This part and half of the next section deal most explicitly Gregory’s assertion about the mysterious “type of gift.” Psellos begins with a bit of pneumatology, describing the nature of the Spirit. He acknowledges that the Spirit gives different gifts, but wants to prevent his students from therefore inferring that the Spirit himself is divided. He then describes the different spiritual gifts, and notes how only speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues are not complete in themselves: they require one another to be most effective. He offers an example, and then tells us that this complementarity between speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues is what Gregory means when he says, “there is a type of gift, which requires another to distinguish what is better.”
The Holy Spirit, being one properly and accurately according to the meaning of the word ‘one,’ in himself touches and grasps all things. He is not formed from many things, nor divided, like the raving Numenius says, but is established in himself, proceeds to all places, is not separated from the One, and is shared among the many.
But he is varied in the intentions and motives with which he comes to those who receive him. Thus to one he comes to bring comprehension, to another he brings the gift of administration, and to another he pours languages upon the tongue, and to another the gift of interpreting what was said. For whoever offers his own soul becomes worthy of receiving an appropriate spiritual gift. But to be entrusted with the instruction of souls, or to lead and direct souls from the sea to the divine fire, or any of the other which the great Apostle lists for us, are complete in themselves and do not require another gift to complement them. But to speak in tongues is to speak the languages of those present fluently: for example, at one moment to speak Babylonian, at another Persian, and then Assyrian. This gift is not as powerful in itself, and becomes vastly more beneficial for those present when combined with the gift of interpretation.
For what use is it to a person walking by the prophets if he’s an Arab, and they’re speaking Attic Greek? Or if he knows the Attic tongue, but they’re speaking the Phoenician language? But if someone with the gift of interpretation is present, he can interpret what is said and translate the speech into a language that the listener understands. Don’t you see how the this gift brings the gift of tongues to perfection? This then is what both the apostle and the passage from the Theologian (i.e. Gregory) mean when he says, “there is a type of gift, which requires another for the judgment of what is better.” This is the gift of interpretation, when someone has spoken in tongues.
Τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, ἓν ὂν κυρίως κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβῆ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἔννοιαν, αὐτῷ δὴ τῷ ἑνὶ πάντων ἅπτεται, πάντων δράττεται, οὐ πολλαπλασιαζόμενον ἢ μεριζόμενον κατὰ τὸν μαινόμενον Νουμήνιον, ἀλλ’ ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἱδρυμένον καὶ πανταχοῦ προϊὸν καὶ τοῦ ἑνὸς μὴ ἐξιστάμενον, καὶ τοῖς πολλοῖς μετεχόμενον.
μερίζεται δὲ ταῖς τῶν δεχομένων διαφόροις γνώμαις καὶ προαιρέσεσιν· ὅθεν τῷ μὲν εἰς ἀντίληψιν γίνεται, τῷ δὲ εἰς κυβέρνησιν, τῷ δὲ τὰς διαλέκτους ἐπὶ τὴν γλῶτταν προχέει καὶ ἄλλῳ τὴν ἑρμηνείαν τῶν λεγομένων χαρίζεται. πρὸς ὃ γάρ τις ἐπιτηδείαν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ παράσχῃ ψυχήν, ἐκείνου δὴ καὶ δεκτικὸς γίνεται τοῦ χαρίσματος. ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι τῶν παιδαγωγουμένων ψυχῶν ἢ κυβερνᾶν ταύτας καὶ διιθύνειν καὶ ἀπὸ πελάγους πρὸς τὸν θεῖον ἀνάγειν πυρσόν, τἆλλά τε ὅσα δὴ ὁ μέγας ἀπόστολος ἀπαριθμησάμενος φαίνεται, αὐτοτελῆ τυγχάνει καὶ ἀπροσδεᾶ τῆς παρ’ ἑτέρων συστάσεως· τὸ δὲ γλώσσαις λέγειν, τουτέστιν ἀθρόως μεταβεβλῆσθαι πρὸς τὰς τῶν προσιόντων φωνάς, ὡς νῦν μὲν Βαβυλώνιον, νῦν δὲ Περσίδα, νῦν δὲ Ἀσσύριον ἀφιέναι φωνήν, τοῦτο καθ’ ἑαυτὸ μὲν ἔλαττον ἰσχύει, συστὰν δὲ παρὰ τοῦ τῆς ἑρμηνείας χαρίσματος μεγαλωφελὲς τοῖς προσιοῦσιν ἐγένετο.
τί γὰρ δὴ ὁ φοιτῶν παρὰ τοὺς προφήτας ὠφέλητο Ἄραψ ὤν, ἐκείνων ὑπεραττικιζόντων ταῖς λέξεσιν, ἢ τὴν Ἀτθίδα γλῶτταν εἰδώς, ἐκείνων τὴν τῶν Φοινίκων διαλεγομένων; εἰ δ’ ὁ τοῦ τῆς ἑρμηνείας ἠξιωμένος χαρίσματος ἐφερμηνεύσειε τὰ λεγόμενα καὶ μεταβάλοι πρὸς ἃ γνοίη ὁ ἀκροώμενος, οὐ καινὸν δὴ τὸ τῶν γλωττῶν ἀπειργάσατο χάρισμα; τοῦτο γοῦν αὐτό φησιν ὅ τε μέγας ἀπόστολος καὶ ἡ θεολόγος φωνή, ὅτι ‘ἔστι διαφορὰ χαρισμάτων, ἄλλου δεομένη χαρίσματος πρὸς διάκρισιν τοῦ βελτίονος’, ὥσπερ ἡ τῶν γλωσσῶν τοῦ ταύτας διερμηνεύοντος.