Judaic origins of Catholicism


I have an essay assignment on the Judaic origins of Catholicism, I want to be able to compare the sacraments with the their Jewish roots, such as the Eucharist, how exactly does Passover work when it is celebrated? What really good articles would help out? Do all of the sacraments have some ties with the way Jewish ceremonies are carried out?


Baptism has its roots in the Jewish ritual purification bath known as the mikveh. That’s all I’m giving you. You will have to do the rest of your own homework. :thumbsup:



Dr. Brant Pitre does a great job with Catholicism and Judaism, most impressive the Eucharist.


I would recommend the books Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Dr. Brant Pitre and The Crucified Rabbi by Dr. Taylor Marshall. Dr. Scott Hahn’s book Consuming the Word might also be of interest, but I’d check out the other two first. Good luck!


Check out Image Catholic Books imagecatholicbooks.com/?s=Jesus+and+the+Jewish+Roots+of+the+Eucharist they have a study guide to the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.

You are a priest in the order of Melchizedek forever. Psalm 110:4 In the psalm a priest is a man making sacrifices for peoples sins. If the priest last forever his sacrifice last forever.

Jesus became the new sacrifice through bread and wine during the last supper. This is what we call the Eucharist during Mass. Before that a unblemished lamb was considered a sacrifice for sins.

Please give us a update on what happens.


Here are a few recommendations:

Chero23 and MattofTexas mentioned Dr. Brant Pitre’s work. I would heartily concur and advise you to get your hands on a copy of the book that Matt recommends, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.

I just finished a post entitled, “The Lamb of God” in which I discuss the Jewish Passover and the sacrificial aspects of Jesus’s passion. Even if you don’t care for my writing, the list of sources at the bottom of the post should prove useful to you in writing your paper.

God Bless,

Chuck White


The most conspicuous connection between Judaism and Catholicism is the part of your Bible that Christians call the Old Testament, which Judaism calls the Hebrew Bible.

A lengthy and technical article which is self-explanatory according to the wording of the title is here: ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCJWSCR.HTM (the Jewish People and their scriptures in the Christian Bible)…which says (in the introduction) that if we didn’t have the Old Testament, you wouldn’t be able to understand the New Testament.

Dr. Scott Hahn is an outstanding Bible scholar and has an extensive list of publications. There’s one on the subject of “the fourth cup” which has a connection with the Last Supper and Christ’s death on the cross. In that article (as I recall) Hahn makes the observation that in the Jewish Passover celebration, the sacrificed lamb is actually eaten, of course. In the Mass, we consume the Body and Blood of Christ who is the victim of the “new passover.” So, that’s a ‘bullseye’ connection.

I’ve never found a Bible scholar who said anything like the following, which is my idea: The book of Leviticus describes the sacrifice of animals for sins which someone may have committed, and the penitent has to tell the priest the whole story so that the appropriate ritual is followed. That vaguely sounds like an Old Testament form of confession to me, but apparently only to me.

The toughest sacrament that you might have to justify is matrimony. Now, you may stretch things a bit and say that the wedding feast at Cana was blessed by Christ. But, I just ran across a section of scripture which “nails” how holy matrimony is. But, I have to get back to you on the reference.


This is an article about the “Fourth Cup.” It is very interesting and it makes sense that the Passover is linked to the last supper and to the holy Eucharist.



cbwhitejr. I just perused your article “The Lamb of God”.

Looks very good. I’ll be reading it more carefully tomorrow.

I’ll echo (several posters here) the recommendation of Dr. Pitre’s works too.

God bless.


(PS. I also enjoyed your summary: What Does the Church Teach about Social Justice)

Johnnyt3000. This book (more than an article I know) will really help you too. How Christ Said the First Mass by Fr. by the late James L. Meagher. An “oldie” but a “goodie”.


I just have a little caveat.

One should keep in mind that Jewish ceremonies as they are celebrated now does not necessarily reflect exactly how they were celebrated 2,000 years ago. 2,000 years is a lot of time to evolve and develop. I’ll use the Seder as an example. Our earliest detailed description of the Passover meal is from the tenth chapter of the tractate Pesachim of the Mishnah, finally redacted by Rabbi Judah the Prince at the beginning of the 3rd century AD - that would be some 150 years after the destruction of the Temple. As the JPS commentary on the Haggadah (pp. 6-7) says:

Scholars are divided on the value of this description for understanding how the meal was conducted during the Second Temple period. Many agree that some of it does represent practice during the Second Temple, but there is disagreement about the details.

Any attempt to present the Mishnah as a source for Second Temple practice must take into consideration the fact that there are details in the Mishnah’s portrayal of the seder that were introduced after the destruction of the Temple.

