glossolalia (glŏsˌəlāˈlēə) [key] [Gr., = speaking in tongues], ecstatic utterances usually of unintelligible sounds made by individuals in a state of religious excitement. Religious revivals are often accompanied by manifestations of glossolalia, and various Pentecostal (see Pentecostalism) movements cite for authority the Acts of the Apostles, which records that on the day of Pentecost the Apostles "were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability." There are other New Testament references to the phenomenon. The Corinthian believers overvalued the gift; Paul in 1 Corinthians encouraged the orderly use of the gift and "interpretation" of the utterance so that all might be edified. In Acts, however, the use of the gift produces speech in other human languages as a kind of reversal of the confusion of tongues produced at the Tower of Babel.
See J. P. Kildahl, The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues (1972); G. T. Montague, The Spirit and His Gifts (1974).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.