Christianity Is Not Judaism

By Shlomoh Sherman
[May, 1996]

I think that many non-Jews have a misunderstanding about Judaism. They think it's just a watered down form of Christianity. I think further that the perception of Judaism is colored by what they know about Christianity and their lack of real knowledge about Judaism.

Although there are many things that the two religions appear to have in common, they are really two different ways of looking at reality; the appearences of similarity do not go very deep; they are surface at best.

The fact that Christians say that the messiah has come and that they call him Jesus Christ, and that we say the messiah has not come, is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of differences. There are many more deep, more important differences between Judaism and Christianity than whether or not the messiah came.

I go into them more deeply in a different essay. Let me just say for now that people ought not confuse Judaism with Christianity. Most religious Christians DO confuse the two, and they have been confusing them ever since Paul told them that they were getting a better, more improved version of Judaism.

Basically, I can say that Christianity uses the religous language and symbolism of Judaism to a large degree. They revere the scriptures of Judaism (of course, not on as deep a level as Jews do.)

Their emphasis is more on prophets and very little on Pentateuch. Our emphasis is so much on Pentateuch that we barely delve into prophets. The reason for this is that Judaism's emphasis is on daily living and not too much on eschatology. On the other hand, Christianity's raison d'etre IS eschatology. Without eschatology, there is no Christianity. Not so with Judaism. We could dump all eschatology today and still have the same TORAH.

Lastly, Christians worship the G-d of Israel but in such a way as to be incomprehensible and alien to most Jews.

You know that I tell many Jewish "stories". Some of them must be pretty strange to the gentile ear. For example, the story of Rabbi Joshua's arguing with a Heavenly voice or the rebbes' and rabbis' indictment of G-d when He appears to fail to live up to His promises. Non-Jews see these stories as hubris in judging G-d but we don't see it that way at all. We see our relationship with Him as so special that we claim the right to speak to Him in a familiar manner that the world never would.

The one thing that people also do not take into account is our TRIBALISM, an element lacking in Christianity. It is THE important aspect that keeps people like me on the back steps of Judaism in a way that is hard for others to grasp.

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