Thursday, March 24
1 p.m.

Professor Karma Ben-Johanan

Place: Zoom

Professor Karma Ben-Johanan.
Jacob's Younger Brother book cover.

A Gordon and Gretchen Gross Lecture

Charges Dropped? Jewish-Christian Relations after Vatican Removed Accusations Against Jews

A talk by Professor Karma Ben-Johanan of Humboldt University, Berlin

Based on her new book: Jacob’s Younger Brother Jewish Christian Relationships after Vatican II“ forthcoming with Harvard University Press.

Access: The talk is free and open to public. Zoom link will be distributed the Department of Jewish Thought e-mail list the day before. Subscribe to our mailing list. 

A new chapter in Jewish–Christian relations opened in the second half of the twentieth century when the Second Vatican Council exonerated Jews from the accusation of deicide and declared that the Jewish people had never been rejected by God. In a few carefully phrased statements, two millennia of deep hostility were swept into the trash heap of history.

But old animosities die hard. While Catholic and Jewish leaders publicly promoted interfaith dialogue, doubts remained behind closed doors. Catholic officials and theologians soon found that changing their attitude toward Jews could threaten the foundations of Christian tradition. For their part, many Jews perceived the new Catholic line as a Church effort to shore up support amid atheist and secular advances. Drawing on extensive research in contemporary rabbinical literature, Karma Ben-Johanan shows that Jewish leaders welcomed the Catholic condemnation of antisemitism but were less enthusiastic about the Church’s sudden urge to claim their friendship. Catholic theologians hoped VaticanII would turn the page on an embarrassing history, hence the assertion that the Church had not reformed but rather had always loved Jews, or at least should have. Orthodox rabbis, in contrast, believed they were finally free to say what they thought of Christianity.

Students and General Public are cordially invited.

Sergey Dolgopolski,
Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor of Jewish Thought