson glanced at those first two paragraphs, he was astonished at the familiar ring of the message in tongues given by the first woman.
His first step after his initial surprise was to set the interpretation to the message into the artificial, hybrid Aramaic of the Old Testament (so called because it has consonants going back to 600 B.C. and vowels dating back only as far as 700 A.D.). Then, he transliterated those words back into English with the following result:ruha naqueb al mehekal d’lua ba amma
The similarity of this transliteration with that of Mr. Grabbe continued to intrigue Bro. Ferguson, even though there were some apparent differences. He began to compare this information with what he knew about the various forms of this language.
Can you imagine his amazement when he found that most, if not all, of the differences between the two English versions could be found by comparing the message with the Aramaic used by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament!!
For example, according to Dalman’s Grammatik der Aramaische Sprache, the Galileans did not audibly pronounce an “h.” Gesenius-Kaultz-Cowley’s Hebrew Grammar identifies this as a characteristic of northern Palestine. Thus, in the language of the Galileans, “ruha” automatically becomes “rua.”
Also, there is evidence that in New Testament times people did not pronounce double vowel sounds so that they could be distinguished, and double vowels with no consonant between them tended to slur down toward a single sound in actual speech. To see this principle in practice, compare Matthew 27:46 with Mark 15:34. Matthew records Jesus as saying, “Eli,” on the cross, while Mark has it “Eloi.”
Putting these two facts together “h” being a silent letter and double vowels slurring into one sound, it is not hard to see how “ruha” could be pronounced “ra,” especially since the accent is on the “a” anyway.
In the New Testament, there seems to be a shift from the use of “e” to “a” under some conditions. Matthew 5:22 is an example where the word “Raca” is an example of “Req.” This tendency of the Aramaic of Jesus’ time would give us “naqab,” instead of “naqeb.” Since “k” and “q” sound very much alike, it is not difficult to see the similarity between “naqab” and anakab.”
Mr. Grabbe has not answered a letter sent to him on this subject, so it is not known whether he heard the message in tongues personally, from a tape or whether it was given him by someone else. At any rate, the message was simply reduced to the phonetics for the purpose of the article, so the slight difference between “ale” and “al” is not a major factor. However, even the lack of the “e” is solved in research of the Galilean tongue.
Concerning the next word in the transliteration, “mehekal,” it is revealed by H. A. Gleason in An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics that “L” is at times a weak letter which was rejected or changed in forms. For instance, our word “Golgotha” actually comes from the Aramaic “Golgolta.” Further examples of this are found in Gleason’s book. We have already noted that Galileans sometimes failed to audibly pronounce the “h.” Thus, “Mehekal” becomes “meeka.”
Mr. Grabbe has the next word in the message “du,” while the actual transliteration is “d’hu.” What an amazing example of accuracy!
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The final word in the message, according to The Plain Truth, was “bima.” Bro. Ferguson’s efforts produced “ba amma.” Exactly the same phonetic changes occurred in the Bible with “Beelzebub.” The “Beel-” was originally “ba al-.” According to A.T. Robertson’s short grammar, the double “3” was probably pronounced like a short “i”. Of course, a double “m” would be difficult to detect in pronunciation, so the form “bima” for “ba amma” is not at all unlikely.
The literal translation of these words into English, according to Mr. Ferguson, are as follows:
“my (the) Spirit”
“is breaking forth right now”
“in the temple”
“because He is”
“among the people”
The astonishing similarity of the literal translation with the interpretation given in the second paragraph of Mr. Grabbe’s article should be enough to convince sincere students of the Scriptures that both ladies were moved by the Holy Ghost in their utterances.
A Dr. Samarin is quoted by Mr. Grabbe as saying that those who are part of the tongue-speaking experience “would be unable to provide a case that would stand up to scientific investigation.” It is indeed strange that what allegedly cannot be done, was done by Mr. Grabbe in his own article!