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Christianity as we have come to know it emerged from Judaism in the first century of the Common Era. The first Christians were Jews, and likely subscribed to Jewish beliefs and practices common at the time. Among these was a belief that a messiah—a descendant of King David—would restore the monarchy and Jewish independence. According to mainstream Jewish beliefs, the failure of Jesus to restore the Kingdom, and his crucifixion by Romans, negated claims that he was the messiah (since most Jews do not accept that Jesus was the messiah, they reject the use of the full (Christian) name. See the Jewish conception of the messiah for a more detailed discussion of the Jewish understanding of the messiah). Nevertheless, many of Jesus's followers—perhaps inspired by encounters with Jesus after his crucifixion and entombment, but also drawing on alternative interpretations of Biblical passages—redefined the concept of messiah to encompass the resurrection and the promise of a second coming. In addition to this alternative understanding of the messiah, early Christians brought from Judaism its scriptures, fundamental doctrines such as monotheism, and other beliefs and practices.
Judaism teaches that it is heretical for any man to claim to be a part of god; Jews view Jesus as just one in a long list of Jewish claimants to be the messiah. The article on the concept of the messiah contains a list of many people who claimed to be the messiah, son of God, or both.
Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) writes why Jews believe that Jesus was wrong to create Christianity (and why they believe that Mohammed was wrong to create Islam;) he laments the pains that Jews felt as a result of these new faiths that attempted to supplant Judaism. However, Maimonides then goes on to say that both faiths help God redeem the world:
- Jesus was instrumental in changing the Torah and causing the world to err and serve another beside God. But it is beyond the human mind to fathom the designs of our Creator, for our ways are not God's ways, neither are our thoughts His. All these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth, and the Ishmaelite (Mohammed) who came after him, only served to clear the way for the King Messiah to prepare the whole world to worship God with one accord, as it is written 'For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent.' (Zephaniah 3:9). Thus the messianic hope, and the Torah, and the commandments have become familiar topics of conversation among those even on far isles, and among many people, uncircumcized of flesh and heart. (Mishneh Torah, Maimonides, XI.4. This paragraph used to be censored from many printed versions of the Mishneh Torah because it contained verses explicitly critical of Jesus.)