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.
Additional theology courses are available through ND Study Abroad programs, such as that in Jerusalem based at Notre Dame’s Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
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
Theology Outside the Classroom
For information on the new 1 credit “Theology outside the classroom” course, please contact Prof. Francesca Murphy.
Fall 2013 Courses
Foundations of Theology (multiple listings)
This first course in theology offers a critical study of the Bible and the early Christian tradition. Following an introduction to the Old and New Testaments, students follow major post-biblical developments in Christian life and worship (e.g., liturgy, theology, doctrine, asceticism), emphasizing the first five centuries.
THEO 20103: One Jesus & 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 20232: On Conversion
For all believing people, faith is a journey: a lifelong movement of growth in understanding of the divine Mystery in whose presence we live, and of commitment to serving God. Christian faith begins in Jesus' call to each person to follow him as a disciple; and while the general shape of that journey of companionship is modeled in the Gospels, it takes on very different concrete features in each particular life. In this course, we will reflect on the theological importance of conversion and spiritual growth for the life of faith, and will consider the stories of several well-known Christians (Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John Woolman, Dorothy Day, C. S. Lewis) that reveal the long-term implications of conversion to faith. We will also reflect on loss of faith as a kind of anti-conversion peculiar to modern culture.
THEO 20254: C.S. Lewis on Sin, Sanctification and Saints
What is the path for sanctification to the beatific vision? Using the fiction of C.S. Lewis for signposts on the path, this course will consider the doctrine of sin (Screwtape Letters), sanctification as cooperating with grace (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Perelandra), and the final formation of saints (The Great Divorce, The Last Battle). Other authors will be helpful in understanding Christian spirituality as a struggle to cultivate the virtues and overcome the passions: Augustine, Maximus Confessor, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Dorothy Sayers, Joseph Pieper, and G.K. Chesterton.
THEO 20256: Christian Freedom
St. Paul saw freedom as at the heart of the Christian gospel. Yet he also feared that followers of Christ would fail to appreciate the true meaning of this freedom, and miss out on experiencing it (Galatians 5:1). Ever since, Christians have pondered and debated the meaning of Christian freedom, as they plumb the depths of the Christian message. What are the marks of an authentic Christian freedom, and how can one judge that that freedom is genuinely "Christian"? Is it "a freedom for" or "a freedom from," or both? What views of the human person and of God find expression in particular teachings about Christian freedom, and what does each (God, the human being) do in promoting Christian freedom? To what extent are the events of creation, fall and redemption in Christ significant in its depiction? In this course, we will encounter some of the highlights and flash points of this conversation, attending to perspectives now associated with all three major branches of the Christian tradition: Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox. After reflecting on some biblical texts that serve as the foundations for discussions to follow, we will study a number of pivotal texts from the tradition that address the theme of Christian freedom, from early Christian (e.g., Justin, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Pelagius, Maximus the Confessor), through medieval and Reformation (e.g., Anselm, Aquinas, Marguerite Porete, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, and the Council of Trent), to more modern approaches (e.g, James Cone and Gustavo Gutierrez). Requirements for the course will include regular brief writing assignments on course readings, two essay tests, and a final examination.
THEO 20422: Mercy and Chrisitian Charity
Charity, or Christian love, is the heart of Christian faith and practice, as it is found in the liturgy and ethics. Christians respond to God's merciful love in the form of the Great Commandment, to love God and neighbor. This course examines Christian charity and what makes it unique, seeking to understand how the encounter with God's merciful activity in creation and redemption makes this love distinctive and beautiful.This course has three parts. The first part explores God's mercy as it is revealed in history, described by biblical prophets up to John the Baptist, and expressed fully in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This aspect will be accompanied by the writings of saints and theologians from the patristic age to the present about their encounters with God?s mercy in the Church, and an exploration of God's forgiveness communicated in Baptism and Confession. The second part investigates the charitable acts of the Church: how the liturgy developed to form its members in charity, how charity is sacramental and a channel of mercy, how particular Christian vocations such as Marriage and Holy Orders are ordained to charity. Lastly we will follow a dialogue between God's mercy and Christian charity in the contemporary period, through analysis of Catholic Social Doctrine and the response of Christian communities to modern social problems, including technological progress, social isolation, capitalism and Marxism, and religious violence. In this we will consider charity as the guide of Christian ethical reflection, the Eucharist as an intrinsically personal and social sacrament, and the relationship between mercy, justice, and charity.Primary texts for the course include selections from the Bible, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the writings of various theologians and saints from the patristic age to the modern. Students will be evaluated via exams at the mid-term and final points of the semester, as well as a research paper on a topic selected in consultation with the instructor.
