Judaism and Western Civilization.

Essay by pokey88University, Bachelor's May 2003

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Judaism and Western Civilization

The basic contribution of Judaism to Western civilization is monotheism. Understood from the standpoint of Jewish tradition, Abraham was the first monotheist. He left polytheism behind to follow the directions of the one God. The Tanakh itself gives evidence that significant numbers of ancient Israelites worshipped multiple deities.(Rabbi Shofet) Jewish leadership called upon Israel to worship the one God with whom they had a covenant relationship. But as Tanakh develops there is an increasing emphasis on the unreality of other "gods" in comparison to the one God.

The God of Israel is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. That is, he is the God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew. He is the God who bound himself inextricably with his covenant people and who remains faithful to that covenant through all the vagaries of history. This emphasis on encountering God in the give and take of human historical events has remained an important feature of Judaism.

The Jewish emphasis on history has been adopted by Christianity and Islam.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam trace their ancestry to Abraham.(World Religions) Judaism is the oldest of these faiths. Jews accept the Torah, as supplemented by Rabbinical commentaries, as the basis of their belief. Judaism is currently divided into three major branches. These include Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Christianity is the next oldest of these beliefs.

Christians accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of the Jews, and the Son of God. Christians generally accept, in addition to the Torah or Old Testament, the writings of Jesus' apostles and disciples as the New Testament. The major divisions include Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Mormonism. Christianity is here tentatively divided into four major branches. These include Roman Catholicism(This is probably the largest single denomination of...