The Jewish Perception of Christians and Muslims

The final Inter-Religious Symposia gathering dealing with the perception of the other convened on Monday 8th July to discuss The Jewish perceptions of Christianity and Islam. Rabbi Mark Solomon (Edinburgh and Leicester Liberal Jewish Communities) presented a comprehensive overview of Jewish views of the other two Abrahamic faiths. The Jewish experience in the last two thousand years was shaped by being a minority people living mainly under the hegemony of both Christian and Muslim cultures. Rabbi Solomon referred to religious scriptures as well as Jewish scholars in different eras explaining how perceptions have evolved.

There are passages in the Talmud that refer to Jesus as the off-spring of adultery, or as a magician who established an idolatrous cult for which he will be punished. However, there are many chronological inconsistencies leading scholars to questions whether this is the Christian ‘Jesus’ at all. Negative views of Christianity evolved in the early modern period with Jewish writers no longer considering Christians to be idolaters. In the modern period, the founder of Liberal Judaism has also gone as far as to accept Jesus as a Prophet.

The rise of Islam had a profound impact on Judaism from the 10th century onwards. Jewish theology was influenced greatly by the Mutazalite school of rational theology. The development of Other disciplines including jurisprudence, grammar, exegesis, and mysticism were also influenced by Islamic sciences. As always, the formal presentation was followed by an opportunity for participants to ask questions where the discussion dealt with some difficult issues including the Arab-Israeli conflict.

View more images from the discussion here.