Patheos answers the question:

What Are The Abrahamic Religions?

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It appears that this term, the “Abrahamic religions,” was coined in the Qur’an, which repeatedly refers to Islam and, secondarily, to Judaism and Christianity as “Abrahamic.” (See Sūrha 2:130 & 135; 3:95; 6:123 & 161; 12:38; 16:123 & 22:78.) The Abrahamic Religions are those which, by definition, trace their origins directly back to the biblical patriarch, Abraham (or Abram), with whom the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam entered into a covenant—as recorded in Genesis 12-17, Hebrews 11:8-10 & Romans 4, and Sūrha 2:83-84, 125-129 & 260.

It has been pointed out that, beyond Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: “There are, in fact, more Abrahamic religions, such as the Baha’i Faith, Yezidi, Druze, Samaritan and Rastafari…” Our focus here, however, will be on the three largest Abrahamic traditions (whose practitioners make up more than half of the world’s population), and on their views of each other.

Judaism

Judaism is, of course, the oldest of the three Abrahamic traditions. Jews generally see the patriarch Abraham as the founder of their faith and the source of the covenant people—even though Moses is the prophet they see as providing the Jewish people God’s law. Both the New Testament and the Qur’an acknowledge that Judaism predates each, and that Christianity and Islam are religions which have descended from Judaism and the patriarch Abraham. While, generally speaking, Jews traditionally see Christianity and Islam as break-off religions which have retained some Jewish elements, while corrupting others; nevertheless, Judaism’s canon does not officially address or condemn those movements—which would develop after the close of the Jewish canon.

Christianity

Christianity is a religious tradition that often embraces supersession theology. In other words, most Christian traditions hold that the Jewish people were God’s covenant people who strayed from the covenant, didn’t recognize the “true Jewish messiah” (Jesus) and, thus, lost their status as God’s emissaries or covenant bearers. Thus, Tertullian (AD 155-220) claimed that “The Jews had formerly been in covenant with God.” And Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-circa 211) clarified, saying the practitioners of Judaism “forfeited the place of the true Israel.” While not supported by Christian tradition, some practitioners of that faith have manifest what only can be called anti-Semite views of their mother tradition, Judaism, largely because the early Christian Church was quite emphatic that the Jews had fallen into a spiritual apostasy and had rejected their messiah. Thus, Christians have traditionally seen themselves as the “replacement” religion, superseding Judaism—and Jesus, the Christian messiah, whom they believe fulfilled the Jewish law.

Islam

Like Christianity, Islam has a pronounced supersession theology. Islam sees both Christians and Jews as “people of the book,” who had a form of the Qur’an revealed to them, and a covenant given by God to them, and yet both traditions (in Islamic thinking) fell into apostasy, requiring God to send His final messenger, Muhammed, to restore the truth one final time. Repeatedly, the Qur’an speaks of how the Jews had been the covenant people, but lost that status through disobedience, a lack of belief, or outright sin. (E.g., Sūrha 2:83, 88 & 246; 4:46 & 160; 5:13 & 78; etc.) Like its criticisms of Judaism, Islam also expresses concerns about apostate beliefs and practices in Christianity. (E.g., Sūrha 4:171, 5:66, 9:30-31, etc.) One of the biggest criticisms Islam levels against their second sister Abrahamic religion is Christianity’s practice of worshiping Jesus—whom Muslims believe is a messenger or prophet of Allah, but not the Son of God.

The three Abrahamic religions share a number of characteristics. Not only do all three trace the origins of their faith to the biblical patriarch Abraham, each also has some doctrine of a coming messiah (though they believe different things about who and what that messiah will be), they each see the “Holy Land” has having a special place in their tradition’s history and future, each traditionally sees the other two faiths as an apostate version of their own, each is monotheistic (though in somewhat different ways), and all three perceives their own faith as the only accurate version of the Abrahamic faith which God parted the heavens and revealed to their specific people or prophet.


3/7/2023 2:50:45 AM
About ALONZO L. GASKILL, PH.D.
Alonzo L. Gaskill is an author, editor, theologian, lecturer, and professor of World Religions. He holds degrees in philosophy, theology/comparative religion, and biblical studies. He has authored more than two-dozen books and numerous articles on various aspects of religion; with topics ranging from world religions and interfaith dialogue, to scriptural commentaries, texts on symbolism, sacred space, and ritual, and even devotional literature.