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Article Info:
published: 3/5/05
updated: 2/27/14

Comparison of Christianity and Judaism


Christianity has a close relationship with Judaism, both historically and theologically. Jesus, the twelve disciples, the author of 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. (See Christian Beliefs main page and Judaism beliefs main page)

Despite its Jewish origins, it was not long before Christianity regarded itself as something other than a new Jewish sect. The first Christian council, convened by the apostles, 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. Today, theological disagreements between Christians and Jews remain, but efforts are being made towards greater understanding and respect between the two great faiths. The following chart compares the origins, beliefs and practices of Christianity and Judaism. (Go here for more on Jesus Christ)

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History & Stats
(main page)
(main page)
date founded
c. 30 AD
c. 1300 BC
  See Christian history See Judaism history
place founded
founders & early leaders
Jesus, Peter, Paul
Abraham, Moses
  See Jesus Christ See Abraham
original languages
Aramaic and Greek
major location today
Europe, North and South America
Europe, Israel, North America
adherents worldwide today
2 billion
14 million
adherents in USA
159 million
5.6 million
adherents in Canada
21 million
  See Religion Statistics
adherents in UK
51 million
current size rank
12th largest
major branches
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant
Orthodox, Conservative, Reform
  See Christian denominations See Jewish sects

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Religious Authority
(main page)
(main page)
sacred text
Bible = Old Testament (Jewish Bible) + New Testament
Tanakh (Jewish Bible)
  See Christianity Sacred Texts See Judaism Sacred Texts
inspiration of sacred text
views vary: literal word of God, inspired human accounts, or of human origin only
views vary: inspired human accounts or of human origin only
status of biblical prophets
true prophets
true prophets
status of Jewish Bible
status of Jewish Apocrypha
canonical (Catholic);
useful but noncanonical (Protestant)
noncanonical but useful
  See Apocrypha
status of New Testament
noncanonical, not useful
  See New Testament
other written authority
church fathers, church councils, ecumenical creeds (all branches);
papal decrees, canon law (Catholic)
Talmud, halakhah
modern human authorities
pope (Catholic);
each Christian with aid of Holy Spirit (Protestant)
  See Catholic Popes
summaries of doctrine
Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed
13 Articles of Faith
  See Christian beliefs See Judaism beliefs

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Beliefs & Doctrine
(main page)
(main page)
ultimate reality
one God, Jehovah, the God of Abraham
one God, Jehovah, the God of Abraham
  See God in Christianity See God in Judaism
nature of God
Trinity - one substance, three persons
unity - one substance, one person
other spiritual beings
angels and demons
angels and demons
revered humans
saints, church fathers
  See Humanity in Christianity See Humanity in Judaism
identity of Jesus
Son of God, God incarnate, savior of the world
false prophet
birth of Jesus
virgin birth
normal birth
death of Jesus
death by crucifixion
death by crucifixion
resurrection of Jesus
second coming of Jesus
  See Jesus Christ
divine revelation
through Prophets and Jesus (as God Himself), recorded in Bible
through Prophets, recorded in Bible
human nature
"original sin" inherited from Adam - tendency towards evil
two equal impulses, one good and one bad
means of salvation
correct belief, faith, good deeds, sacraments (some Protestants emphasize faith alone)
belief in God, good deeds
God's role in salvation
predestination, various forms of grace
divine revelation and forgiveness
good afterlife
eternal heaven
views vary: either heaven or no afterlife
  See Afterlife in Christianity See Afterlife in Judaism
bad afterlife
eternal hell, temporary purgatory (Catholicism)
views vary: either eternal Gehenna, reincarnation, or no afterlife
view of the other religion
Judaism is a true religion, but with incomplete revelation.
Christianity is a false interpretation of Judaism.

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Rituals & Practices
(main page)
(main page)
house of worship
church, chapel, cathedral, basilica, meeting hall
synagogue, temple, schul
religious leaders
priest, bishop, archbishop, patriarch, pope, pastor, minister, preacher, deacon
rabbi, rebbe
sacred rituals
mitzvot (commandments)
  See Christianity practices See Judaism practices
major sacred rituals
baptism, communion (Eucharist)
observing Sabbath, wearing tallit and tefilin, prayer services
head covered during prayer?
generally no
generally yes (especially men)
central religious holy days
Lent, Holy Week, Easter
Yom Kippur, Days of Awe, Passover
  See Christianity holidays See Judaism holidays
other holidays
Christmas, saints days
Chanukah, Purim
major symbols
cross, crucifix, dove, anchor, fish, alpha and omega, chi rho, halo
Star of David, chai, hamsa, tree
  See Christian symbols See Judaism symbols

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