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Book of Faiths

Jewish - General
Judaism
by Linda Silva DeSola

Judaism is the oldest of the world's three great monotheistic religions and is the parent of both Christianity and Islam. The Jewish people can be defined as an ethnic group composed of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the descendants of those who have joined the Jewish people throughout history. About 2000 BC, God appeared to Abraham and promised to bless him and to found a great nation.Judaism is the oldest of the world's three great monotheistic religions and is the parent of both Christianity and Islam. The Jewish people can be defined as an ethnic group composed of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the descendants of those who have joined the Jewish people throughout history. About 2000 BC, God appeared to Abraham and promised to bless him and to found a great nation.

The Old Testament recounts the subsequent history of the Jewish People: slavery in Egypt, the occupation of Canaan, the monarchy, and divided kingdoms. The northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 722 BC, and the southern kingdom went into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC, bringing the end of the Jewish people as an independent nation. An uprising in 70 AD brought the destruction of Jerusalem and the final dispersion of the Jewish people. Thereafter the Jewish people suffered intense persecution and longed for a return to their own land. This hope resulted in the Zionist movement and ultimately led to the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

In North America, rabbinic Judaism is usually expressed in one of three different denominations: Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. Orthodox Judaism strictly maintains traditional Judaism. Reform Judaism takes a fairly liberal attitude toward the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish traditions. Conservative Judaism tries to find a middle way. Messianic Jews believe Jesus is the Messiah.

    Their beliefs are: 

  • There is only one God: The defining verse of Scripture for traditional Judaism is Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." God is personal, holy, and just. 

  • Scripture is inferior to traditions: The Hebrew bible is the Old Testament. The Hebrew Bible is divided into three sections: the Torah (the Law), Prophets, and Writings. Oral interpretations and written commentaries on the Torah form the Jewish Talmud. Judaism teaches that even if a voice from heaven contradicts tradition, that voice is to be rejected.

  • Humanity is basically Good: Jews see no need for the good news because they do not believe the bad news of sin and separation from God.

  • Salvation must be earned: Salvation is to be earned through repentance, prayer, and good deeds. Most Jewish people in North America either deny or express uncertainty about life after death. 

  • Observing the Law, the Sabbath, Rituals, and Obey is essential: What Jewish people do is more important than what they believe. 

  • Jesus' Messiahship is benign: Most Jewish people reject Jesus as the Messiah. Sometimes Jesus is viewed as a future, though merely human deliverer; sometimes as a symbol for a future golden age; and sometimes in purely political terms, that is, as the modern state of Israel.

The Old Testament recounts the subsequent history of the Jewish People: slavery in Egypt, the occupation of Canaan, the monarchy, and divided kingdoms. The northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 722 BC, and the southern kingdom went into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC, bringing the end of the Jewish people as an independent nation. An uprising in 70 AD brought the destruction of Jerusalem and the final dispersion of the Jewish people. Thereafter the Jewish people suffered intense persecution and longed for a return to their own land. This hope resulted in the Zionist movement and ultimately led to the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

In North America, rabbinic Judaism is usually expressed in one of three different denominations: Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. Orthodox Judaism strictly maintains traditional Judaism. Reform Judaism takes a fairly liberal attitude toward the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish traditions. Conservative Judaism tries to find a middle way. Messianic Jews believe Jesus is the Messiah.

    Their beliefs are: 

  • There is only one God: The defining verse of Scripture for traditional Judaism is Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." God is personal, holy, and just. 

  • Scripture is inferior to traditions: The Hebrew bible is the Old Testament. The Hebrew Bible is divided into three sections: the Torah (the Law), Prophets, and Writings. Oral interpretations and written commentaries on the Torah form the Jewish Talmud. Judaism teaches that even if a voice from heaven contradicts tradition, that voice is to be rejected.

  • Humanity is basically Good: Jews see no need for the good news because they do not believe the bad news of sin and separation from God.

  • Salvation must be earned: Salvation is to be earned through repentance, prayer, and good deeds. Most Jewish people in North America either deny or express uncertainty about life after death. 

  • Observing the Law, the Sabbath, Rituals, and Obey is essential: What Jewish people do is more important than what they believe. 

  • Jesus' Messiahship is benign: Most Jewish people reject Jesus as the Messiah. Sometimes Jesus is viewed as a future, though merely human deliverer; sometimes as a symbol for a future golden age; and sometimes in purely political terms, that is, as the modern state of Israel.

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