Q. What are the main points on which Judaism differs from Christianity?
A. As everyone knows, Jesus himself was born and died a Jew. His followers were Jewish. His preaching was based on the tradition of Judaism. He did not consider himself the founder of a new religion, and he did not purport to teach anything other than Judaism.
Scholars have often shown the Jewish sources of some of his sayings and teachings. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, is an amalgam of Jewish texts; its first sentence is an almost verbatim translation of the first sentence of the Kaddish.
It was Paul, not Jesus, who was chiefly responsible for the development of Christianity into a new religion. Therefore, the major differences between the faiths are not so much between Judaism and the religion Jesus observed, but between Judaism and the religion about Jesus that developed after his death.
The differences between Judaism and Chrsitianity are threefold:
1. Beliefs About God
Christianity believes in the tri-une nature of the deity as Father, son, and holy spirit. For Judaism, any such notion – no matter how explained – is completely unacceptable. Judaism believes in the Unity of God. There is only one God and He is unique and indivisible.
Christianity says that Jesus was the son of God, the incarnation of God. Judaism is adamant that no man can be God, and God can never be anything other than pure spirit; God cannot take on human form.
Christianity says that Jesus was the Messiah. Judaism sees no evidence that he fulfilled the Biblical messianic prophecies. It affirms that the Messiah is yet to come, and believes that we have to help to bring about his coming.
Christianity says Jesus mediates between man and God. Judaism believes that man needs no mediator but can approach God direct.
Christianity says that Jesus is the Saviour and without belief in him, one cannot be “saved”; Judaism maintains that salvation comes from living an upright life, no matter what one’s formal creed or religious label.
3. Views of Life
Christianity teaches that man is born inherently sinful and can overcome this handicap only through belief. Judaism believes that man is by nature neither righteous or sinful: if a person sins they can return to God by repentance and good deeds.
Christianity teaches that the body is evil and the soul is pure. Judaism does not distinguish between body and soul. Both are God’s handiwork and must work in harmony.
Christianity stresses the life of faith, Judaism the life of Divine commandments.
Christianity stresses the salvation of the individual, Judaism the welfare of the whole community. Christianity emphasises life after death; Judaism prefers to stress making the most of life on earth.
Jews believe that Judaism is the truest, most insightful religion there is. But Jewish teachings tell us that “the righteous of all nations have a place in the World to Come”.