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Three's A Crowd: Jesus In The Abrahamic Religions Of Islam, Christianity And Judaism

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Religion has always served as an important aspect of human history by influencing the development of culture, instruction, and civilization everywhere. There are numerous religions that are followed around the world which have several variations of practices and beliefs. However, although there are many existing faiths, three in particular prevail today. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are all monotheistic religions that comprise over half of the world’s population. Together, these theologies are united by the fact that they are labeled Abrahamic religions. This means that they all claim Abraham, an ancient Israelite prophet, as their common forefather. Despite the common origin they all share, each one of these religions is separated by its unique differences that cater to the needs of its followers. This essay analyzes these three religions and how their views contrast, specifically in their interpretation of Jesus Christ. By discussing topics like these, readers can develop an appreciation, overcome misunderstandings, and proceed forward to develop a world of religious cooperation through constructive inter-religious dialogue.

Jesus in Christianity

Christianity is the most popular religion that exists today. With approximately 2.3 billion followers, it makes up about 29% of the world’s population (Pew Research Center, 2019). This religion came about in the 1st century as a sect within Judaism and was founded on both Old and New Testament principles of the Bible. During its time of creation, it faced several shifts between persecution and peace by different administrations before becoming the dominant church of the Roman Empire. Eventually Christianity spread throughout the world and has since been developed into many denominations all rooted in Christian faith (Wagner, 2004).

When discussing their perspective of Jesus Christ, Christians often base their understanding of the principals indicated within the Canonical gospels, New Testament letters, and specific denominational teachings. Together, these documents outline important features about Jesus, including his earthly life, humanity, and also divinity (Williams, 2012). Although interpretation varies in some aspects among the denominations, they do share some central beliefs as well. Speaking more generally, by adhering Christianity, followers must recognize Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary and was sent to serve as a teacher, healer, and prophet (Williams, 2012). He is the son of God and truly embodies the absolute eternal love and action of God. Through Jesus, the purpose and action of God are made visible and possible (Williams, 2012). Simply put, he makes God credible and trustworthy.

Five acclaimed milestones about Jesus’ life are depicted by the gospel narratives and are discussed by Christians. These include the series of baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension (Wagner, 2004). The gospel also accounts of his teachings that include a specific collaboration of his words and works such as ministry, narratives ,and miracles. Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah and one day humanity will obtain propitiation with God through his death and resurrection. With this comes salvation and the everlasting promise of an afterlife (Dirks, 2004). This belief stems from the idea that Jesus opted to suffer in Calvary in order to prove his compliance and persistence as a servant of his Father, or God, thus labeling him as a man of obedience and integrity (Williams, 2012).

An important part of Jesus that Christians believe is that he was a part of the Holy Trinity and both human and divine. They identify Jesus as the Son of God, both a true God and true man incarnate. In further explanation, when completely human, Jesus endured the same suffering and desires that a mortal man would, yet he refused to sin. Meanwhile, as fully God, he overcame his demise and then resurrected (Wagner, 2004). This refers back to Jesus’ five milestones previously mentioned. Trinitarian Christians believe that, according to the Bible, he rose from the dead before ascending into the heavens to serve as the ‘right hand of God.” He will eventually return on “judgment day” for the creation of the God’s Kingdom (Wagner, 2004).

Jesus in Judaism

Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions with its origins dating back nearly four thousand years ago. This religion has the least amount of followers among the three. It is believed that the heritage of Judaism traces back to a contract that God made with Abraham and his family. God claimed that he would designate them as sacred people and offer them holy land (Dirks, 2004). The holy book of the Jews is the Torah which contains the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament (Robinson, 2016). Although it has several interpretations, most of Judaism tradition stems from the religious, ethical, and social laws expressed in the Torah. There are modern divisions of Judaism which have various interpretations and applications of these texts. These range from traditional to progressively liberal (Robinson, 2016). While these views are sometimes diverse, all Jews are unified by the commonality of narratives which identify them as a holy people (Wyschogrod & Soulen, 2006). Judaism often emphasizes the importance of rituals and ceremonies relating to their religious practices.

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Although, the primary figures of this culture include the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophet Moses; Jesus is also recognized by Jews. However, their interpretation is strictly different than that of other Abrahamic faiths. Perhaps the biggest distinction is that Jews view him as an ordinary Jewish man (Wyschogrod & Soulen, 2006). They deny the idea of Jesus as an incarnation of God or a person of the Trinity (Wyschogrod & Soulen, 2006). The customary Jewish idea is that the Messianic Age has yet to occur. Jews hold the belief that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by a sequence of events which include the return of Jews to their homeland and the rebuilding of their temple (Dirks, 2004). Since Jews believe these events did not occur during Jesus’ life nor later, they totally reject the idea of Jesus as a possible deity or messiah (Wyschogrod & Soulen, 2006).

