About Christianity’s Jewish Roots

You probably know that Christians and Jews have the same God and Abraham is our common forefather. This engaging examination is accessible and basic, yet covers a lot of ground and answers many common questions that Christians have. In this thoughtful, practical study, you'll take a closer look at topics ranging from Jewish history and basic beliefs to prayer and ritual, law, and holidays.

You'll see both the parallels and the points at which Judaism and Christianity diverge. Ideal for small groups, Bible studies, or individuals, Christianity's Jewish Roots: A Study of Judaism for Christians is a valuable resource that Christians need in order to deeply appreciate both their Old Testament Jewish ancestors and the vibrant modern-day Jewish people.

Readers will also learn how some of the Jewish prayer rituals are in practice in Christian churches everywhere.  Communion has its roots in the Jewish blessings over wine and bread.  At the last supper, Jesus the Jew took two of the most common prayers to instruct his disciples to remember him. 

As you might guess Jews and Christians look at the meaning of the Messiah differently.  There is much Messianic prophecy in Jewish scripture.  This study will guide Christians in their understanding that Jews look at the Messiah as more a question of what not who.

In Jewish Holy Days and Festivals, readers will explore Shabbat, the Sabbath Day.   The Sabbath is one of the most sacred of the holy days of the calendar.  Shabbat is the only Jewish holy day whose timing does not depend on the calendar.  It is the only day of observance mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

Christianity’s Jewish Roots: A Study of Judaism for Christians is ideal for Bible studies, small groups, or individual study.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you still be Jewish if you are a Christian?

An individual is born into the Jewish people and is a Jew for life irrespective of their beliefs. The law says if your mother is Jewish then you are Jewish. According to traditional Jewish law once a Jew, always a Jew. Devotion to and observance of Jewish law and traditions do not affect this simple and yet strict definition of who is a Jew.

Why don't Jews believe that Jesus is the Messiah?

Very little is written directly about the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, the title “the Messiah” as a specific person does not appear at all. Virtually all Jewish sources agree on the following points:

  1. The Messiah will be fully human and only human.
  2. He will be a ruler who will restore the sovereignty of the Jewish people and usher in the Golden Age, gathering the Jewish people back to the holy land.
  3. The Messianic Age will be a time of peace among all peoples. It will be a time when the entire world accepts the one God.
  4. The Messiah will not be God. Only God is God and God is One. The concept of God becoming human is foreign.
  5. The Messiah will not be involved in the redemption of sin any more than any human Jewish leader. The Messiah will not come to redeem original sin since Judaism does not believe in original sin.

Was Jesus the first Christian?

One of the certain facts about Jesus was that He was a Jew. A child of Jewish parents, Jesus was brought up in a Jewish home and reared among Jewish traditions. Throughout His life, Jesus lived among Jews. Jesus and His family would have been observant of Torah, paid tithes, kept the Sabbath, circumcised their males, attended synagogue-and so on. The notion of Jesus who did not live by Torah does not fit historical reality. Within a few years after his death, the Jewish followers of Jesus espoused a rather different kind of religion from that followed by most Jews. Judaism is strongly rooted in religious law; Christianity ceased to be so.

The separation of the two religions was not a sudden event but took place over a long period of time. The Roman war and destruction of the 2nd Temple was a significant catalyst. Rome persecuted the early Christians for not worshipping the Roman gods.

Who wrote the Old Testament?

The Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, narrates the history of the people of Israel over about a millennium, beginning with God’s creation of the world and humankind, and contains the stories, laws, and moral lessons that form the basis of religious life for both Jews and Christians. For at least 1,000 years, both Jewish and Christian tradition held that a single author wrote the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—which together are known as the Torah (Hebrew for “instruction”) and the Pentateuch (Greek for “five scrolls”). That single author was believed to be Moses, the Hebrew prophet who led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt and guided them across the Red Sea toward the Promised Land.

Yet nearly from the beginning, readers of the Bible observed that there were things in the so-called Five Books of Moses that Moses himself could not possibly have witnessed: His own death, for example, occurs near the end of Deuteronomy. A volume of the Talmud, the collection of Jewish laws recorded between the 3rd and 5th centuries A.D., dealt with this inconsistency by explaining that Joshua (Moses’ successor as leader of the Israelites) likely wrote the verses about Moses’ death.

About the Author

Author Susan Renni Anderson was raised and educated in a traditional Jewish family.  Her great-grandparents came to the United States from Eastern Europe fleeing the pogroms – horrific outbreaks of violence against the Jews.  Her great-grandmother was the daughter of an outspoken rabbi.  The whole family was whisked out of Russia to avoid capture and execution.  Her grandparents were all born in the U.S. settling in Chicago.  Susan started Sunday school at 3 years old.  She attended Hebrew school from 4th through 9th grade training for her Bat Mitzvah.

In 2005 the Temple her family attended merged with another congregation and moved an hour away.  Susan’s late husband traveled extensively for work.  He typically flew home on Friday afternoons – too late to turn around and drive another hour to attend Shabbat services.  It just became easier not to go.  With no place to fellowship and worship with like-minded people, Susan began a faith-journey which led her to her church.  She felt a tug of war going on in her soul.  Susan knows with complete certainty that it was the Holy Spirit pulling her to Christ.

Susan Renni Anderson lives in northeast Georgia.