Dr. Johnson to write book in Israel next semester


Financial District, NEW YORK— Andrew Johnson, assistant professor of Biblical studies at King’s, is moving to Israel next semester to write a book as a research fellow for the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Johnson will be researching and writing a technical book on sacramental epistemology, what the Israelites are supposed to learn by participating in the sacrificial system.

During his leave of absence, King’s plans to hire two adjunct professors whom Johnson knows to take his place.

“They’re going to be great teachers,” Johnson said. “They’re good guys, very good Christian men—thoughtful, reflective, fully great. But I’m actually sad that I’m not going to get to teach those freshmen.”

Johnson had wanted to write his doctoral dissertation on sacramental epistemology but needed to first research what “knowing” means more broadly in Scripture. His Ph.D. as well as the topic of his latest book, Biblical Knowing: A Scriptural Epistemology of Error, relate to this topic.

The book releases in six months and is written for undergraduates who are familiar with Scripture. In the book, Johnson argues that Scripture must be the guide even for analytic philosophy.

Johnson is excited to go to Israel because he sees location as important to understanding things. “That’s how I feel about Israel. To know the story well, it will be exciting to be in the place,” he said.

About his work life, Johnson said, “Basically they’re giving me a desk, a computer, and a library card. There will be six other scholars who are there with me, and we will meet once a week to present our findings.”

He will be using placebo studies and social psychology to explore how people interact with ritual today.

“That was kind of my spin on it to say that even today social science and medical research has figured out that people participate in certain covenantal patterns and they have definitive outcomes that are measurable,” Johnson explained.

Studies have shown that placebos are the most well-measured effective drug in history. Johnson said this phenomenon demonstrates that a good relationship with the doctor, who uses simple interactive questions, has a stronger effect on the patient than the prescribed medicine.

“What it means is that a covenant relationship has a deeply healing effect on the body,” Johnson said. Johnson’s fellowship through the Shalem Center is funded by a John Templeton grant. John Templeton is a prestigious organization that gives science, philosophy and religion grants.

Johnson’s wife and four kids plan to move to Israel with him. The book is coming out in 2014 or 2015.