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Similarities and Vital Distinctions Between Judaism and Christianity

Similarities and Vital Distinctions Between Judaism and Christianity

Religion is embedded in the very essence of man. Knowingly or unknowingly, it challenges and redirects every thought and action. Which raises the age-old question, did man make God or did God make man? Nevertheless, here, we'll talk about two major religions in the world―Judaism and Christianity.
Shruti Bhat
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2018
Judaism vs. Christianity
Judaism respects Jesus as a prophet, but not as the Son of God like the Christians do.
We can safely say that Christianity has evolved from Judaism. Despite its Jewish descent, Christianity considers itself as a separate religion, rather than a branch of Judaism. However, there has always been an age-old dispute between the followers of both religions. Both share similar origins, beliefs, mythologies, rules, etc. Thus, it is obvious that both these religions have similar beliefs. But also, in contrary to that, besides a great deal of overlapping beliefs between these two religions, there are many vital distinctions too.

As such, let us look closer into finding the commonalities and differences between these two widely followed religions.
Torah Scroll and Kippah
Bar Mitzvah
Star of David on Jewish Head wear
Attributes of Jewish Passover Seder
Similarities Between Judaism and Christianity
  1. Palestine is the origin of both the religions.
  2. The original languages are Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
  3. Monotheistic; belief in one God.
  4. Core principles are values of charity and chastity.
  5. Core belief is that Elijah will return.
  6. The sacred text; the Old Testament or the Jewish Bible is shared by both the religions.
  7. Believe that they are the children of Abraham
  8. Believe in the Prophet Moses
  9. Their belief in the Trinity or Three Jewels; Christians believe in The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Whereas, Jews believe in God, People, and Israel.
  10. Jews, Christian Orthodox, and Catholics face Jerusalem while praying.
  11. They believe that mankind has originated from Adam and Eve.
  12. The gathering over Jerusalem.
  13. Acknowledge Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage.
  14. They believe in paradise or heaven in the after-life.
  15. All the first Christians were Jewish before they became Christians.
  16. Believe that God is omniscient and omnipotent.
  17. Believe that God can bring people back to life.
  18. They believe in Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers).
  19. Have a strong belief in Eternal Life
Though some may consider Christianity to be a branch of Judaism, there are some very vital distinctions between the two. Some important distinctions are mentioned below.
Differences Between Judaism and Christianity
Original Name
Christianity: Greek: Christos, meaning the 'Anointed' referring to Jesus Christ

Judaism: 'Yehudim', 'Judah'
Christianity: Jesus Christ

Judaism: Abraham
Holy Book
Christianity: Bible; meaning book by God given to man, Word of God (Timothy 3:16)

Judaism: Hebrew Tanakh, comprises the Torah (Law), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)
Nature of God
Christianity: God exists in 3 distinct entities (The Holy Trinity) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mathew 28:19)

Judaism: Yahweh or Jehovah (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Sacred Text
Christianity: Jewish Bible or the Old Testament and New Testament

Judaism: Tanakh or the Jewish Bible
Inspiration of the Sacred Text
Christianity: Inspired human accounts and directly from God

Judaism: Human origins and inspired human accounts
House of Worship
Christianity: Basilica, Chapel, Church, Cathedral

Judaism: Shul, Synagogue, Temple
Direction of Worship
Christianity: God is present everywhere so direction isn't important. But Orthodox and Catholics usually face Jerusalem.

Judaism: Towards Jerusalem
Religious Leaders
Christianity: Church father and Church council

Judaism: Talmud, Halakhah
Christianity: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox

Judaism: Hasidic, Conservative, Reform, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Christianity, and Islam
Holy One
Christianity: Resurrection of Christ

Judaism: The Messiah
Jesus Christ
Christianity: Believe in Jesus Christ to be both human and divine―the Son of God

Judaism: Believe Jesus is merely a prophet
Human Authorities
Christianity: Father, Pastor, Nun, Bishop, Cardinal, Pope

Judaism: Rabbi, Rebbe
Human Nature
Christianity: Original sin

Judaism: Good and bad co-exist
Holy Days
Christianity: Christmas (birth of Jesus), Good Friday (death of Jesus), Sunday (day of rest), Easter (resurrection of Jesus), Lent (time between Ash Wednesday and Easter), saints' feast days

Judaism: Rosh Hashanah (beginning of the calendar year), Sukkot (celebration of harvest), Simchat Torah (end of Sukkot, celebrate finishing the reading of Torah), Chanukah, Tu Bishvat (the New Year for Trees), Pesach or Passover (God liberating Israelites from Egyptians), Hanukkah (8 days holiday, commemorates the Jewish recapture and re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem), Purim (celebration of the narrow escape from genocide), Sabbath (a day of rest and enjoyment every week)
Major Sacred Rituals/Rites
Christianity: Prayer. Sacraments including baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage, penance, holy orders, anointing of the sick

Judaism: Sabbath, circumcision of newly born Jewish males, wearing the Tallit and tefllin, prayer services, Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are for 13-year old boys and girls who must read the Torah in front of the congregation, after which they are considered adults
Other Spiritual Beings
Christianity: Angels, demons, spirits

Judaism: Angels, demons
Use of Statues and Images
Christianity: Anglicans and Lutherans allow pictures but forbid venerating them. Catholics and Orthodox encourage statues and pictures and venerating them.

Judaism: Forbidden
Major Symbols
Christianity: Alpha and Omega, Anchor, Chi rho, Crucifix, Cross, Dove, Ichthus- Fish, Halo, Mary, Baby Jesus

Judaism: Chai, Star of David, Tree
Divine Revelation Through
Christianity: Prophets and Jesus, and their records in the Bible

Judaism: Prophets and their records in the Bible
Means of Salvation
Christianity: Faith, correct belief, good deeds, sacraments

Judaism: Belief in God, good deeds
Religious Laws
Christianity: Canon Law in Catholics

Judaism: Halakhah, Ethics Commandments, 613 Mitzvot, charity, prayer
Goal of the Religion
Christianity: Love God and obey his commandments and spreading the gospel

Judaism: Celebrate life, fulfill the covenant with God, do good deeds, help fix the world, love God and be very just when it comes to ethics
Christianity: Catholics, Anglicans confess to priests, Protestants directly to God

Judaism: In ancient times, they had sin offerings, but today people individually fix their sins. On Yom Kippur, they confess their sins, but prefer to ask for forgiveness directly to the person they have wronged.
Christianity: Jesus in Mathew (19:3-9), "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore what God has put together let man not separate"

Judaism: Marriage permitted, monogamous
Christianity: As the descendents of Adam we inherit sin. Jesus Christ atoned for our sin through his crucifixion (Romans: 5: 12-17)

Judaism: Atonement is made only through seeking forgiveness from God in prayer and repentance. A day is set aside (Yom Kippur) for atonement.
Christianity: Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Judaism: Through good deeds, prayer, grace of God
Good Afterlife
Christianity: Eternal heaven

Judaism: Varied views: heaven or no after-life
Bad Afterlife
Christianity: Eternal hell

Judaism: Reincarnation, no after-life or eternal Gehenna
Religion has, and will always been a very sensitive, controversial, and an extremely personal subject. But to sum it all, all religions speak of love, brotherhood, duty, kindness, respect towards people, and ultimately reaching the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent―God.