Christianity, Judaism and Islam are the world’s three largest religions, and are known as Abrahamic religions due to the fact they all believe they stem from Abraham, a figure in all of their narratives. Today, they all take on different sects and movements within each respective religion, but all have mostly mainstream beliefs and tenets. Most worshipers follow the mainstream with some exceptions, but many do not know there were some pretty wild ideas discovered from their earliest history!
Christianity of the three, is the largest, with Islam as a close second. Mainstream Christian beliefs involve a trinitarian God with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as three beings in one God with equal power. Jesus Christ, God’s son came into the world and died on the cross to save mankind from their sins. These are the most important beliefs uniting many modern Christian denominations. However, in early Christianity, this was not quite the case! The earliest Christians were essentially another Jewish sect, as Jesus was a Jew and preached to Jews. Only after were his teachings preached to gentiles. A group called the Ebionites were proponents of the view that Christians at the time need to follow Jewish laws, as they worshiped the God of the Hebrews. The trinitarian form of God is actually never explicitly mentioned in the Bible and was decided on at the council of Nicea many years later in AD 325. There are other interesting discoveries such as deleted stories and whole books that didn’t make the cut into the Bible! Also, texts that mention God having a wife and Jesus having one also. This is not accepted by mainstream Christianity, which purports that God is alone as a god, and Jesus was single. By far though, the most eye opening discovery was that historically, there was a controversy over if God in the Old Testament and God in the New Testament were two different gods! This came about because that God in the Old Testament was harsh and ruthless, while the latter God was more kind and merciful. Christianity had made many revisions to its doctrine since it began!
Judaism has the least followers of the three, but it is by far the oldest. It is so old in fact, it was a respected and established religion in Roman times, and the Romans for the most part treated Judaism with respect since it was an ancient religion to them too! Judaism is monotheistic, and does not have a trinitarian view of God. They follow the Torah, but also some believe in an oral Torah, with more information and laws. Strict Jews follow exactly 613 laws passed down by God to the Jewish people. Jews believe that God made a covenant with the Israelites, and are currently still waiting for their messiah to come, who will be a human, and not divine like Jesus. God’s personal name, is Yahweh, but pious Jews call him “Hashem”, or “The Name” in Hebrew. What mainstream Judaism does not accept, that there are other gods too, very early Jews were though to have! They were henothiestic, or worshiped only one god, yet believed that other gods did exist, just didn’t worship them. Evidence of this lies in the Ten Commandments, like the one “Thou shalt have no other God before me…” and stories like God making a bigger snake in order to beat the Egyptian God’s smaller snakes in Exodus. These imply the existence of other gods, only that God is worthy of worship more and is more powerful than other gods. Yahweh was thought to be the local god of the Israelites, and part of the pagan pantheon, but evolved into becoming their sole God. Christianity and Islam were built off Judaism.
Islam is the newest of the three, officially starting with their prophet, Muhammad in AD 632. It appeared in the Arabian desert, and followers of Muhammad converted pagan Arabs as well as Christians and Jews to Islam. Muslims believe that Muhammad received a message from the angel Gabriel from God telling him the true way. Muslims believe that Muhammad is their final prophet and that the others, including Jesus, got the message wrong! Muhammad’s ideas weren’t as well received, and prompted his famous flight from Mecca to Medina which Muslims call the “Hijira”. He also is known for clearing pagan idols out of the Kaaba. Mecca nowadays is Islam’s holiest site, with Muslims making pilgrimage there every year. Muslims mostly agree on their doctrine, but their big split came about after a dispute about who would succeed Muhammad after his death. The majority of Muslims now are Sunni Muslims, and a minority are Shia. Islam is strictly monotheistic and having other gods, called “Shirk” is a major sin. However, even Islam
which has stayed true to many of its original tenets, has some historical quirks! One, is Jerusalem was originally intended to be their holy city. Practicing Muslims do not accept this, but Muhammad originally wanted to create a modification of Judaism amoungst Jewish Arabs in the region. The Jews did not accept this, so his teachings became a separate religion. The Hadith contains Muhammad’s teachings and commentary on various issues, but that was written about a century or so later after his death. Many Islamic scholars today are needed to determine which hadiths are actually correct hadiths and not hearsay passed down after he was dead. It is interesting that the Kaaba was once a site for Arab pagans, but now it holds a holy stone that in Islam, was sent down from heaven. By far though, the most interesting fact involves the word “Allah”. Many know him as the God of Islam, and is used mainly in an Islamic context, but many do not know that “Allah” is also the Arabic word for God, like, “Dios” is God in Spanish or “Gott” in German. Arab Christians and Jews of today use “Allah” as God, since it’s the only Arabic word for God! Arabic does have a word for a god in general, “ilah” and “Allah” is a contraction of the word “The God” or “Al-ilah”. The word “Allah” stretches back way before Islam and may have been the name of the chief pagan deity in the Arab pantheon! It is important to note though, many Muslims strongly oppose this secular view, as in Islam, their faith has been passed down in perfect form directly from God.
It is fair to note, that all three faiths reject the ideas mentioned, as they believe their own narratives on how their faiths came to be and that they are the truth. However, the historical record speaks otherwise on their dubious origins, raising dangerous concerns for the religions. The most threatening thing about these claims is that they all imply that their religions were invented by mankind and evolved in to what they are today or were altered and not supposed to be. Perhaps the devil inspired them to lead us off the righteous path? :)…