Jews: can you name the major differences between Judaism and Christianity?

What are the major differences between Judaism and Christianity? And I mean the biggest differences besides the fact that Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah and son of God and Jews don't.

29 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Of course there are the major differences that in Judaism Jesus has no significance at all, and G-d's guidance to Jews in the Torah is binding for all time, not abrogated. But the differences go far beyond that.

    Christianity, with the doctrine of original sin, seems to view humanity as essentially sinful and in need of salvation. Christianity seems more focused on salvation for the next world than on living in this world, and on proper belief more than proper behavior (although both are important). Christianity also seems to have a doctrine of eternal torment of sinners in the afterlife.

    Judaism is more concerned with proper behavior than with proper belief (although both are important).

    Judaism does not have a doctrine of original sin, and sees man as possessing inclinations to do both good and bad things, the choice between them being a matter of free will choice. The "bad inclination" ('yetzer ha'ra, sometimes mistranslated as "evil inclination" is viewed as essential to human existence. It is not a desire to do evil in the way we normally think of it in Western society: a desire to cause senseless harm. Rather, it is usually conceived as the selfish nature, the desire to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.) without regard for the moral consequences of fulfilling those desires.

    The yetzer ha'ra is not a bad thing. It was created by G-d, and all things created by G-d are good. The Talmud notes that without the yetzer ha'ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs. But the yetzer ha'ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer ha'tov (the inclination to do good, that is, G-d's will - the moral conscience).

    In a rough sense, then, the two may perhaps be seen as analogs to Freud's id and superego, particularly since Jewish tradition says that the yetzer ha'ra is born with the infant, but the yetzer ha'tov begins to develop later in childhood.

    Both are essential (and when in harmony, good) aspects of humanity. The yetzer ha'ra is quite different from the concept of original sin (which has no good aspects). Further, although original sin condemns a person to hell without salvation, the yetzer ha'ra does not. One does not need to be saved from one's humanity, but instead needs to “grow up” in it.

    Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I have the impression that there is in Christian teaching a tendency to see the world as an essentially sinful place - sex, for example is viewed negatively. Jewish teaching sees G-d's creation as agood thing, and sex in its proper setting of a loving marital relationship as an essential and good and enjoyable part of that relationship, so much so that it is considered meritorious for a husband and wife to make love on the Sabbath as part of the "enjoyment of the Sabbath."

    Christianity teaches that G-d's law as found in the Torah is impossible to observe fully and results only in failure, and seems to teach that mercy is more important than justice.

    Judaism teaches that G-d operates in the realm of both justice and mercy in appropriate balance, for the world can't function on either alone.

    "Law" is a mistranslation of the Hebrew "Torah," which means "instruction," or "guidance."

    It's a gift from G-d to humanity whose purpose is to enable us to do G-d's will in living an ethical and holy life, as he wants us, in order to make the world a better place in accordance with his will. It's not about racking up points for the next life, or for "salvation" - Judaism doesn't share that concept with Christianity.

    And G-d doesn't expect the Torah to be observed perfectly - although that would be a goal to strive for. It's guidance, a goal, not an unreachable standard.

    G-d tells us in Deuteronomy 30:10-14 that living according to the Torah is far from being an impossible burden:

    10 ".. if only you heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of insruction, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.

    11 For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you.

    12 It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'

    13 Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'

    14 No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.

    G-d tells us that the living according to the his will as expressed in the instruction of the Torah is not impossibly difficult, it's something easily within man's capabilities - He does not expect perfection from man, only the effort to strive toward doing G-d's will.

    G-d's covenant is eternal and enduring, and does not depend on perfect performance - G-d is always willing to forgive and accept back to him those who sin if they repent of their ways.

    And, of course, the Jewish concept of being chosen by G-d does not in any way mean any sense of superiority or privilege; it means being chosen to assume the additional responsibility to live according to the commandments of the Torah. Non-Jews needn't live according to the Torah's guidance in order to be considered righteous, to "have a share in the world to come." So being chosen entails no special privileges compared to other nations, just responsibilities.

    Judaism focuses more on the present world, and doesn't have as well-developed a theory of the afterlife as Christianity appears to. However, there is no eternal punishment or torment, except for perhaps the most wicked of humans. The Talmud teaches that the maximum sentence in the Jewish version of hell (which seems more like purgatory than the Christian hell) is only twelve months.

    Finally, Christianity generally teaches that in order to be "saved" one must believe in Jesus, so that non-Christians are condemned to an unhappy fate.

    Judaism teaches that one need not be a practicing Jew to be considered righteous; "the righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come."


    Source(s): A lifetime of study and practice.
  • kismet
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    These are the biggest differences between Judaism and Xianity:

    Jews believe that one person cannot die for the sins of another person.

    Jews believe that we do not need a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

    Jews believe that Jesus was not the messiah.

