I'm in a frenzy of crafting and reading this weekend. Last night I read Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to compare the movie. I'm in a Lord Peter Wimsey sort of a mood, so I checked out 5 of those from the library. And today at church I nabbed G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries. And a book on William Barclay's testimony. It might help decipher some of his theology if I know where he's been.
Speaking of which, he and I had a serious disagreement over his summary of Acts 2. As regards the Pentecost:
"On these grounds it is much more likely that this passage refers to that strange yet coveted gift of speaking with tongues. To speak in foreign languages was unnecessary. The passage says that the crowd was made up of Jews and proselyte...Now for a crowd like that at most two languages were necessary. Almost all Jews spoke Aramaic; and even if they were Jews of the Dispersion from a foreign land, they would speak that language which almost everyone in the world spoke at that time - Greek. Greek had become the world language which everyone spoke in addition to his own tongue. In point of fact, Aramaic and Greek, which the disciples must anyhow have spoken, would be quite sufficient. It seems by far most likely that Luke, A Gentile, had confused speaking with tongues with speaking with foreign tongues.
I find it hard to believe that Luke, with a Jewish mother and Greek father wouldn't recognize that the disciples, were in fact, only speaking two languages. And secondly, the passage says:
And how is it that each one of us hears them speaking in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes, Elamites, those who stay in Mespotamia in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus, in Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya round about Cyrene, Romans who are staying here, Jews and proselyte, people from Crete and Arabia - we hear these men telling the wonders of God in our own tongues.
Sorry, Mr Barclay, it doesn't sound to me like they were hearing God speaking to them in the trade language. And to quote the Central American Native who started Cameron Townsend on a mission, "If your God is so big, why doesn't he speak my language?"
That is my only real beef with William Barclay. He goes out of his way to prove that all miracles and "Acts of God" might be easily explained by natural phenomenon. I don't see why God using nature means that he had nothing miraculous to do with it "acting up." And it doesn't offend my logic that the disciples were preaching and everyone heard it in their own tongue. For two rather unorthodox examples; consider the babblefish and the Star Trek viewscreens. In both cases each party speaks their own language, and as far as they can tell, the other party is speaking the same. How they babblefish and communicators make their lip movements synch is one of the never ending mysteries of the Sci Fi universe, but it fits.
Anyone who wants to better stretch his mind around God's conundrums should read more sci fi.