Dr. Karma Ben Johanan is a historian of modern theology and religion, focused on inter-religious and intra-religious tensions and dialogue especially between Christians and Jews after the Holocaust. She is a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Ben Johanan is a historian of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, focusing on the history of theology and religious ideas. She is especially interested in relationships within and between religious groups, examining inter-religious and secular-religious relations as well as polemics and dialogue, particularly between Jews and Christians.
Her work looks at the paths of old traditions and the ways these traditions adapt to contemporary conditions, even when these conditions are radically different from the conditions in which these traditions arose. Ben Johanan weaves together historical narratives that not only aren’t normally viewed together, but are even seen as contradictory at times.
Ben Johanan’s work brings to light structural difficulties in interfaith dialogue and problematizes the idea of reconciliation. In particular, it challenges the common assumption that Jewish-Christian tensions ended after the Holocaust, and traces new polemical routes in the present.
In the past, Ben Johanan was engaged in research and held teaching positions at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII in Bologna, and the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. In 2019, Ben Johanan was appointed first chair of Jewish–Christian relations in the Faculty of Theology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she served until the summer of 2022. She is currently an associate editor for the journal Political Theology.
Ben Johanan’s book, A Pottage of Lentils: Mutual Perceptions of Christians and Jews in the Age of Reconciliation (Tel Aviv University Press, 2020), won the Shazar Prize for Research in Jewish History in 2021.The updated and revised English version, Jacob’s Younger Brother (Harvard University Press, 2022) was named a finalist of the National Jewish Book Award in 2023.
Ben Johanan also received the Azrieli fellowship for New Faculty Members in 2022.
Ben Johanan completed her PhD at Tel Aviv University, she was a Fulbright postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and a postdoctoral fellow at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.