By John Potts (auth.)
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Extra info for A History of Charisma
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. (14: 3–5) Paul’s motivation for ranking prophecy so much higher than glossolalia is made clear: He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified. (14: 5) The charisma of glossolalia, then, is of limited benefit to the church, unless complemented by another charisma: ‘the interpretation of tongues’. Glossolalia operating without interpretation offers no ‘edification’ for the community beyond the self-esteem of the speaker who, without the aid of an interpreter, speaks ‘into the air’ (14: 10).
In first-century Graeco-Roman culture, charis could refer to both the ritual of giving and that of receiving. The earlier Homeric ethic of the counter-gift survived in a broader civic context as a complex system of conventions governing reciprocity. This system could apply to the relation between a wealthy benefactor and his city or community, within a domestic household, between the Caesars and local political associations, and between states. 28 Paul’s letters would have been interpreted by his listeners in the setting of this reciprocity system; his use of charis was even attuned to specific local contexts, varying across city states.
There was a widespread belief throughout the Graeco-Roman world in magical feats and miracle-working, conducted in the name of divergent sources of spiritual power. Magicians were thought to have similar talents in this regard to holy men. Miraculous control of the weather was attributed to exceptional individuals, including rabbis; ancient historians, including Livy, documented reports of miracles and supernatural exploits, including flying and walking on water; Roman emperors, including Augustus, were considered immortal and the possessors of supernatural powers.
A History of Charisma by John Potts (auth.)