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Differences Between the Christian and Jewish Bible

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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  1. Hello, I thank you for explaining some things to me. I am studying as much as I can, I love God’s word and God’s people and long for deeper understanding. Can you tell me what Faith you have? I do know some sweet people that are Jewish and one of them explained to me that as I am a Christian I see Christ as my savoir were she said Jackie, He’s our Boy( like Blood) he was many things but I don’t see Him as my savior. Is that the biggest difference between Judaism and Christianity? Could you recommend how I can learn more about The different Jewish beliefs, or faiths, as someone shared there are many, just like in Christianity. Thank you for your time. God’s Blessings to you. I am grateful for the help.:) Jackie Munn p.s. I do know that Messianic Jews Believe in Jesus:)

  2. Thanks a lot for your important articles. It has help me to see clearly, the differences between the two religion (christianity and judaism). But I’m a bit confuse and I will be happy if you could help me find answers to these question

    1. Was Judaism formed before Jesus Christ ministry on earth?

    2. Who is the real founder of Judaism?

    3. Did the Judaism leaders at the time of Jesus also witnessed His ministry?

    I will be glad if you responds to my these few questions.
    Thank you


    • Thomas
      To answer your questions
      1. Was Judaism formed before Jesus Christ ministry on earth?

      Yes Judaism is a much earlier religion.

      2. Who is the real founder of Judaism?
      Many would give credit to Moses for formally writing the first parts of both the Torah and Bible.

      3. Did the Judaism leaders at the time of Jesus also witnessed His ministry?
      Yes, some of them believed him to be the Messiah , many thought he was not.

    • 1. Yes. Judaism is atleast 3000 years old. Atleast 1000 years older than the coming of Christ.

      2. God. Abraham, Joseph and Moses were essential founding fathers.

      3. Depends who you talked to. Since Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism, there must of been enough figures that supported it to make it last to this present day.

  3. this was exellent it helped me a lot thanks for this lovley

  4. Celine,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this insight. May God bless you and yours – in Jesus name. Amen.


  5. Readings on Judaism and Christianity Have been really helpful. I believe Jesus Christ is my Saviour. But the differences between the two are great to be able to put in context. Thank you for your time explaining the importance of differences. Praise God and God Bless you.

  6. I am was born in a Christian family and growing up my parents and grandparents read to us the book of Genesis: the Creation of the World by our God – Jehovah, Abraham and Sara, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, then in Exodus the story of Moses and the greatness of God’s power to bring His people out of Egypt. and so on … Christianity is based on the Jews history according to the Bible. We worship God, YHWH, I AM WHO I AM as He introduced Himself to Moses. We read the prophets, the one I love is Elijah when he proves the prophets of baal that God is God.

    That’s why we take the writings and the prophets from the Old Testament or Tanakh serious. Psalm chapter 2 verses 1-12 end with Kiss the Son … Daniel writes in chapter 7 verses 13 and 14: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
    Jesus is not a new faith for Christians it is the fulfillment of the writings and prophets of the Tanakh or Old Testament of the Jews. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our God and Jesuschrist the Son of God our savior.

    I hope you enjoy the humble explanation of my Christian faith.

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References :

[0]Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. "The Hebrew Bible." Google Books. Continuum, n.d. Web. 28 June 2013. .

[1]"Comparison of Christianity and Judaism." Comparison Chart: Christianity vs. Judaism. Religionfacts, n.d. Web. 28 June 2013. .

[2]Hayes, John H. "Introduction to the Bible." Google Books. The Westminster Press, n.d. Web. 28 June 2013. .

[3]Just, Flex. "Jewish and Christian Bibles: Comparative Chart." Jewish and Christian Bibles: Comparative Chart. N.p., 26 Feb. 2007. Web. 28 June 2013. .

[4]Lemche, Niels P. "The Old Testament Between Theology and History:." Google Books. Westminster John Knox Press, n.d. Web. 28 June 2013. .

[5]Sawyer, John F., and Edward Kessler. "The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture." Google Books. Wiley Blackwell, n.d. Web. 28 June 2013. .

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