Is Hinduism older than Judaism?


Hinduism and Judaism are two widely followed beliefs in the world. There has always been a confusion about which of them is the oldest. Hinduism has several scriptures while Judaism follows the Bible. These religions have a completely different set of customs and practices. However, there are certain similarities between the two in some factors and writings.

So, it is believed that Hinduism is older than Judaism according to studies and evaluation. It is also said that the texts have been analysed and figured out to be older than that of Judaism.

For instance, textual research of the Rig Veda seems to tell multiple writers, spread over a time of several centuries. The oldest of these texts are written in between the 1700–1200 BCE. In evaluation, to the textual study of the Torah which is the first five books of the Old Testament that is the oldest part of the bible shows that it was written in between the 600–950 BCE. And thus, this makes Hinduism the older religion.

Hinduism vs Judaism

It is a traditional view that the first five chapters of the bible are written by Moses himself. Though there is no ancient evidence of Moses we are aware of Biblical chronology and according to that, it seems to be around the 1200 BCE, which is probably simultaneous with the Rig Veda.

But it would be inappropriate to compare the two as one is founded on the religion’s mythology and the other is built on modern textual or linguistic indications. Likewise, if the Hindu mythology is to be considered then the Ramayana was written in 5200 BCE and the Mahabharata in 3400 BCE. Yet, these dates haven’t been taken seriously by many scholars. 

The study of the stories and chronology is interesting and in-depth which require not just facts but understanding. We will look at both the religions and their estimated dates with the help of storylines.

Judaism Scriptures

In the religion of Judaism, you could likely look upon the stories of Abraham and date them using Biblical timeline to 2000 BCE, but then again there are no facts outside of the Bible that give a clue about Abraham and his existence.

Judaism

Taking a look at it from the cultural point of view doesn’t help much either. As the cultures change very often over the time to preserve that the culture today is identical to the one it created from 3000 years ago. 

The initial mention of Israel or a tribe known as the Israelites in the archaeological records is known as Merneptah Stele which dates from about 1200 BCE. This describes the Pharaoh Merneptah’s downfalls, and comprises the line ‘Israel is laid waste’.

There are also some controversies whether the word was Israel, with some scholars believing it to be Jezreel and the others saying that it is just a general word for nomads. Assuming that it’s true, you have a tribe relevant to Judaism at 1200 BCE in the Levant.

It would be difficult to shield that the Judaism practised in 1200 BC was similar to that practised at the time when the Dead Sea Scrolls were inscribed that is a thousand years later. Certain elements do stay common in current Judaism practices, but a lot of them in the religion has changed.

Hinduism Scriptures

Correspondingly, the Vedic Sanskrit talking to people who wrote the Rig Veda were living in the Indian subcontinent from about 1500 BC or earlier. Former archaeological facts show a lot of difference in Judaism, which comprises the worship of numerous gods which is certainly against their monothetic.

Sanskrit Scripture

Compared to Judaism, there is a higher level of permanency from early Hinduism to its modern variation, the Rig Vedas gods are still prominent in the Hindu religion, the Rig Vedic practices like the yajnas are still performed today and the Rig Veda is still a holy Hindu text.

Then there are even older sources. There are some shreds of evidence that Hinduism may comprise elements of the Indus Valley civilization.

For instance, the Pashupati seal seems like a deity seated in a yogic posture, with horns on his head and is surrounded by animals. It is also believed that he might be 3 heads, with marks on the side of his face.

This is quite similar to Lord Shiva who carried likely characteristics. But one really can’t draw conclusions from understanding and thus this is rejected by scholars as well.

But if it is a fact a thousand more years could be added to the prior existence of Hinduism. it does not say that Hinduism is old but clears that the origins could be older.

Comparison of both

Firstly, to note that even though God did make Adam and also placed a special calling, promise and blessing on Abraham and his descendants, the Bible does not mention that God made all of this in the Jewish form. When Adam was created it was the beginning and Judaism was not in its complete structure yet, however, Judaism would come from Adam and Abraham’s bloodline. Judaism closely tracks its origins from all the way back to the creation of this universe, and the creation of mankind, linking Adam to Abraham. This began as an oral tradition which was written down years later. So, this is accountable to the records.

Secondly, also among the scholars who wrote the Veda, there are also arguments about when the Vedas had been written. Some consider it to be back to the 1500 BC, and some biblical scholars even date the writings of Exodus around this time. Traditional Biblical scholars believe that Moses was the main writer of the Torah which are the first five books of the Bible. This would suggest the Torah being as old as the Vedic scriptures. It is true that Christianity started with the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ.

The New Testament is written in the period of the first century. Thus, it is hard for one to claim that Hinduism is older than Christianity. The roots of Christianity are in Judaism, which again traces its origin back to the creation of the first man and woman.

In the religion of Hinduism, there are changes and additions to books of their Vedas over the years, and it’s hard to say all these Vedas are older than the Torah. Also, their older aspect of religion does not support its truthfulness. 

There are several arguments over these two religions, but with facts and details, one can only make assumptions of which one of them is older. However, it is believed that the texts of Hinduism prove to be older than that of Judaism. It is better to analyse the dates and then figure out an estimated figure of the texts. 

So, ignoring the distinctions and just going by some factual measures and figures, we come to know the dates of the Rig Veda to be 1700–1200 BCE and the dates of the Torah to 950 BCE. And the Israelites have been mentioned in 1200 BCE and the Rig Vedic tribe to be in 1400-1500 BCE. According to this, you can consider the estimated time of the roots of Hinduism, to be a little older than Judaism.

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