The Emergence of Judaism – Term Paper Example
The paper “The Emergence of Judaism" is a forceful example of a term paper on religion and theology. Judaism is one of the major religions in the world. It is monotheistic, which basically means that Jews believe in the existence of one God, with whom they have entered a perpetual covenant1. Judaism is a very old religion, tracing its origins back to the days of Abraham and Moses. Like all other religions like Christianity and Islam, Jews have their own religious document which serves as a guideline to their faith, called the Torah. The Torah is supplemented by the Halakhah, which is the Oral Law of the Jewish tradition. Jews worship in worship places called synagogues and whose sessions are led by religious leaders called rabbis.
Basic summary of the worldview
It is estimated that there are at least 13 million Jews in the world,2 either strictly adhering to the laws of the religion or simply identifying themselves with Judaism without necessarily abiding in all the religion’s laws. Jews have a lot of beliefs and customs that set them apart from other world religions. Some of their beliefs are similar to those of Christianity; for instance, Jews believe in the existence of one, omnipotent and omnipresent God. Their beliefs are unique in that Judaism is a community rather than an individual religion and that it is imperative that the religious aspect of Judaism be seen in each believer’s daily life. It is easy to identify Jews because most wear a headgear known a yarmulke, while others wear a religious adornment known as the Tefillin. Circumcision of 8-day old babies is also an important Jewish tradition. Jews celebrate festivals such as Passover, Hanukkah and Yom Kippur, which symbolize different aspects of their history.
In the world, throughout history, Jews have always been viewed in a negative light. The worst atrocities the world ever witnessed was during the holocaust, where about 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in Germany. Currently, the conflicts in the Middle East between Israel, a Jew dominated country and its Arabic neighbors have left the world torn on the stance to take. Above all, this conflict has been fuelled by differences in religious beliefs and practices.
Flaws of the belief system
Like all religions, Judaism is not without criticism from other religions or even some believer of the faith. Judaism has been viewed as a very conservative and almost exclusive religion. To become a Jew, one’s mother has to be a Jew, though in some cases children with Jewish fathers are considered Jews. Conversion to Judaism is almost impossible, unlike in other religions. This locks out many people who would prefer to convert to religion.
Jews also believe that they are the chosen people of God, thus they are holy. However, this contradicts with their belief that God created man in His image and that all are God’s children. Judaism also holds on to very old traditions, which may be seen to have no place in today’s society. For instance, mourning for the departed usually takes seven days during which very little activity on other areas in life, including work, takes place3. This could interfere with one’s source of income.
Judaism also has very strong beliefs in some of the books in the Old Testament. Some of the writings in these books tend to be very demeaning to various groups in society. For instance, the Old Testament seems to be leaning towards unfair practices on women. The Old Testament approves the marriages of small girls to old men, as well as being lenient to incest. Clearly, these practices are frowned upon in modern society, as well as having serious repercussions on people’s well-being. Jews also believe that the world was created in 6 days and that God rested on the seventh day, which they hold as a Sabbath day. However, there is a lot of friction with scientists who believe that there was no divine intervention in man’s existence; rather, man evolved to be what he is over time.
Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with a believer of this worldview
Judaism shares a number of things with Christianity, including part of the Old Testament. However, that is where the similarities end. Apart from the Old Testament, the Christian bible also has the New Testament, which symbolized the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. It also meant that God had entered into a new covenant with the whole of humanity. Jews do not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that the ‘real’ Messiah is yet to come. Therefore, the biggest challenge in trying to preach Christianity to a Jew would be to try to convince them that Jesus was the promised savior and that He died on the cross for man’s sins.
In many cases, believers professing to different faiths have a tendency to hold stereotypical views of other religions’ religious practices. For instance, Christians may not understand why Jews are not allowed to eat pig products or why they have to avoid any kind of work during Sabbath. On the other hand, Jews may not understand why Christians pray before the image of Jesus on the cross or other Christian practices. These misunderstandings could be solved by inviting Jews to services and other activities in churches. This could further be enhanced by trying to demystify the symbols and practices that Christians adhere to. If made to understand the teachings and beliefs of Christianity, believers of Judaism could be making baby steps into accepting Christianity and what it stands for.
Needless to say, fear of the unknown could be a contributory factor in the fear people of different religions have on each other. By patiently teaching people from religious beliefs such as Judaism, Christianity could convert more people to believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God.