Christianity and Judaism are two Abrahamic religions that have similar origins but have varying beliefs, practices and teachings.
About Judaism and Christianity
The definition of Christianity varies among different Christian groups. Roman Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox define a Christian as one who is the member of the Church and the one who enters through the sacrament of baptism. Infants and adults who are baptized are considered as Christians. Jesus's Jewish group became labeled 'Christian' because his followers claimed he was 'Christ' the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew and Aramaic word for 'Messiah.' Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people, based on principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Talmud.
Christianity began in 1st century AD Jerusalem as a Jewish sect and spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond to countries such as Ethiopia, Armenia, Georgia, Assyria, Iran, India, and China. The first known usage of the term Christians can be found in the New Testament of the Bible. The term was thus first used to denote those known or perceived to be disciples of Jesus. The history of early Christian groups is told in Acts in the New Testament. The early days of Christianity witnessed the desert Fathers in Egypt, sects of hermits and Gnostic ascetics.
Jesus gave the New Law by summing up the Ten Commandments. Many of the Jews did not accept Jesus. For traditional Jews, the commandments and Jewish law are still binding. For Christians, Jesus replaced Jewish law. As Jesus began teaching the twelve Apostles some Jews began to follow Him and others did not. Those who believed the teachings of Jesus became known as Christians and those who didn't remained Jews.
Differences in Beliefs
The Religion of Mary and Joseph was the Jewish religion. Judaism's central belief is the people of all religions are children of God, and therefore equal before God. Judaism accepts the worth of all people regardless of religion, it allows people who are not Jewish and wish to voluntarily join the Jewish people. While the Jews believe in the unity of God, Christians believe in the Trinity. A Jew believes in divine revelation through the prophets and Christians believe it to be through Jesus and the prophets.
The Christian Religion encompasses all churches as well as believers without churches, as many modern practitioners may be believers in Christ but not active church goers. A Christian will study the Bible, attend church, seek ways to introduce the teachings of Jesus into his or her life, and engage in prayer. A Christian seeks forgiveness for his or her personal sins through faith in Jesus Christ. The goal of the Christian is both the manifestation of the Kingdom of God on Earth and the attainment of Heaven in the after-life.
In the following video, Rabbi Tovia Singer and William Lane Craig debate about the Trinity of God:
Scriptures of Christianity and Judaism
Judaism has considered belief in the divine revelation and acceptance of the Written and Oral Torah as its fundamental core belief. The Jewish Bible is called Tanakh which is the dictating religious dogma. Christianity regards the Holy Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament) as authoritative: written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore the inerrant Word of God.
Jewish vs. Christian Practices
Traditionally, Jews recite prayers three times daily, with a fourth prayer added on Shabbat and holidays. Most of the prayers in a traditional Jewish service can be said in solitary prayer, although communal prayer is preferred. Jews also have certain religious clothing which a traditional Jew wears.Christians believe that all people should strive to follow Christ's commands and example in their everyday actions. For many, this includes obedience to the Ten Commandments. Other Christian practices include acts of piety such as prayer and Bible reading. Christians assemble for communal worship on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, though other liturgical practices often occur outside this setting. Scripture readings are drawn from the Old and New Testaments, but especially the Gospels.
Comparing Jewish and Christian Religious Teachings/Principles
Judaism teaches Jews to believe in one God and direct all prayers towards Him alone while Christians are taught about the Trinity of God- The Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Jews generally consider actions and behavior to be of primary importance; beliefs come out of actions. This conflicts with conservative Christians for whom belief is of primary importance and actions tend to be derivative from beliefs.
Another universal teaching of Christianity is following the concept of family values, helping the powerless and promoting peace which Jews also believe in.
The View of Jesus in Christianity and Judaism
To Jews, Jesus was a wonderful teacher and storyteller. He was just a human, not the son of God. Jews do not think of Jesus as a prophet. Also, Jews believe that Jesus cannot save souls, and only God can. In the Jewish view, Jesus did not rise from the dead. Judaism in general does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
Christians believe in Jesus as a messiah and as the giver of salvation. Christians believe that all people should strive to follow Christ's commands and example in their everyday actions.
Geographical Distribution of Jews vs. Christians
The Jews have suffered a long history of persecution in many different lands, and their population and distribution per region has fluctuated throughout the centuries. Today, most authorities place the number of Jews between 12 and 14 million. Predominantly, Jews today live in Israel, Europe and the United States.
Data suggest that there are around 2.1 billion Christians in the world all around the globe inlcuding South and North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
Jews include three groups: people who practice Judaism and have a Jewish ethnic background (sometimes including those who do not have strictly matrilineal descent), people without Jewish parents who have converted to Judaism; and those Jews who, while not practicing Judaism as a religion, still identify themselves as Jewish by virtue of their family's Jewish descent and their own cultural and historical identification with the Jewish people.
There are many people who follow christianity and have divided themselves into various groups/ sects depending upon varying beliefs. The types of Christians include Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Coptic.
- Jews and Christians: Exploring the past, present and Future Edited by James H. Charlesworth