PHL 2350, Philosophies of World Religions 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VI
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
4. Examine how religious beliefs are expressed through engagement in the faith.
4.1 Articulate key terms, events, and persons from Judaism and Christianity.
4.2 Characterize how an individual expresses religious belief through faith.
Chapter 7, pp. 269–320
Chapter 8, pp. 325–385
Unit VI Assessment
Chapter 7, pp. 269–320
Chapter 8, pp. 325–385
Unit VI Assessment
Chapter 7: Judaism, pp. 269–320
Chapter 8: Christianity, pp. 325–385
Unit VI Overview
As we enter Unit VI, you will be introduced to Judaism and Christianity (found in Chapters 7 and 8 in your
textbook, respectively). We now turn our attention away from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific to the Middle East.
We begin our discussion with Judaism, its theology, and rituals. Then, we will study how Christianity came
about as an offshoot of Judaism to form its own religion yet keep its ties with Judaism. Maintaining this
relationship with Judaism is crucial to Christianity’s evolution as both a religion and a cultural influence on
Europe and the Americas. As you work your way through these two chapters on Judaism and Christianity, it
would be helpful to keep the following questions in mind:
1. What similarities in worldview do Christianity and Judaism share?
2. What is the historical development of Judaism and Christianity?
3. How did both the Old Testament and New Testament gain authority in Christianity?
Introduction to Judaism
Judaism is an Abrahamic religion, meaning that it began with Abraham as he sought to establish a
commitment and covenant to God. Around the second millennium BCE, Abraham entered into a covenantal
relationship with God, thereby establishing a relationship between humanity and the divine that still exists to
this day among both Jews and Christians (Deming, 2015).
Judaism is a monotheistic faith. This means that Judaism recognizes only one God—as we find in the Bible
and the Torah in Exodus 20:1-3 where God commands the Israelites not to have any other gods before Him.
This is the first of the Ten Commandments revealed to Moses. What is important here is that this first
commandment is the foundation around which Jewish and Christian theology is built. Also, this first
UNIT VI STUDY GUIDE
Judaism and Christianity
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UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
commandment is what separates Judaism and Christianity from the other religions that we have studied up to
As with the other religions we studied in previous units, ceremonies and rituals play a central role in the
worship and practice of Judaism. Places of worship bring everyone in the faith together in a temple, shrine,
home, or a synagogue in Judaism. Here, in synagogues, Jewish communities come together to read the
Torah (i.e., Christian Old Testament) and to practice their faith (Deming, 2015). Also, the religious calendar
plays a fundamental role in maintaining a relationship with God. That is, the Jewish religious calendar allows
Jewish people regular and frequent interaction with God, with each other, and with their ancestors (Deming,
2015). Notice that the recognition of ancestors in worship ceremonies is just as important in Judaism as it is in
other religious traditions such as Hinduism, African religions, and the religions of Oceania, for example.
Basics of Judaism: Cosmology and Theology
Judaism began with Abraham in the second millennium BCE (Deming, 2015). The Torah speaks of
Abraham’s encounter with God and the commitment that God expected from him:
The Lord said to Abram: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a
land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you: I will make your name
great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.
All the families of the earth will find blessing in you. (Genesis 12:1-3)
At the heart of Judaism is the notion of exile, covenant, and God’s promise to lead the Israelites to the
Promised Land (Deming, 2015).Christians and Jews alike believe that God appointed Moses as his Prophet
to carry out this task and thereby lead God’s people to freedom. Moses brought the laws comprising the
Torah to the Hebrews (Deming, 2015). Consider the following from the Torah in Exodus 3:2-10:
There the angel of the Lord appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although
the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. So Moses decided, “I must turn aside to look at this
remarkable site. Why does the bush not burn up?” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to
look, God called out to him from the bush: Moses! Moses! He answered, “Here I am.” God said: Do
not come near! Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I
am the God of your father,” he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
God then revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14:
“God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added:
This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent
me to you.”
The Torah explains that God chose Moses to deliver
the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. God assisted
Moses by imposing on the Egyptians a series of ten
plagues to compel Pharaoh to release the Hebrews.
The last plague was the death of the firstborn of all
Egyptians that passed over the homes of the Hebrews.
The Jewish celebration of Passover recalls this event
As your textbook explains, God’s covenantal
relationship with the Israelites is the centerpiece of
Judaism (Deming, 2015). Jewish theology culminates
in Exodus 20:1-17 with God providing Moses with the
Ten Commandments around which Jewish theology
and morality would revolve.
In both Judaism and Christianity, prophets play an important role in being the mouthpiece for God. That is,
prophets are like messengers in that they are tasked with spreading God’s message and teaching. Notice that
angels are messengers too, but prophets are different in that they are human. Both Jews and Christians look
up to prophets as role models and interpreters of the moral code. In the Old Testament, Daniel recounts what
Ten Commandments given to Moses during his encounter
with God as stated in the Torah and the Bible.
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UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
tradition commonly refers to as Daniel’s visions. This is what we call an apocalyptic prophecy, which refers to
the end times. Here, Daniel talks about God’s judgment. So prophets are most associated with warning
people in some way.
