Why you should stop saying Judeo-Christian

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Jared Alesi's picture
Why you should stop saying Judeo-Christian

Judeo-Christian is a bizarre and problematic phrase for a number of reasons, but all of them fall under one initial blanket statement: Jews and Christians fundamentally disagree about everything.

I'm going to dig into this a little bit but first I would like to say that I will tolerate absolutely no antisemitism or buffoonery in the comments of this thread. I don't care what your personal opinion of Jews is or what you think about Judaism from an ideological standpoint, or even what you think about Israeli current affairs. This is not the time or place for that.

So first off is the big one: Jews don't think Jesus is the messiah. They don't think he's even of any relevance. They don't think he's a prophet, they don't think he's anything. Jesus is to the Jews what Joseph Smith is to Christians: a nut-job. Furthermore, Jews don't reckon with any of the events of the New Testament, least of all Jesus.

Christians boiled down all of Jewish religious text, the Torah, and called it their Old Testament. Christians don't even acknowledge 90% of it either, they just slapped their label on it and called it backstory. So much of the New Testament directly conflicts with the Torah that honestly it's hard to believe any of the writers of the New Testament read the Torah to begin with. No Jewish people acknowledge Christianity as a religion with Jewish origins because none of Jesus's acts fulfilled the prophecies laid out in the Torah. To call Christianity and Judaism by the collective Judeo-Christian is pretty insulting to Jewish people because Christianity has really nothing to do with Judaism at all.

Secondly: Judeo-Christian ignores that Christians have been killing Jews for centuries. The Holocaust? Spanish Inquisition? The majority of antisemitic hate crimes? All Christians doing that. A large percentage of Christians think Jews killed Jesus. Christians also created our most beloved antisemitic conspiracies and myths, like that Jews kill babies and drink their blood for arcane rituals, or that secret cabals of Jews conspire to control the world, or that Jews control all the banks because they're naturally greedy little gremlins. Hell, even the typical caricature of some monsters and villains are straight up antisemitic stereotypes. Why do you think witches always have crook noses and dark hair? Those are Jews. Tolkien's dwarves are a diasporic group who want to reclaim their homeland purely for material gain becasue they're Jewish stereotypes. J.K. Rowling's house elves are a race of slaves with large crooked noses and an obsession with money. Again, Jewish stereotype. Christians kill Jews all the time, and when they're not killing Jews they're demonizing them.

Thirdly: Ideologically, the two religions are nothing alike. Most sects of Judaism state that claiming to know beyond doubt that God exists is akin to blasphemy because you're claiming to have Godly knowledge. Doesn't sound very similar to the Christianity I know. Jews don't believe in Hell. Hell is a central pillar of Christianity. Judaism forbids evangelicalism. Under Judaism you are not supposed to bring your personal religion into someone else's home or nation with intent to convert them. Doesn't sound like the Christianity I know. I could go on, but I really don't feel it's necessary.

In conclusion, saying Judeo-Christian just communicates that you know nothing about how those two religions interact. The phrase has no place in conversation because it makes no sense. I truly have no idea where that word came from, but it has absolutely no value beyond creating cognitive discord.

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Sheldon's picture
Good post, I'd alwayszassumed

Good post, I'd always assumed the phrase was meant to show the provenance of the christian religion, i.e. that it piggy backed on Judaism, to try and lend it some gravitas, just as Islam is essentially a RIP off offshoot of christianity.

However I'm happy to say Abrahamic religions when making a generic comparison. Also I bear no antipathy towards Jewish people or Muslims or Christians, or people of any any other religious beliefs, only the beliefs themselves, where I view them as pernicious.

I don't view the Jewish religion as any less fictional than the rest, and of course at its core it holds the pernicious idea that people of one belief are somehow better than all others. I'm not saying all Jewish people believe this of course. However that doesn't alter the fact the belief is pernicious.

Cognostic's picture
@Jared Alesi: Completely on

@Jared Alesi: Completely on board. My understanding of the term, has always been based on Arthur A. Cohen, in "The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition.

