Notre Dame’s Department of Theology is home to a diverse and brilliant faculty capable of offering a great variety of courses. From the ancient world to contemporary issues, from metaphysics to mysticism, you will find many courses suited to your theological interests.
Students enjoy courses with our world-class faculty, including Prof. Larry Cunningham
Popular upper-level courses in theology include:
Chesterton and Catholicism
Christianity in Africa
Death and Rebirth
Major Roman Catholic Thinkers: John Henry Newman
Spirituality and Discipleship
The Theology of Benedict XVI
The World of Buddhism
There are many opportunities offered through the department and other campus entities for students to study theology abroad, from international pilgrimages during class breaks to full semester study abroad programs. Students can find many ways to engage with the international Church. Find more information here.
Fall 2015 Courses
THEO 20103: One Jesus and His Many Portraits
This course explores the many different faith-portraits of Jesus painted by various books of the New Testament: e.g., from suffering servant abandoned by God through high priest interceding with God to Godself. In each case, the course will ask how this particular portrait did or did not have an impact on subsequent Christian faith and what it may say to faith in Christ today. The course will combine a lecture format with discussions, readings, and reflections on the readings.
THEO 20206: U.S. Latino Spirituality
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the dynamic origins, development and present status of the collective spirituality of the Latinos/as living in the USA. Emphasis will be placed on the Mexican Americans since they are not only the largest group but likewise the ones who have been living in the USA the longest. Drawing on history, cultural anthropology, Christian Theology and your own experience, this course will explore the roots and development of contemporary Latino Spirituality in the United States. As we explore in depth the spirituality of a people, this course will also help you discover and explore the roots and development of your own collective and personal spirituality.
THEO 20249: Eastern Churches
The main theological subject of this course is the Church, explored in her journey through history in the diversity of her cultural traditions. Eastern Christians and their Churches comprise an indispensable part of the world Christianity that sheds light on its origins, its basic theological tenets, its achievements and its historical dilemmas and challenges. The course provides an overview of the variety of Eastern rite Churches belonging to the different cultural traditions of Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The students will be introduced to the theological views and liturgical life of the Eastern rite Christians, i.e., Orthodox, Oriental and Eastern Catholic, and their fascinating history. We shall explore the Byzantine rite Churches in more detail, and discuss the challenges their theology and history present to the Christian world at large. Special attention will be given to Slavic Christianity and especially Russian and Ukrainian religious history. Reflections on the diversity of Christian traditions should lead to important insights into theological topics of central importance for today such as the theology of culture, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and the theology of history.
THEO 20258: Aquinas, Faith and Wisdom
This course offers a theological introduction to the main teachings of the Christian faith, through the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. Throughout his theology, Aquinas is committed to identifying, proclaiming, and interpreting the principal Christian claims: about the triune God who is beginning and end of all existence; about Christ, who is God become human for the salvation of others; about humans, who are made by and for God, and who through Christ can attain to God as their end. Aquinas is concerned as well to show the overall coherence of the main affirmations about God, Christ (and his sacraments) and humans. Supplementary readings will be drawn from throughout the theological traditions, both East and West, to confirm and undergird, occasionally challenge, Aquinas in his pursuit of understanding of the Christian faith. Included will be selections from conciliar documents; Augustine; Cyril of Alexandria; Maximus the Confessor; Anselm; Bonaventure; John Calvin; and, Karl Barth and Joseph Ratzinger.
THEO 20401: Church and Worship
An analysis of the church as a community of believers and a social institution, and a study of church liturgy and sacraments. This course will center around three key areas, namely (1) Anthropology: As humans, why do we feel the need to express ourselves and our relationship to God through ritual activity? (2) Theology: What are the Christological and ecclesiological underpinnings for the sacraments? (3) History: What is the historical development of each of the seven sacraments? What has remained constant in spite of the historical mutations?
