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Some differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam Some differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam
by Joseph Gatt
2020-10-06 10:29:54
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A few notes on the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, in no particular order.

-Despite contain over 6,000 pages of laws, Judaism does not contain provisions on how to avoid being seduced by other religions. Judaism does not contain provisions on how to avoid proselytes of other religions and how to counter them.

-Christianity and Islam however contain many, many provisions on how to avoid being seduced by other religions, how to avoid being converted to other religions. In the case of Islam, you even have verses that you should recite (out loud or in your head) when being lectured about other religions.

-I say this because a good chunk of the Quran and New Testament in the Bible deal with how to avoid being seduced by other religions. In the Old Testament or Talmud however, the question is not posed.

relig01_400_01-Why this big difference? Judaism was a religion built for a theocracy of sorts, one that is confined to a territory. Any resident of Judea was a Jew, and being Jewish meant three things: it meant being a citizen of Judea, it meant following the customs and laws of Judea and it meant observing the Jewish faith. The laws of Judean citizens were the Biblical laws.  

-Judaism contains provisions in the Talmud on statehood, as in who the King should be, what he should do, how he should go about his business. The Talmud also contains provisions on the priests and the judges, including how they are selected and what their roles are.

-Islam and Christianity on the other hand are about faith, not citizenship. Islam and Christianity do not contain provisions on who the king should be, how to pick judges and what the judge's role should be. In Islam, a judge's role is confined to enforcing the laws of Islam, not the roles of the state.

-So Islam and Christianity were conceived as “minority” religions and a lot of the New Testament and the Quran deals with how to behave as a “minority” religion, including how to behave in case of attempted forced conversions.

-While Judaism was a mix of religion and of citizenship law, Islam and Christianity were a mixture of faith and establishing a conquering army. That is, while Islam and Christianity do not contain provisions on how to run a government, they do contain provisions on how to run an army, and how to conquer territories and establish Islam or Christianity as the dominant religion in the territory.

-That is Islam and Christianity contain provisions on how to defend yourself and your faith when surrounded by other faiths, but also how to impose your religion once any given territory has been conquered.

-Strangely enough, Judaism, a religion set up to be a “majority religion” in a “Jewish state” ended up becoming a minority religion, while Islam and Christianity had many, many states and kings adopt the religion and impose the religion on its people or citizens.

-How did Judaism survive in the diaspora? It did away with the kings, and gave rabbis the roles of priests or judges.

-In fact, Judaism survives today because it survived a first exile in 586 BCE, where many Jews were exiled to Babylonia before they were allowed back to re-establish a Jewish Kingdom in 510 BCE, although Judea remained a Persian protectorate. If that experience had not existed, the Jewish people perhaps could not have organized while living in a diaspora. In sum, we had experience.

-So the Old Testament contains provisions both on exile and on statehood for the Jews, although most provisions are intended for Jews to live in a Jewish (theocratic) homeland.

-Why didn't Jews proselytize and try to conquer other lands? It's an interesting question for historians to study. As an amateur historian, I would say that in Ancient Judea there seemed to be few or no horses, and in order to conquer foreign lands, and daydream about dominating the world, a cavalry was a must. Judeans also seemed not to be masters at sailing, perhaps because neighboring Egypt was very prosperous and provided all the wheat and barely and crops needed in times of famine.

-Christians and Muslims however did dominate the seas and were master navigators, and also seemed to master horses and horse breeding, which made them good soldiers.

-Final note: why wasn't Judaism adopted by other peoples, or let's says by some king interested in Judaism. Or, why weren't there many cases like Khazaria where the King seemed to adopt Judaism, and why wasn't there a kingdom that adopted Judaism?

-Because Judaism is a complex religion with over 6,000 pages of laws. Christianity and Islam in turn only contain around 800 pages of laws each, and a lot of those laws are in fact very simple.

-For example, Judaism contains provisions for how houses should be built, what activities the King should do during the day, how much weight you can carry during the Sabbath, what to do if your cow is giving birth to a calf during the Sabbath, how to handle a pregnant woman giving birth during the Sabbath, what criteria makes a judge eligible to be a judge and so on a so forth.

-Christianity and Islam were in fact reactions to Judaism, maintaining the monotheistic aspects, but priding them in being simplified versions of Judaism.

-There is a historical point about Christianity. Christianity emerged during the Roman invasions and bitter wars between the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and of course the Judean “shrimp among sharks” if you want to call it that.

-Jesus Christ was in fact trying to preach that Judaism should drop its complexity and try to simplify its codes and rules, otherwise Judaism could not survive the Roman invasions with a book of laws that is too complex and too rigid, thus weakening the Judean army. Jesus Christ also thought that since the Jews had a weak army, Judaism should adopt a pacifist tone, and that pacifism will lead the Jews to be saved by God.

-The response by the Jews to Jesus Christ was that when God sends the Messiah God will send the Messiah with an a lot clearer message and with a very clear path to world peace.

-Interestingly, most people who became Christians were converts from religions other than Judaism, even though Jesus' goal was to convert the Jews first, and other people next.

-Judaism adapted to modernity by “decriminalizing” violations of Jewish law. That is the Jewish laws remain unchanged, but there is no punishment for those who violate them.

-That is today Judaism separates between faith and citizenship. You follow Jewish laws for faith, and you follow your country's laws as a citizen. And you don't mix the two, and state laws have the priority.

-This notion is a notion that Islam, and to a lesser extent Christianity, are still not 100% comfortable with. That is in Muslim states, the general consensus is that state law must not contradict Islamic law, and that violations of Islamic law are punished as violations of state law.

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