Blasphemy    verb = to blaspheme
For Jews and Christians blasphemy is forbidden by commandments in the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible. Blasphemy includes any speech or action which treats anything divine with disrespect. "You shall not make wrong use of the name of the Lord your God; the Lord will not leave unpunished the man who misuses his name." (Exodus 20.7)

Giotto's painting of Jesus before the
Sanhedrin shows Caiaphas the High
Priest tearing his robe in grief at Jesus'
blasphemy.


At the time of Jesus the penalty for blasphemy according to Jewish Law, was execution. The method used was very simple - stoning. However the country had been conquered and invaded by the Romans in 63 BCE, and they did not permit the Sanhedrin to carry out capital punishment. Nevertheless the Sanhedrin still wanted Jesus punished for his crime. In order to achieve this they had to find a way of getting him convicted and sentenced of a capital crime by the Roman authorities.

At his trial by the Sanhedrin Jesus was accused and convicted of blasphemy because he claimed he was God's Son (Mark 14.62-64). The Sanhedrin believed that Jesus was a human being, and that by calling himself God's Son he was claiming equality with God. Christians believe that the conviction was wrong because Jesus was the incarnation of God, and so he could rightly be described as 'Son of God'.

The Romans had their own form of religion which was very different from the Jewish belief in only one, invisible, God. Because of the difficulty in forcing the conquered Jewish people to worship Roman statues, the Romans had given special permission (dispensation) allowing the Jews to continue practising their religion provided that it did not hinder the Roman occupation of the country.


The Romans were not interested in Jewish religious beliefs and the Jewish laws against blasphemy - they simply didn't care whether Jesus had blasphemed against the Jewish God or not, and were not interested in punishing him for it.

  However, Jesus was executed by the Romans.
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