THEO 20424: Holy Communion and Disunity
The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is understood by all the churches to be a sign of Christians' unity with one another and with Christ. From the period of the Reformation, however, communion has become a sign and instrument of disunity between Christians of different denominations. This course will begin by looking at ecumenical agreements about the Eucharist after Vatican II, and then examine the development of the understanding of communion through church history, including disputes over how the Eucharist should be celebrated and received, questions of Christ's presence in the Eucharist, and the idea that the Eucharist is a sacrifice.
THEO 20606: Theology of Marriage
This course seeks to introduce participants to the principal elements in the Catholic Tradition on marriage by examining the sources of this tradition in sacred scripture, the work of ancient Christian writers, the official teachings of the Church and recent theological reflection. The method employed in the course is thus historical, scriptural, and thematic. The readings selected for this course are intended to expose students to contemporary discussion in moral theology apropos of these issues, and provide them with the necessary theological tools to critically evaluate a wide variety of ethical positions dealing with marriage in the Catholic tradition.
THEO 20619: Rich, Poor, and War
This course examines the economic dimensions of violence in light of Catholic social teaching and Western political and economic thought. After an in-depth overview of Catholic social teaching in relation to alternative social theories, we bring them to bear on the issue of violence in three social spheres: the domestic (domestic abuse and sexual assault), the economic (sweatshops), and the international political (war). In each case we will examine Catholic responses to the problem.
THEO 20625: Discipleship: Loving Action
This course is designed for students who have completed a Summer Service Project Internship (SSLP or ISSLP) through the Center for Social Concerns. The main objective is to afford students the opportunity to combine social analysis with theological reflection. The course material will span a variety of ethical issues, including education, globalization, restorative justice, racial justice, power relations, environmental justice, and structural violence. These topics will be held in conversation with the Catholic social tradition. A major component of the course will entail the presentation and analysis of student-generated research emerging from the SSLP/ISSLP.
THEO 20663: Holy Cross Spirituality, Virtue
This course offers an introduction to the spirituality of the Congregation of Holy Cross through an examination of the biographies of the Congregation’s members. As a development level course in theology, the primary goal of the class is to familiarize students with the historical development of three classic theological topics (spirituality, saints and virtue) by focusing on the charism, lives and apostolates of Holy Cross. An important secondary goal will be to help students to develop an appreciation for how Holy Cross has influenced and continues to inform the work of the University of Notre Dame and what would be required to live by that vision after graduation in professional life, family life, and in local Church communities. The course will host a number of guest speakers from Notre Dame and from other Holy Cross institutions. Course requirements include midterm and final examinations and a short research paper.
THEO 20664: Theology of Poverty
"I make a lot of poor decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning," writes Linda Tirado in Hand to Mouth. The Truth about being poor in a Wealthy World (London: Virago Press 2014). Is it true that those decisions do not matter? Poverty matters. Poverty is not only a major global (and local) challenge, but also an important theological topic especially stressed by Pope Francis who calls for a "Church of the Poor"; a "preferential option for the poor" has been established as an important element in theological approaches after the 1960ies. But even before that, since the first centuries, poverty and wealth have been topics in Christian discourse and areas of Christian concern. The course will reconstruct the milestones of Christianity?s discussion of poverty beginning with early Christian writings found in the Scriptures and texts such as Clement of Alexandria's discussion of wealth and Christian virtues or John Chrysostom's sermons on the poor and the rich, as well as Christian poverty ideals in the desert and during the early Middle Ages, and the influential fight about the status of poverty in the 13th and 14th centuries. Poverty played a role in Martin Luther's critique of the Church and in the history of the Jesuits beginning in the 16th century. Many religious orders committed themselves to poverty and to supporting the excluded. This historical overview of the Christian tradition is led by a systematic interest: What is the theological meaning of poverty?The course explores the distinctive theological perspective on poverty against the background of poverty research in general. There will be four guiding questions: 1) How is poverty understood in contemporary interdisciplinary poverty research? 2) What does the theological tradition say about poverty ? looking at biblical texts as well as Christian writings? 3) What is the place of poverty in Catholic Social Teaching even before 1891? 4) What are successful ethically justifiable responses to poverty in the course of Christian history?
