Sacred Texts in Judaism and Christianity

Essay by peejay_meerhedCollege, Undergraduate November 2009

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At a distance, Judaism and Christianity don't appear all that different; they both go to a place of worship, they praise God, they listen to and respect what prophets have said, and they each have certain rituals and customs which were passed down to them through thousands of years of history. On closer inspection it becomes evident that these two are separated by only one thing: the New Testament. The New Testament, and more specifically the teachings of Jesus in its books, morphed the customs and rituals of Judaism into different ones in the Christian faith, such as Christmas, Easter, the sacraments, and the Eucharist. Jesus and Paul went even further by rejecting ritual laws, such as not working on the Sabbath and circumcision, claiming them to not be necessary in attaining salvation, and that merely believing in Jesus Christ will do. (Oxtoby 138) Because the New Testament lays down this doctrine for the Christian people, the religion has evolved into one which allows for more leniency.

Conversely, the 613 Commandments contained within the Torah and the legalities of Halakhah in the Talmud are still governing laws in the Jewish faith. With focus on the main sacred texts of both religions, i.e. the Tanakh and the Christian Bible, as well as the commentaries and letters, I wish to draw attention to how these books play a part in present day society's rituals and traditions. In doing so, it will become evident that the Jewish people revere their sacred and authoritative texts more than the Christians do, honouring the words in the Hebrew Bible and the commentaries, while Christians follow the undemanding teachings of Jesus, who simplified Jewish law and the texts of the Pentateuch.

The sacred and authoritative books of both Judaism and Christianity have of course the...