The grand daddy of religions, Judaism is about the oldest faith going. And they still argue with God.
Whatever the Sumerians might have to say about the matter, Judaism claims to have been the world’s first monotheistic religion. So whilst all the pagans were busy soliciting favours of lumps of stone and praying to rainbows and water sprites, Judaism was the first religion to come along with the idea of one big, invisible God. Pretty revolutionary stuff.
The Jews have had an enormously disproportionate influence on world history, culture and learning, given their relatively scarce numbers. But 3 out of the 4 fathers of main intellectual thought were Jewish – Karl Marx in economics, Sigmund Freud in psychology, Albert Einstein in physics – only Darwin can claim to have had an equally significant role in modern thought. And that’s not counting Jesus.
Jewish humour has also flourished in the US with figures like Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allen bringing the angst of their upbringing to the world stage and making people laugh everywhere. Or think of the influence of performers like Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Joseph Heller and Robert Crumb.
Judaism may not be the biggest religion in the world with around 13 million Jews on the planet, many of them non-practicing, but it has been one of the most influential, spawning Christianity and, on the back of that, Islam. It’s the original mad desert religion founded by people who thought the world was flat and is probably the oldest faith going today.
And given the situation in the Middle East, it might one day be the cause of World War 3.