THEO 20801: Theology of Disability
This course introduces students to Christian theological reflection on the physical limitations, disabilities, and impairments of the human being. The topic will be considered in the light of Scripture, classic theological texts, relevant philosophical resources, and the apostolic witness. Students will be familiarized with contemporary theological work on disability and cognitive impairment.
THEO 20811: Jesus and Salvation
An exploration of the mystery of Jesus the Christ and the experience of salvation through examination of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Part I); the development of classic Christian doctrine (Part II); and selected contemporary perspectives and questions (Part III).
THEO 20828: Christianity and World Religions
The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the basic teachings and spiritualities of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. We will approach these religions both historically and theologically, seeking to determine where they converge and differ from Christianity on such perennial issues as death, meaning, the nature of the ultimate Mystery, the overcoming of suffering, etc. We will also examine some traditional and contemporary Catholic and Protestant approaches to religious pluralism. Our own search to know how the truth and experience of other faiths is related to Christian faith will be guided by the insights of important Catholic contemplatives who have entered deeply in the spirituality of other traditions. By course's end we ought to have a greater understanding of what is essential to Christian faith and practice as well as a greater appreciation of the spiritual paths of others. Requirements: Short papers, midterm exam, and final exam.
THEO 20830: Islam and Christian Theology
The relationship between Christianity and Islam is absolutely unique, in part because of the way Muslims challenge Christian teaching on Jesus. Muslims insist that Jesus was not god, not a savior and did not die on the Cross. Instead he was a Muslim prophet who predicted the coming of Muhammad. From an Islamic perspective Christian teaching on Christ is confused and the Bible on which it is based is a falsified version of an Islamic revelation which God gave to Jesus. Muhammad came centuries later to correct the errors of Christians and to preach the same eternal religion that Jesus once taught: Islam. Muslims, in other words, have something to say to Christians, that Jesus was a Muslim, that Muhammad is a true prophet, and that God will be pleased by their conversion to Islam. In this course we will listen to how Muslims explain and express this idea, examine how Christians have responded through the centuries, and ask what Christians today have to say back to Islam. No prior background in Arabic or Islam is required or expected for this course. The relationship between Christianity and Islam is absolutely unique, in part because of the way Muslims challenge Christian teaching on Jesus. Muslims insist that Jesus was not god, not a savior and did not die on the Cross. Instead he was a Muslim prophet who predicted the coming of Muhammad. From an Islamic perspective Christian teaching on Christ is confused and the Bible on which it is based is a falsified version of an Islamic revelation which God gave to Jesus. Muhammad came centuries later to correct the errors of Christians and to preach the same eternal religion that Jesus once taught: Islam. Muslims, in other words, have something to say to Christians, that Jesus was a Muslim, that Muhammad is a true prophet, and that God will be pleased by their conversion to Islam. In this course we will listen to how Muslims explain and express this idea, examine how Christians have responded through the centuries, and ask what Christians today have to say back to Islam. No prior background in Arabic or Islam is required or expected for this course.
THEO 20843: The Church and Empire
The formation of Christians' communal identity, theological imagination, and social practices have always been worked out - whether implicitly or explicitly - in relation to empire. This course explores this complex theological and historical relationship between Church and empire with particular attention to the ways Christian communities have attempted to resist the onslaught of pre-modern and modern imperialism in order to preserve the integrity of various aspects of the gospel of Christ. In the process of this exploration we will attempt, as a class, to discern some general characteristics of a counter-imperial Catholic ethos or spirituality by paying close attention to the ways the Church has compromised, negotiated, or resisted empire concerning images of Jesus, the effects of baptism, the scope of Christ's Eucharistic presence, and the legitimate modes of evangelization at the Church's disposal.
