Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. —Blaise Pascal, Pensées
Judaism, Christianity and Islam constitute the three Abrahamic Faiths. Although familiar by name, Judaism and Christianity prove surprisingly difficult to define. But define then we must, if we are to engage in any significant analysis.
Islam is the least understood and the most maligned of the Abrahamic faiths in Western civilization, but is relatively easy to define once stripped of its mystique and negative image.
The pages that follow, then lay the foundation of the remainder of these books by clarifying the essence of these three Abrahamic faiths.
The Foundation of all foundations, the pillar supporting wisdoms, is the recognition of the reality of God – Maimonides
The term Jew originated as an ethnic definition of the descendents of the tribe of Judah, with Judaism being a contraction of Judaism.
Orthodox Judaism defines a Jew as one born of a Jewish mother or one, independent of bloodline, converted to the Judaic father.
More liberal movements of Judaism (e.g., Reform) deny the necessity of the maternal bloodline and propose that a child born of a Jewish father is equally considered a new, if raised Jewish.
Although modern definitions vary, most include, either implicitly or explicitly, adherence to Mosaic Law as expressed in the Torah and Talmud.
Historically, however, even this was not agreed upon, for the Sadducees believed only the written law and prophets to be binding and rejected the Talmud.
Ideological differences divide Orthodox from Conservative, Reform, and
Reconstructionist movements—all of which possess smaller sectarian subdivisions.
Geographic origins distinguish the Sephardim (from Spain) from the Ashkenazi (from Central and Eastern Europe); religious/political differences divide Zionists non-Zionists (such as the Neturei Karta Jews); and Hasidic Jews are dissociated from non-Hasidic (also known as Misnagdim) or “opponents”) on the basis of their practices, extreme religious zeal, and devotion to a dynastic leader (known as a rebbe).
Although considering themselves a nation, presentday Jews are not united upon
culture or ethnicity, are not a race in the genetic sense of the term, and do not unanimously agree upon a creed.