What is Judeo-Christian? (The Meaning of the Phrase)


All moral, historical, and theological belief systems have a history. People can trace some ideas to the ancient world and others to recent years. Furthermore, people can trace some ideas to religions and faiths that have existed in the world for centuries, while others are the product of secular convictions and values.

Judeo-Christian refers to the ethics, history, and beliefs that Jews and Christians share. Because Christianity believes it’s the fulfillment of Judaism, the faiths have common aspects. Even people who aren’t Jewish or Christian use the term to describe ideas, events, and people the faiths share.

What is the dictionary definition of Judeo-Christian? How do people use the phrase? What are examples of subjects in which people use the it? What is controversial about “Judeo-Christian” to some people? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Judeo Christian
What is the dictionary definition of Judeo-Christian? See below

The meaning and use of Judeo-Christian

The word “judeo,” meaning of or relating to the Jews or Judaism, is only used when combined with other words. For example, other than Judeo-Christian, Judeo-Persian is also a term that has the prefix “judeo.” The word “Christian” refers to a follower of Jesus Christ or anything related to the faith that he found. Therefore, the phrase “Judeo-Christian” refers to realities that the faiths have in common.

DictionaryDefinition
Merriam-Websterhaving historical roots in both Judaism and Christianity
Collinsof or pertaining to the religious writings, beliefs, values, or traditions held in common by Judaism and Christianity
Cambridgebelonging to, shared by, or including both the Jewish and the Christian religion, or both Jewish and Christian people
Britannicarelating to both Judaism and Christianity
dictionary.comof or relating to the religious writings, beliefs, values, or traditions held in common by Judaism and Christianity
Christian cross
What are Judeo-Christian ethics? See below

How do people use the phrase?

People use the phrase “Judeo-Christian” to talk about topics rooted in Judaism and Christianity. The reason the phrase mentions both belief systems is because of the relationship that Judaism and Christianity have.

Christianity teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah (or Christ) that the Hebrew Bible (i.e. the Christian “Old Testament”) promised. This connection results in a lot of commonalities between Judaism and Christianity.

  • Ethics: People commonly use the phrase “Judeo-Christian” to describe the moral standards that the two faiths share. For example, the Old and New Testaments forbid blasphemy, adultery, lying, and stealing. There are many other examples of right and wrong that Judaism and Christianity share.
  • History: Because Christianity views itself as a continuation of Judaism, it traces its roots to the times, places, and events in the Hebrew Bible. The creation account, slavery in Egypt, entering the Promised land, the times of the judges and the monarchy, and the exile, are part of their story, too.
  • Beliefs: Judaism and Christianity share many of the same beliefs in contrast to other religions. For example, both faiths are monotheistic, meaning they believe in one God. While Christians believe in the Trinity, they believe that one God exists in three persons, making them unlike polytheistic religions like Hinduism.

An example of the moral connection between Judaism and Christianity is that the New Testament repeats the 10 Commandments from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament (Exod. 20:1-17).

10 CommandmentsNew Testament
1. Do not worship any other gods“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Cor. 8:6)
2. Do not make idols“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)
3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord“Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” (1 Tim. 6:1)
4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” (Col. 2:16; cf. Heb. 4:1-11)
5. Honor your father and your mother“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise)” (Eph. 6:1-2).
6. Do not murder“For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom. 13:9)
7. Do not commit adultery“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10)
8. Do not steal“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Eph. 4:28)
9. Do not give false testimony“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
10. Do not covet“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:5)
Why did Nietzsche use the phrase Judeo-Christian? See below

Why is Judeo-Christian controversial to some people?

One of the earliest uses of the phrase appears in philosophical writings that opposed Judaism and Christianity. Wikipedia explains, “The use of the German term ‘Judenchristlich‘ (‘Jewish-Christian’), in a decidedly negative sense, can be found in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who emphasized what he believed were neglected aspects of continuity between the Jewish and Christian world views.”

Additionally, some Jewish people find the phrase offensive. Since Judaism doesn’t recognize Jesus of Nazareth as its Messiah, it has many disagreements with Christianity. Because of these differences, the phrase “Judeo-Christian” is misleading because it only emphasizes the similarities of the faiths.

References:
[1] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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