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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Brief note: Joseph Knight »

August 21, 2006



Yes, the term has always vaguely puzzled me. I assume (without ever bothering to investigage :-) that it was coined in the attempt to capture the Old Testament for the greater glory of Christianity. The suggested Bruderschaft has been notably lacking for most of the last two millennia (for that matter the Christians have often treated each other most unchristianly).


This is a very common problem, I've noticed. And often when it is used it usually means 'Christian, with some things glossed over so that it is not obviously non-Jewish'. And sometimes it's just hard to see what the point is. I once read a criticism of Catholicism that talked about the evils of the influence of 'Judeo-Christian monks and nuns'. Apparently there is a long history of influential Jewish nunneries that we've all overlooked!

The history of the term 'Judeo-Christian' seems to be obscure; I looked it up one time. It seems to have become popular around WWII to rally Christians against Nazi policies. Prior to that it was largely used in a very different way (e.g., to indicate the earliest and most Jewish phase of Christianity, or in obvious ways like 'Judeo-Christian interactions').


My guess is it's a mid-20th-century coinage meant to promote brotherhood on the part of Christians toward Jews. Partly it arose, to continue my guess, in reaction to Hitlerism (as Brandon suggests above), partly because the growing visibility of Jews in America had to be acknowledged in public discourse. But I agree that the term has outlived its purpose. Today most Jews with any consciousness probably prefer to have their religious culture understood as distinct from Christianity. This includes refusing to call the Hebrew Scriptures by the name Christians use, that is, "the Old Testament."

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