I am curious if any critical scholarly work has attempted to study the frequency with which blasphemy accusations occurred within the Jewish community at the time of Jesus, and if possible, how many of those trials led to executions as Jesus' did?


Based upon the Talmudic statement that if a Bet Din (high court) convicted one person to death they were a bloody body, it would seem to me that killing someone even for blasphemy was uncommon and loathed. The Mishnah states that a sanhedrin that executes one person in seven years — or seventy years, according to Eleazar ben Azariah — is considered bloodthirsty.[3][4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_and_corporal_punishment_in_Judaism

Furthermore in the gospels it is recorded that the Jews had lost the right to capital punishment and that is why Jesus was sent to Pilate.

The Sanhedrin stopped issuing capital punishment either after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE or alternatively, according to passages in the Talmud and New Testament, in 30 CE when the Sanhedrin were moved out of the Hall of Hewn Stones. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_and_corporal_punishment_in_Judaism

When Caponius was appointed Procurated (around 7 A.D.), the legal power of the Sanhedrin was restricted and adjudication of capital offenses was lost. Cf. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:8; Antiquities 20:9. http://forums.jewsforjesus.org/thread-9793.html

  • This answer discusses capital punishment, but were there blasphemy trials that weren't punished by death? Were blasphemy trials common but almost always resulted in conviction for lighted charges or acquittal? – sondra.kinsey Feb 7 at 11:17

Rabbinic sources can shed light on this. For instance, Mishnah Sanhedrin 7 and Talmud Sanhedrin 56a detail exactly what needs to happen if someone is accused of blasphemy. Both documents mandate the death penalty for someone convicted of the charge. t. Sanhedrin 65 gives a more exact definition of what constitutes blasphemy. t. Mo'ed 26 gives more detail about how the trial should be conducted. With such a procedure worked out in tradition and halakhic texts, it's fair to say that such trials were common.

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    "With such a procedure worked out in tradition and halakhic texts, it's fair to say that such trials were common," do you have any specific references from "tradition" and "halakhic texts" that would support the assertion that blasphemy accusation trials were common? – Logan Baxter Nov 1 '17 at 19:26
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    With such a procedure worked out in tradition and halakhic texts, it's fair to say that such trials were common. -- I'm not sure the conclusion follows from the premises. SETI has a detailed post detection protocol. I feel safe in saying its use is not common. Putting that aside, 'common' doesn't answer the question 'How common?' with any real precision. – bradimus Nov 1 '17 at 19:53
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