HOW WAS CHRISTIANITY SUPERIOR TO JUDAISM?
Jesus and his earliest followers were Jews; however, after Jesus’s addition to this society, Judaism ultimately branched out to a new religion called Christianity. This new religion obviously brought conflict to Jews. Jews were known as God’s chosen people, but with the arrival of Jesus, He and his followers began to teach that God’s promise outreached to everyone who simply believed in Jesus, that He was the Son of God, the Messiah; so, this allowed even Gentiles to be included in God’s plan. This was a great threat to Jews and it also undermined their covenant with God. Now, Christians were simply identified as Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah. They upheld the idea that Judaism was still a part of their ancestry, which allowed them to, like the Jews, be excluded in taking part of worshipping pagan gods and sacrificing to them. This exclusion could have been one reason Christians argue and acknowledge that they stemmed from Judaism, but they argue more about the differences of the two religions. More than anything, some claim of the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, like in Hebrews. The Epistles to the Hebrews justifies this superiority by explaining that Christ was the new covenant, therefore He nullified the old covenant. This marked the beginning of the diversion of Judaism to Christianity.
The superiority of Christianity comes from the idea that Christ (Jesus) is superior over all. Hebrews begins by establishing “the supremacy of God’s son”. The entire first chapter (Hebrew 1) is dedicated to praising Jesus as God, as God’s son, and having even the angels be submissive to Him. It explains Jesus’s highly divine nature as God’s son by establishing Jesus as the heir of all things righteous and holy. It establishes Jesus as God’s son, reminding the audience that God had called Jesus as his one and only son. It also compares Jesus to the angels; God had more affection to Jesus than to His very angels, as He commanded the angels to worship Jesus, and it clearly states that God promised Jesus, and only Him, a seat at His right-hand side, and to “make [Jesus’s] enemies a footstool for [His] feet” Hebrew 1:13. Also, Hebrews 4:14-16 and Hebrews 5:1-10 call Jesus a “great high priest” who was perfect, and chosen by God, who appointed Him as His son. This justifies Jesus’s divinity, as God’s son, and his authority over everything, including the angels. Moreover, the beginning of chapter 3 in Hebrews 3:1-6 also calls for Jesus’s superiority over Moses. It states that Jesus was “worthy of more glory than Moses.” So, Moses was merely a faithful servant, a faithful instrument, in building God’s house, but the true ownership of the house, the master, was Jesus. So, Jesus’s superiority over the angels justified His divinity and His identity as God’s Son; while His superiority over Moses established Himself as greater than the man who was thought to have a direct, personal relationship with God. Many people though highly of Moses because he was one of the very few who directly spoke with and encountered God, and the one who delivered, through God, the ten commandment, the Mosaic Laws. Now, since Jesus was told to be superior than Moses, it not only means that Jesus was closer to God than anyone else, but also confirms that He is now someone who brings a new covenant, thereby abolishing the old one that Moses brought. As Hebrews 8 explains that Jesus, as the greatest priest, brings the greater, better covenant.
Although people agreed that Christianity was superior to Judaism, there was the issue of people converting back to Judaism to avoid persecution. So, Hebrews 2 and most of Hebrews is dedicated to those who “neglect salvation,” discouraging apostasy. Hebrews encourages its audience to stay faithful to God because of the greater promise that is ahead. These warnings and encouragements to stay faithful for Christians also exemplify the idea of Christianity being superior to Judaism, as Hebrews refers to a new, better covenant within Christ, undermining the Jewish covenant, as Jesus replaces the Jewish Laws. The Jewish Laws are no longer a means of passage for salvation, but now, solely Jesus is; and so, as Bart D. Ehrman states, “Judaism is completed and perfected in Christ.” This new outcome therefore, becomes Christianity. So, overall, Christianity is an advanced, updated form of Judaism, and a somewhat continuation of the religion (with several changes in accordance to Christ), yet it is considered to be superior due simply to the addition of Christ.