THEO 20861: Religion and the Visual Arts:
A study of the ways in which religious ideas and values are conveyed in images, as distinct from the ways in which they are conveyed in language and texts. This course will examine in detail a selection of major works of art (painting, sculpture, architecture) from the Christian tradition, presented in comparison and contrast with analogous works from the Buddhist tradition. As we discuss these examples of 'visual religion?' (religion of the eye, rather than only of the ear) we will take note of the fact that some Christians and Buddhists have seen images as blessings, as instruments of salvation, or as enhancements of piety whereas others have condemned and even forbidden them as impious or heretical. We will then ask why and how such controversies have arisen.
THEO 20883: The Character Project
This course draws students from specific dorm partners. Permission for registration will only come through these partnerships and at this time permission cannot be obtained any other way. "Who am I?" and "Who am I becoming?" This course explores the resources for response that the Christian faith provides for these questions. In order to conduct this exploration, we will wrestle with debated issues relating to the understanding of the human person that emerge from the Christian tradition. This intellectual work will provide language drawn from a theological vocabulary of growth and freedom that allows students to articulate with more profundity and specificity the moral issues pertinent to their own lives. Students will engage in sustained dialogue with one another regarding such issues both within and outside of class meetings. The combination of the readings, lectures, and conversations of the course will thus bring the initial two questions about identity and moral growth into contact with serious theological questions about the meaning of being human: "Who is God and what does the revelation of God have to do with the end to which human life is oriented?" "What is grace and how does grace work in relation to human freedom?" "Who is the human person and what is involved in the formation of human character?" Ultimately, this course will explore the Catholic theology of grace, which maintains that union with God and personal freedom grow in direct rather than inverse proportion to one another. In addition to the regular weekly meetings, this course will include one retreat day at the beginning of the semester.
THEO 20884: The Church and the Poor
In the opening weeks of his papacy, Pope Francis remarked, "how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor." Implicit in this statement are two themes that run through the Christian theological tradition: 1) a positive valuation of voluntary poverty and a life of simplicity and 2) the command to exercise mercy towards the poor and suffering. This course will trace the development of these two themes: individually and in terms of how they are related to one another ? through the course of the 2000 year history of Christianity.
THEO 20894: The Christian Experience: Vocation and the Theological Imagination
This course provides an entrée into the theological foundations of Christian vocation through considering the transformation of human experience by means of the theological imagination. That God calls is an objective fact of revelation. How human beings perceive and appropriate this call is an entirely different matter. Thus, this course considers both the central images of Christian salvation history from creation to eschatology, as well as how these images were appropriated in the lived experience of Christianity. This course is designed to assist Notre Dame undergraduates who are preparing to work as "Mentors-in-Faith" within Notre Dame Vision.
THEO 20885: Maria de Latinoamerica
Mary of Nazareth has been a mother and model of faith for multitudes of believers during the twenty centuries of Christianity. This course will examine Mary?s role in Christian faith, especially among the Latino communities of the Americas. The first section of the course is an overview of Mary in the Gospels and in Catholic Tradition, particularly the four Marian dogmas and theologies of Mary articulated in Vatican II and in the post-conciliar era. Then we will focus the bulk of our class sessions on Marian traditions in Latin America. The primary emphasis will be on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico and the Americas, about whom a rich theological tradition has developed since the mid-seventeenth century. For comparative purposes we will also review the growing number of scholarly studies on Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre (Our Lady of Charity), the patroness of Cuba. Students will write term papers on a Latin American Marian image and/or tradition chosen in consultation with the instructor. Proficiency in the Spanish language is required for this course, as a number of assigned readings will only be available in that language.
