Judaism and Christianity Term Paper
- Length: 5 pages
- Sources: 6
- Subject: Mythology - Religion
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #89575957
Excerpt from Term Paper :
functions of monotheism in two religions, Judaism and Christianity. Only Judaism has been considered a truly monotheistic faith because Christianity at times has been said to offer some confusion in this regard and that it actually strays from the true definition of monotheistic. Judaism is considered to be the world's first monotheistic faith. One can take away from this that their way of thinking influenced more or less the origins of Christianity. Because Judaism was first, this work addresses Judaism's origin, God, scriptures, worldview, problems and solutions for man and then attempts to address their view of the afterlife and what it takes for mortals to attain it. Judaism has philosophical combinations of agreements and disagreements that can either encourage or prevent a person from following the religion as a whole.
This is as good a place to start as any -- Judaism as a religion is one that is either fully accepted or the outsider is totally against. There is not much middle ground when it comes to the Jewish faith. This may be because of certain causes: the first issue is that the Torah has, what can be interpreted as many inconsistent texts, that have been said to be edited together; second is the fact that unlike the Catholic Church, Judaism never developed binding catechism or other formal agreed-upon dogma; third, unless someone is born into the religion, it is actually quite difficult to become Jewish; and lastly, Judaism has too many tolerances and theological perspectives. These issues show that most people of the Jewish faith would not actually encourage someone not born into the religion to convert. This often leads to religious infighting between rabbis, followers and outsiders.
Christianity on the other hand, does everything possible to make conversion easy. The Christian faith is growing today at unbelievable rates in all corners of the world. It would seem that the Christian philosophy of sharing the religious faith with any and all has helped the religion prosper in this modern economically driven global environment. Christianity also strives to answer different, and apparently, more pertinent questions for the new converts. Christianity addresses issues such as: are there ethical values such as right, wrong, good and evil; what is the biblical basis for such values; are these ethical values essential for living properly; how should the ethical values affect war & peace, sexuality, genetics, financial expectations or any other policy making issues? The biblical foundation of the Ten Commandments seems more prevalent in the Christian faith than they do in the Jewish faith even though both have the Ten Commandments as the backbone of strength. Christians seem to be better at converting the concepts into useable ideals such as civil restraint, spiritual mirroring, and striving to accomplish positive deeds. This is not to say that the Jewish faith does not have the same ideals, but the Christian faith seems to market it better. Even though Moses' laws were received from God, Christianity has utilized the concepts more effectively.
A major issue for followers of the Jewish faith can be the religious philosophy's strict Unitarianism or the belief in one God. For those of the Jewish faith, God is eternal and the single creator of the universe and all that is morale in that universe. This underlying philosophy entails many things. For example, the foundation of the religion is that man should offer prayer to God alone. This means that there are no middlemen or intermediaries so to speak, between God and man. To accomplish this, the Torah specifies laws that need to be followed by the Children of Israel. Other religions are characterized through their temples where priests worship one or more gods through sacrifice. The Children of Israel on the other hand, had their own temples, priests, and also made sacrifices, however Judaism offers alternatives that elevate daily living to a level of a temple and therefore the followers worshiping God through routine and mundane as well as great daily actions.
Christianity offers some additional differences right off the bat. Christians say that they only have one God. Where the confusion comes in is the fact that the God of the Christian faith, which may or may not be the same God as in the Jewish faith, has shown himself in their writings as Himself to be God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Christians therefore believe in a Trinity which technically would not conform to the same Unitarian monotheistic beliefs as the Jewish faith. Another instant difference between the two faiths is the concept of Jesus. Throughout Christianity, Jesus has technically been seen as someone between God and man. The majorities of Christians often pray directly to and for Jesus to either intervene or to answer the prayer directly which neglects to make a direct link to the God of the faith. If this prayer is to be interpreted, Jesus is the God or the spokesman for the human.
To examine Judaism from a historical perspective, the religion is thought to have begun as Samaritanism although modern day Samaritans have not considered themselves to be Jews. Historians have the beginning of the religion being formed near the first century CE where there were original Jewish sects. These original sects are the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essene and the Christians. It is said that upon the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, these sects all vanished and Christianity somehow survived. Their survival occurred because they broke away from Judaism.
The Pharisees also survived as a form of Rabbinic Judaism. Devote Jews believe that the Biblical patriarch Abraham was actually the very first Jewish believer. If the concept is accurate, Abraham was promised children by God and one of those children was Isaac who inherited the land of Canaan, now called Israel. According to the bible, God gave Isaac's son Jacob the name which translates to mean Israel and this is what allowed his descendants to become a nation. The scriptures say that God sent Jacob and his descendants to Egypt where they became slaves. God later sent Moses to save the Israelites from slavery and also to take them to Mount Sinai. At Mount Sinai, they received the Torah. They then headed to reclaim their land of Israel.
Christianity as noted may have descended directly from Judaism. Like Judaism, the underlying rules that hold the faith together come from the biblical laws set forth by the Ten Commandments. Religious philosophies focusing on Jesus Christ have actually moved away from the historical accounts within the pages of the bible. Christianity has therefore created many unique interpretations of the word. Consider the differences in modern Episcopalian, Catholic and Orthodox writings. To show the many differences within the Christian faith, consider that Roman Catholic Church following has been diminishing while at the same time global support for the Christian faith has been rising.
For those not in the religion, Judaism is a complicated thing to grasp because the faith does not easily conform to Western categories and interpretations. The west seems to believe that a faith movement like Judaism has to fall into a specific religion, race, ethnicity or culture. Followers of the faith see it more as the combined four thousand year history of its previous and current followers as opposed to a strict religion. Over the course of the four thousand years, the followers have had some tumultuous times. The Jewish experience is a combined time of slavery, anarchic self-government, conquest, occupation, theocratic self-government and exile. This history is intensified by the fact that Jews have historically been an extremely diverse group of nationalities. The faith has its foundation in what is modern day Egypt and Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations. The people were Babylonians, Persians and a plethora of other cultures that may or may not still exist. It is probably truer to say that the Jewish faith cannot be classified based on national, genealogical or even religious dictates.
Christians have also been influenced by many cultures and national influences, but the Roman Catholic Church has had a major influence on the overall religion. At one time the Catholic Church may have been considered the strongest nation on the planet and eventually they became their own nation. The Christian faith has been considered to be borrowers of other religion's ideas and beliefs. It has already been suggested that Christianity has its direct roots in Judaism, but the road to Vatican City may have taken other ideas as well. For example, similar to the Trinity, ancient Egyptians used to believe in three gods, Osiris the father, Isis the mother, and Horus their son. Although the underlying concepts are different, the three is not considered to be a coincidence.
In conclusion, this paper aimed to analyze, compare and contrast some developments and functions of monotheism in the two religions, Judaism and Christianity. It was cleared up why Christianity is sometimes not considered to be a truly monotheistic faith. Judaism is the world's first…