Was Judaism influenced by other religions?


Hi everyone this is my last thread on CAF for a while.

I was wondering if Judaism was influenced by early religions during its stages of development. If so, does that discredit Catholicsm? If not, can you show me research?


I mean, the Jews did fall away from monotheism several times, turning over to worship foreign gods and such. They also went through lots of sinful phases, turning to sexual immorality, not helping the needy, etc. so Judaism was indeed influenced many times by different cultures and Pagan religions, but no that doesn’t discredit Catholicism because the Catholics know where the Jews went wrong. We know what they did wrong, how they were wrongly influenced, and we are careful not to stray onto the same path.



Zoroastrianism as well as ancient Sumerian-Assyrian-Babylonian religions both significantly helped shape Judaism from the 11th to 5th centuries B.C. Ancient Egyptian religion influenced it quite a bit also, as is evident from Genesis and Exodus. Indigenous Canaanite and Philistine religion exerted influence on Judaism, as well as Edomite religion.

There’s others I’m missing - Zoroastrianism probably played the biggest part in the development of Judaism.

Also another commonly overlooked fact: Buddhism exherted significant influence on early Christianity, to the point where Guatama Buddha himself became venerated as “Sts. Barlaam and Josaphat” which is just a corrupted Latin translation of “Gautama Buddha” after its been translated about 8 times.


Evidence suggests Judaism as we know it grew out of Canaanite polytheism. So probably? There was interaction between Middle Eastern, European, and Asian religions since Alexander. Maybe even earlier.



About Gautama Buddha’s being venerated as "Sts Barlaam and Josaphat, Could you give the reference(s) for this? I’d like to check this out for myself.




Well during the Babylonian exile many think Zoroastrianism and Judaism assimilated with beliefs. Magi were Zoroastrian astrologers. They obviously knew the Jews were awaiting a messiah.
No this doesn’t disprove Catholicism at all.


As mentioned, Jews probably being exposed to Zoroastrianism during their time in exile in Babylon might have contributed to the development of Judaism.

No, this doesn’t disprove Judaism or Christianity at all. God has many ways of bringing His people closer to the fullness of truth.


I don’t think Buddhism exerted that much influence on early Christianity - orthodox (Nicene) Christianity that is. However it may indeed have contributed to the rise of gnosticism (well, it and Platonism) via Manichaeism.

(After all, you do have to remember that there are many schools and varieties of Buddhism …)


Ask and it shall be given to you: http://www.catholicstand.com/unraveling-saint-buddha/

Regions of India were later captured by Alexander the Great, and some of the stories from the East traveled through Greek and even Arab cultures on their way to the West. Names were anglicized, specifics were lost. And at the end of the process there was St. Josaphat, the son of a king who went off into the desert with his faith. He was actually born Siddhartha Gautama but his title was Bodhisattva, in Arabic Budhasaf, in Greek Ioasaph, in Latin Josaphat.

Also known as Buddha.

Buddha, the pre-Christian son of a king who went off into the desert with his faith. A story that had adapted as it worked its way West over centuries, and he emerged as St. Josaphat.

Due to the fact the Church venerated Gautama Buddha for centuries under the name “Barlaam and Josaphat”, combined with the remarks written about Buddha by the Early Fathers (that he was a holy man who helped pave the way for Christ among gentiles) make me comfortable with saying “St. Gautama Buddha, pray for me”, or when I see a statue of Buddha to venerate him and say “holy buddha pray for us”.


How about naming the Church Fathers who accepted “St Buddha”? I want to read what they had to say.



Please don’t put words in my mouth.

Never did I say any Church Fathers “accepted” a “St. Buddha”.

I said various Fathers said he was a holy man who helped pave the way for Christ.

St. Clement of Alexandria had something specifically interesting to say - open a new browser tab and google “Clement of Alexandria Buddha”.



It wasn’t.



Very likely yes. And no, it doesn’t discredit Christianity in any way, shape, or form.

The argument can be made that Judaism did not exist as Judaism before the Babylonian Exile and the period of the Return. Prior to the Exile, Israel and Judah practiced a religion called Israelite Yahwism, a henotheistic religion that, like the other nations in the Levant, worshipped, even exclusively, a national god but did not deny the existence of other gods. The Israelite national god was Yahweh, but he didn’t appear to be part of the Canaanite pantheon. The head god of the Canaanite pantheon was El, and was probably at an early stage recognized as a god separate from Yahweh.

Later, El and Yahweh would become merged and by the time of the Second Temple, Judaism is completely and strictly monotheistic. Persian Zoroastrianism may have also played a role in the development of Second Temple Judaism’s pure monotheism.

It’s probably only a theory but it’s a plausible one. The Israelites were notoriously stiff-necked and God, knowing this, probably revealed himself in a gradual manner, first restricting worship to just one god, then eventually revealing himself as the only, true God as their understanding grew.

That’s why I have no issue with it at all, and it does not discredit Christianity whatsoever.


I apologize, Spyridon. You did say “various Fathers”, so I misunderstood you.



a lot of the early stories in genesis are based from Sumerian and Babylonian epics. You have the Sumerian flood story, the Sumerian garden of the gods, and the tower of babel which was based on Babylonian ziggurats (skyscrapers of the ancient world)


The uniqueness of Judaism is not in its myths or its odes in totality, in ANE culture it was common for a victorious nation to take the national odes and hymns of the defeated nation’s god and attach them to your own worship of your nation’s god.
However, be careful when you read that some borrowing has happened. Oftentimes it is nothing more than common religious memes.

The uniqueness of Judaism was it’s relation with God, it’s worldwide aspirations, messianic expectations, and ultimately, the Truth.

It doesn’t in any way take from the Truth.




It demonstrably was, and 99% of scholars, Rabbis, and Priests would disagree with you saying it wasn’t.

Judaism didn’t grow in a vacuum, and it didn’t magically fall from heaven on the fifth of Nisan in 553 B.C. at the fourth hour of the day…

It grew organically in an environs with other Semitic or monotheistic religions influencing it - hence my statement that Egyptian, Babylonian, and Zoroastrian religions 100% most definitely DID influence Judaism.


I had known about those saints (their feast day was yesterday, too!), but I did not know what the saints had said about the buddha. Thanks


I think, in broad strokes, religions and philosophies do influence each other.
I mean, all us humans face the same challenges and milestones–birth, death, sex and marriage, war and disease and famine.
We have the ability to ponder and think, and we share ideas.
Most people do believe there is Something or Someone bigger out there.
So yes, I would say it’s fair to make the assertion that religions influence each other.
Does that make me scared in my faith or insecure or doubt?
No, why should it?
The Holy Spirit is free to distribute light and grace where He wishes, on the righteous persons of any faith.
I’ve been inspired by kind deeds of people of other faiths.
I’m not saying this as a loophole to reject Christianity. We still have a serious responsibility to find the truth and then conform ourselves to it.
Peace :v:t2:


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