Judaism's Influences in Christian Religion
29 SEP 2017
Judaism and Christianity are two distinct religions that follow different customs, traditions and beliefs. Yet, as Abrahamic religions they also share a rich common history, which is exemplified by both religions' use of the Hebrew Bible, also referred to as the Old Testament by Christians. Perhaps Judaism's greatest influence on Christianity was the notion of the messiah ("anointed" in Hebrew): Although Jews wholly reject that Jesus Christ, the central figure in Christianity, was the Son of God and mankind's savior, the concept of the messiah was born from the Judaic tradition.
1 Early Christianity
Jesus, his apostles and the earliest Christians were all Jewish, and in its earliest years, Christianity was recognized as a sect within Judaism. Its first bishops were all circumcised, and like Judaism, early Christianity held Jerusalem as its religious center. It was at the Christian church's first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea (Nicea) in 325, when the Christian church and the synagogue were decisively distinguished as two religions that held different beliefs.
Although the description of God differs between Jews and Christians -- Jews believe in one, unified God while most Christians believe in one godhead composed of three beings (God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit) -- the Jewish faith's monotheistic belief in one God influenced and shaped the Christian monotheistic doctrine of one God. Christians also believe in the God of the Hebrew Bible, referenced as the God of Israel.
3 Hebrew Bible
Although the Judaic faith rejects the New Testament as false prophecy, their holy scripture, the Hebrew Bible, is an integral part of the Christian Bible. However, the significance of the Old Testament is different for Jews and Christians: While Jews understand that the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, contains commands, laws and instructions that must be obeyed by Jews today, Christians believe that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection ended the need for these Jewish laws, as his death liberated mankind from original sin. Many Christian practices, such as baptism and the Eucharist, stem from the New Testament.
The concept of the messiah is mentioned several times throughout the Hebrew Bible: "When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Samuel 7:12-13). For the Jewish people, this messiah's coming will mark the gathering of Israel's dispersed tribes and restore the Davidic Kingdom. Christians believe that Jesus Christ fulfilled this role of the messiah, which is described throughout the Hebrew Bible, and that his death and subsequent resurrection allowed all mankind -- not just Jews -- to be saved by God.
- 1 Britannica: Abrahamic Religion
- 2 Britannica: Messiah
- 3 Britannica: Christianity
- 4 Jewish Encyclopedia: Christianity in its Relation to Judaism
- 5 Britannica: Council of Nicaea
- 6 BBC: Jewish Beliefs
- 7 BBC: The Basics of Christian History
- 8 BibleGateway: 2 Samuel 7:12-13
- 9 Chabad.org: Laws Concerning Kings and the Messiah