Introduction to Christianity
As Deming (2015) points out in the introduction to Chapter 8, Christianity is the world’s largest religion
with over two billion followers. Around 30 CE, in the Roman province of Palestine, Christianity began as a
new religion (Deming, 2015). By 50 CE, Christianity had spread as far west as Rome. Christianity spread a
new kind of religious message that salvation came through Jesus Christ, the resurrected son of God
For Christians, the birth of Christ holds special theological significance because this is the moment when God
entered the world as a human to help save humanity from its sins. Jews referred to such a person as a
Messiah, a savior of humanity. However, not all Jews were convinced that Christ was indeed the one foretold
to be the Messiah. Nevertheless, the early disciples and followers of Christ came to be called Christians.
As Christianity evolved, divisions among Christians sprang up with different theological perspectives on the
nature of Christ. This area of study is called Christology. The Gnostics, for example, believed that Christ was
purely spiritual and never took on a human form (Deming, 2015). In response to these divisions and to
hamper the spread of heresies, Christian leaders formed and circulated creeds, such as the Apostle’s Creed,
that encapsulated the primary tenets of the faith and standardized the faith as well (Deming, 2015). To read
the Apostle’s Creed in its entirety, see pages 335–336 in your textbook. You will find in many reference books
on the history of Christianity that date Christianity to around 300 CE in Ethiopia, even though Acts 8:25-29
places Christianity’s arrival in Ethiopia much earlier, most likely sometime early in the first century CE. Recall
at that time, Africa was primarily polytheistic. Ethiopia was the only African country that was Christian and
In 313, the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity a state religion thereby legalizing its practice
(Deming, 2015). In 325 CE, Constantine formed a special meeting all the bishops attended to formalize the
tenets of Christianity into a formal creed that we refer to today as the Nicene Creed (Deming, 2015).
Christianity slowly evolved to supplant paganism as the majority religion in the Roman Empire. This is why
Constantine thought it best to standardize the teachings and practices of Christianity. Constantine, in
cooperation with recognized church communities, convened councils to attempt to work out pressing
theological issues such as the nature of Jesus, the relationship between Jesus’ divinity and humanity, and
Jesus’ relationship to God.
Basics of Christianity: Cosmology and Theology
As Christian practice evolved and spread, Christians found deeper ways to form a relationship with God.
One way was through baptism. The ritual of baptism is believed to wash away one’s sins and prepare the
person for rebirth (Deming, 2015). After baptism, one declares his or her faith, is confirmed, and then
receives first communion—the Eucharist (Deming, 2015). Public worship is central in Christianity. It is in
public worship where believers receive the Eucharist in community (Deming, 2015). Notice how vital a role
community plays in Christianity as in the other religions you have studied so far. In fact, community is an
element that all religions seem to share. Worship is a distinctly human activity that puts humanity in touch
with the supernatural.
Christianity and Judaism both share the Old Testament. The Old Testament served as the foundation upon
which the New Testament is formed. Jews refer to the Old Testament as the Torah, and Christians refer to
both Testaments as the Bible. Christianity finds its authority in scripture and scriptural studies (Deming, 2015).
Christians believe also that the Bible is divinely inspired and is the revealed word of God (Deming, 2015).
Your textbook will go more into detail regarding specific doctrines such as the Trinity, the nature of Christ, the
Eucharist, and the different practices of Biblical interpretations.
Judaism and Christianity: Communal and Social Aspects
Judaism and Christianity have rich histories of rituals and ceremonies. Judaism celebrates the Sabbath, Day
of Atonement, Passover, and Pentecost, just to name a few. Christians celebrate a variety of holidays as well,
the most important being Christmas and Easter (Deming, 2015). In both Judaism and Christianity, ceremonies
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and rituals bring people together. Here, worshippers can interact with one another and strengthen their
relationship with God. Jews and Christians see this relationship with God as a covenantal relationship. Also,
these rituals and ceremonies instill within Jewish and Christian communities a binding moral code. Public
worship incorporates many elements such as communal prayer, financial contributions, and studying scripture
Transfer of Learning
After reading Chapters 7 and 8, you should be able to discuss the historical development of Judaism and
Christianity. How are their worldviews similar or different? What roles do ceremony, diet, clothing, and art play
in Judaism and Christianity? How do Jews and Christians interpret scripture? Finally, what outside factors
helped shape both Judaism and Christianity in the 21st century?
In Unit VI, we combined Judaism and Christianity because of their relationship with one another. Judaism
and Christianity are both stand-alone religions. Each has a long and complicated history. Both are based
on the Ten Commandments that informs their moral guidance. Also, Judaism and Christianity are text-
oriented religions. That is, the Torah in Judaism and the Bible in Christianity serve as the basis for authority
in Judaism and Christianity. Both traditions view these books as the revealed word of God. As mentioned
earlier, community and family form the backbone of these two monotheistic faiths. Finally, the Judeo-
Christian tradition helped shaped the cultural and religious identities of Europe and the Americas well into
the 21st century.
Deming, W. (Ed.). (2015). Understanding the religions of the world: An introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.
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