That’s why one should take popular Christian stuff which purport to show ‘Passover as Jesus celebrated it’ because to be honest, strictly speaking, we don’t know exactly how Passover meals (Seders) were held in Jesus’ time aside from the bare essentials. We do know the basic structure and the basic elements of a Passover meal, but it’s hard to reenact in detail what Jews back then would have specifically done. It’s not like they had Haggadahs handy like today. Of course, there’s unleavened bread, lamb, bitter herbs and wine; there’s stuff like the remembrance of the Exodus and the singing of hymns. But it’s likely that there wasn’t a set formula, since it was a ‘home liturgy’ that cannot be tightly controlled or regulated. Every community or every family would have had their own specific set of customs - which they inherited from their fathers, and their fathers’ fathers; in other words, their own ‘traditions’ - within that general framework. “This is the way my dad and my granddad celebrated Passover;” “this is how we celebrate Passover back in our village.”

Most - I’d even say all - of these reconstructions are based on the Mishnah, which as mentioned above isn’t really a text which should be read uncritically. While some of the stuff in the Mishnah do seem to date from an earlier time (burial customs being one of these - and we only know that the Mishnah is reliable at this point because contemporary tombs excavated in the Holy Land so far conform to the general rules the Mishnah lays), in other places it seems that the descriptions often actually reflect more ‘how we (the Rabbis) would have wanted things done’ than ‘how things were done’. In short, much of it may reflect more an ideal fantasy rather than historical reality.

Trying to use Jewish ceremonies as they are held now for what Jews 2,000 years ago did would be kind of like saying that Mass as said in churches today is exactly the same as it was performed during the lifetime of the apostles. In other words, it’s kind of like assuming that the apostles celebrated Mass while wearing tailored chasubles and using golden chalices while the congregation sat on pews. Okay, I’m exaggerating here, but you get the point. :stuck_out_tongue:


We really have to thank John the Baptist for being that key stepping stone which helped the Jewish ritual baths in mikvaot evolve into the Christian baptism.

Just to sum, Jews practiced ritual immersion to purify themselves, usually of some ritual impurity - and because there are many occasions to contract ritual impurity in daily life (menstruation, coming into contact with corpses, seminal emissions, etc.), not to mention that ritual purity was a requirement on certain occasions (say, when entering into the Temple) every Jew took a ritual bath frequently. Some, like the Essenes, were so scrupulous about keeping themselves ritually pure that they even immersed themselves everyday, or even a number of times in a single day. That’s why archaeologists have found a lot of mikvaot (pools specifically designed for this immersion - because ‘living water’ is a requirement) in the Holy Land.


With John the Baptist though, the deal is slightly different. Apparently in his case, only one immersion will suffice. And the immersion he provided was not just for the cleansing of whatever ritual uncleanliness one contracted - there was a message in his baptisms: to turn away from sin (moral uncleanliness), to ‘come back’ (that’s where the word ‘repent’ comes from) to a restored relationship with God. Repentance and a righteous life purifies people of their sins; his baptism is an outward sign of that purification. In John’s view, the ‘wrath to come’ is fast approaching, so purification and the restoration of relations between God and His people is urgently needed. The fact that he conducted his baptisms in the Jordan River is also symbolic: that was the river the Israelites crossed when they entered the Promised Land. Was John suggesting a new entry into a promised land, a reconstituting of Israel and a reaffirmation of the nation as God’s people?

You can say that Jesus even took it a step further. I know I’ll be raising some eyebrows here, but as much as I disagree with John Dominic Crossan, I think he did get something right when he said: " John had a monopoly; but Jesus had a franchise." In John’s case, you had to personally come before John and be immersed (at least we don’t hear of any of John’s disciples baptizing other people). Take John off the scene, his circle of followers will fall apart. In Jesus’ case, the apostles were authorized and commanded to baptize and gather followers in His name - and those followers in turn were authorized as well - which ensured that even if Jesus is gone, the movement can continue on its own.


All that we really know about the Passover in early Christian times- the first century A.D.- comes from Josephus. Here are the pertinent quotes from Josephus’ works, along with some commentary by Hagan (“Year of the Passover”)

***The Passover was celebrated in Nisan, a Jewish month that roughly corresponds to late March and early April in the Julian Calendar (chapter 1). A key consideration for the Jewish priests was that the Passover occurred after the end of the growing season. An integral part of the Passover celebration was “first fruits” day, when supplicants were to bring in produce just harvested and tithe it to the Temple. If the Passover occurred too early in the year, there would be scant offerings. So the Jewish astrologers paid close attention as to when the Vernal Equinox would occur and set the Calendar accordingly.
The Passover celebration commemorates the release of the Hebrew slaves by the Egyptian pharaoh which occurred an estimated 1,000 years before the times of Jesus. Note in the following passages that Nisan is described as being the first month in the Jewish Calendar, thus making the first day of Nisan the Jewish New Year as well.

