A Consideration Of The Gospel Accounts Of The Jewish Charge Of Blasphemy Against Jesus -- By: Steven L. Cox

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 02:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: A Consideration Of The Gospel Accounts Of The Jewish Charge Of Blasphemy Against Jesus
Author: Steven L. Cox


A Consideration Of The Gospel Accounts
Of The Jewish Charge Of Blasphemy Against Jesus

Steven L. Cox

Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
2216 Germantown Road, South
Germantown, TN 38088

Christianity has viewed the charge of blasphemy against Jesus Christ by the Jewish authorities as a result of their bias against him, which subsequently led to their bias and persecution of Christians. Students of the Bible recognize some of the doctrinal differences between Jesus and the Jewish sects (i.e., the doctrine of the resurrection—the Sadducees and Essenes; oral tradition interpreted as binding as the Mosaic law—the Pharisees); however, Jesus was a Jew who grew up in a Jewish home in Galilee. Jesus’ theology generally coincided with the Pharisaic doctrine based on Scripture; however, Jesus’ application of Scripture was different from the Pharisees on many occasions, including grace and the interpretation and application of the law.

A Definition Of Blasphemy

Jerry M. Henry held that “the biblical context, blasphemy is an attitude of disrespect that finds expression in an act directed against the character of God.”1 Furthermore, blasphemy is an act that “denies and makes sport of the overwhelming concept of all the Old Testament history

and law, namely the sovereignty of the Creator. More than any other act of man it eradicates the fundamental creator-creature distinction upon which all the cosmic law orders are based.”2

Five Hebrew words are translated into English as “blasphemy,” with גּדַף, used only in the piel, and commonly defined as “revile,” “hurl insults,” or “blaspheme.” The second most common Hebrew word translated as blaspheme is נָאַץ, which conveys the idea “to despise” or “to show disrespect toward.” The three lesser used Hebrew words are: חרַף, which conveys “taunt” or “reproach;” קלַל, defined as “despise;” and בּרךְ, which is a word translated as “bless,” but is used euphemistically as “cursing,” which would constitute “blasphemy” (1 Kgs. 21:10, 13; Job 1:5, 11).

Ancient secular Greek used βλασ...

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