The origins of Judaism can be traced back to the times of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were the patrons of the religion and both spiritual and physical ancestors. They founded this religion and their followers are the people we know as being Jewish. Interestingly enough modern critics question the validity of the theory of the patriarchs but nothing can be ascertained with surety. Historical teachings tell us that Abraham was the first one to begin preaching about the unity of god and he tried to convince the people about the follies of idol worship.
God called to Abraham and made him an offer stating that he would bless him and make a nation for him in exchange for his abandonment of his family. Abraham accepted and thus was rendered the covenant between man and the Jewish people. The concept of the covenant is fundamental to the Jewish religion. It is a contract between man and his creator that obliges both sides to keep their word. (rich, 1999) As the centuries passed the descendants of Israel became the slaves in Egypt under the pharaoh. Soon after this hardship was to come to an end when god bestowed open Moses the job to lead them out of their miseries.
God led the people through the wilderness to Mount Sinai where he revealed to them a covenant which if they observed they would be the most beloved of all nations. God revealed to them the torah in its oral as well as written form and the entire nation responded. Today the torah is revered as one of the four holy books that were passed on by god for the following and guidance of his people. (Rich, 1999) The first Christians were in fact Jewish Christians. The Pentateuch was of great importance to them and they upheld its laws; performing circumcision and observing Sabbath.
Christianity was at first a sect within Judaism and they were called Jewish Christians because their membership consisted of Jews who had joined them and were practicing their beliefs. Paul who was Jewish persecuted the Christians who were reforming the religion; however he was unable to stop the spread of the religion. Paul later stated that he had vision from god and he too converted to the Jewish Christian religion however he changed all their beliefs and justified this on the basis that he had the divine right to rule.
Under the disguise of religion he tried to brainwash the people and he adopted political propaganda to further his needs. He opposed the laws of the Pentateuch. He wanted people to remain oppressed and believed that the corrupt who were ruling them were doing so because they were ordained by god in this right. However, Paul’s teachings did not reach the acclaim that it was suppose to and neither did it gather support. (Davidman, n. d. ) Churches that consider themselves to be truly catholic share certain beliefs that are fundamental in their religion.
For one, the Catholic Church is of the notion that it is directly descended from the church that was set up by Jesus and his apostles. Secondly, they believe that the church and not any one book can and is better suited to preach the teachings of” Jesus and the apostles. This teaching is evident in both the written form and in oral church tradition and neither is independent of the other. They also emphasize in the belief of the necessary sacraments such as the use of images, candles in worship, making of the sign of the cross”, belief in the reverence of Virgin Mary and the importance of prayer for the deceased etc.
“The largest catholic body is the holy catholic and apostolic church more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Church. It is also named so because the followers are all in unity with the pope and the bishop of Rome”. The Anglican Communion is divided into two wings namely the Anglo Catholics and the evangelical wing. Their primary difference with the Roman Catholic Church is on the bishop of Romes power, status and influence. It was under five patriarchs that the early Christian church came into being namely the bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Constantinople and Alexandria.
The bishop of Rome was recognized by all as the first amongst the equals and it was there that all disputes were settled. Eventually it was because of the doctrinal disputes and the changes in rites and practices that divided the Catholic Church in the west form the Eastern Orthodox Church in the east. The next major split saw the creation of Protestantism. (Christianity, n. d. ) “The practice of the Catholic Church consists of seven sacraments; baptism, confession, Eucharist, confirmation, holy matrimony, holy orders and anointing the sick.
In catholic teachings, these sacraments are the gifts of Christ which are performed through the church”. The practice of baptism takes place to initiate the newest member of the religion which is why new born babies have to be baptized. Confession is asking repentance from god and seeking forgiveness for ones sins by confessing to a priest. Eucharist is basically the contribution in the sacrifice of Christ. Holy orders are the vows a one has to make to enter into priesthood. Anointing of the sick means anointing the sick wit a holy oil which is blessed particularly for that person. (Christianity, n. . )
There are many similarities and differences between the Jewish and catholic religion. For one the language is totally different. Whilst the catholic kept used very little Latin after the second Vatican council changed everything in the 1960s the Jews have managed to maintain their holy language Hebrew. While praying in the Sabbath services some Jews sway a little back and forth whereas in catholic prayers one has to stand still. Another essential difference between the two is the fact that some Catholics pray to Jesus or mother Mary instead of keeping a direct relationship with god.
Jews on the other hand believe in only god answering their prayers and no intermediate person. (Thor , n. d. ) While there are three groups Roman Catholic, protestant and orthodox in Christianity there are several divisions in Judaism including Hasidic, conservative and Reform Judaism. For the Catholics Jesus Christ is the second person of the trinity and the son of god who happens to be the most divine. To the Jews Jesus was just an ordinary man who they do not even consider a messiah.