THEO 20886: Christian Spirituality
This course is offered as an introduction to the Christian spiritual tradition, from its roots in the Old and New Testaments, to representative figures of the Christian East (Orthodoxy) and Christian West (Catholic and Protestant). Particular attention will be devoted to the notion of ?stages? of the spiritual life, culminating in what many saints have described as ?mystical union.? Other than the Scriptures, figures to be read include Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Thomas Merton.
THEO 20887: Christianity and Other Religions
The Old Testament portrays ancient Israel as an active participant in the religiously diverse world of the Ancient Near East. In the New Testament, we find Jesus and the apostles proclaiming the Gospel in the midst of ?many gods and many lords? (I Corinthians 8:5). The early church spread Christianity in the religiously and spiritually eclectic Greco-Roman world. In the medieval period, while the western church was somewhat insulated, the churches of the east were facing the rise of Islam, the spread of Manichaeism, and even encountering Buddhism. In the early modern period, European exploration and the spread of Christian missions catalyzed new encounters with religious others. Today, globalization makes us increasingly aware that we live in a world of great religious diversity. This course examines the ways the people of God have thought about and responded to other religions throughout history. Beginning with a survey of the Bible?s stances toward other religions, the course will then survey various Christian perspectives from the early church, from the medieval and early modern periods, and from the contemporary period. Students will discover that there is no singular Christian response to other religions, and that in fact, Christianity itself has been deeply shaped through inter-religious encounters and debates. Students will also be encouraged to critically assess various perspectives, and to grapple with the uniqueness of Christian claims in a religiously diverse world. Along the way, students will learn about the beliefs and practices of several non-Christian religions, and be exposed to some of the ways these religions have responded to Christianity.
This course will examine Mary in the Christian Tradition, particularly the primary teachings about Mary in Roman Catholicism and the implications of those teachings for contemporary Christian faith. The course is part of the Know Your Catholic Faith series offered through the Department of Theology and as such will examine all pertinent texts on Mary from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Does not fulfill the 2nd theology university requirement.
THEO 30655: Know Your Catholic Faith: Mass
This Know Your Catholic Faith course invites students to study the Mass. We will mimic the ancient symposia and so have dinner together while we learn.
THEO 30228: Explorations in the Holy Land
This overseas course will involve taking a historical and theological journey through the Holy Land. Our explorations will take two complementary forms. One involves visiting the remarkably different regions, such as Galilee, the Mediterranean coast, the central hill country, the Judean desert, and the Jordan River valley, that collectively constitute the land. The second involves exploring firsthand what archaeologists and historians have discovered about important sites, such as Bethlehem, Beth Shean, Capernaum, Jerusalem (including the City of David, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), Masada, Megiddo (biblical Armageddon), Nazareth, and Qumran (site of the Dead Sea Scrolls). Visiting these regions, places, and holy shrines will bring to life the land of the Bible, as well as the history of early Judaism and early Christianity. Prior to Fall Break (October 18-26, 2015), there will be a series of two or three preparatory on-campus meetings in which students will be introduced to relevant places in the Holy Land and prepare themselves for the journey overseas. Following the trip, the course will conclude with one final meeting in which students will offer final reflections, detailing their personal learning and growth from this overseas experience.Student costs while in Israel: $1500 toward lodging & meals at Tantur + incidentals.
THEO 30861: Church, Iconography and JP II
This course will culminate in traveling to Poland during the week of midsem break (Oct 18-26, 2014). We will prepare ourselves here by reading on three topics: (1) iconography, (2) the Church in Poland, and (3) John Paul II on the fully human person. The icon is an image of a "person fully alive," and we will bring together the icon, spirituality, and John Paul II in the famous Icon of our Lady of Czestochowa, which will receive special attention. Our time in Poland will be sponsored by the Open University Program at the John Paul II Catholic University (KUL) in Lublin, where John Paul II taught courses in philosophy from 1954-78. Professors there will give lectures on the Church in Poland during communism, Polish history, theology, and spirituality. We will meet a former student of Karol Wojtyla, and the Catholic and Orthodox Archbishops. We will travel to famous sites (among them being Wlodawa and Jableczna Monasteries, the state museum at Majdanek, the Wawel castle in Krakow, the State Museum of Auschwitz, the shrine at Czestochowa, and Warsaw). There is a cost per student; email Prof. David Fagerberg for information at firstname.lastname@example.org . Admission to the course will be by application, in order to control numbers and commitment.
