Karma Ben Johanan

Photo: Tamar Abadi, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Professor for the Past and Present of the Christian-Jewish relationship, Humboldt University Berlin

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
October 2019

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»Israel ver(s)us Israel: Contemporary Zionist Theology and the Jewish-Christian Conflict«

Project outline:
For over 5 decades, Jewish representatives have been criticizing the Catholic Church for not having legitimized the prevailing Jewish attitude to the State of Israel as part of the enduring covenant of the Jewish people with God. It was often argued that in the process of Jewish-Christian reconciliation, it is problematic on behalf of Christians not to take into account an essential element in the Jewish religious experience such as the salvific value of the land. Moreover, the reluctance of Catholic Christians to acknowledge the state’s theological value is often interpreted by Jewish representatives as a residue of traditional supersessionism, as this reluctance resonates with the anti-Jewish idea that the Jews were condemned to eternal exile.

In the proposed project, I would like to look at Jewish-Christian tensions around the theology of the land, but from a different perspective: instead of contextualizing Catholic reservations regarding the Jewish theology of the land within the traditional Christian conflict with Judaism, I will examine the Jewish theology of the land through the lens of the traditional Jewish conflict with Christianity, that is, as a polemic against Christian supersessionism. (Karma Ben Johanan)

Research partner:
Karma Ben Johanan follows an invitation of Christian Wiese (Professor of Jewish Though and Religion, Goethe University) and the University's research center »Religiöse Positionierung. Modalitäten und Konstellationen in jüdischen, christlichen und islamischen Kontexten« (»Religious Positioning: Modalities and Constellations in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Contexts«).

Scholarly profile of Karma Ben Johanan

Karma Ben Johanan received her doctorate in 2016 from the Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University with a thesis on »Contemporary Conceptions of Judaism and Christianity in Catholic and Jewish Orthodox Theologies«. She was a fellow at the University of California, a visiting lecturer at the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a visiting scholar at the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna and a Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. Since 2020 she is Professor for the Past and Present of the Christian-Jewish relationship, Humboldt University Berlin.

More information about Karma Ben Johanan can be found here.

Picture above: Tamar Abadi, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Main areas of research:
Late Modern Europe, Intellectual History, Religious studies

Selected publications:
  1. Reconciliation and Its Discontents: Unresolved Tensions in Jewish-Christian Relations [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv University Press (forthcoming).
  2. »Is Christian-Antisemitism Possible? The History of an Intra-Catholic Debate (1965-2000)« [Hebrew], in: Zion, a special issue on Antisemitism (forthcoming).
  3. »Wreaking Judgment on Mount Esau: Christianity in R. Kook’s Thought«, in: Jewish Quarterly Review 106:1, 2016, p. 76–100.
  4. (Eds. with Porat, D. snd Braude, R.) In Our Time: Documents and Articles on the Catholic Church and the Jewish People in the Wake of the Shoah [Hebrew], Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 2015.