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Judeo-Christian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Judeo-Christian is a term which is used to group Christianity and Judaism together, either in reference to Christianity's derivation from Judaism, both religions' common use of the Bible, or due to perceived parallels or commonalities and shared values between the two religions.

The term "Judæo Christian" first appears in a letter from Alexander McCaul which is dated October 17, 1821. In this case the term referred to Jewish converts to Christianity. The term was similarly used by Joseph Wolff in 1829, in reference to a type of church that would observe some Jewish traditions in order to convert Jews.

Use of the German term Judenchristlich ("Jewish-Christian"), in a decidedly negative sense, can be found in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who emphasized what he believed were neglected aspects of continuity between the Jewish and Christian world views.

The concept of Judeo-Christian ethics or Judeo-Christian values in an ethical (rather than a theological or liturgical) sense was used by George Orwell in 1939, along with the phrase "the Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals."[1]

Theologian and author Arthur A. Cohen, in The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, questioned the theological validity of the Judeo-Christian concept and suggested that it was essentially an invention of American politics.

The related term "Abrahamic religions" includes Bahá'ísm, Islam, Druze etc. in addition to Judaism and Christianity.[2]

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  • ✪ Western Civilization is Based on Judeo-Christian Values – Debunked
  • ✪ Christianity from Judaism to Constantine: Crash Course World History #11
  • ✪ Why is Islam not "Judeo-Christian"?

