I'm Catholic, not Jewish, but I've always been curious about Judaism. Especially seeing as the Old Testament is largely the same as the modern Jewish bible (with the exception of the deuterocanonical books). I've wondered many times how the Jewish interpretation of the scriptures differs to the Catholic interpretation. Thought I'd start asking questions here and get informed!

I'm wondering what is the Jewish understanding of God. In Catholicism God is said to be simple, which means that God has no parts and is identical to his attributes and his attributes are identical to each other. So for example, we say that "God is love" and "love is God" and "God is justice" and "justice is God" and therefore "God's love is the same thing as God's justice". Is it the same situation when it comes to understanding God in Judaism?

Also do Jews believe in the Creatio ex Nihilo? Which is to say that God created the universe "out of nothing". It also implies that God is completely and utterly unlike the universe. He sits outside it and holds it in existence by his creative powers moment by moment, and if he were to withdraw those creative powers the universe would simply cease to exist. Or do do Jews believe in a pre-existing universe which God lives within, filled with pre-existing matter which he shaped into what we see around us. Or perhaps Jews believe in Deism? Such that God created the world out of nothing and then sat back and let the world carry on doing it's own thing, and he created the world such that it does not require his continuous creative effort in order to remain in existence?

In Catholicism, God is said to have no gender, strictly speaking. It is not correct to refer to God as "He" or "She", but we do this out of convention and tradition, because God is said to have both masculine and feminine aspects, but we have always emphasised the masculine. Is this the same in Judaism?

The more general question that I'm trying to ask is, what is the nature of God in Judaism? What are his attributes?

  • 1
    Quite surprisingly, all of the things you have said about Catholicism are the same within Judaism. I am currently working on an answer for you.
    – ezra
    Jan 17, 2017 at 2:55
  • The two main aspects as expressed by Maimonides and Nachmanides are based on whether people are more rationalistic or mystical. however, the main point is that G-d is unknowable in that anything we say has to be expressed in human terms and therefore is really a limitation that (because He is not limited) is in a sense untrue. G-d is not the watchmaker, but is "actively" involved in the world, steering history and causing events to occur. However, He also allows free will to people (unlike some of the rigid predestination concepts). Jan 17, 2017 at 3:55
  • I was in the process of answering when this was closed. :(
    – ezra
    Jan 17, 2017 at 15:38
  • @EzraHoerster the question was closed as too broad; perhaps you can help the OP narrow it so it can be reopened (possibly with spin-off questions). "On hold" isn't meant to be a graveyard for questions; it just means some adjustments need to be made. I encourage anybody with an interest in the question to help with this if able to. Jan 17, 2017 at 18:41
  • @Moderator Isn't this also comparative religion?
    – user6591
    Jan 17, 2017 at 20:08


Browse other questions tagged .