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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Blasphamy: What is it?

Phil Johnson has accused Mark Driscoll of blasphamy, see Pork Roast


What sort of act/speech is being prohibited in Ex 22:27. Cassuto "this admonition includes every utterance or act which detracts from the divine glory..." in other words any speech or act that dishonors God, which is a much broader prohibition than saying you must not "curse God". If we go with the broader reading any speech which would treat God in a disrespectful way would fall under this commandment.

In Ex. 22:27 the LXX renders the piel form tqll as kakologhseis were as Symaccus renders it atimaseis. Cassuto appears to be in agreement with Symaccus, reading tqll as the antonym of kbd, which would be comperable to atimaw and timaw in Koine.

In Philo and Josephus we find a new element being added to this definition. Playing off the plural form theous (gods) used in the LXX, they understand this prohibition to include the gods of the gentile (pagan) world.

"Our legislator has expressly forbidden us to laugh at and blaspheme those that are esteemed gods by other people, because the name of God is ascribed to them." Josephus Ag Apin 2.237. See also Philo, Life of Moses 2:166, Questions and Answers on Exodus 2.5.

This reading has direct application to Mark Driscoll's speech acts which include the name of Jesus where he is casting disparagement on other people's christology. In other words, even if you are making fun in a crude way of what you consider to be a false understanding of who Jesus was, to perform a speech act which can be interpreted by others as dishonoring Jesus is blasphemy.



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