Transcription

One of the most prominent and pernicious claims that theists (and indeed some atheists) are currently making is that “Western civilisation is based on Judaeo-Christian values: “The values that resonate most with human beings are eternal; not changeable, and not relativistic. They’re universal, not group specific. And most of all, they apply to individual human beings, not group labels. And those values were first embedded clearly and precisely in the Ten Commandments”, “Our moral values (certainly in Western Culture) come from Christianity”; “Judaeo-Christian values are predicated on the existence of a god of morality […] the entire Western world (what we call Western civilisation) is based on this understanding”; “To make a rational argument you have to start with an initial proposition. Well, the proposition that underlies Western culture is that there’s a transcendent morality”; “European and American culture (which is based on Judaeo-Christian values) is better than other cultures – I think it’s uncontroversial to say so”; “That was the basic foundation of America. It was a Judaeo-Christian ethic, it was a Judaeo-Christian reasoning”; “The Catholic church built Western civilization”; “Western Civilization at large was build on Christianity - that's a fact!” And yet, this claim is absolute nonsense… and what’s worse, it’s often not even an argument… it’s just an assertion – a statement, that straight-out ignores history and science. This is “Western Civilization is Based on Judaeo-Christian Values – Debunked”. Now it tends to be quite easy to take on this claim, because, as just said, that’s all it often is… a claim – and so refuting it tends to merely require a swift motion from Hitchen’s razor: “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” But in the few cases in which an argument is actually given it tends to be in reference to morality, which in effect is the assertion that “Western morality is based on the assumption that the Abrahamic god exists.” “Most people in this room act out a Judaeo-Christian ethic”; “Judaeo-Christian values are predicated on the existence of a god of morality […] the entire Western world (what we call Western civilisation) is based on this understanding”; “Our moral values (certainly in Western Culture) come from Christianity”; “I’m arguing that the ethic that drives our culture is predicated on the existence of god.” Now the first thing to be said about most of those who make this assertion is that they’re utterly ignoring history before Judaism, and in so doing they’re just expecting us to assume that before its inception people somehow didn’t know that it’s wrong to kill, exploit and steal; that before the Ten Commandments life was nasty, brutish and short… but this simply isn’t true. Evidence shows that official laws against murder and theft date back at least 4,400 years to Lagash, Mesopotamia (which, of course, is 600 years before the birth of Judaism); and that official laws abolishing slavery only date back 200 years (which, of course, is 3,600 years after Judaism)… but since these facts don’t fit the Judaeo-Christian narrative let’s just ignore them, right? I mean, it’s not like Abrahamic religion hasn’t ignored (and still ignores) facts that contradict it, is it? “Those values were first embedded clearly and precisely in the Ten Commandments.” “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” Or to put this all another way, most of those who make this assertion just expect us to believe that an evolved social species somehow didn’t evolve social norms. That despite all of the evidence telling us otherwise (such as the fact that wolves, elephants, chimpanzees, rats, bats and whales have all have been proven to exhibit moral behaviour), humans for some reason required divine intervention. You know, I think it’s worth me doubling down here, because for whatever reason many seem to have a hard time understanding how human morality could’ve emerged naturally, when it’s really quite simple. We are sentient beings that have evolved the capacity to feel pain and the desire to avoid it, and our recognition that the best way to achieve this is by cooperating and establishing rules is morality. It’s that simple. Morality isn’t this mysterious, unfathomable thing; the religious just need to be, because, to paraphrase the founding father and second U.S president John Adams, mystery is a convenient excuse for absurdity. Anyhow, with the question of “where do moral values come from” answered, I’m convinced that the best way to succinctly address the primary assertion is to first identify Western values, and to then trace back when, where and why they emerged. And so, let’s start with freedom of speech – the very bedrock of a free society, and the right that allows us to enact and defend all other rights – is this Western value of Judaeo-Christian origin? No. Both the Old and New Testament proclaim strict limitation on free speech (through primarily blasphemy laws), and until very recently Jewish and Christian governments declared exactly the same. Hell, the Inquisition was the antithesis of free speech, as they literally incinerated anyone who didn’t share their barbaric, un-enlightened beliefs. Anyhow, so far as evidence indicates the principle of freedom of speech and expression dates back 2,500 years to ancient Athens and the early Roman Republic, but true freedom of speech didn’t emerge until the early Enlightenment, 1689, with first The British Bill of Rights, and shortly after The French Revolution (3,500 after Judaism and 1,700 years after Christianity). Moving on, what about liberty? You know, the abolition of slavery… and with it the pursuit of happiness? Did this value (that so characterises the West) come from Judaism or Christianity? Again, no. The Old and New Testament both explicitly endorse slavery, and in fact provide rules and regulation for several categories of slaves; regulations that both Jews and Christians enacted and upheld during the vast majority of their time in power. The truth of the matter is that the principle of liberty dates back, again, 2,500 to Athens, when the lawgiver Solon abolished debt slavery and freed all Athenian citizens who had formally been enslaved. But true abolition of slavery didn’t occur until the 19th century (3,600 years after Judaism, and 1,800 years after Christianity). Now some, such as Theo Hobson, would argue that since Christianity dominated the West during the this time, the abolition of slavery was (and still is) rooted in Judaeo-Christian values, but this is as fallacious as asserting that since animal rights first emerged in Hindu culture, therefore animal rights was (and still is) rooted in Hindu values; it’s a type of False Cause Fallacy. Okay, well, what about democracy? The ability to elect, and more importantly remove, our leaders? Surely, the West inherited this moral from Judaeo-Christian values, right? Again, no – absolutely not. Both the Old and New Testament explicitly endorse theocracy (which is a system of government in which one or more people rule in the name of a god or gods), and, surprise, surprise, throughout history Judaism and Christianity have enforced such a government. For example, in Medieval Europe (in which “Judaeo-Christian” values absolutely dominated) the monarch could do whatever he wanted to whoever he wanted without justification, because he had the Divine Right of Kings. The principle of democracy can be traced back, again, 2,500 years to Athens, when Cleisthenes reformed their constitution so that randomly selected citizens could assume administrative and judicial offices. However, it wasn’t perfect, as “citizenship” excluded women, slaves, foreigners, non-landowners, and men under the age of 20. Unfortunately, as just mentioned, the principle was buried during Medieval Europe, but it saw a significant resurgence in the 18th century due to Enlightenment values, and true democracy (as in all citizens who’re mentally capable above the age of eighteen being able to vote) was finally established in the 20th century (3,700 years after Judaism and 1,900 years after Christianity). And while we’re on the topic of suffrage, what about equality in general? You know, equal opportunity for all ethnicities, all sexes, all classes, all ages, and all sexual preferences? Was this beacon of freedom and equality a gift from Judaism or Christianity? Again, no. Judaeo-Christian edicts fervently oppose such equality, demanding the subordination of women, the execution of homosexuals, and, as already mentioned, the endorsement of slavery, and the execution of blasphemers – and so, again, it’s no surprise that Medieval Europe embodied precisely just that. Now I could go on by tracing back the foundation of all Western values and practices, such as Easter and Christmas (which are both pagan festivals that have been appropriated by Christianity), but I think I've more than made my point. Western civilisation did not emerge from Judaeo-Christian values; it emerged despite them. Western civilisation was conceived in ancient Athens, and it most flourished during the Age of Enlightenment in direct opposition to Judaeo-Christian values. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and acknowledge that many Jews and Christians played a significant role in shaping Western morality, but they didn’t do so because of Judaeo-Christian values, they did so because of their own, evolved moral conscious, which they then projected onto their religion. And that’s why, not surprisingly, “absolute” divine laws are forever changing… Now just before I wrap up (and on a completely different note), I’ve got a question for you all – would you possibly be interested in a card game in which the purpose is to debunk theistic arguments by playing the right fallacies, all while preventing your opponent from doing the same by playing action cards such as “That’s just a theory”? If so, please let me know, because I have a great game mechanic in mind, an awesome art direction, and I’d simply love to kickstart the project… but first, I need to know if you’d be interested. Anyhow, as always, thank you kindly for the view, and an extra special thank you to my wonderful patrons and those of you who’ve donated via PayPal. Your support is what allows me to adequately address claims such as this one, and so you have my sincere gratitude. Until next time my fellow apes, until next time!