Judaism has also denied the proclamation of prophecy which is often widely accredited to Jesus by Christians. They prohibit worship of people through idolatrous means since the core belief of Judaism is the singularity of God in entirety (Robinson, 2016). Meanwhile, some combat this claim. Challengers posit that Jews are allowed to deny Christ’s divinity. However, they should not do so by arguing that God’s incarnation in man is considered inconsistent with the principles of the Hebrew Bible. They believe Jews should find merit in the Christian stance that, “The indwelling of God in Israel by concentrating that indwelling in one Jew rather than leaving it diffused in the people of Jesus as a whole” (Wyschogrod & Soulen, 2006, p.15). Regardless of how hard this position is argued, traditional views of Jesus remain mostly negative and many still believe that Jews who embrace Jesus are not Jewish at all.

Jesus in Islam

The final of the three Abrahamic religions is Islam. It came about in the 7th century CE after both Judaism and Christianity. Like Christianity, Islam is a universal religion meaning it is open to anyone (Haneef, 1997). Additionally, it resembles Judaism because it has a strict unitary conception of God. However, unlike the other two religions, Islam utilizes the principles found in the Quran. The historic claim is that God’s previous scriptures had been corrupted over time as it was practiced by prophets such as Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus (Armstrong, 2000). Therefore, the Quran was sent to Muhammad, the Islam founder, in order to correct the lost messages. Hence, Muslims believe these teachings are the last direct words of their God’s, or Allah’s, revelation.

When speaking specifically of Jesus in Islam, Muslims acknowledge that Jesus was a mortal human who was one of the four major prophets (Akyol, 2018). He had been chosen by God to spread his message and lead the people of Israel through the Gospel. However, unlike Christians, Muslims do not support the belief that Jesus was the son of God (Akyol, 2018). Through their eyes, Jesus is believed to have lived a life of devoutness and generosity by following typical customs such as abstaining from eating pork (Haneef, 1997).

As previously noted, Muslims believed that Jesus received a Gospel from God but claimed the original message was misinterpreted. It was suggested that the Christian New Testament did not represent God’s original message to mankind accurately (Armstrong, 2000). Despite the disparities between the Quran and New Testament, they do seem to overlap in other parts. For example, Muslims and Christians both accept the miracle of Jesus’ life and that he was born to Mary who they worship as the most faithful, pure, and saintly woman ever (Akyol, 2018). The Quran also specifies miracles that Jesus performed by solely the will of God (Akyol, 2018). These include raising the dead, curing lepers, and healing the blind.

In contrast to the Trinitarian Christian view of Jesus, Muslims do not portray him as a God incarnate or believe that he paid for the sins of mankind. This is because the Quran does not claim Jesus himself accepted any of these things (Akyol, 2018). Additionally, Muslims also deny he was ever crucified, killed, and resurrected. Rather, their opinion is that God made it appear so to his enemies. This majority also believes that Jesus was bodily lifted to the heavens and is still alive (Armstrong, 2000). There are a few sects of Islam that have differing opinions of this belief, but this small population is considered to be Infidels by the majority for their unorthodox views (Haneef, 1997). Regardless, it is highly considered that Jesus remains alive in heaven and will ultimately come back to the world once it is overridden with injustice and sin. His goal will be to defeat the Antichrist and then finally proceed to live out the rest of his natural life among humanity (Armstrong, 2000).

Conclusion

To conclude, there are numerous religions that exist around the world. These all have many variations of practices, morals, texts, prophecies, sanctuaries, and organizations that connect humanity with divine forces. Among these are the three monotheistic religions; Christianity, Islam, and Judaism which comprise over half of the world’s population. Although they share a common origin of their belief in the Israelite prophet Abraham, these religions can be separated by the distinct beliefs of their followers that adhere to individual interpretations. This essay has acknowledged one of these distinctions and analyzed the different understandings of Jesus within the Abrahamic religions. Divinity serves an important role in society by influencing culture and civilization everywhere. When discussing topics like these, readers can develop an appreciation and overcome misunderstandings by engaging in constructive inter-religious dialogue and allowing the development of a united world religious competence.

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Three’s A Crowd: Jesus In The Abrahamic Religions Of Islam, Christianity And Judaism. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/threes-a-crowd-jesus-in-the-abrahamic-religions-of-islam-christianity-and-judaism/
“Three’s A Crowd: Jesus In The Abrahamic Religions Of Islam, Christianity And Judaism.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/threes-a-crowd-jesus-in-the-abrahamic-religions-of-islam-christianity-and-judaism/
Three’s A Crowd: Jesus In The Abrahamic Religions Of Islam, Christianity And Judaism. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/threes-a-crowd-jesus-in-the-abrahamic-religions-of-islam-christianity-and-judaism/> [Accessed 29 Jan. 2023].
Three’s A Crowd: Jesus In The Abrahamic Religions Of Islam, Christianity And Judaism [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2023 Jan 29]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/threes-a-crowd-jesus-in-the-abrahamic-religions-of-islam-christianity-and-judaism/
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