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 (CRN 19345)
The course analyzes the role of economics in violence. It first traces Catholic social teaching on the person in society in contrast with other views. It then addresses the difference Catholic social teaching and these competing views make in understanding the role of economics in violence in the domestic, economic and international political spheres.
THEO 20625: Discipleship: Loving Action for Justice
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 20627: Science and Theology
Both science and religion claim to offer true descriptions of the cosmos, our place in that cosmos, and how we should act in it. Both science and theology subject these assertions to disciplined inquiry and testing within specific scientific or religious communities. In Western societies in which both science and religion powerfully shape culture in a number of different ways, these processes of making sense of the world overlap and interrelate in complicated ways, resulting sometimes in conflict and other times in mutual enrichment. This course will investigate these interrelations by focusing in the first third of the course on historical controversies, including events and issues leading up to the condemnation of Copernicanism (1616) and the trial of Galileo (1633). The second third of the course will tackle both the reception and rejection of the science of evolution in modern American society. For the latter we will consider various options, including creationism, intelligent design, the new atheism, and theistic evolution. Such an analysis offers a perspective on philosophical and methodological issues in relating science and theology in current debates. As an example of the creative interaction between science and theology we will explore in the third segment of the course alternative approaches to environmental ethics.
THEO 20643: The Askesis of Nonviolence: Theology and Practice
This course will explore the theology and practice of nonviolence as a form of askesis, or spiritual discipline. The material will include readings from Scripture, the early Christian tradition, and Catholic social teaching. Religious sources outside the Christian tradition will include Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Badshah Khan. This course will use the method of community-based learning and will require 20 hours of service at particular sites in the South Bend area.
THEO 20659: War, Peace, Revolution:
Christian beliefs ought to make a difference in the way we think about the use of violence, but it's difficult to understand exactly how? Christians over time have disagreed about which beliefs are the most relevant. This course explores two major shifts in Christian thinking about war, peace, and revolution: first, the fourth-century establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire; and second, the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. In both cases, we will read texts from before and after each shift in order to analyze how the theological emphasis changed and what practical consequences of that change were. In the last third of the course, we will read and critique more recent theological treatments of violence?focusing on WWII, Latin American revolutionary movements, and the Iraq War? Using the themes we unearthed earlier in the course. In addition to regular reading responses and a cumulative final exam, students will be asked to write a paper (5-6 pages) about both major shifts we discuss.
THEO 20660: Theology, Biotechnology and Humanity
Technology is increasingly used to bring about improvements in physical performance (endurance, speed, strength), cognition (concentration, information processing, memory capacity or selectivity), emotion (mood control), and physiology (immunity or resistance to disease, auto-repair of injuries, increased longevity). These uses of technology raise familiar ethical questions but also theological questions about human nature and the pursuit of perfection. This course will address those questions using both contemporary and classical theological and philosophical sources as well as literature and film.
THEO 20801: Theology, Disability and Dependence
This course explores theological understandings of and approaches to physical and mental disability. On the one hand, it explores ways in which attentiveness to disability and those with disabilities might allow for richer and deeper theological reflection. At the same time, it explores ways in which theological concepts and insights might contribute to our understanding of disability. For this course students will be required to write several short reflections, a major paper, and take a midterm and final exam. The course will also include a practical component facilitated by the Center for Social Concerns.