Contents

History

The term "Judæo Christian" first appears in a letter from Alexander McCaul which is dated October 17, 1821.[3] The term in this case referred to Jewish converts to Christianity.[4] The term was similarly used by Joseph Wolff in 1829, in reference to a type of church that would observe some Jewish traditions in order to convert Jews.[5]

Use of the German term Judenchristlich ("Jewish-Christian"), in a decidedly negative sense, can be found in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who emphasized what he believed were neglected aspects of continuity between the Jewish and Christian world views. The expression appears in The Antichrist, published in 1895 and written several years earlier; a fuller development of Nietzsche's argument can be found in a prior work, On the Genealogy of Morality.

Inter-group relations

The rise of antisemitism in the 1930s led concerned Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to take steps to increase mutual understanding and lessen the high levels of antisemitism in the United States.[6] In this effort, precursors of the National Conference of Christians and Jews created teams consisting of a priest, a rabbi, and a minister, to run programs across the country, and fashion a more pluralistic America, no longer defined as a Christian land, but "one nurtured by three ennobling traditions: Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism....The phrase 'Judeo-Christian' entered the contemporary lexicon as the standard liberal term for the idea that Western values rest on a religious consensus that included Jews."[7]

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, "there was a revolution in Christian theology in America. […] The greatest shift in Christian attitudes toward the Jewish people since Constantine converted the Roman Empire."[8] The rise of Christian Zionism, religiously motivated Christian interest and support for the state of Israel, along with the growth of philo-Semitism has increased interest in Judaism among American evangelicals, and this interest is especially focused on areas of commonality between the teachings of Judaism and their own beliefs. During the late 1940s, evangelical proponents of the new Judeo-Christian approach lobbied Washington for diplomatic support of the new state of Israel. On the other hand, by the late 1960s mainline Protestant denominations and the National Council of Churches showed more support for the Palestinians than they showed for the Israelis.[9] Interest in and a positive attitude towards America's Judeo-Christian tradition has become mainstream among evangelicals.[10]

The scriptural basis for this new positive attitude towards Jews among evangelicals is found in Genesis 12:3, in which God promises that he will bless those who bless Abraham and his descendants, and curse those who curse them. Other factors in the new philo-Semitism include gratitude to the Jews for contributing to the theological foundations of Christianity and being the source of the prophets and Jesus; remorse for the Church's history of antisemitism; and fear that God will judge the nations at the end of time on the basis of how they treated the Jewish people.[citation needed] Moreover, for many evangelicals Israel is seen as the instrument through which prophecies of the end times are fulfilled.[11]

Jewish responses

The Jewish community's attitude towards the concept has been mixed. In the 1930s, "In the face of worldwide antisemitic efforts to stigmatize and destroy Judaism, influential Christians and Jews in America labored to uphold it, pushing Judaism from the margins of American religious life towards its very center."[12] During World War II, Jewish chaplains worked with Catholic priests and Protestant ministers in order to promote goodwill, addressing servicemen who, "in many cases had never seen, much less heard a Rabbi speak before."[citation needed] At funerals for the unknown soldier, rabbis stood alongside the other chaplains and recited prayers in Hebrew. In a much-publicized wartime tragedy, the sinking of the Dorchester, the ship's multi-faith chaplains gave up their lifebelts to evacuating seamen and stood together "arm in arm in prayer" as the ship went down. A 1948 postage stamp commemorated their heroism with the words: "interfaith in action."[7]

In the 1950s, "a spiritual and cultural revival washed over American Jewry" in response to the trauma of the Holocaust.[7] American Jews became more confident in their desire to be identified as different.