In the book, the assertion is made that the term is a 20th Century post war political invention. After all "America Saved the Jews." (Don't go there I do know the facts. But that was the spin.) Rabbis stood along side priests at the funerals of soldiers. In order for Hitler to be a monster, America had to embrace the Jews. And as a culture, that is exactly what we did by the end of WWII.

Jared Alesi's picture
I hadn't considered that

I hadn't considered that before but it makes sense. America as a nation has a history of being fair weather friends with a lot of people so it's really not that surprising.

Tin-Man's picture
Jared!... *big grin*... How

Jared!... *big grin*... How the hell ya been, young man? Great seeing you again. Excellent post, by the way. You taught me a few things I didn't know. Thank you for that... *respectfully tipping hat*...

Honestly never thought very much about the term "Judeo-Christian". Sure, I have seen/heard it used numerous times before, but I always just figured it was an unnecessarily fancy way of saying, "I'm a Jewish Christian." Never realized how horribly incompatible Jewish and Christian beliefs truly are. Great eye-opener for me today. Thanks.

algebe's picture
Well "Judeo-Christian" seems

Well "Judeo-Christian" seems to fit the narrative that I was taught in the British school system. The Jews were god's chosen people and were history's white-hat guys right up until they rejected Jesus. Then by some miraculous transformation Jesus became a blond, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon and we became the chosen race. So there was a kind of continuity in their bullshit.

My teachers did seem a little conflicted though, because their generation had fought a war in which the Jews were the most obvious victims. So we had to pity rather than blame the Jews. That didn't stop them teaching us "Oliver Twist", "The Merchant of Venice", etc.

boomer47's picture
Interesting post., Very good

Interesting post., Very good , valid points. I was aware of the points you raised.

I've always thought the term Judaeo-Christian relates to the fact that Christianity and Judaisms are both Abrahamic faiths and that much of Christian values are derived from the Torah. I refer especially to the Ten Commandments.

From wikipedia : "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. "


I think I will keep using Judaeo-Christian as I have always done .There has never been any confusion in my mind.

Jared Alesi's picture
What specific shared values

What specific shared values do you think exist between the two religions?

Sheldon's picture
Jared Alesi "What specific

Jared Alesi "What specific shared values do you think exist between the two religions?"

They both think they're right. Neither of them can offer any objective evidence for their beliefs. They both have a long proud history of violently murdering people who disagree with them when they have the upper hand, though they share this with other religions of course. The old testament has an unhealthy and immoral obsession with virgins, so do christians, though it's just the one. That's all I've got for now, and that last one was a little tenuous, so I'll stop for now.

Jared Alesi's picture
Something that I find

Something that I find interesting about your response is actually pertinent to my humanities courses. The lens through which we view any aspect of culture typically is formed by spectacle rather than objective reality when our knowledge of said culture is secondhand. In my experience talking to many different people, no matter their education or their personal dogmas, they tend to view all religion as similar in nature to their own religion or formerly held beliefs.

In America especially I feel that the average person's view on religion as a whole probably is based on their own specific experiences with Christianity, news coverage of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, and Jewish stereotyping. In reality I think that given the chance to exist in a civilization with secular laws and liberal social norms, pretty much any religion would probably resemble the pedestrian nature of your typical garden variety Christian who goes to church once a year and says prayers over car crashes on the freeway.

I think that the history of violently murdering people is probably more closely linked to that specific society's response to unmet needs. People tend to shy away from dubious behavior unless they either never developed a sense of empathy or they're pushed to extremes that render that empathy less important than their needs for personal survival (whether those needs be real or imagined). Unfortunately we've created a society that's more or less built on money rather than the ultimate end goals of that money, which is human survival. At some point between the hunter gatherer nomads and the neolithic revolution, some amount of greed must have crossed into the sphere of municipal decision making and now people don't prioritize the well being of their neighbors nearly as much as our primate cousins do.

As far as both religions thinking they're right, that actually goes back to an earlier point I made in the original post. Jews aren't exactly like pompous Christians in this regard. In fact, in most Jewish traditional belief it's actually considered blasphemy to assert that you know definitively that God exists. It's considered the highest form of arrogance. That's why I never understood why Christians seemed to adopt Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah as a staple song, because even a rudimentary analysis of the lyrics belies a heavily Jewish tone, from the nihilism of Original Sin to the borderline agnosticism of the whole latter half of the song.