    Jews believe that God hates human sacrifices. Who died on the cross? Was it Jesus-the-god, or was it Jesus-the-human? If it was Jesus-the-god, Jews don't believe that God can die. If it was Jesus-the-human, then all Christians have in the death of Jesus was a human death, a human sacrifice. Jews believe that God hates the very idea of human sacrifice.

    Jews believe that one is born into the world with original purity, and not with original sin. Jews do not believe in original sin.

    Jews believe that God is one and indivisible. Jews do not believe in a trinity.

    Jews believe in The Satan, but not in a devil. There is a difference between The Satan and the devil.

    Jews believe that God is God, and humans are humans. God does not become human nor do humans become God.

  • 1 decade ago

    The two paths offer completely different approaches. Christianity is concerned with belief, a creed that one signs up to; believes we have to behave in certain ways here in order to get into heaven; and believes that people who don't behave well enough go to hell. Judaism is concerned with covenant, with what we do on a daily basis in recognition of that covenant, and is not very bothered about exactly what one believes; is very concerned with THIS life and living it to the full, enjoying the pleasures of the world while behaving responsibly towards one fellow humans; believes we should engage in efforts to make this life a better place for everyone; and has no notion of hell.

    Christianity holds that those who don't believe in Jesus are not 'saved' from 'original sin' and therefore are damned. Judaism has no concept of original sin and holds that anyone who leads a righteous life, Jewish or not, is just as beloved of God.

    As a minor detail, Christianity believes that sex is somehow rather sinful and shouldn't be enjoyed too much, particularly by women; Judaism believes that sex is provided by God for enjoyment and a man's duty towards his wife is to ensure her pleasure and satisfaction.

    They really are utterly different concepts, and one of the biggest problems Jews have is that people assume that Judaism is sort of like Christianity in the way in which it is a religion. It isn't.

  • Sandi
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Yes, you are right they are fundamentally the same. They all believe in one Supreme Being. Jews do not think that Jesus was the son of God but still most Jews believe that a Messiah is coming. Muslims do not believe Jesus was the son of God but most believe that he was a Prophet and that he did exist. Actually, to me, all religions that believe in a Supreme being are basically that same. Even if that religion believes, for example, that the Sun or Moon is the ultimate spirit because still, they believe in a Supreme Deity.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Aravah
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    What Blue Foots said.

    One major additional point: A large number of Christians don't know much about the Jewish religion or culture but most Jews seem to have a good deal of knowledge about Christianity.

    Source(s): JPA
  • 1 decade ago

    This sounds suspiciously like a homework question. However, I'll take the chance that it's not.

    Judaism does not believe that God takes a physical form; as you pointed out, we do not believe that Jesus was a deity of any sort, or indeed that he had any connection to Judaism beyond the fact that (if he existed) he was Jewish.

    Judaism believes that what we do here on earth is what matters. We focus on here and now, not on a heavenly "reward." We don't believe people will burn in hell; indeed our concept of "hell" is not remotely like that of Christianity.

    We believe that all people have a direct connection to God; we don't believe in the need for intercessory figures such as Jesus, priests, saints, or others. If we want to talk to God, we talk - it's that simple.

    We don't believe in the concept of original sin; that's strictly a Christian invention put forth by the early Church.

    More than anything, though, we don't believe in religion as fear. We don't "fear" God, and we don't feel guilty for our very existence, and to me, that's the biggest difference of all. We don't believe that we're inherently "bad;" we believe that we have as much right to be here as anything else God made. We don't believe God is waiting to pounce on whatever we do wrong, and we don't believe that making a mistake separates us from God on anything remotely like a permanant basis - that was Paul's idea. Instead, we believe that when we make a mistake, we acknowledge it, try to correct any damage if we can, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep trying. And we believe that as long as we keep TRYING, that IS what God wants us to do. Getting it right is important, and certainly better than getting it wrong, but spiritually speaking, it's as much about the effort and the attitude as the result.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    right well christians dont follow any laws of Judaism like keeping kosher, having the 'snip', shabbat etc

    whereas jews do :)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Jews view Passover as when God passed over the firstborn of those who had blood upon their doorpost and eventually led to the freedom of the people.

    Christians believe it is this symbol that has to do with Jesus.

    Jews believe that the covenant that God made with Abraham and also with Moses is eternal.

    Christians believe that the New Testament wipes that out.

    Jews believe that all persons have a place in the world to come.

    Christians believe that only those who accept Jesus as Messiah will be "saved" from impending doom in hell.

    Jews believe that the Messiah will come with the building of the 3rd temple.

    Christians believe that Jesus will come back to convert the Jews and other peoples when the 3rd temple is rebuilt.

    Jews view Matzah as unleavened bread that did not have enough time to rise when we had to leave Egypt.

    Christians view that bread as a symbol of the body of Jesus.

    Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the miracle that took place when Judas Maccabee and his brothers rid the temple of the Greeks and rededicated it with the only vat of oil left, which lasted 8 days until they could make more oil.

