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Judeo-Christians

Judeo-Christians are, in the broadest sense, people whose religious beliefs share common elements of both Judaism and Christianity. Although the etymology of the term only dates back to the 19th century, the histories of these two religions are indisputably linked. The termís most popular usage, however, is within the context of the claim that the contemporary Western world has based its laws and moral codes on a Judeo-Christian premise.

To begin, Jesus himself was Jewish, as were many of his followers. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Christian teachings of Jesus would share common elements with this religion.

Most notably, Christianity and Judaism share the following principles in common:

  • The belief in one God (monotheism), and a Messiah
  • Their form of worship: priesthood, the idea that certain spaces and times could be sacred, that entry into Heaven is the goal of earthly worship, and the use of Psalms in prayer
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The observance of a Sabbath day (although not in the same form as dictated by Judaism)

Among other things, what Christians rejected from Judaism was the ritual of circumcision, and the keeping of kosher dietary laws. Indeed, what was principally adopted from Judaism was taken from the written component of the Torah, and not its oral traditions.

Beyond their belief systems, Judaism and Christianity share a common history. Both Christianity and Judaism share their origins in what was then a Roman-occupied Palestine/Israel, and both base their foundations on the Old Testament and the historical experience of the Jewish people.

The early Jewish Christians were derided as Judaizers and heretics. In the Galatians we witness Paul labeling Peter (one of Jesusí apostles) as such when he says, "But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas [Peterís Greek name] before them all, ĎIf you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?í" (2:14). He is referring to Peterís act of dining with the Gentiles (non-Jews) and refusing to be circumcised (considered to me a major tenant of Judaism), despite his claim of being Jewish.

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and the subsequent persectution of their community at the hand of the Romans, the influence of these early Judeo-Christians was signficantly reduced. However, certain sects with origins in Judeo-Christianity did surivive, although by the 5th century very little of them is documented, as by then they had been denounced as heretical.


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