Judaism VS Christianity

4 main differences between Christianity, the world’s largest religion and Judaism, the world’s oldest monotheistic religion.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The term “Judeo-Christian” is used to group these two religions together. Both religions read the bible, believe in a god who cares about individuals and share many other values and ideas. American leaders have used this term to mean shared values that are the core of American law and moral.

Both Christianity and Islam have been influenced by the Jewish tradition. In fact, Jesus and his earliest followers were observant Jews. The four new testament Gospels are the accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus, assembled after his death. They attempt to “translate” the Judaism of first century Palestine to the Greek and Latin, “hellenistic” idolatry Culture of the late Roman Empire.

So while we may have a lot in common-

“Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity, and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism.” ~Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits

1) Judaism isn’t a universal religion

Judaism is the faith of a specific people. In Jewish thought, god created a covenant upon this particular nation. This chosen nation is to be a nation of priests, a light to the nations and play a significant role in human history. The “nation of Israel” is a paramount concept.

Christianity, on the other hand, was never a religion of just one particular people. It is not confined to a single ethnic group. As it spread, it has become the religion of numerous nations with many different backgrounds.

2) Christianity encourages conversion, Judaism does not

While Judaism accepts converts, it does not actively encourage conversion. Single converts are accepted but Judaism never aspired to convert masses. Christianity,on the other hand, encourages conversion to the Christian faith. Many Christian organizations send missionaries to non-Christian communities throughout the world. Many forced and violent conversions to Christianity have been documented at various points throughout history.

According to Jewish law , while non-Jews are not obligated to convert, but they are required to comply with the Seven Laws of Noah. The non-Jews that choose to follow the Seven Laws of Noah are considered “Righteous Gentiles”, and are assured a place in the world to come.

3) Christianity believes Jesus is the messiah (Christ)

The main difference between Jews and Christians is that according to the Christian faith, Jesus was the very messiah the Jewish people are waiting for. Judaism, on the other hand, reject this notion and instead believes that he was a regular man, not a prophet, son of god or the messiah.

In fact, the Jewish people believe that the messiah has yet to come. Jews still expect a messiah figure chosen by God to appear and bring salvation to Israel.

“Judaism is like a man who missed a train and is still waiting for it to come.” ~Youtube Comment

He did not fulfill any of the Jewish messiah qualifications. In Orthodox Judaism, the messiah’s task is to bring in the Messianic Age, a one-time event, and any presumed messiah who is killed before completing the task is subsequently not the messiah. The task includes: compelling all of Israel to walk in the way of Torah, fighting the wars of God, building the Temple in its place and gathering in the dispersed exiles of Israel.

4) What laws must the worshiper abide by?

Orthodox Judaism requires its followers to follow God’s rules which include the Ten Commandments(dictated by God directly to Moses on Mount Sinai), the rest of the written laws, and the Oral Torah. The Oral law includes interpretations deduced by logical conclusions,customs and regulations decreed by the Jewish Sanhedrin and Torah scholars. There are 613 commandments and that is just part of it! :) As mentioned above, the rest of civilization only needs to comply with the Seven Laws of Noah.

Christianity places great importance on the teachings of Jesus, which focused on loving God and love one’s neighbor. This is considered the Greatest Commandment of the Christian faith. Christianity interprets the Torah as to lead to the total annulment of all its practical commandments.

For example, Christianity has no religious dietary laws or restrictions. The Jewish faith, in contrast, has a set of strict dietary laws known as kashrut, which must be observed. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is said to have declared forbidden foods “clean” — this understood as a rejection of kosher dietary laws. This was after his death and as we mentioned above, Jesus and his earliest followers followed Jewish law.

Another important example is the Apostolic Decree, allowing Christian converts to forego circumcision, as appose to Judaism, which required ritual circumcision for converts. This made Christianity a much more attractive option for interested pagans.

Christianity emphasizes belief, while Judaism places emphasis on correct conduct.

Conclusion

In the modern world, when discrimination from Christians towards Jews largely had ended, we are seeing agreement between orthodox Jews and observant Christians on matters of value. When Jews are not the enemy to be converted, we can share a common framework.

Although originating from Judaism, Christianity considers it incomplete because it is lacking acceptance of the New Testament and belief in Jesus as the messiah. In turn, Judaism believes that Christians are wrong in believing that Jesus was the messiah.

Christianity introduced Judaism to the Hellenistic idolatry world. By removing the 613 practical commandments, (including dietary restrictions and circumcision for converts) and removing the Israeli nation version, Christianity was a much more attractive and accessible option for interested pagans.

So despite their common origins and some overlap, there are also significant differences in both beliefs and practices between Christianity and Judaism.

Sources- Youtube (playlist), The World’s Religions” (Houston Smith), “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions“ (Tropov,Luke,Buckles),“Jewish morals vs Christian morals”,(Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Amozg), Wikipedia.

Jewish wife and mother, pursuing a life of happiness and meaning