    Christians think Hanukkah is "Jewish Christmas".

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Wow...this is by far the most fascinating and intriguing question I have encountered yet.!

    Laura You really started something here y'know.

    Suddenly all these experts come out of the blue and know all the answers about the differentiation between christianity and judiasm.......gimme a break.! Who the heck is the JPA anyway, it looks like a whole bunch of em mustv'e contacted each other

    when this question surfaced.!

    For a start,It is absolutely wrong and absurdly arrogant for anyone and I mean anyone to interpret and speak for the entire jewish people.! I never elected anyone to do so and I am quite capable of speaking for myself about my views of the above question and so I shall.

    There is no one single jewish belief or group that speaks for everyone. There are some powerful, well organized zionist associations that are backed by generous donations from jewish billionaires and millionaires. eg. in the uk the jewish board of deputies, also a chief rabbi named sachs.They are not representing me nor he as my rabbi, if I had wanted an organization such as them or a head rabbi, I would have nominated one. In the US and Canada there's the jewish congress and then there's the World jewish congress, that used to be chaired by the Canadian Seagrams billionaire Bronfman and rabbi Singer was I understand the President, I never met either one and they never represented me. In the uk there is also the jiv jewish independent voices, which include many prominent jews from all walks of life and they totally disagree with many of the policies of the aforementioned organizations. Why am I raising these factors. Because I want to intially show as part of my answer to Laura's question that a concerted, aligned general explanation to her question is unacceptable. Neither the jpa nor any other group or individual has the right or the overall knowledge to speak on behalf of all the jews.!

    Like the christians there are many different beliefs about judiasm. There's the hassidic jews like the Satmar and the Lubavichers, originally Russian jews who emigrated to NY as a result of the bolshevik revolution

    and the ukranian pogroms (jew hunts by the cossacks) My grandparents were among them and escaped as refugees to london.

    Both of those hassidic groups despise each other and the Satmars have been known to attack and spit on their fellow jews where they disagree with their outlook. So much for jewish brotherhood huh.? There are numerous other hassidic (ultra orthodox)

    groups in the US, UK and Israel. Each with different interpretations about judiasm and Israel. Then there's the Conservative jews, the Orthodox jews, the Reform jews, the Sephardic jews (originally Spanish and Portugese) and finally there's the Messianac jews or as they are also known Jews for Jesus. ( Mostly in America) All of these jews, if you visit their Synagogues,etc. will tell you a different version of what being a jew and the difference between judiasm and other religions are. So you see these people who attempt to appear professortorial and give a polished explanation may mean well, nut being jewish alone doesn't authorize their interpretations or explanations as neccessarily veritas and absolutely correct.

    As a writer, I have done extensive research into several religions and my conclusion about judiasm is as follows. Jews are raised to believe that jesus was another mortal being just like any other from a regular jewish family. ( and it is rational to ask yourself of someone told you that a neighbor of your was impregnated by an immortal being, be honest what would you think and how would you react...seriously ?)

    Jews are also raised to believe that the Messiah, whoever or whatever that's supposed to mean is yet to come. That's basically it plain and simple, although much of what the jpa members did say about other jewish beliefs and laws is pretty accurate in a general sense, it doesn't mean that every jew on the Planet would agree.

    According to what most christians and jews do accept is that there may have been a Person called jesus and what was written by scholars hundreds of years later may have born some factual accounts of his life,etc.However who do we believe as correct.......The Methodists...the Catholics....The Presbytarians.....The Anglicans.....The Church of Christ...The seventh Day Adventists....The Mormons.....

    The Jehovahs Witnesses.....The Menonites.......The Quakers......The Amish.....The Pentecostals......The Assemblies of God....The Baptists......The Southern Baptists....The Christadelphians....The Scientologists.......excuse me if I stop there as it's getting late and I'm tired.....Just like the jews....the christians have a multitude of different groups and churches all claiming to know the right answers about religion. I hope I make my point clear. There is no one

    answer about religion or the difference, becasue there are too many variations. Oh and one more myth to be shattered, this nonesense about jews sticking together and helping each other and all supporting Israel.....that's just not true.I married a christian woman,ended up divorced, raised two kids alone and in all my struggles I have yet to recall any wealthy jew or jewish organization lifting a finger to help me. Well that's about it Laura....I hope I have been some help.

  • 1 decade ago

    Really, any differences between Jews and Christians stem from the fact that Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah and Jews are still waiting for the Messiah.

    Christians accept the New Testament of the Bible, while Jews do not, only accepting the Torah and the Old Testament.

    Most customs and practices by Jews are being done because of their following of the Old Testament. Christians, however, have moved on from those practices because of what was fulfilled in the New Testament.

  • cmw
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I'm not answering because I'm not Jewish. But I would like to comment that the Jewish posters' descriptions of my (Christian) beliefs on this page show an astonishing lack of knowledge, including those from some whom I had thought were rather well informed.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.