Hard Questions About the Bible

About Judaism

Does the existence of other religions prove that the Bible is not true?  Let’s look at Judaism.  I’ll compare and contrast later.

The following is summarized information from http://www.jewfaq.org/index.htm

Judaism is a religion, a set of ideas about the world and the way we should live our lives.  There is a lot of flexibility about certain aspects of those beliefs, and a lot of disagreement about specifics, but that flexibility is built into the organized system of belief that is Judaism.

Many people who call themselves Jews do not believe in that religion at all!   More than half of all Jews in Israel today call themselves ‘secular’ and don’t believe in God or any of the religious beliefs of Judaism.  Half of all Jews in the U.S. don’t belong to any synagogue.  They may practice some of the rituals and celebrate some of the holidays, but they don’t think of them as religious activities.

Most secular American Jews think of their Jewishness as a matter of culture or ethnicity.  When they think of Jewish culture, they think of the food (bagels and lox, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup), the Yiddish language (a mixture of German, Hebrew and other languages), of holidays and cultural values.  Most of that culture is really Ashkenazic (from Eastern Europe).  Most Jews in America today are Ashkenazic.  Jews from different parts of the world have many different traditions.

Common ancestry is not required to be a Jew.  Many Jews worldwide share common ancestry, as shown by genetics, but you can also be a Jew by converting.

The traditional explanation about Jews, and the one given in the Torah (first 5 books of the Old Testament in the Bible) is that Jews are a nation.  Throughout the Bible and Jewish literature, the Jewish people are referred to as the ‘Children of Israel’, a reference to the fact that they are the physical or spiritual descendants of Jacob, who was later called Israel.

Next:  Comparing the Religions

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