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Christianity to Worldview of Modern Judaism

Strong opinions have been offered as to the differences between ancient and modern Judaism but both of these facets do bear a lot of similarity. In my essay, we will be looking at modern Judaism and its views towards Christianity but we will first analyze these two forms of Judaism and the influence it has had in shaping its views of Christianity. Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Ancient Judaism’s origins can be traced to “a small nation of Hebrews that practiced it through thousands of years of suffering and persecution. ” The core belief of Judaism is there is only one God.

Thousands of years ago, belief in only one Supreme Being was unheard of and this is probably why the Jewish people and Judaism stood out. The Jewish people also believed God revealed himself to Abraham; who was the ancestor of the Jewish people. From Abraham, the Jewish people (or the Hebrews at that time) have always believed that God has always taken care of them and they are the chosen people. After they were rescued from slavery in Egypt, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and specific religious guidelines in the Torah that the Jewish people were supposed to follow.

The Jews worshipped God on the “Sabbath Day as stated by God in the Ten Commandments in Exodus Chapter 20 of the Old Testament. ” They also marked the Passover festival in remembrance of the day God delivered them from Egypt. Modern Judaism During this period, the Jewish people or Israelites used to have only three major worships in a year. These were the Passover, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles-at the temple in Jerusalem. When the Israelites were taken to Babylon and forced into slavery, this is when they started worshipping in Synagogues.

“With no temple, the people made new places to worship God. ” When they moved back to Israel, they continued worshipping in the synagogue for the next 600 years. The temple was still in existence but it was for feasts and animal sacrifices. When the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D, this is when Judaism became a religion that was “devoted prayer, repentance and good deeds and animal sacrifices ceased. ” This was the birth of modern Judaism. Modern Jews started worshipping in the synagogue and in their homes instead of going to the tabernacle and then to the temple like their predecessors.

They also stopped offering animal sacrifices and holding great feasts as a sign of repentance for their sins. Instead, “they chanted ancient Hebrew prayers and read scriptures. ” Principles of Modern Judaism So far, there exists some similarities between modern Judaism and Christianity but followers of Judaism still view Christianity as a totally different religion despite the fact that both religions closely follow the Old Testament. Judaism is based on five basic principles.

The first one is the Jews are God’s chosen people and it is therefore quite understandable why the Jewish people don’t really think much about salvation. “You shall be my own possession among all the People-Exodus 19:5” They believe God has already chosen them. The second one is they must observe the Sabbath day together with the annual feasts and festivals like the Passover. “God told Israel to observe His appointed times-Leviticus23:2. ” (Wylen, p 169)The third one is sanctification. “The Jewish people had to be holy, separate and different.

”(Dan, p 18)They did not eat pork and a variety of other animals that were explained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The way they dress also has to be different. The men wear small hats called yarmulkes and the women wear scarves or wigs. The fourth pillar is community prayer where “prayers are usually said together as a family and as a synagogue. ” Most of the prayers in Judaism are in Hebrew and they were written a long time ago. The last principle calls for dedication in the study of the Torah, which are the first five books of the Old Testament.

Concept of Salvation Modern Judaism does have quite a radical view of Christianity especially in the concept of salvation. In Christianity, in order to receive God’s salvation, one has to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior and only through accepting him will a believer be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Christians believe that when Jesus died on the cross he saved them from eternal suffering that God was going to unleash on them due to their sinful nature. With His subsequent resurrection, Jesus washed away all our sins.

This core belief is summarized in the New Testament in the book of “John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. ” As explained earlier, Judaism and more specifically Jews view salvation as a non-issue as they are God’s chosen people. They view Jesus Christ as a rabbi who was spreading God’s word but the Christians see Him as the Messiah whose arrival was foretold by prophets and He came to save the world.

The main reason why modern Judaism views Jesus as a misunderstood rabbi can be best explained when we look at their views on His crucifixion. According to Jews, “Jesus’ death was not unique; Many Jews at that time were crucified by Romans. ” Christians however see that crucifixion as symbolic in nature and it “represents a sacrifice that brought them forgiveness. ” It does appear like the major disconnect in the two religions could be due to the widespread acceptance of the New Testament by the Christians and the staunch conservatism to the Old testament and more specifically the Torah by modern Judaism.

Bear in mind that Christians also staunchly follow the readings of the Old Testament but it is the gospels of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ that can be viewed as the pillars of Christianity. Original Sin The concept of sin and the breaking of the covenant with God are similar in both religions but the difference comes in on how one restores that covenant. According to Christianity, a person is born into sin. This is attributed to the original sin that was committed by Adam and Eve. Christian teachings add that it is therefore human nature to do evil and corrupt deeds.

