How Are the Abrahamic Religions Similar and Different? – The Culture Chronicle

Posted By on September 22, 2021

You may be familiar with a nebulous term called "the Judeo-Christian tradition, an attempt to unify principles of Judaism and Christianity under one banner. While they have a lot in common, we can more accurately speak of a trio: the "Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These three faiths encompassand definemost of the Western world. How are the Abrahamic religions similar and different?

While Jerusalem is the disputed capital of the State of Israel, there can be no argument of its importance to all three of the Abrahamic religions. Indeed, this status undergirds much of the tensions surrounding it as a contemporary city. Jerusalem, where the First and Second Temples once lay, is the holiest city to the Jewish people, and is among the holiest sites to Christians and Muslims as well.

Whether you know him as God, Jehovah, Yahweh, YHWH, or Allah, all three religions worship what we call "the god of Abraham. As the patriarch of the Israelites, Abraham is one of the most influential figures in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The manifestation of that god, however, is where we start to see the divergences in how the Abrahamic religions are similar and different.

Almost all denominations of Christianity believe in a triune God: a single being who appears as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Judaism and Islam differ in this respect. When they describe themselves as monotheistic religions, they mean itthe second of the Ten Commandments clearly states "thou shalt have no other gods before me, while the first pillar of Islam instructs that there is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet. While Islam regards Jesus as another great prophet, and Jesus was, of course, a rabbi, these faiths have no theological allowance for a Holy Trinity.

Just like Christianity, Judaism and Islam have inspired great art. Conspicuous by its absence, however, is the human form. Once again, we find ourselves referring to the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:4: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. One glance at any Catholic or Orthodox church will tell you that there are plenty of graven images about. Ever since the wayward Israelites took to worshiping a golden calf, Judaism has borne a strict prohibition on anything one could remotely construe as idol worship. The paintings, stained glass windows, and statues of influential figures that define Christian artwork thus have no place in Judaism. While God the Father appears as a bearded man in Christian art, Judaism declares that Gods true form is unknowable and thus cannot exist in art. The same ban on idolatry exists within Islam. Without being able to represent human beings, mosques instead feature ornate geometric art and architecture.

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How Are the Abrahamic Religions Similar and Different? - The Culture Chronicle

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