When Did Christianity and Judaism Part Ways?

Ilsa Z.

Among the Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Judaism have many strong ties, binding them through common beliefs and practices. In-spite of all the similarities, both religions still maintain their uniqueness through various religious practices. Many different scholars hold their arguments about when and how both the religions parted their ways.


Throughout the history, historians, theological researchers and various other factions have regarded both religions as the same coin having two different sides only. This is evident from the fact that Christianity began from within the Jews, but lately both religions have developed many different beliefs and practices over the time. Nobody knows when the divergence took place as it is not binary but happened in a spectrum but there still are some key factors.

The Emergence of Christianity

It is a common notion that during the first century, Christianity came into being from within the Jewish people. Jesus of Nazareth, who is considered to be the founder of Christianity, was considered to be previously Jewish. According to the Gospels, the actions and the teachings of Jesus became the core body of the Christianity.

Christianity was not very popular initially; it was started by a very small group of people. Even the earliest Jews who converted to Christianity were the ones who thought that Jesus is the Messiah in accordance with the Jewish Scripture. Later on, the religion took the center stage when non-Jewish community also started converting to Christianity. At that time the Jewish leaders thought that their religion was going to be replaced by Christianity due to increasing number of conversions.

The Council of Jerusalem

The most important event that led to divergence was the Council of Jerusalem in 50 CE. The meetings, consisting of prominent Christian Leaders, like Peter and James, discussed whether the non-Jewish people who converted to Christianity had to adopt the religious practices such as circumcision and food laws. The decision is thought to be the first brick that laid the foundation of the separate paths of both religions. It was decided that the non-Jewish people didn’t have to follow the practices, giving Christianity its own identity. However, it wasn’t very welcomed among the Jewish community as they opposed it and kept on calling Christianity a Sect within the Judaism.

Theological Differences

Apart from the Council of Jerusalem, one of the most important and distinct point came from within the core belief system of both religions. The definition of god as the supreme authority varied in both religions. The Christianity teaches that there is one God but in three dimensions; the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. Judaism did not believe in this concept, they were strictly monotheists and only believed in one God who was supreme.

The role of Jesus was another differentiating aspect. As a common belief, the Christians believed that Jesus was the son of God. They believed that Jesus was sent as the Messiah who would save the humanity, but the Jews strongly disagreed. In fact, they considered anyone to be called as the son of God to be a sin. According to the Jewish theology, a human being can never be divine or cannot be a Messiah for the people.

Cultural Differences

Ignoring the theological aspects, cultural factors have contributed heavily to the divergence. For instant, the Roman Empire used to tolerate Jews as a minority but persecuted Christians and they blamed the Jews for their persecutions. Later on, Christianity became a major culture in Europe followed by the ruling elite. Short period of peace and prosperity remain between both religions during the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry, but the division continued further.

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Loves to write about historical personalities. Always up to have interesting conversations over a cup of coffee.


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