Man will show a natural tendency to do more evil than to do good. This could be unjust actions towards your fellow mankind or failing to follow God’s teachings. All this is attributed to the spiritual heritage that was passed down by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. It appears like mankind is doomed since they have already broken this covenant with God. The only option that is left is for God to destroy mankind as he has proved to be unfaithful. But he gives mankind one last chance for salvation. God will sacrifice his own son (Jesus) and in doing so, Jesus will wipe away all our sins.

The act of sacrifice will only wipe the slate clean if a believer accepts Jesus. Bear in mind that every man is already born in sin so even if you live an unblemished life, you have never done wrong to anyone, your covenant with God will only be restored if you accept Jesus. The Jewish people believe they are the chosen people therefore the concept of having to accept God again (or Jesus) doesn’t add up. That is not the case with Christianity. Constant repentance is called for in Christianity so as to maintain their covenant with God.

The Jewish people on the other hand recognize two kinds of sin. There is the offense against fellow mankind and the offense against God. Such a divide is not evident in Christianity; both sins are simply regarded as equal and there is no sin that is unforgivable. In Judaism, to repair this covenant when it is broken, “the Jews believe that the right action is the way to atone for one’s sins; not right belief. ” The difference in opinion in the two religions could be due to the concept of the messiah and Jesus Christ that exists in Christianity but is lacking in Judaism.

Christianity calls for believing in Jesus in order to adhere to the covenant while Jews already know they are the chosen people and following God’s commandments and the teachings of the Torah is what is required of them. (These were outlined earlier in the five basics of modern Judaism. ) “The Torah guides them to walk in God’s ways, to help them learn how to live a holy life on earth, and to bring holiness, peace and love into the world and into every part of life, so that life may be elevated to a high level of sanctity-Deuteronomy 30:16” After-life

What then happens after one honors this covenant? For believers in Christianity, there is heaven and an eternal life in the presence of Jesus. For the non-believers, they will go to hell where there is eternal suffering. In Judaism, the opinion is varied. Some quarters believe there is no afterlife. Others believe those who honored their covenant with God will go to heaven and those that didn’t end up in hell. “The non-Jews can be granted afterlife if they were righteous. ”(Glatzer, p 60) In Judaism however, the greater focus is on the “Age to Come; when Jews will live on earth in resurrected bodies.

”(Glatzer, p 60) They believe in the second coming like Christians but the messiah won’t be Jesus. Conclusion The major differences in Judaism and Christianity could be due to the different interpretations that various factions of Christianity draw from the bible. While Christianity does place a lot of emphasis on Jesus Christ as the messiah, Judaism on the other hand sees this as a deliberate omission of God’s teachings in the Torah. For example, the Catholics and Protestants justify the switching of the Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday to the teachings of the gospel; a view that Judaism does not share.

On another point, their inabilities to see Jesus as the messiah could be due the fact that they still view him as a rabbi. While they may not oppose his teachings, Judaism does not believe that the only way to the father (God) is through Jesus. “The divide between Jews and Christians was non-existent during the time of Jesus. ” It only appeared after the “4th Century of Christianity when the Jews and Roman Catholics were totally polarized. ”(Porter, p 54) Before this, the majority of Christians were Jews.

The major difference used to if Jesus was “the messiah that had been prophesized by the scriptures. ”(Strauss, p 89) Bibliography Benge Geoff, Christian Heroes: Then and Now, William Booth, YWAM Publishing, 2002, pp 15-18 Breslauer S. Daniel, Covenant and Community in Modern Judaism, Greenwood Press, 13th March, 2009, pp 57-89 Brody Robert, The geonim of Babylonia and the shaping of medieval Jewish culture, Yale University Press, 1998, pp 288-305 Cohn-Sherbok Dan, Judaism, Routledge, 2003, pp 11-29 Ferguson Everett, Early Christianity and Judaism, Taylor and Francis, 1993, pp 101-112

Fine Lawrence, Judaism in Practice, Princeton University Press, 2001, pp 66-75 Glatzer Nahum Norbert The Judaic Tradition, Behrman House Inc, 1965, pp 55-61 Krell Aaron Mark, Intersecting Pathways, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp 78-81 Litwak Duncan Kenneth, Echoes of scripture in Luke-Acts, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, pp 131-137 Novak David, Talking With Christians, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005, pp 116-121 Novak David, Natural Law in Judaism, Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp 231-233 Porter Stanley E, The Messiah in the Old and New Testaments, Wm.

B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007, pp 53-68 Rosenzweig Franz, Nahum Norbert Glatzer, Franz Rosenzweig, Hackett Publishing, 1998, pp 169-178 Skarsaune Oskar, In the shadow of the temple, Intervarsity Press, 2002, pp 145-148 Strauss Mark L, The Davidic messiah in Luke-Acts, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1995, pp 82-89 Wylen Stephen M, Settings of Silver, Paulist Press, 2000, pp 169-180 Wylen Stephen M, The Jews in the Time of Jesus, Paulist Press, 1996, pp 39-42 Wylen Stephen M, The Seventy Faces of Torah, Paulist Press, 1998, pp 114-119

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