But when God had signified, that with one plague he would compel the Egyptians to let Hebrews go, he commanded Moses to tell the people that they should have a sacrifice ready and they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth, (which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuth, Nisan by the Hebrews; but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus,) and that he should carry the Hebrews with all they had. Accordingly, he having got the Hebrews ready for their departure and having sorted the people into tribes, he kept them together in one place: but when the fourteenth day was come and all were ready to depart they offered the sacrifice and purified their houses with the blood, using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart. Whence it is that we do still offer this sacrifice in like manner to this day and call this festival Pascha which signifies the feast of the passover; because on that day God passed us over and sent the plague upon the Egyptians; for the destruction of the first-born came upon the Egyptians that night, so that many of the Egyptians who lived near the king’s palace, persuaded Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. Accordingly he called for Moses and bid them be gone; as supposing, that if once the Hebrews were gone out of the country, Egypt should be freed from its miseries. They also honored the Hebrews with gifts; some, in order to get them to depart quickly and others on account of their neighborhood and the friendship they had with them. (Antiq II 14:6)

In the month of Xanthicus which is by us called Nisan and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt and which was called the Passover; and so we do celebrate this passover in companies, leaving nothing of what we sacrifice till the day following. The feast of unleavened bread succeeds that of the passover and falls on the fifteenth day of the month and continues seven days, wherein they feed on unleavened bread; on every one of which days two bulls are killed and one ram and seven lambs. Now these lambs are entirely burnt, besides the kid of the goats which is added to all the rest, for sins; for it is intended as a feast for the priest on every one of those days. But on the second day of unleavened bread which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them. And while they suppose it proper to honor God, from whom they obtain this plentiful provision, in the first place, they offer the first-fruits of their barley and that in the manner following: They take a handful of the ears and dry them, then beat them small and purge the barley from the bran; they then bring one tenth deal to the altar, to God; and, casting one handful of it upon the fire, they leave the rest for the use of the priest. And after this it is that they may publicly or privately reap their harvest. They also at this participation of the first-fruits of the earth, sacrifice a lamb, as a burnt-offering to God. (Antiq III 10:5)
And as the feast of unleavened bread was at hand, in the first month which, according to the Macedonians, is called Xanthicus, but according to us Nisan, all the people ran together out of the villages to the city and celebrated the festival, having purified themselves, with their wives and children, according to the law of their country; and they offered the sacrifice which was called the Passover, on the fourteenth day of the same month and feasted seven days and spared for no cost, but offered whole burnt-offerings to God and performed sacrifices of thanksgiving, because God had led them again to the land of their fathers and to the laws thereto belonging and had rendered the mind of the king of Persia favorable to them. (Antiq XI 4:8)

The Paschal feast of the Passover was celebrated on the 14th day of Nisan, with the feast of the unleavened bread being celebrated on the following seven days from the 15th through the 21st days of Nisan.

Hope this helps.


Actually, what Josephus is describing is mainly is the Passover sacrifice. The sacrifice part is actually better attested (Philo and chapter 49 of the Book of Jubilees - mid 2nd century BC - also mention the slaughter of the lambs.) For the Passover meal, guess what? If we’re gonna be strict, our sources - aside from the general template provided in the Torah (Exodus 12:1-28, 33-49; 13:3-16; Leviticus 23:4-8; Deuteronomy 16:1-8, etc.) - are actually the descriptions of the Last Supper in Paul’s letter and the gospels. (Although keep in mind that some people dispute whether the Last Supper was actually a Passover meal at all.)

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. …] And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

There’s also this passing reference in Philo (Special Laws 2.145-149):

And after the feast of the new moon comes the fourth festival, that of the passover, which the Hebrews call pascha, on which the whole people offer sacrifice, beginning at noonday and continuing till evening. And this festival is instituted in remembrance of, and as giving thanks for, their great migration which they made from Egypt, with many myriads of people, in accordance with the commands of God given to them; leaving then, as it seems, a country full of all inhumanity and practising every kind of inhospitality, and (what was worst of all) giving the honour due to God to brute beasts; and, therefore, they sacrificed at that time themselves out of their exceeding joy, without waiting for priests. And what was then done the law enjoined to be repeated once every year, as a memorial of the gratitude due for their deliverance. These things are thus related in accordance with the ancient historic accounts. But those who are in the habit of turning plain stories into allegory, argue that the passover figuratively represents the purification of the soul; for they say that the lover of wisdom is never practising anything else except a passing over from the body and the passions. And each house is at that time invested with the character and dignity of a temple, the victim being sacrificed so as to make a suitable feast for the man who has provided it and of those who are collected to share in the feast, being all duly purified with holy ablutions. And those who are to share in the feast come together not as they do to other entertainments, to gratify their bellies with wine and meat, but to fulfil their hereditary custom with prayer and songs of praise. And this universal sacrifice of the whole people is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the month, which consists of two periods of seven, in order that nothing which is accounted worthy of honour may be separated from the number seven. But this number is the beginning of brilliancy and dignity to everything.

The hymn-singing is also implied in Jubilees, which also mentions the wine (49:6 “and all Israel was eating the flesh of the paschal lamb, and drinking the wine, and was lauding, and blessing, and giving thanks to the Lord God of their fathers…”) and the deuterocanonical Wisdom of Solomon (1st century BC-1st century AD; 18:2-25).

So we can infer at least that from the 1st century, some of the standard elements of the Seder - the lamb, the (unleavened) bread, the bitter herbs, the wine, prayers and hymn-singing - are already there, though we aren’t exactly sure what people said or did, because this was before the Mishnah codified the meal.


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