The other traditions include the writings which in Catholicism are from the early church fathers whilst in the Jewish tradition writings come from the Talmud which is an oral tradition which explains and interprets the tanakah. The rituals that are performed in Judaism are a lot different then those of Catholicism. For instance the Jews believe in circumcising the newly born Jewish males. They also observe bar mitzvah a ceremony marking the coming of age. They have a special prayer book as well which is called the siddur.
Whereas the Christians generally believe that there is no cross over from hell to heaven the Jews are of the notion that some sins are forgivable and they may only suffer from temporary punishment. (Emberson, 2008) It’s very important to note the fact the Jews believe that all men and women are equal in the eyes of god and it is not necessary that everyone should convert to Judaism in order to seek salvation. All one has to do is be ethical and one will surely be in gods good books. However at the same time if someone wishes to convert to Judaism then he or she may do so without facing any kind of conflictions.
Whilst the Christian idea may be that god is a combination of three divine spirits it majorly conflicts the Jewish idea of monotheism. The Jews in fact view the Christian idea of Trinitarians as an idea that has no basis and is primarily weak. Furthermore Jews do not believe in the idea of the original sin that man is born bad and cannot free himself of sins and can only seek salvation through Jesus. The Jews on the other hand believe that the humans can control their tendencies to sin and are born wither inclined towards the sinful or the virtuous.
There is a lot of debate about life after death and as such many scholars have their own opinion on heaven and hell. Whereas the Christians believe in its existence and the fact that sinners will necessarily burn in hell the Jews are more concerned about leading a pious and ethical life in this world making it a better place whilst leaving what happens after death for when the appropriate time arrives. They focus more on their actions on earth and how they can prevent themselves from sinning which they believe is the ultimate test.
Many traditional Jews believe that the Jewish religion provides the best ideal of living ethically so as to save one self from humiliation in the afterlife. (Bezzina , n. d. ) The apostles are almost the same in both religions from Moses to Jesus both Jews and Christians believe in them. As a matter of fact Christianity has a very close relationship with Judaism both in the historical and the theological sense. Jesus, the twelve disciples, the author of the New Testament were all Jews. Jesus’ own family followed Jewish customs and Jesus himself use to quote examples from the Hebrew bible.
Both Christianity and Judaism were founded in Palestine and the people of these religions today are living alongside in the same communities and neighborhoods all over Europe and north and South America. Both these major faiths derive their inspiration of their scripture from human accounts and they are mostly of human origin whilst the biblical prophets of both faiths are the same. Another major similarity between the two is found amidst the ultimate reality which is the fact that there is one god, Jehovah and the god of Abraham. Both faiths believe in the existence of angels and demons.
Whilst the Jews may not believe Jesus to be a divine prophet like the Christians but they do hold the same belief that he was crucified. As far as the divine revelations are concerned in both these religions the medium of delivery was the prophet and the revelations were recorded in the form of the Holy Scripture. Both Jews and Christians are of the notion that doing well in this life will get humans the benefit in the afterlife and bad deeds will definitely be punished. There might be some differences in their views of after life but it is generally believed that it exist by both these faiths.
They believe in heaven and hell and they also have faith in the fact that this world is just a temporary abode which is testing the patience of mankind. (Religion facts, 2004) There are many rituals and festivities that are observed in both Judaism and Christianity which have evolved over a considerable period of time. For instance, “it was centuries before that the tradition of Christmas was finally accepted. The eastern churches began celebrating Christmas after 375CE, the church in Jerusalem started in 7th century, Ireland started in the 5th century and the Slavic lands recognized it in the 9th and 10th centuries.
Many of the symbols of Christmas are of pagan origin. For instance the mistletoe, holly, ivy, Yule log, exchanging of gifts, decorating of the tree, Santa clause, the reindeer etc. there are yet some sects that do not indulge in Christmas festivities”. (Religious Tolerance, 1999) Jews on the other hand celebrate an 8 day festival of Hanukah which signifies the war that was fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom. Modern day Jews celebrate this day by lighting one candle everyday for each of the eight days of the festival.
It use to be a minor festival but in recent years it has grown more important perhaps because of the pressure it has to face from Christmas. (Religious Tolerance, 1999) Religion adds meaning to life and a purpose for existence. It’s a belief system that grants hope for the future. It constitutes rituals, ceremonies, ethical guide lines and it gives mankind an almost complete way of life. All religions preach goodness and want to instill in man piety and virtuousness so that society may function and flourish. It’s more than just a set of rules and rituals which the respective followers of a certain religion are suppose to oblige to.
Its part of their individuality and it gives them a sense of belonging. That is what the religion Judaism proclaims and that is precisely what Christianity stands for. No sect or any other religion for that matter is an exception to this thought. No doubt religion is meant for the reform of the people and to show them how to live in peace and prosperity. It is an ideological as well as a political necessity so as to keep a balance in society and maintain the social order which is crucial for the existence of any state.
Courtney from Study Moose
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