Christianity and World Religions

World Religions 2019 Class Four

Session 4: Judaism

From the course Rev. Adam Hamilton has written. The text used is Christianity and World Religions. Visit the Church of the Resurrection web page for more information at

As a result of conversations and activities connected with this session, group members should begin to:

Identify the historical roots and sacred texts of Judaism
Articulate some of the basic beliefs of Judaism
Understand Christianity’s origins in Judaism and continuing connection with it
And appreciate the possibilities of Jewish-Christians interactions

Scriptural Foundations

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kind red and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Special Preparation: Terms (As people arrive, and in small groups, jot down what you think these terms mean.)


God of Abraham and Sarah,

We know your name because you have made yourself known by the people you called.

God of Israel,

We trust you because you have bound yourself to your people.

God of Jesus Christ,

Born of Mary, as part of your covenant people, you call us to love our neighbors—help us to see the special bonds we have with each other.

You are always with us, teaching us to grow in loving and understanding. Thank you for our heritage and our eternal life. Amen.

Getting started: Who are we? Take a few minutes to review these Questions.

What are some of the things in your family or home or community that helped you to understand what it means to be a responsible person?

What was important to your family or community?

What parts of your life today make no sense without understanding where you came from?

Sharing Time

As Christians we look to Judaism in much the same way that we have talked about our families and home communities. There are things in the Christian life that are impossible to understand without understanding Christianity’s origin in Judaism.

From the reading, what examples are given of the elements that Judaism and Christianity share?
How is studying Judaism different for Christians than studying Hinduism or Buddhism?


Questions After Video

Read aloud Genesis 12.1-4. What is God promising here? What does it mean that Abraham and Sarah’s descendants were to be a blessing to the nations?
12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kind red and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Rabbi Nemitoff describes the two central Jewish beliefs as having one God and following the Golden rule? If someone asked you about the central beliefs of Christianity, what would you say?
What is similar about Rabbi Nemitoff’s concept of a “world to come” as part of the Jewish beliefs about the afterlife and the Christian belief of “thy kingdom come” that we pray for in the Lord’s prayer? How might they differ?
The video shows images form Worship in the Jewish synagogue. How did these images impress you? What was familiar, unusual or distinctive? What makes you want to know more?

Book and Bible Study

We will do this if we have a volunteer artist?

Everyone else close your eyes, while the artist draws, and I describe a landscape.

The Volunteer will now share his/her rendition of the landscape.

What do you appreciate about this rendition of the landscape?
How would you describe this landscape?
What problem needs to be addressed?

Understanding Anti-Semitism

Take a few minutes to review the first section of Chapter 4 that describes some of the sad history of Anti-Semitism.

We will list them on the white board.

Hamilton “compares Anti-Semitism to a poisonous seed that has been watered and cultivated by misunderstanding and bad theology.”

What are some of the examples of misunderstanding between Christians and Jews?
Why is Anti-Semitism a perversion of our faith values?

Mark 12.28-31

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Page 88-89 in your book

How do these key beliefs compare with Jesus’ response about the Greatest Commandment?
What do these two passages suggest to you about the relationship between Christianity and Judaism?
How is our relationship to Judaism different from our relationship with other faiths, such as Hinduism and Buddhism?

Review of Key Terms in Judaism


How does the Talmud relate to the Tanakh?
How are the branches of Judaism similar to the branches of Christianity?
What did these terms teach you about the relationship between Judaism and Christianity?

Discussing Atoning Sacrifice: (p. 90)

How did the Jewish practice of animal sacrifice change after the destruction of the temple in AD 70? (Also known as CE 70)
What is the “sacrifice of the heart”?

Read aloud Psalm 51: Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

What kind of sacrifice does the psalmist believe that God wants?
How is this understanding of sacrifice important to Jews and Christians?
Why is it important to Christians that Jesus is more that just a great teacher, reformer or prophet?
What is the significance of Jesus being Jewish?
If we have time, . . .

Scripture Study Related to Christianity’s Roots in Judaism

Romans 11:16-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,

“Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 “And this is my covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”

What images does Paul use to describe the relationship between Jews and Christians?
Looking at the tree in our drawing once again, what part of the tree represents the Jewish people?
What part would represent Christians?

Suggested labelling:


Wrapping Up

What is the practice of tikkun olam?
How can we practice “healing the world” in relations to the Jewish people in our world?
What commitment would you like to undertake in the coming week?

Closing Prayer