Lesson #26: Blasphemy

In honour of Ireland’s new (yes, new) Blasphemy Law, which assesses a fine of 25,000 Euro to anyone found guilty of blaspheming. The bill defines blasphemy as “publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.”

I’ll leave the freedom of speech issue alone and just move right along.

According to Merriam-Webster, blasphemy is an early 13th century word defined as, the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, the act of claiming the attributes of a deity* or irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable. Etymologically speaking, blasphemy comes from the Old French, blasphemie, which is derived from the Late Latin, blasphemia, which is based in the Greek, blasphemia, “a speaking ill, impious speech, slander”, which is in turn based in the Greek word blasphmein, meaning “to speak evil of.”

*Strictly speaking, shouldn’t the Jews consequently consider Jesus a blasphemer? (Rachel or Josh, I’m leaving it to you to answer that question for me.)

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3 thoughts on “Lesson #26: Blasphemy

  1. katherine says:

    Biblically speaking, the Jews specifically the high priests, religious leaders, folks that coordinated his arrest, trial, etc. did consider Jesus a blasphemer; that was the charge they brought against him.

    “Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.”Matthew 26:65 (Though, I believe all the gospels touch on this.)

  2. Rachel says:

    Um, yes. Jesus was a blasphemer, by definition. However, the Jews really seemed to have let Jesus do whatever the hell he wanted and the end result was Pat Robertson.We really messed up with that one…

  3. disquisitive says:

    Rach, you can’t blame Pat Robertson on Ancient Christianity — or the Jews’ perceived mismanagement of Jesus. You can probably blame him on Martin Luther and the Reformation though…the Catholics would never have let him happen.

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