I’ve come to notice that there is a huge theological difference between Judaism and Christianity (apart from the role of Jesus). While Christians believe in Heaven and Hell, Jews do not believe in the afterlife. And why did Jesus overturn many of the teachings of the Old Testament, such as divorce? I thought that God didn’t change. And since our faith and our beliefs are rooted in Judaism, since Christ was a Jew and all of the original Christians were Jewish converts (I.e. the Apostles, Disciples and the Blessed Mother), why do we differ theologically from them in several matters, not just whether Jesus Christ was the Messiah or not?
I’m just going to comment on one point you made. Actually, most Jews–not all–do believe in an afterlife, and not only Orthodox Jews. It’s just that we hardly have any information about the specifics of it in the Hebrew Bible. Also, concern about salvation in the afterlife is not a major focus in Judaism.
Jewish beliefs have been influenced by many factors since the birth of Christianity and they are not precisely the same now as they were at that time. Jewish belief in the afterlife used to be ubiquitous. Traditional Jews still believe in the afterlife. But not all Jews are the same, and that’s in part because the Jewish faith is no longer centralized in Jerusalem, and thus there is no central authority to define what is orthodox and what is not.
Re: the changing of Old Testament teachings, there are several factors that go into that. The first thing to realize is that there were many Old Testament prohibitions and permissions that were temporary, and Moses and the prophets acknowledged them to be temporary. Sacrifices are an example of a temporary command. Throughout the time that they were commanded, God said that He hated animal sacrifices, and looked forward to a time when there would only be one sacrifice, the sacrifice of His Son. Divorce was another temporary permission. In the Old Testament, even while He allowed divorce, God said He hated it, and advised that they remain with the wife of their youth. The dietary laws were temporary prohibitions on eating animal foods. The Levitical law explicitly says that one day the old way will be cleared out and a new way will be drawn in. Jeremiah also says that the New Covenant would not be like the Old Covenant, and would be based on the eternal law rather than on temporary laws.
Now when a temporary thing is instituted, with explicit statements saying that these things are temporary and will one day be done away with, it’s not a contradiction when they are done away with at the proper time. That’s not a contradiction, it’s a fulfillment of the terms. Just like when I buy a car and I make an arrangement to pay a certain amount over a certain period of time. When the time is fulfilled, I’m not violating my agreement if I stop paying, I’m abiding by my agreement. This is why Jesus said He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Because He wasn’t abolishing the Old Testament agreement any more than I am abolishing my car agreement when I reach full payment. I’m not abolishing it but fulfilling it. And that’s why we live under a different law today.
Anyway I hope that helps. God bless!
Well I heard from a few Jewish people who said that they didn’t believe in an afterlife. I’m glad to hear from one that does. I was just very interested in the Jewish position on the mater. Thank you very much for your feedback.
God bless you
I’ve always found it very interesting that Judaism has little emphasis on eschatology. It is often the trademark of critics that religion was invented to comfort those who fear death or pain or to satisfy a human perception of justice; and yet Judaism entertains little of that idea.
Rather, the primary element seems to be satisfaction of divine justice, and it is this same element transferred over into Christianity that orders and orients eschatology. Point in case: the book of Job. Bad things happen to him though he was upright. This was not in spite of his failings, but as part of God’s greater and infinitely wiser plan. Service to God is simply expected for the sake of God’s will, regardless of whether it is understood. $0.02
The book of Job is in the Jewish canon though, right?
The Ancient Jewish people simply had no teachings regarding the afterlife, because God hadn’t revealed them yet. Jesus simply gave them new information that wasn’t previously available.
God also did not change the “teachings” regarding marriage - he changed us. Baptism washes our soul clean, and fundamentally changes the soul to be closer to himself. Baptism seals a marriage so tightly, that only death can break its bond.
In limited circumstances, the church can still “divorce” non-baptized spouses, by dissolving their marriage. Without baptism, marriage remains fundamentally the same today as it was in Old Testament times.
3Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8 He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”
God did not change. What happened is some people, like Moses, bent to the will of the people and not to the will of God.
Many Christians mistakenly believe that Christianity is Judaism with Jesus. While it may be extreme to state that Pauline Christianity is the absolute antithesis of Judaism, it would be no exaggeration to state that the two religions are diametrically different. Many Jews and Christians do not understand this for the simple reason that they do not possess a deep understanding of these two religions. I am often amused to read posts referring to “salvation” in Judaism. A knowledgeable Jew would reply “salvation from what?”. Could you imagine the Jewish approach of reasoning, thinking, debating, questioning and arguing in a class on Catholicism? When Christians and Jews talk about God, we should realize that the Jewish concept and definition of God is different than that of the Christian, When we talk of the Jewish World to Come we should be aware that the concept is not one of the Christian heaven or hell. Similarly, there exists between Christians and Jews opposing views as to whether we are born in innocence or sin, the source of good and evil, the way to redemption, religious central authority, interpretation of scriptures, our purpose for life on earth, (to name just a few things). Recurring posts on this forum, such as whether it is a sin to lie to a Nazi about hiding Jews, show that even basic moral concepts and mutual responsibility for our fellow man are not agreed upon.
I basically agree with everything you say here except the part about “the Jewish approach of reasoning, thinking, debating, questioning and arguing” compared to a class on Catholicism. Catholics throughout the centuries have done all of this as well, perhaps the Jesuits even more than most. Your other points are well taken.