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. According to Islamic belief Jesus was a Muslim prophet. He was not god and he did not die of the Cross. Christians forgot the true teaching of Jesus; the Bible is only a falsified version of an original Islamic revelation. Muhammad came centuries later to correct the errors of Christians and to preach the same eternal religion that Jesus once taught: Islam. By this view Islam is the natural religion; it is eternal, universal and unchanging. In this course we examine Islamic works, from the Qur'an to 21st century Islamic websites, in which these ideas are expressed. We will then examine the history of Christian responses to the Islamic challenge to Christianity and consider, as theologians, how Christians might approach them today.
THEO 20849: Love in Christian Theology
This course is about love in Christian theology. It considers the nature of love in Plato's Symposium, Augustine's Trinitarian theology and ecclesiology, Bernard of Clairvaux's interpretation of the Song of Songs, and Thérèse of Lisieux's Story of a Soul. The course considers modern presentations of eros and agape as opposed (Nygren) and as complementary (Martin D'Arcy). The course concludes by considering nuptial mysticism in Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Wojtyla's The Jeweler's Shop, and in contemporary cinema.
THEO 20899: Resurrection and Christian Hope
This course will analyze the nature and scope of Christian hope. Particular emphasis will be on the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. We will look at the beginnings, historical developments, and practical implications of belief in the resurrection and how this belief shapes various dimensions of Christian hope. Central questions for the course include the following: how do we imagine the final state for which we hope? Why hope for the resurrection of the body and not just the immortality of the soul? In what sense is Christian hope social and not just for the individual? Do we hope for the betterment of this world or simply life in the next? This course will analyze the nature and scope of Christian hope. Particular emphasis will be on the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. We will look at the beginnings, historical developments, and practical implications of belief in the resurrection and how this belief shapes various dimensions of Christian hope. Central questions for the course include the following: how do we imagine the final state for which we hope? Why hope for the resurrection of the body and not just the immortality of the soul? In what sense is Christian hope social and not just for the individual? Do we hope for the betterment of this world or simply life in the next?
THEO 30011: Know Your Catholic Faith - Mary
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 40002: Elementary Hebrew I
This is a two-semester introductory course in biblical Hebrew; under normal circumstances, the student must complete the first to enroll in the second. The fall semester will be devoted to learning the grammar of biblical Hebrew. The spring semester will be divided into two parts. For the first six weeks we will finish and review the grammar. In the remaining part of the course we will read and translate texts from the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, and Rabbinic literature. The course will focus on developing reading and comprehension skills in biblical Hebrew through the study of biblical texts. In addition, students will learn how to use reference grammars, concordances, and apparatus to the Biblica Hebraica. The course encourages students to think about the grammatical forms and their implications for biblical interpretation.
THEO 40004: Intermediate Hebrew I
The primary focus of this course is on reading the text of the Hebrew Bible, at first prose narratives, then poetic sections and consonantal (unpointed) texts. There will be a review of the grammar of Biblical Hebrew, as well as development of vocabulary and skills in using lexicons and concordances of the Hebrew Bible. The course should speed your reading of Hebrew and help prepare you to teach an Elementary Hebrew course. There will be quizzes, a mid-term, and a final exam. Elementary Hebrew is required.
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). Fall only.
THEO 40104: Historical Jesus
The purpose of this course (a lecture course supplemented by readings and discussion) is to introduce the student to the major historical and exegetical problems involved in the quest for the historical Jesus, especially as pursued today in the so-called Third Quest. The course will move from initial definitions and concepts, through questions of sources and criteria, to consideration of major sayings and deeds of Jesus that may reasonably be considered historical. As time allows, major areas to be treated will include Jesus' relation to John the Baptist, Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom as future yet present, his realization of the kingdom through deeds of power (miracles) and table fellowship, the various levels or circles of followers (the crowds, the disciples, the Twelve), various competing groups (Pharisees, Sadducees), his teaching in relation to the Mosaic Law, the enigma (riddle-speech) of his parables, self-designation, final days, passion, and death. Obviously, it is more desirable that students be allowed time for discussion and questions than that all these topics be covered.
