Tuesday, December 11, 2007

UPDATE: The three traditions

Just returning from my local tavern, I find that Casandra has a few important things to say. About my lumping together the three "Abrahamic" traditions (from comments):

Sorry it has taken me so long to finally post this response, but as you know, various circumstances have prevented me from doing so earlier.

So, here goes:

My main objection to what you wrote is specifically your generalization. You lumped Judaism, Christianity, and Islam into one tradition. I would argue they are not one tradition and do not share one tradition.

According to dictionary.com, tradition means:
"1.the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2.something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3.a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4.a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5.a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
6.Theology.
a.(among Jews) body of laws and doctrines, or any one of them, held to have been received from Moses and originally handed down orally from generation to generation.
b.(among Christians) a body of teachings, or any one of them, held to have been delivered by Christ and His apostles but not originally committed to writing.
c.(among Muslims) a hadith.
7.Law. an act of handing over something to another, esp. in a formal legal manner; delivery; transfer."

Alright, let's start with a brief overview of the three religions in question - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Judaism - the "Jewish Tradition"
The Jewish Faith can be traced back to the man known as Moses. Some believe it can be traced back further, but it should be enough to say that Jewish history is based on the stories of the Old Testament of the Bible. It doesn't matter if much of the history cannot be proven. What matters is that Jews consider it their history, their tradition. For the purposes of this conversation, there are two things that should be remembered: Abraham is an important prophet in the Jewish tradition and Jewish tradition is largely based on Mosaic law (the laws set forth in the first five books of the Old Testament, known in Judaism as the Torah).

Christianity
The Christian tradition obviously has roots in Jewish history. Christians adopted Jewish history as their own. However, it is not the basis or the emphasis of the Christian faith. Christianity is largely based on the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Since Christians claim Jewish roots, Abraham is also a recognized prophet in the Christian faith.

Islam
Islam is based entirely on the teachings of Muhammad, both in the form of the Qur’an and the Hadiths (stories about Muhammad). One of the things Muhammad taught was that the origins of their religion were centered in the story of the Jewish prophet Abraham. However, Muslims tell a different version of the Jewish story of Abraham and even emphasize the other of Abraham’s two sons.

You see, the common link between these three religions is the prophet Abraham, but the three religions cannot even agree on the story of this man let alone his importance. You could say that Judaism and Christianity have much more in common with each other than either does with Islam, and that would be correct. However, it would still be incorrect to lump them into one tradition.

Like I said, Judaism is largely based on Mosaic Law. Well, many Christians believe that when Jesus came, he created a new covenant in place of the Mosaic covenant. With this belief, there is no reason to follow the Mosaic covenant and therefore, Mosaic Law.

My point here is that each of these religions have distinct beliefs with distinct traditions based on these beliefs. Dictionary.com defines tradition as “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.” If you have different statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc. that is being passed down, then you obviously end up with different traditions. Hell, in the definition of “tradition,” these three religions are divided. I think this signifies that the differences in the three traditions is important enough to note in the dictionary.

I would agree if you said that these three religions had a common ancestor, a common root, or even common history, but they definitely do not have a common tradition.
I stand corrected. As is my due. Should I continue to refer to these religions as common? Your comments are now being solicited.

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