When did Christianity become a separate religion from Judaism?
As best we can determine, the Jesus Movement began as a sect within
Judaism and spread throughout the Mediterranean region largely
by being passed from one Jewish community to another. Jesus, of
course, was a Jew, as were his original disciples. He apparently
saw his ministry as leading his people to higher ground, as it
were, not launching a competing movement.
followers believed Jesus to be the Messiah promised by the Hebrew
Scriptures. The Jewish religious establishment was at least somewhat
threatened by Jesus' teaching, although the extent of their opposition
might have been overstated by early Christian writers such as
the authors of Matthew and John.
the Jesus Movement spread and came into contact with other influences,
such as Greek philosophy and Roman cultural centers outside Judea
and Syria, the movement felt a growing need to differentiate itself
from other religions and philosophies. They did so in the time-honored
practice of declaring their views true and other views false.
At the same time, Rome was engaged in ruthlessly repressing Jewish
revolts. Some Jesus people interpreted those devastating attacks
as further signs of their rightness.
the time the followers of Jesus thought of themselves as “Christians,”
they were at odds with their former Jewish brethren, at odds with
imperial Rome, and at odds with various movements within their
own circle. A hierarchy of power emerged, justified itself as
ordained of God, continued the work of self-differentiation, and
began branding as heresy any view or practice that contradicted
the hierarchy. In time, as Christianity launched its own empire,
repression of Jews became standard practice, as it had been for
time went on, Europe's Jews came to be seen as entirely different
from Christianity, a convenient scapegoat for embattled leaders.
That perceived gap remains wide. And yet Christians study the
Hebrew Scriptures and consider them authoritative, Christian worship
employs standard elements of ancient Jewish practice (book, cup,
bread, stole, oil, candle, priest), and except where anti-Semitism
is virulent, Christians understand pogroms and the more recent
Holocaust as evil.