What Is Judeo-Christian?

by Benjamin Twist
The Jewish Scriptures and the Christian expansion and interpretation of them have helped shape the Western ethos.

The Jewish Scriptures and the Christian expansion and interpretation of them have helped shape the Western ethos.

The term Judeo-Christian is derived from Judaism and Christianity. It refers to a set of religious and cultural influences combining Jewish and Christian values and traditions that have shaped much of the modern Western world. The combination arises from the fact that Christianity began as an extension of Judaism.

Connection Between Judaism and Christianity

Christians consider their religion to be an extension or fulfillment of Judaism. They hold the Jewish Scriptures to be true, while adding the documents of the New Testament, which in many cases quote and interpret the Jewish tradition. Christians hold that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who made God's salvation available to all of humanity. In a similar vein, the Jewish Bible records God's promise to Abraham to bless all nations through him and predicts that God's work will spread beyond the Jewish people.

Judeo-Christian Worldview

While it's impossible to sufficiently summarize thousands of years of tradition, teaching and practice underlying Judeo-Christian tradition, it has several outstanding characteristics. Judeo-Christian tradition has an ethical system based on a single, personal, all-powerful, holy and loving God who created and holds authority over the world. The moral code based on the Ten Commandments and the cultural emphasis on justice, diligence, holy living and the value of human life are key elements of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

American Exceptionalism

While much of Europe and North America has been profoundly shaped by Judeo-Christian values, the United States is more heavily, some would say uniquely shaped by these values than other countries in the world. The unusual political and cultural situation created by the American Revolution and the forces that shaped America has developed into an individualism, industrialism and sense of responsibility over world affairs that is variously considered admirable and arrogant.

Contrasting Traditions

Judeo-Christian is often used to draw a distinction with other major cultural and religious mindsets in the world. The cultures of the Far East, for example, have an ethos shaped by Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism and therefore emphasize collectivism, authoritarian rule and isolationism rather than individualism, democratic rule and imperialism. The Islamic nations, although deriving from the same religious line as Judaism and Christianity, tend to operate according to a distinctly different set of social, political and family values.

About the Author

Benjamin Twist has worked as a writer, editor and consultant since 2007. He writes fiction and nonfiction for online and print publications, as well as offering one-on-one writing consultations and tutoring. Twist holds a Master of Arts in Bible exposition from Columbia International University.

Photo Credits

  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images