Interrelationship Between Christianity and Judaism

Date: Oct 25, 2018


This paper contains two different essays in the study of religion. The first one gives a discussion about John Crossan’s Christological view, his methodological approach to the Christian theology studies and a critic to his conclusions. The second essay is based on the interrelationship between Christianity and Judaism. It explains why a section of the Jews still hold to their traditional religion, the need to conduct Christian studies and justification for existence of Judaism as an independent religion.

The Historical Jesus by John Dominic Crossan

On his return to Ireland from Stonebridge Seminary in the United States, Crossan joined St. Patrick’s College where he earned his doctorate in divinity in 1959 before proceeding to Rome where he studied biblical languages. From 1965, he devoted his life more to study biblical archaeology in a biblical institute in Jordan, East of Jerusalem (Freyne, 2005). As a great theologian of the New Testament, archaeologist, historian and anthropologist, Crossan utilized his academic gift to conduct detailed and unique studies about the reality on the historical Jesus of Nazareth. His methodological approach remained unique as compared to other scholars of his time (Freyne, 2005).

Crossan’s View About Jesus

In his Christological approach, Crossan made an attempt to separate the known facts about Jesus from what could have been formed as a mere story told about him. By compiling both biblical and non-biblical historical sources, he composed complexes of various texts consisting of similar themes (Metzger & Coogan, 2001). For instance, he computed all teachings together categorizing them into themes such as teachings about divorce, kingdom of God and other dominant topics. The researcher then analyzed these records into strata through which he viewed what appeared most frequently as more reliable (Freyne, 2005).

In his findings, the scholar concluded that many of the teachings of Jesus in the gospels are not factual including the virgin birth, resurrection of Lazarus and other miracles. Furthermore, he argues that the gospels were never intended by the authors to be literary taken as it is in Christian faith today. For him, Jesus was just a problematic, powerful and controversial figure that could not be fully understood by both his friends and enemies (Metzger & Coogan, 2001).

In his analysis on transition from John the Baptist to Jesus, Crossan asserts that John the Baptist was very monopolistic hence was the only one who conducted baptism. However, Jesus as he records was franchise, thus delegated his authority to others. This therefore suggests the claim that Jesus and John came from one source is not accurate (Freyne, 2005).

Although he crowns John as a great apocalyptic prophet who taught about the coming of the kingdom of God, Jesus approach was very different since he taught about a collaborative kingdom that will only be realized if his listeners participated in establishing it (Collins, 2000). In response to Jesus claim to be the Messiah, Crossan argued that such a title was too ideal to fit Jesus. For him, the perfect kingdom that was a typology of Davidic reign would have only become successful if it truly liberated the Jews from Roman oppression. Since Jesus failed to do this, he has no rightful justification to be called a Messiah or savior (Metzger & Coogan, 2001).

Furthermore, the fact that Jesus did not officially launch any political or spiritual movement is an indicator that if he would be alive today, he may not identify with Christianity (Collins, 2000). Nevertheless, Crossan declines to consider Jesus as a political and radical rioter who could have led a rebellion against the Roman Government. Despite Pilate remains the most feared commentator in the historical life of Jesus, he did not execute Jesus disciples even after his death; it is a justification that Jesus’ movement was not a religious rebellion (Metzger & Coogan, 2001).

Critic to Crossan’s Work

A critique to Crossan’s work reveals that his approach has a number of weaknesses and although might have some influence in the understanding and perception of Christianity, such affect might not hinder the devout followers of the faith. For instance, his methodology is not purely scientific. Notwithstanding it seems necessary to draw illustrations from various sources, truth may not only be based on quantitative, but also on qualitative analogies.

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Crossan’s attempt to give less weight to issues that are not recorded severally may water down the validity of his findings. Furthermore, just like other leading world religions, Christianity does not entirely rely on empirical evidence, but on faith. This implies that his findings can be good for knowledge and create room for further researches, but are not able to diminish the faith.

Fulfillment of Judaism in Christianity

The word Judaism has two main connotations. It may refer to the culture, way of life and the entire tradition of the Jews or specifically the religion of the Jews. As a religion, Judaism is one of the very ancient faiths of the world that has been practiced for more than 4000 years. Christianity, on the other hand, is known to be the most famous religion of the world that emerged as an off-shoot from Judaism and is believed to have been founded along the teachings of Jesus (Ferguson, 2003).

Reasons why the Jews Still Hold to Their Teachings

Although these two faiths are known to be independent from each other, the fact that Christianity emerged from Judaism makes them to share certain common factors. For instance, Judaism is seen as a foundation upon which Christianity is built while Christianity is perceived to be the perfect fulfillment of Judaism (Ferguson, 2003). This is based on a number of concepts, ideas, institutions, teachings and practices that the two faiths have in common. These include the monotheistic belief about God, sacred scripture, belief in prophets and belief in messianic promise (Collins, 2000).

However, the most significant of these beliefs, which is both a unifying and distinguishing factor, is their messianic belief. Judaism believes that God will send a Messiah who will liberate them from all oppressions. Whereas they still wait for the manifestation of such figure, Christians do believe strongly that Jesus was that Messiah. Therefore, the messianic teachings that are recorded in the Jewish scripture find fulfillment in Christian beliefs in Jesus (Collins, 2000).

Despite this view of Christianity being a fulfillment of Judaism, the Jews have still held their teachings due to a number of factors. First of all, their strong belief that the destiny of entire humanity is related to their sacred history gives them zeal to keep to their historical faith. Furthermore, their teaching about the human Messiah who is expected to establish a perfect kingdom on earth is a point to cling on as they wait for the establishment of this ideal political and spiritual leadership. They believe that their traditional faith must remain active for the fulfillment of these expectations to occur (Freyne, 2005).

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In relation to this, it is significant to conduct Christian studies as an academic discipline. This will help to understand the uniqueness of this faith, its values, teachings and practices and how these can be used in enhancing the positive development in the society. Finally, although Judaism has always remained an independent faith, it has several other faiths that originated from it, Christianity and Islam being the most popular (Ferguson, 2003). Albeit, none of these faiths should claim perfection and authenticity since they are all related in one way or another. They should instead appreciate, accept and complement each other for the general well-being of humanity.


In summary, Judaism is known to be a mother of several faiths out of which Christianity is perceived to be the most popular. A comparative view of the two religious beliefs also reveal that they are interrelated hence ought to co-exist and complement each other for the service to humanity.

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