Overall I think that when you approach matters of human behavior, whether personal or societal, it's important to try and get as much of the picture as you can. Personality predates ideology in the grand scheme of things, so before you're a fascist you're probably a bully with an ego problem. It's the same with sociology honestly, because before Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament that so heavily supports expansionism and nationalism, he was greedy and hateful but disguised it as love. That mindset that he had when writing his letters is exactly what we see mirrored in evangelicals.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Jared

@ Jared

Nice, well thought out, well written piece.

Have a couple of hundred agrees....if only we had those buttons!

Cognostic's picture


Christianity came from Greek and Judaism came from Hebrew. Both groups were ignorant sheep herders at the times they wrote their holy books.

Jesus Christ invented the Christian Religion and Abraham invented the Jewish faith. In both cases we have absolutely no good evidence supporting the existence of either character.

Both Christians and Jews believe in Gods. The Jews had only one God but the Christians upped the anti with 3 in a classic case of "My god is bigger than your god."

Both religions, Christianity and Judaism, use half a book to justify their faith. The Jews use the first half of the book and the Christians use the second half of the book.

Both Jews and Christians believe in the divine power of the Holy Spirit. It's just that the Holy Spirit moves the Jews in one direction while moving the Christians in another.,

The leaders of both religions get to wear authoritative little costumes and pretend they are special.

There are probably many more similarities if you just look for them

Grinseed's picture
@ Cog

@ Cog

I think you are being a little unfair Brother Cog.

Jesus invented a little hippy-ish jewish sect that was largely acceptable to the synagogue until Paul overhauled it with his temporal lobe epileptic revelation.
Whatever Jesus invented was lost in the 2000 year deluge of delusions and ultra-rationalised quackery of every two bit philosopher-spiritualist who claimed to actually understand what their god was thinking.
Jeez if you could believe any of that you'd believe bananas had souls.

chimp3's picture
Some Christians claim "Jewish

Some Christians claim "Jewish roots" and even practice Levitical diets etc. Christianity, ultimately, is a three act play and the Jews disappear in the third act. So any Christian claim to a Jewish lineage is moot. They are not a family.

boomer47's picture
"Jesus Christ invented the

"Jesus Christ invented the Christian Religion and Abraham invented the Jewish faith."

Not convinced that the invention of either religion can be attributed to one man. The beginning of the religion which became Judaism, began around 3300 bce .The tribes of illiterate bronze age goat herders which later became the jews, lacked the wit to even invent their own God .Instead they pinched YHWH and his wife Asherah* from the Canaanite pantheon , Some of their myths from the Epic of Gilgamesh (The Noah myth) and possibly Hammurabi for some of their legal code.

*people in Judea were still worshipping Asherah as late as ca 300b ce (see The BibleUnearthed, Finkelstein and Siberman)

I don't think it can be reasonably argued that Abraham invented anything, because he probably never existed any more than Moses did-----The Torah is after all, part of the mythology of Judaism, not a history book


The historicity of Jesus has not been conclusively proved. However, I accept that it's likely there was a wandering rabbi in first century Judea called something like Yeshua/Yoshua bar Yusuf .That he founded a small Jewish sect. That he was crucified by the Roman for sedition, not an uncommon fate for a Jew in that place and time.

BUT, as far as I can tell , the religion called "Christianity" has little if anything to do with that pathetic little rabbi .

Some scholars argue that it if any one person invented Christianity, it was Saul of Tarsus.

I'm currently reading "Paul The Mind Of The Apostle ", by A N Wilson. He accepts the Paul premiss and adds that neither Paul nor Jesus intended to start a religion. But who knows for sure?

When you say "invented Christianity", to which Christianity do you refer? There were many .See 'Lost Christianities'; The Battle For Scripture And The Faiths We Never Knew" by Bart Ehrman

You might find the (18 minute)Youtube clip with Dr Erhman linked below of interest ,it might be too basic for you.


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