Difference Between Christianity and Judaism Discussion Of the major world religions, Christianity and Judaism are likely the most similar. Christianity and Judaism both believe in one God who is almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, and infinite. Christianity and Judaism share the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) as the authoritative Word of God, although Christianity includes the New Testament as well. Both Christianity and Judaism believe in the existence of heaven, the eternal dwelling place of the righteous, and hell, the eternal dwelling place of the wicked (although not all Christians and not all Jews believe in the eternality of hell). Christianity and Judaism have basically the same ethical code, commonly known today as Judeo-Christian. Both Judaism and Christianity teach that God has a special plan for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people (Molloy,2013).
The word ‘messiah’ is the anglicization of the Hebrew ‘Mashiach’. The word Mashiach translates to ‘anointed’. The title of Mashiach was given to any person who was appropriately anointed with oil as part of their initiation to their service of Hashem (Grunber,2005).
According to Cohen, 2003.The Christian concept of messiah includes the belief that:
1. He was the literal son of God.
2. He was sacrificed to atone for all sins of all men.
3. He was part of a Triune – god, spirit, son.
4. He would be both king and priest.
5. That he fulfilled the Torah.
6. That he was of a virgin birth.
From the Jewish perspective, there are serious issues with all these beliefs:
1. According to the Torah, Hashem states He will never be man or son of man. Hashem does not, nor ever will have physical form.
2. According to the Torah, sacrifice is only a part of the atonement process for unintended ‘sins’. Sacrifice is meaningless without repentance. Also, it is not possible to atone for mistakes not yet made or for the mistakes of others.
3. According to the Torah, Hashem is one, without form or division. The triune concept is seen as polytheism from the Jewish perspective.
4. According to Jewish law, based on the Torah, it is impossible for a person to be both a Jewish king and priest. This is because kings and priests come from completely different tribes. It is not possible to belong to more than one tribe – biological father only determines the tribe a man belongs to.
5. The Torah is the guidebook for how Jews are meant to live their lives, it’s impossible to “fulfill” the Torah. Living according to the Torah is a never-ending process that guides our daily actions. Saying that a person can fulfill the Torah is like claiming that once a driver has successfully stopped his or her car at a stop sign, he or she no longer needs to do so again.
6. There is no prophecy of a virgin birth anywhere in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible). The prophecy the claim of a virgin birth was based on was a short-term prophecy that was completed within Isaiah’s life. The actual prophecy states that by the time the child of the young woman Isaiah pointed out was old enough to know good from bad, x would happen.
Also, what most people don’t know is that virgin births aren’t that uncommon if one follows Jewish law based on the Torah. If a woman and man have intercourse with the woman’s hymen remaining intact, she is still considered a virgin, even if she becomes pregnant. As such, the Christian concept of messiah or Christ shares absolutely nothing with the Jewish concept of Mashiach. In truth, the Christian concept of messiah diametrically opposes every tenet of Judaism and is a form of blasphemy according to Jewish belief (Jacobs, S. L, 2010).
The all-important difference between Christianity and Judaism is the Person of Jesus Christ. Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah / Savior. Judaism often recognizes Jesus as a good teacher, and perhaps even a prophet of God. Judaism does not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Taking it a step further, Christianity teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh. Christianity teaches that God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ so He could lay down His life to pay the price for our sins. Judaism strongly denies that Jesus was God or that such a sacrifice was necessary (Molloy,2013).
Cohen, A. B., Siegel, J. I., & Rozin, P. (2003). Faith versus practice: different bases for religiosity judgments by Jews and Protestants.
Jacobs, S. L. (2010). Can We Talk? The Jewish Jesus in a Dialogue between Jews and Christians. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 28(3), 135
Grunberg, A. (2005). from The Jewish Messiah. Literary Review, 48(4), 22
Molloy, M. Experiencing the World’s Religions. [VitalSource Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/126039672X
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