The Christian God

The Christian tradition believes in a monotheistic personal God who has had a unique presence in Jesus Christ.  We truly care to live with the mysterious life of God who has an impact on our lives.  The God of Israel was Yahweh, whom the Christians consider God the Father.  There is also the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Yahweh, that is present in our lives.  Jesus is the Son of God, the Father.

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Monotheism

Monotheism that maintains that there is only one transcendent God.  The Israelite belief in Yahweh, their one God, was the prime example of monotheism.  Islamic faith with its belief in one God, Allah, is another later example of monotheism.  Christianity took from Judaism its monotheism, but changed the Yahweh monotheism into a triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Christians reading the Old Testament

The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian.  To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites?  There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago.  Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives.  They had a special relationship or covenant with him.  The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish.  However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people.  Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago?  Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people?  What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives?  I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.

The wider meaning of prophet

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites, since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some so-called historical books are often called the early prophets.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.  The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although some Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

The prophets in general

Some prophets wrote things, while others had people write things about them.  Thus, there is a mixed bag about the Hebrew prophets.  Generally speaking, a prophet was someone who believed that a higher power had contacted them.  Thus, they became the intermediary between Yahweh, their God, and their fellow human beings.  Almost like angels, these humans delivered a divine message.  Quite often, the message itself that the prophet conveyed was called a prophecy.  The Hebrew prophets were moral teachers.  Some prophets may have had a role with the institutional Temple priests.  Many religious groups have had what are called prophetic priests.  The Hebrew word navi, meaning spokesperson, has been traditionally translated as prophet.  These navi was considered to be the mouth of Yahweh or God, since they were open to receive and transmit his divine wisdom.  Besides writing and speaking messages from God, these Israelite Nevi’im often acted out prophetic parables in their life.  They were not always praised, since some prophets were even considered bad or false prophets.  Thus, they were sometimes the target of persecution and opposition.

The three major later prophets

The later prophets are what we normally think of as prophets.  They stood out against authority and asked people to reform their ways to that of Yahweh, their God.  They were writing prophets, as opposed to the early prophets who did not write, but were written about.  These later prophets are normally divided into the three major prophets and the twelve Minor Prophets.  There were three famous major writing prophets whose works are very long.  Isaiah lived in the 8th century BCE, but his work was not finished until around the 6th century BCE.  On the other hand, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were 6th century BCE prophetic writers around the time of the Babylonian Exile.

Judaism as the root of Christianity

A rough comparison of Judaism and Christianity might be like the relationship of the eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Judaism would be like Hinduism and Christianity would be like Buddhism.  Both religions, Buddhism and Christianity rely on an already established religious base, Judaism and Hinduism, and emphasis the role of a single person, Buddha and Jesus.  Both Christianity and Judaism have the same base.  The center of the Old Testament covenant was Yahweh and his people, while the heart of the Christian message was around Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who was Jewish.