Development and Religion

Development and Religion

Theology and Practice

Matthew Clarke

Development and Religion explores how the world’s five major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam – understand and practice ‘development’ through an examination of their sacred texts, social teaching and basic beliefs.

Chapter 4: Judaism: A Cry for Justice

Matthew Clarke

Subjects: development studies, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, social policy in emerging countries


OVERVIEW OF BELIEFS Introduction Key Jewish figures are familiar to many as they also appear in the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam. However, the exact dates and the historical authenticity of the existence of many of these key figures are less clear than those of the key figures of Christianity and Islam and indeed Buddhism. The inclusion of Judaism in a book examining the theological understanding of development issues and practical expressions of this through affiliated faith-based organisations appears quite reasonable at first glance. Judaism is one of the world’s great religions, and thus it seems intuitively appropriate to include it in such a book as this; indeed, as the faith that gave rise to Christianity and Islam, it has an important place in the history of world religions. However, there are a number of possible arguments that might be made as to why Judaism ought not to be included in this book. First, Judaism has a very small number of adherents. There are only approximately 13 million Jews throughout the world, of whom 80 per cent live in Israel or the United States of America (O’Brien and Palmer 2007).1 This is in contrast, for example, with the 24 million Sikhs, the majority of whom live in India. It might also be further argued that as Judaism is so closely associated with both an ethnic group and geographical location it does not have a vision for the world beyond its own destiny (see Herder 1997 for a more...

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