CMP Review 2023-11-26

CMP Review 2023-11-26

Only once in the Gospel of John is Jesus formally accused of blasphemy. According to Leviticus 24, the penalty for blaspheming is to be stoned to death. When Christ’s auditors begin to pick up stones, Jesus responds by saying, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”

It is what Gail O’day describes as “an intricate argument from Scripture”:

Jesus’ argument … employs several exegetical techniques common to first- and second-century Jewish exegesis. Jesus’ exegesis may seem strained to contemporary exegetes, but it falls solidly within the range of exegetical approaches of first-century Judaism…

First, Jesus cites only the first half of Ps 82:6, even though he clearly presupposes the rest of the verse … in his argument (see v. 36).

Second, in rabbinic argumentation, a comparison could be made between two biblical texts simply on the presence of the same word in both texts, even if the words occur in distinct contexts and with quite different meanings. Jesus employs this technique when he compares ‘gods’ to God (vv. 35–36).

Third, his main line of argumentation follows the common rabbinic pattern of arguing from the lesser to the greater. That is, if Scripture speaks of human beings who receive the Word of God as gods, how can it be blasphemy for Jesus to speak of himself as God’s Son?

For the Gospel reader, there may be an additional level of meaning in this argument from the lesser to the greater, because Jesus not only receives the Word of God like those of whom Ps 82:6 speaks, but he is the Word of God (1:1, 14).

These words of Christ were a source of special fascination to Charlotte Mason. In today’s poem, she explores the dialog with the religious authorities. Next week, we will hear her stunning poetic inference. Read or hear “They take up stones to stone Him” at this link.