Jesus’ Supposed Blasphemy (Mark 14:61b–64) -- By: Robert H. Gundry

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 18:1 (NA 2008)
Article: Jesus’ Supposed Blasphemy (Mark 14:61b–64)
Author: Robert H. Gundry


Jesus’ Supposed Blasphemy (Mark 14:61b–64)

Robert H. Gundry

Westmont College

Historically, Jesus’ supposed blasphemy before the Sanhedrin consisted in the claim that he would sit at God’s right hand and come with the clouds of heaven, a divine mode of transport. Though replaced with “the Power” in public reporting, “Yahweh” in Jesus’ actual quotation of Ps 110:1 made the supposed blasphemy deserving of death in agreement with m. Sanh. 7:5.

Key Words: blasphemy, tetragrammaton

Darrell L. Bock’s article, “Blasphemy and the Jewish Examination of Jesus” (BBR 17 [2007] 53-114) contains very much of value. I happily agree with his defending the historicity of Mark 14:53-72, especially vv. 61b–64, and would like to strengthen that defense.

Bock notes my view that “Jesus pronounced the divine Name [‘Yahweh’] in violation of m. Sanh. 7:5 when he alluded to Ps 110:1”; that “this citation was suppressed in the public reports of the scene, including Mark’s, so as not to repeat the blasphemy and compound the offense [this suppression in conformity with m. Sanh. 7:5]”; and that “only an utterance repeating the divine Name could count for a charge of capital blasphemy, just as the Mishnah says.”1 This observation does well so far as it goes. Then Bock writes that his own “goal [in Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism and the Final Examination of Jesus2] was simply to suggest that a pronunciation of the divine Name alone cannot explain the charge [of capital blasphemy].”3 This statement seems to imply that I think a pronunciation of the divine Name alone could explain the charge of capital blasphemy. Bock writes again, “Gundry … raises an objection against the conceptual view,”4

and ranges my view against his conceptual view, which is that Jesus’ supposed blasphemy consisted primarily in his claiming for himself a seat at God’s right hand so as to share the very authority of God himself and thus “evaporat[e] the distance between himself and God.”5

Well before the publication of Bock’s Blasphemy and Exaltation, however, I wrote in my Mark commentary (which Bock cites in other respects) that “though capital...

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