In Romans 8:23-27 there is a description of praying with inarticulate "sighs and groanings." There are some who interpret this as, in addition to literal sighs and groans, also being a type of synecdoche for a semantic range of polysyllabic utterances that could include praying in tongues. For example, R.C.H. Lenski writes:

Later writers state that the charisma of tongues was a speaking in non-human language and either identify these 'groanings' with this non human language or conceive of them as parallel to it." (The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, p. 547)

Lenski does not provide any footnotes or references. However, the 19th century theologian, Frederic Godet, writes about this passage:

In every particular case, he who is the object of this assistance feels no distinct words fully express to God the infinite good after which he sighs. The pact proves that the aspiration is not his own, but that is produced in his heart by the Spirit of Him of whom John said, 'that He is greater than our heart' (1 Hohn 3:20). We here find ourselves in the domain analogous to that of the glossais lalein, speaking in tongues, to which 1 Cor. 14 reefers; compare vv. 14 and 15, where Paul says: "When I pray in a tongue, my spirit (pneuma) prayeth indeed, but my understanding (nous) is unfruitful.'"

Godet adds:

The understanding cannot control, nor even follow the movement of the spirit, which, exalted by the Sprit of God, plunges into the depths of the divine. Thus at the moment when the believer already feels the impulse of hope failing within him, a groan more elevated, holy, and intense than anything which can go forth even from his renewed heart is uttered within him, coming from God and going to God, like a pure breath, and relieves the poor downcast heart (Commentary on the St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, p. 102)

The theologian, referenced above is a Protestant. But, according to Lenski, there were "writers" that interpreted Romans 8:23-27 as parallel to speaking in tongues. What is a general survey of Catholic exegetes, prior to Lenski in the early 20th century, that interpreted Romans 8:23-27 as Lenski described?


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