Concept of God in Judaism and Christianity Term Paper
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history medical studies have concluded that prayer helps to heal the sick. Many political meetings begin with a prayer and American currency has the words "In God We Trust" imprinted on its face. Around the world God is a powerful deity and one that has historically led entire societies to make decisions based on God's word. While God has been the single deity that leads and guides societies in their decisions both on an individual and collective basis there are many different concepts of what God is and entails. Two large worldwide faiths have many similarities and differences in God and its meaning. The faith of Christianity as well as the faith of Judaism both believe in a single God. The faiths are based in the word of that God and their followers respect and revere the God of their faith. While both faiths believe in a single God there are many differences in the way that God is portrayed and implemented in their worlds. This paper will present a detailed examination of each faith and its ideas about God. The paper will explore the concept of God in a general sense and then compare and contrast the concept of God in the faiths of Christianity and Judaism. The writer will explore not only the abstract concepts of God with each faith but also the tangible beliefs and practices that are surrounding the concept of God.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. The general concept of God
2. Historic evolvement of God
3. Some of the changes that have been witnessed
4. How God is used in worldwide faiths
The Jewish Faith
5. How God is perceived in the Jewish Faith?
6. What are some of the abstract beliefs regarding God?
7. What are some of the tangible beliefs regarding God?
8. What are some of the practices about God?
The Christian Faith
9. How is God perceived in the Christian Faith?
10. What are some of the abstract beliefs regarding God?
11. What are some of the tangible beliefs regarding God?
12. What are some of the practices regarding God?
To gather an understanding of how the concept of God differs between the Christian and Jewish faith it is important to first have a understanding of the general concept of God historically. The concept of God was developed over a period of ages and the historic journey helps to define where and when and how the differences within the two religions occurred. The concept of an actual God regardless of the various differences within the concept or within faiths about that concept started with the development of religious faith.
The general concept of a monolithic God involves the belief in one deity who was the creator of all living things. This God is believed to have power, and to have the ability to cause things to happen both good and bad. God in this sense is believed to be all loving and all powerful and the faiths that believe in a single God believe the God is to be worshipped and that He is to be first and foremost in all that one does.
"The beginnings of religion may have preceded the first member of our species -- Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals reverently buried their dead with a ritual that seems to show that they anticipated life after death, in some form. They might have had based this belief on some concept of the supernatural."
There were many steps that led to the concept of religious faith and therefore the concept of a God that were attained well before individual religious beliefs. They included the steps of mankind that (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
"Attained a fully developed self-consciousness.
Developed a moral sense.
Developed a spirit of community that was much more advanced than any other species.
Developed methods of communication -- again highly developed.
Became aware of the finite nature of their life span, and of their own impending death.
Developed an enlarged brain with a very different internal structure. This facilitated abstract thinking. Unfortunately, the size of the brain made childbirth much more difficult and hazardous for both woman and fetus.
According to most paleontologists and anthropologists, fully developed humans with these abilities and knowledge emerged, perhaps fifty thousand to one hundred thousand years ago (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGEShttp://www.religioustolerance.org/god_devel.htm)."
development of mankind progressed it dovetailed with the development that the theory of evolution follows. According to those who do not believe in evolution and instead believe in creation through a God the above qualities were provided by the God concept. However those who believe in evolution also believe there is a similar list of attained elements that occurred throughout history including:
"The development of a moral sense.
An awareness of their personal death.
Painful and hazardous childbirth (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGEShttp://www.religioustolerance.org/god_devel.htm)."
The concept of a monolithic God as for the purposes of the Christian and the Jewish faith believed that Adam was the first human and he was tainted when he and his counterpart Eve ate fruit from the forbidden fruit tree and opened the world to the concept of sin. This is an important concept in the study of differences between the faith of Judaism and Christianity because this is one of the areas where the beliefs in God purpose and actions and ideas separate.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit and presumably became:
"Capable of recognizing the difference between good and evil.
Capable of developing an ethical sense.
Being aware of their own impending personal death (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
Another important understanding in the conceptual study of God is the belief by both faiths that God separated humans and animals in the ability to develop self-consciousness.
The earliest concepts of God according to some experts came from a need by mankind to have morals and values with clout. "Many theologians and anthropologists feel that our first fully human ancestors developed primitive concepts of God in order to lessen their anxiety about the future. Thus began the first religion, Animism. This was, and is, typically found in hunter-gatherer societies. Having developed self-consciousness in themselves, they may have assumed that the rest of the world was equally self-conscious. The began to believe that the rocks, mountains, rivers, sun, moon, trees, land animals, birds, etc. all contained vital powers, each animated by a spirit (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
When hunting and gathering gave way to agriculture and raising animals for food religious ideas took a new direction. Fertility was the new buzzword when it came to the concept of God and fertility was needed for survival therefore pleased for from the God that was worshipped at the time.
As the world continued to grow and thrive religions began to develop and several of them became monotheistic in nature while some remained henotheistic.
The major religions which have survived to the present day are mostly monotheistic or henotheistic. They include (in alphabetic order):
"Baha'i World Faith: This religion teaches that there is only one transcendent and unknowable God who is the source of all creation. He has sent ten Great Manifestations of God -- inspired prophets -- to humanity: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, The Bab and Baha'u'llah.
Christianity: Most Christians, at least since the late fourth century CE, generally recognize God as composed of a Trinity, which is in turn composed of a Father (Jehovah), Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. The Trinity includes three personalities within a single deity.
Hinduism: Hindus recognize a single supreme God: Brahma who is simultaneously visualized as a triad: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu (Krishna) the Preserver and Siva the destroyer. Hinduism is a henotheistic religion which recognizes other gods and goddesses as facets or manifestations or aspects of the one supreme God.
Islam: Muslims recognize Allah as the only deity, and Muhammad as his prophet. The Shahadah, which is recited at least daily by most Muslims reflects this: "There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet").
Judaism: Jews recognize Jehovah as the sole deity, who has selected them to be his chosen people.
Sikhism: Sikhs believe in a single, Formless God, with many names, who can be known through meditation (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
These faiths continue to exist and grow today with the Christian and Jewish faith being two of the strongest. Both faiths believe in the concept of one God while each faith believes that concept to mean different things and to teach different lessons.
While both the Jewish faith and the Christian faith believe in and follow the Old Testament (Hebrew scriptures), there are many differences in the two faiths when it comes to later biblical tales and beliefs (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD…
Sources Used in Documents:
J.S. Spong, "A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying & How a New Faith is Being Born," HarperSanFrancisco, (2001), Pages 37 & 38.
THE JEWISH CONCEPT OF THE MESSIAH
Book Review: Concept of God as shepherd is Jewish paradigm
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