Differences Between the Christian and Jewish Bible

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    Christian vs Jewish Bible

    Christianity and Judaism are two Abrahamic religions that have similar origins but have varying beliefs, practices and teachings. The word ‘Bible’ comes from the Greek word ‘biblia’ which means ‘books’ or ‘scrolls’ and both religions call their religious scripture ‘Bible’(Hayes 3). Judaism dates back to the 2nd century BCE and the Jewish Bible is called Tanakh. It consists of 24 books which are in Hebrew and Armanic(Hayes 3).It is divided into three parts, the first part includes the five books of the Torah which, according to traditions, were revealed directly by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, the second part is Neviim (Prophets) and the third is Ketuvim (writings) (Cohn-Sherbok 1). Christianity originated in the 1st Century C.E and it is known as the religion of Jesus. The Christian Bible consists of all the Jewish Hebrew texts but they are arranged in a different manner so it makes a total of 39 books which are together known as the ‘old testament’. The Christian New Testament consists of 27 books which contain early Christian writings (Hayes 3). The Protestants count a total of 39 books, Catholics 46 while the Orthodox Christians count up to 53 books as part of their Holy Bible (Just).  For Christians, the New Testament takes precedence over the Old Testament (read Hebrew text) and they use the reading of the New Testament to confirm the text of the Old Testament. For Jews however the Hebrew text is the supreme scripture and they rely on it fully for their religious understanding (Gravett, Bohmbach, Greifenhagen 54).

    Another major difference is of the foundation texts that are used in the two Bibles to address the readers. The Jewish Bible has texts written in Hebrew (or Armanic) while the true Christian Old testament is in Spetuagint- the ancient Greek version (Lemche 366). Moreover, the arrangement of the common texts in the Jewish and the Christian Bible is different, for example in the Jewish Bible ‘2 kings’ is followed by ‘Isaiah’ while in the Old Testament ‘chronicles’ follows ‘2 kings’ (Gravett, Bohmbach, Greifenhagen 56). More generally, the books on Prophets are kept together in the Jewish Bible while in the Old Testament the books on writings are inserted between ‘Kings’ and ‘Isaiah’, the books from ‘Jeremiah’ to ‘Malachi’ are similar in order in both texts but this segment of books is placed after the books on ‘wisdom’ in the Old Testament (Gravett, Bohmbach, Greifenhagen 56).

    Christianity essentially is an off shoot of Judaism and this division resulted from the difference in the contents of the two separate texts, for example some of the books on the topic of ‘wisdom’ including the Apocryphal of Ecclesiasticus, the Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobit and Maccabees are an integral part of the Old Testament however they are excluded from the Jewish Bible (Kessler, Sawyer ‘Judaism’). Furthermore, the importance of oral traditions in the Judaism is a cause for distinction between the two bibles since it is given as much importance as the written traditions, however in Christian bible the emphasis is on the written scriptures although the interpretation of the church is held in high regard but it is not as important as the Rabbinic literature and interpretation of the text (Kessler, Sawyer ‘Judaism’).

    In conclusion, it is important to note that these two religions are closely related to each other but their holy scriptures differ significantly. The main differences are in the number of books which comprise the two Bibles, the arrangement of the books, the primary language that the Bibles are read or studied in, the content of the two Bibles and in terms of the importance that is given to the oral and the written traditions in making of the two holy books.

    The main differences are as follows:

    • the number of books

    • the arrangement of the books

    • the primary language that the Bibles are read or studied in

    • the content of the two Bibles

    • the importance that is given to the oral and the written traditions in making of the two holy books

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