Two notable books addressed the relationship between contemporary Judaism and Christianity, Abba Hillel Silver's Where Judaism Differs and Leo Baeck's Judaism and Christianity, both motivated by an impulse to clarify Judaism's distinctiveness "in a world where the term Judeo-Christian had obscured critical differences between the two faiths."[13] Reacting against the blurring of theological distinctions, Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits wrote that "Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity, and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism."[14] Theologian and author Arthur A. Cohen, in The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, questioned the theological validity of the Judeo-Christian concept and suggested that it was essentially an invention of American politics, while Jacob Neusner, in Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition, writes, "The two faiths stand for different people talking about different things to different people."[15]

Law professor Stephen M. Feldman looking at the period before 1950, chiefly in Europe, sees religious conflict as supersessionism:

Once one recognizes that Christianity has historically engendered antisemitism, then this so-called tradition appears as dangerous Christian dogma (at least from a Jewish perspective). For Christians, the concept of a Judeo-Christian tradition comfortably suggests that Judaism progresses into Christianity—that Judaism is somehow completed in Christianity. The concept of a Judeo-Christian tradition flows from the Christian theology of supersession, whereby the Christian covenant (or Testament) with God supersedes the Jewish one. Christianity, according to this belief, reforms and replaces Judaism. The belief, therefore, implies, first, that Judaism needs reformation and replacement, and second, that modern Judaism remains merely as a "relic". Most importantly the belief of the Judeo-Christian tradition insidiously obscures the real and significant differences between Judaism and Christianity.[16]

Islam

Advocates of the term "Abrahamic religion" since the second half of the 20th century have proposed a hyper-ecumenicism that not only emphasizes Judeo-Christian commonalities but also includes Islam (the rationale for the term "Abrahamic" is that while only Christianity and Judaism give the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) the status of scripture, Islam also traces its origins to the figure of Abraham who is considered the "first Muslim").

Advocates of this umbrella term consider it to be the "exploration of something positive" in the sense of a "spiritual bond" between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ Orwell, George (2017-02-04). George Orwell: An age like this, 1920-1940. David R. Godine Publisher. p. 401. ISBN 9781567921335.
  2. ^ Aaron W. Hughes (2012). Abrahamic Religions: On the Uses and Abuses of History. Oxford University Press. pp. 71–75.
  3. ^ "From all I can see there is but one way to bring about the object of the Society, that is by erecting a Judæo Christian community, a city of refuge, where all who wish to be baptized could be supplied with the means of earning their bread." M'Caul, Alexander (1820–1821). "Extract of a Letter From Mr. M'Caul". The Jewish Expositor, and Friend of Israel. V: 478.
  4. ^ Judæo-, Judeo- in the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition. Accessed online 2008-07-21
  5. ^ Wolff, Joseph (1829). Missionary Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff, Missionary to the Jews. III. London: James Duncan. p. 314.
  6. ^ Sarna, Jonathan. American Judaism, A History (Yale University Press, 2004. p. 266)
  7. ^ a b c Sarna, p. 267
  8. ^ Brog, David. Standing With Israel. 2006.p.13
  9. ^ Caitlyn Carenen, The Fervent Embrace: Liberal Protestants, Evangelicals, and Israel (2012)
  10. ^ Paul Charles Merkley, Christian Attitudes Towards the State of Israel (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007)
  11. ^ Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of Christian Zionism by Stephen Spector, 2008
  12. ^ (Sarna, p.267)
  13. ^ Sarna, p281
  14. ^ Disputation and Dialogue: Readings in the Jewish Christian Encounter, Ed. F. E. Talmage, Ktav, 1975, p. 291.
  15. ^ Jacob Neusner (1990), Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition. New York and London: Trinity Press International and SCM Press. p. 28
  16. ^ Stephen M. Feldman (1998), Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation of Church and State
  17. ^ Aaron W. Hughes (2012). Abrahamic Religions: On the Uses and Abuses of History. Oxford University Press. pp. 57–75.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 17 August 2019, at 01:03
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