THEO 40003: Elementary Hebrew II
This is the second of a two-semester introductory course in Biblical Hebrew; under normal circumstances, the student must complete the first in order to enroll in the second. In addition to the completion of Lambdin's elementary grammar, students are introduced to some (modified) Biblical texts.
THEO 40005: Intermediate Hebrew II
This fourth-semester course in biblical Hebrew will continue and build upon THEO 40004. While the latter was devoted to the reading of biblical prose, this installment of Intermediate Hebrew will introduce students to the beauty of biblical Hebrew poetry. Our efforts will be focused on the preparation, oral reading, and translation of selected biblical passages. But time also will be spent continuing to review basic grammar as well as developing an appreciation of syntax and poetic structure (e.g., parallelism) in this powerful medium of prayer, prophetic revelation, and the quest for Wisdom in ancient Israel.
THEO 40101: Introduction to the Old Testament
This course will offer students an introductory-level survey of the books of the Hebrew Bible, with emphasis placed on the holistic (i.e., theological, literary, and social-scientific) study of the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel. The implications of selected texts in Christian and Jewish theological discourse will also be explored. Required course components include the major divisions of the Hebrew Bible (Pentateuch, Prophets, and Writings), and writing spans the following research-related genres (case studies, article reviews, journal, and critical notes). A survey of Christian theology from the end of the New Testament period to the eve of Reformation. Through the close reading of primary texts, the course focuses on Christology of such influential thinkers such as Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. How do these thinkers understand the person and work of Jesus Christ? What are the Christological problems that they tried to resolve? How do the different Christologies of these thinkers reflect their differing conceptions of the purpose and method of "theology?" Some attention will also be given to non-theological representations of Christ. How does the art of the early and medieval periods manifest changes in the understanding of the significance of Jesus. This course is obligatory for all first and supplementary majors but is open to others who have completed the University requirements of theology and who wish to gain a greater fluency in the history of Christian thought. Fall only.
THEO 40205: Early Christian and Byzantine Art
This course will introduce students to Christian visual art from its evident beginnings (ca. 200), attend to its transformation under imperial patronage, and consider the aftermath of controversies regarding the veneration of icons during the eighth and ninth centuries. Working with both objects and texts, core themes include the continuity between Christian and pagan art of Late Antiquity, the influence of imperial ceremonies and style, the emergence of holy icons, the development of Passion iconography, and the divergent styles, motifs, and theological perspectives on the validity and role of images from the Byzantine East to the early Medieval West.
THEO 40245: Augustine
Augustine is arguably the single most influential theologian in the West. There is in almost every Western theologian some strain that is Augustinian, and many of the disputes in Western Christendom can be regarded as arguments pitting one strain of Augustinian tradition against another. The study of Augustine, therefore, is essential for an understanding of most subsequent Christian theology. This course attempts to introduce students to the study of Augustine in an attempt to gauge the specific and distinctive character of his theology over a broad range of issues. Special attention will be given to the development of Augustine's thought. The class hopes to be useful to students who approach Augustine from a variety of perspectives and interests, and as such will have a strongly textual, rather than thematic, principle of organization, emphasizing the reading of whole works rather than excerpts topically arranged. Although this is an advanced introduction, the course is suitable for those with little exposure to Augustine.
