An Introduction to Judaism: Sacred Texts and Background

The belief system and practices highlighted in the Hebrew Bible (called the Tanakh) is called Judaism. Whether you read passages of the Talmud, study the Torah, or brown other Judaic, you will come across information showcasing the traditions, teachings, and meaning of Judaism. In this article, you are introduced to basic details, including the founder of Judaism, major sects, and varied views of the afterlife.

The Founder

Judaism has been around for thousands of years, founded in Mesopotamia by Abraham , who is considered the father of the Jewish people. Abraham is viewed as a symbol of trusting and obeying God, and is also respected within Christian and Islamic religions. In chapters 12 to 25, the story of Abraham is told in the Book of Genesis, which is the first book found in both the Christian and Hebrew Bibles.


Although Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world (meaning that adherents believe in only one god), it is the smallest. Today, there is an estimated 12 to 14 million followers throughout the world with large populations living in Israel, Europe, and the United States.

Major Sects

When it comes to the different variations of Judaism, an individual may belong to one of the following major sects: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. To learn more about the major groups of Judaic followers, there are articles devoted to each separate sect on the Unexplainable.com website.

Sacred Texts

Those following the Judaic faith study and adhere to the teachings of the Talmud and Tanakh, which is meant to refer to the Torah, Nebi’im and Ketuvim (which translates into Law, Prophets and Writings). One may also refer to this sacred text as the Jewish Bible or Hebrew Scriptures.

Highlighting a varied order and offering a couple of minor differences, the Tanakh is comprised of the same books as the Christian Old Testament , however , do not refer to the Tanakh as the Old Testament. It contains a total of 39 books when each of the Twelve Minor Prophets is counted as one and subdivided books (like Kings and Chronicles) are viewed as two. There are five books of the Torah, 21 books of the Prophets, and 12 books of Writings.

The Talmud offers a collection of rabbinical writings that deduce, clarify and validate the Torah scriptures. Written between the 2nd and 5th century CE, Orthodox Jews believe the Talmud was revealed to Moses at the same time as the Torah. They feel that the Talmud was recollected orally until it was written down, which is why the text is referred to as the ‘Oral Torah.’ To learn more about the above texts, be on the lookout for articles regarding sacred Judaic texts, including the Torah.