28.10.2021 – 08:14
EKD – Evangelical Church in Germany
With the inaugural lecture by Professor Karma Ben Johanan as endowed professor for the past and present of the Judeo-Christian relationship on Wednesday (October 27), a new chapter in the cooperation between the Protestant Church and the theological faculty of the Humboldt University in Berlin was opened.
On the initiative of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and its member churches, an endowed professorship for the past and present of the Jewish-Christian relationship was established at the Institute for Church and Judaism of the Theological Faculty of the Humboldt University in Berlin (HU) with financial support from the Stifterverband and the Volkswagen Foundation set up.
On October 27, 2021, Prof. Dr. Karma Ben Johanan gave her inaugural lecture as an endowed professor. Ben Johanan studied history and religious studies in Tel Aviv. After completing her doctorate, she headed a group of young researchers at the junior academy of a renowned research institute in Jerusalem. In her own research she deals, among other things, with an often overlooked aspect of the Christian-Jewish relationship, namely the relationships between orthodox, rather Christianity-critical Jewish groups and Christianity. Even here, where explicit relationships seem difficult or impossible, there is actually a lot of interaction.
In her inaugural lecture, Professor Ben Johanan spoke about the challenges facing the Judeo-Christian encounter today through the lens of metaphors, images and concepts that are often used to portray contemporary relations between Jews and Christians. She particularly dealt with the German or (or) European and, on the other hand, the Israeli context. While Christians began after 1945 “to look for sources in their tradition that evoke a feeling of more affinity, connection and symbiosis with Judaism, the Jews began to explore the horizons that their new distance from Christians opened up for them became.”
Previously, the Council Chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Regional Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, recognized the newly established endowed professorship as “an example of the good cooperation between the Evangelical Church and the Berlin Humboldt University, the Volkswagen Foundation and the Stifterverband”. The fact that Ms. Ben Johanan, a Jewish woman and Israeli, was appointed is a novelty at a Protestant faculty, but at the same time it is an expression of the increased trust on the Jewish side. He welcomed this very much, because today theological research and training is no longer possible in the isolated self-employment of Protestant theology with its own theological traditions, but only in dialogical discussion and lively discussion. When setting up the endowed professorship in the wake of the Reformation anniversary, the Evangelical Church was also concerned with critically examining its own history in relation to Judaism. The vocation of Karma Ben Johanan is in this respect a stroke of luck for the church as well as for the university.
The President of the Humboldt University, Prof. Sabine Kunst, affirmed the importance of the new chair in her greeting. For the two foundations, Dr. Pierre Schwidlinski from the Volkswagen Foundation, we are pleased “that we can support the Protestant Church in setting up and financing the professorship ‘History and Presence of the Christian-Jewish Relationship’ at the Humboldt University – and thus a better dialogue and appreciation between the religions, today and in the future, can pave the way on a scientifically sound basis.
Despite corona-related restrictions under which the event had to take place, numerous representatives of Jewish and church institutions were among the participants (among others, Provost Christina Maria Bammel, Berlin; Regional Bishop Stäblein, Berlin; Bishop Kirsten Fehrs, Hamburg; Prof. Dr. Walter Homolka were registered , Potsdam; Mark Dainow, Central Council of Jews).
Hanover, October 28, 2021
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Original content by: EKD – Evangelical Church in Germany, transmitted by news aktuell