THEO 40290: Popes, Patriarchs, and Councils
This course examines medieval theological thinking about the Church?her unity, her boundaries, the variety of cultural traditions within her, her place in the world, and the ways the Church should be structured and governed. We shall base our discussions upon the reading of the medieval Latin texts in translation from the time of the Gregorian Reform in the 11th century to the age of Conciliarism and the Pre-Reformers in the 15th century. The course will also provide an introduction into the main texts, figures and tenets of Byzantine ecclesiological thinking from the 11th century up to 1453 (about one third of the course material). We shall also explore and discuss the opportunities and challenges medieval thinking poses to contemporary ecclesiological discourse.
THEO 40613: Catholic Social Teaching
This seminar will introduce students to the key texts that make up Catholic social teaching. Students will read one document each week and ask how the document's ideas relate to our own present lives and planned futures. The course concludes with asking what would our anticipated professional vocations look like if informed by Catholic social teaching. For instance, what would a law firm or health clinic look like if they were formed by ideas such as the common good and the option for the poor.
THEO 40824: Hindu and Christian Interaction
This course will provide a survey of the main events, human figures and theological models which have characterized Hindu-Christian interaction, especially since the beginning of the 19th century, a period that marks a turning-point in Hinduism's understanding of itself. We shall attempt to determine how each of the two religions has undergone transformation in its theology and spirituality, either through the enrichment or through the challenge which the other tradition has presented. Theologically we shall examine such issues as revelation and history, divine grace and human freedom, personhood of the deity, Hindu and Christian views of Christ, theistic and non-dualistic metaphysics.
THEO 40828: Comparative Religious Ethics: Buddhism and Christianity
Is religion necessary to live a moral life? If so, are all religions basically the same when it comes to the moral norms contained in them? If not, how do we account for the differences among religious values, norms and principles? How do religions justify their distinctive moral claims in the face of alternative proposals? Can we study the ethical thought of a religious tradition that is different from our own in a responsible manner and, if so, how should we proceed? This course will take up these and other related questions through an examination of ancient and contemporary Christian and Buddhist texts in dialogue with recent theoretical options for the comparative study of ethics. We will begin with an assessment of the importance and distinctive quality of religious voices in moral debate and then look at some of the ways that contemporary scholars have approached the investigation and assessment of similarities and differences in moral world views. The course will end with a comparative consideration of certain Buddhist and Christian options in environmental ethics.
THEO 40831: Chesterton and Catholicism
G. K. Chesterton was a man with many sides, but this course will confine itself to only one, and that is his theological front. About his conversion to Catholicism he wrote to a friend, "As you may possibly guess, I want to consider my position about the biggest thing of all, whether I am to be inside it or outside it." We will consider his position by reading primary works in theology that led up to and followed his decision, among them "Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man," biographies of St. Thomas and St. Francis, "The Thing," and "What's Wrong with the World." In these we will follow his own advice that "To become a Catholic is not to leave off thinking, but to learn how to think. It is so in exactly the same sense in which to recover from palsy is not to leave off moving but to learn how to move."
THEO 40850: The Theology of Benedict XVI
The aim of the course to give an overview of the theology of Pope Benedict XVI, as this expressed both in his encyclicals and other recent writings, but also in his theological reflection as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The course has essentially three foci. Roughly equal treatment means that each topic will receive a week of treatment. The first of the three foci concentrates on the Papal encyclicals God is Love, Charity in Truth, Saved in Hope. The second of the three foci looks at the work of the present Pope as instructional and catechetical. Here we will concentrate on Jesus of Nazareth, God's Word, and Ten Commandments for the Environment. The third and last of our three foci concerns the Pope as a public intellectual, specifically as intervening in the public square to provide a sense of what the church has at stake in the modern world, what it can and must do in terms of dialogue, what it must do in terms of identity and continuing to be a witness. Among the texts that we will read are Truth and Tolerance, The Regensburg Lecture, and Values in a Time of Upheaval. Requirements include involvement in discussion, and either two eight page papers or one 15 page paper.
THEO 40865: Faith and Reason
This course is offered as an introduction to the problem of the relation between faith and reason. Figures to be read include Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Newman, and Dostoevsky.