When Did Judaism Split From Christianity


Judaism and Christianity are two significant and very closely related religions. For years, both have shared common values and practices, which have shaped the course of the world and its history. But, when did Judaism split from Christianity? While there is no definitive answer to this question, it is possible to trace their gradual separation and divergence back over centuries. In this article, we explore the historical, cultural and religious factors at play in the split between these two faiths and how it has impacted both Judaism and Christianity to this day.

Early Interactions Between Jews and Christians

The first interaction between Jews and Christians dates back to the early first century. In those initial moments, both noted their shared roots with admiration, with many in the early Christian movement viewing the Jewish faith as their spiritual and cultural history. The Council of Jerusalem, an event which took place around 49 CE, recorded the beginings of the early dialogue between these two faiths and highlighted the significance of observing certain dietary customs and observing the Sabbath.
Despite the immediate early admiration, tensions between Jews and Christians soon began to arise. By the end of the Second Century, tensions had become so high that Jewish Christian scriptures started to form, a major departure from the shared Biblical texts both once embraced. Since then, certain traditional differences have developed between both Jews and Christians which have further distinguished their separate faith practices.

The Ostracization and Marginalization of Jews

As Christianity rose to become the primary faith in the West due to its adoption as the state religion of the Roman Empire, various Christian theological content became fixed, leading to the persecution and ostracization of Jewish believers. Many branches of Christianity began to criticize Jewish traditions, proclaiming them to be inferior to the “one true faith” and devotional practices of Christianity.
In later periods, the development of Christian supersessionism – the concept that Christianity had superseded Judaism – further escalated the divide between Jews and Christians by emphasizing the irrelevance of the Jewish faith. This marked the beginning of the diaspora of the Jewish population, resulting in a mass migration of Jews out of Christian majority countries and regions into other parts of the world.

Jewish and Christian Interactions During the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Christian persecution against Jews worsened, culminating in the rise of anti-Judaism which reached its peak in Spain in 1391. Anti-Judaism, a new form of discrimination against Jews under the guise of religious faith increasingly encroached on the last few havens of religious tolerance towards the Jewish population. This further reinforced anti-Jews attitudes that already existed amongst Christians, such as those that viewed Jews as killers of Christ, even going as far as creating a false imagery of the stereotypical Jew.
In the 1500s, at the height of Christian persecution, Martin Luther wrote “On the Jews and Their Lies”, in which he warned Christians against attempting to convert Jews as it insulted them, an action which he called “a horrible blasphemy against God”. Yet, this also branded Jews as unwelcome amongst similar Christian populations.

Jewish Reformation and Return of Judaism

In the 1700s and 1800s, two major events were the catalysts for a turning point in the relations between Jews and Christians. The Jewish Enlightenment, known as the Haskalah, marked the revival of Jewish society and the reestablishment of Jewish belief in a world where Christianity had once dominated.
At much the same time, the Protestant Reformation began to lead to the weakening of Church authority which subsequently led to a more tolerant attitude towards other faiths, including Judaism. This was further supported by the phrase of religious freedom that originated in the U.S. Tolerance, however, did not automatically guarantee mutual respect, nor the complete disappearance of anti-Semitic sentiment amongst Christian populations.

Modern Day Perspectives and Reactions

Today, given the advances of civil rights, many Jews and Christians have worked to build interfaith dialogue and foster understanding between their two faiths. In Christianity, many new theology interpretations have been developed which have shed light and new meaning on the relationships between the faiths.
Nonetheless, some Christians continue to maintain the same negative ideas about Jewish beliefs, criticizing them for their inadequacy in comparison to Christianity. On the other hand, many Jews remain critical of Christianity for its past persecution and marginalization of Jewish communities, leading to a still somewhat delicate relationship between Judaism and Christianity nowadays.

How Has the Split Impacted Judaism and Christianity?

The split between Judaism and Christianity has resulted in two distinct faith practices, which have gone on to have a huge impact in occupying different roles in the world today.
For Judaism, the split has marked a return to the ancient traditions of past Jewish scriptures, reestablishing a sense of identity and justice in an uncertain world. In many senses, the Judaism of today, holds a purpose and mission that it may never have achieved without the split, allowing it to unite communities across different geographies and languages.
On the other hand, the separation has meant that Christianity has gone on to become one of the most influential religions in the world. It has gone on to have a large presence in politics, literature, music, and art, while at the same time, it has also left behind a contested legacy of past persecution of Jewish communities.

What Do the Scholars Say?

In their research, scholars have explored the tension and relationship between Judaism and Christianity in depth. Much of their work has centered around finding a way to reestablish a meaningful dialogue between both faiths.
Rabbi Donniel Hartman and Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete stated in an essay they co-wrote “Reconciliation between Jews and Catholics in the Post-Holocaust Period: A Reflection” that the conversation should not focus on who is ‘right’, but rather on the “shared challenge of building a world about which we can say ‘It is good!’”.
Likewise, Marcelo D’Ancona Costa argues in his book, ‘A Secret Weavers: My Maternal Grandmother and the Battle for Faith’ that the traditional efforts to find similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity have failed to provide an adequate picture of the stance of both faiths on matters of social justice and personal health.

Does the Split Refered to a Religious Division?

Many researchers have questioned whether the split between Judaism and Christianity actually refers to a true religious division or is simply a matter of the world views, cultures and traditions of both faiths.
In his research paper “Judaism & Christianity : Different Faiths but Not a Religious Division”, Dr. Stephen Rezza explains that while it is helpful to understand the differences between both faiths, he believes “it is not useful to think of them as ‘religiously divided’”. He further argues that viewing both faiths in terms of their unity rather than separation can lead to a more productive and meaningful dialogue.
At the same time, Jewish scholar Aviva Zornberg’s analysis in “The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus” of the role of Moses in four-dimensional prophetic texts provides interesting insight into the shared values between Judaism and Christianity that could be further developed if both faiths chose to view themselves as in “mutual dialogue rather than separate entities”.


The split between Judaism and Christianity has resulted in two very distinct faiths, each one reflecting a different interpretation of ancient scriptures and traditions. Underlying this division is a complex history of interaction between the two faiths, full of both admiration and condemnation.
The shift in traditional values and conceptions of faith has been profound and creative in many ways, yet it has also revealed difficult questions about how best to understand the past and look towards the possibility of a shared future. Lastly, it is essential to recognize that one religion does not have to be viewed as separate from the other, with both potentially existing in harmony and completeness.

Josephine Beck is a passionate seeker of religious knowledge. She loves to explore the depths of faith and understanding, often asking questions that challenge traditional beliefs. Her goal is to learn more about the different interpretations of religion, as well as how they intersect with one another.

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