Compare Christianity and Judaism


Christianity has a close relationship with Judaism, both historically and theologically. Jesus, his disciples, Paul (who wrote most of the New Testament), and the members of the earliest Christian churches were all Jews. Jesus' family followed Jewish customs and Jesus frequently quoted the Hebrew Bible. Jesus' followers believed him to be the messiah, a Jewish figure predicted in the Jewish Bible.

Despite its Jewish origins, it was not long before Christianity regarded itself as something other than a new Jewish sect. The first Christian council, described in the New Testament, concluded that pagan converts to Christianity did not have to follow Jewish ritual laws. Soon, converts to Christianity were almost exclusively pagans and Christianity moved further away from Judaism.

In the 2,000 years of history since Jesus, the relationship between Christianity and the ancient faith in which it is rooted has often been strained. Christians have criticized Jews for rejecting Jesus as their messiah and Jews have criticized Christians for corrupting the concept of one God and following a false messiah. The New Testamant reports Jews persecuted Christians; after Christians became the more powerful group, they frequently persecuted Jews.

The following chart compares the origins, beliefs and practices of Christianity and Judaism.

Adherents CalledChristiansJews
Name Meansfollowers of Christ (Greek christos, Messiah)of the Kingdom of Judah
Date Foundedc. 30 CEc. 1800 BCE (Abraham); 6th cent. BCE (Pentateuch); or 70 CE (destruction of Second Temple)

see When Was Judaism Founded?
Place FoundedSouthern Levant (modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan)Southern Levant (modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan)

see Where Was Judaism Founded?
Original LanguagesAramaic and GreekHebrew
Founders & Early LeadersJesus, Peter, PaulAbraham, Moses
Expansionwithin 60 years, churches in major cities in Palestine, Turkey, Greece and Rome; entire Roman Empire by end of 4th cent.little expansion; mostly confined to Palestine area throughout history
SchismsCatholic-Orthodox (1054); Catholic-Protestant (1500s)Reform-Orthodox (1800s CE)
BranchesRoman Catholic; Eastern Orthodox; Protestant

see Christian Denominations
Orthodox, Reform, Conservative

see Jewish Sects and Movements
Main LocationsEurope, North and South America, AfricaIsrael, Eastern Europe, USA
Adherents2.2 billion

see Christianity Adherents
14 million

see Adherents of Judaism
Adherents in USA159 million5.6 million
Adherents in Canada21 million350,000
Adherents in UK51 million320,000
TextsBible (Hebrew Bible + New Testament)

see Christian Texts
Hebrew Bible (Tanakh); Talmud

see Jewish sacred texts
Hebrew Biblecanonical; called "the Old Testament"canonical
Apocryphacanonical (Catholic) or useful but noncanonical (Protestant)noncanonical but useful
New Testamentcanonicalnoncanonical
CreedsApostle's Creed, Nicene Creed13 Articles of Faith
Religious Lawcanon law (Catholicism)Halakhah
Religious AuthorityBible; some also look to church fathers, church councils, ecumenical creeds; papal decrees and canon law for CatholicsBible, Talmud, halakhah
Scriptureviews vary: most believe inspired by God; some believe literal Word of God, inerrant in original languages

see Christian Doctrines of Scripture
views vary
ProphetsBiblical prophets were true prophets of GodBiblical prophets were true prophets of God
God & SpiritsOne God, who is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; angels; demons; saints

see God & Spiritual Beings in Christianity
One God: Yahweh (YHVH)

see God in Judaism
Spiritual Beingsangels and demonsangels and demons
Revered Humanssaints, church fathersprophets
MessiahJesus Christ is the Messiah awaited by the Jewsthe Messiah will come in the future

see Jewish Beliefs about the Messiah
JesusSon of God, God incarnate, Word of God, Messiah, savior of the world

see Christian beliefs about Jesus
false prophet
Birth of Jesusvirgin birthnormal birth
Death of Jesusreal physical death plus spiritual sufferingnormal death
Resurrection of Jesusaffirmeddenied
Second Coming of Jesusaffirmeddenied
Revelationthrough Prophets and Jesus (as God Himself), recorded in Bibleprophets, recorded in Hebrew Bible
Human NatureCreated good but all inherit "original sin" from Adam, causing a tendency to evil

see Christian Beliefs about Human Nature
two equal impulses, one good and one bad

see Jewish views of human nature
Salvationcorrect belief, faith, good deeds, sacraments (Protestants emphasize faith alone)

see Christian Beliefs about Salvation
belief in God, good deeds
Predestinationaffirmed by most denominations
AfterlifeResurrection of body and soul; eternal heaven or hell (most denominations); temporary purgatory (Catholicism)

see Christianity on the Afterlife
Not emphasized; views vary: no afterlife, shadowy existence, World to Come (similar to heaven), Gehenna (similar to hell), reincarnation

see The Afterlife in Judaism
View of Christianitytrue religionfalse interpretation and expansion of Judaism
View of Islamrespected as a fellow monotheistic religion, but Muhammad is not seen as a true prophetfalse interpretation and expansion of Judaism
View of Judaismtrue religion but with incomplete revelationtrue religion
House of Worshipchurch, chapel, cathedral, basilica, meeting hallsynagogue, temple, schul
Day of WorshipSundaySaturday
Clergypriest, bishop, archbishop, patriarch, pope, pastor, minister, preacher, deaconrabbis
PracticesPrayer, Bible study, baptism, Eucharist (Communion), church on Sundays, numerous holidays.

see Christian Practices
Circumcision at birth, bar/bat mitzvah at adulthood, observing Sabbath, wearing tallit and tefilin, prayer services

see Jewish Rituals and Practices
head covered during prayergenerally nogenerally yes (especially men)
Major HolidaysLent, Holy Week, EasterYom Kippur, Days of Awe, Passover
Other HolidaysChristmas, saints daysChanukah, Purim
SymbolsCross, dove, anchor, fish, alpha/omega, chi rho

see Christian Symbols
Star of David, chai, hamsa, tree

see Symbols in Judaism
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