THEO 40117: Introduction to Judaism
This course surveys the major practices and beliefs of Judaism. Our focus is on Judaism as a religious tradition, one that links its adherents across time even as it changes in response to new circumstances. We begin by examining the foundational religious categories that crystallized in antiquity, such as the commandments and Torah study. We then turn to transformative developments in later periods, among them the flourishing of philosophy and mysticism inmedieval Judaism, religious reform movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Holocaust, and Zionism.
THEO 40201 : The Christian Theological Tradition I
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 40226: Christianity in Africa
Few places on earth exhibit the dynamism of contemporary Christianity like Africa. Such dynamism creates new challenges and opportunities for the Catholic Church and other ecclesial bodies, and also shapes African life more generally. Through novels, historical studies, and present-day reflections from a variety of perspectives this course will explore Christianity in Africa, beginning with the early Church but with heightened attention to the more recent growth of Christianity on the continent. It will also examine Christianity's interactions with Islam and forms of African ways of being religious that predated Christianity and Islam, many of which have ongoing vitality. Attention will also be paid to African Christian theology, carried out formally and informally, as well as the implications of the spread of African Christianity for world Christianity.
THEO 40291: Light and Darkness
The symbolism of light and darkness has played an enormous role in the histories of European philosophy, theology, ad literature. Taking the Book of Genesis and Plato's Republic as the twin starting-points of the tradition, this course will mark out the main contours of this history of symbolism during the western Middle Ages first, by isolating key texts or parts of texts (from Augustine's Soliloquies, Confessions, and commentaries on Genesis, and from Dionysius the Areopagite's Hierarchies and Mystical Theology at one end of the period to Robert Grosseteste's De Luce and other writings of the Scholastic period at the other, together with the numerous relevant Carolingian and twelfth-century cosmologists and Dionysian commentators in between). Secondly, we will distinguish the many different applications of the symbolism of light and darkness in the contrast between good and evil, in the identification of darkness paradoxically with both ignorance and transcendent vision, in the association of light with fire and love, in the identification of darkness and nothingness, and so forth. Knowledge of Latin is useful but not essential for participation in the course. The written requirement is one final essay on a relevant topic of the student's choice that is approved by the Instructor.
THEO 40292: Medieval Exegesis of the Bible
This course examines how medieval thinkers interpreted the Bible. As for early Christian authors, the Bible guided the ways medieval authors wrote about God and human beings, Judaism and Christianity and sacraments and morality. We will discuss how early (ca. 600-1000: Venerable Bede, Sedulius Scotus, Claudius of Turin, Haimo of Auxerre), high (ca. 1000-1300: Peter Lombard, Peter Abelard, Robert Grosseteste, Thomas Aquinas) and late medieval commentators (ca. 1300-1500: Nicholas of Lyra, John Wycliffe, Denis the Carthusian, Lorenzo Valla) interpreted the Bible. In this course we will learn about the historical and theological context in which these interpretations were given. We will familiarize ourselves with the methods, questions, presuppositions and rationale of their interpretations. The course will conclude by surveying the differences from and continuities with medieval exegesis in the interpretive work of sixteenth-century biblical interpreters (e.g., Erasmus of Rotterdam, Martin Luther and Cardinal Cajetan). Selections of texts will be read in English translation. No knowledge of Latin is required.
THEO 40404: Theology of the Mass
The principle of "lex orandiI statuat lex credendi" means that the law of worship establishes the law of belief. This course will accordingly work from practice to doctrine: in order to do what we do at liturgy, what must we believe theologically? The Church's liturgical reality is unpacked by its teachings, so the course will consider traditional Catholic doctrines (Trinity, Christology, ecclesiology, anthropology, eschatology, sin, salvation) as they break surface in the Mass.
THEO 40415: Music in the Medieval West
This graduate seminar is about how music was recorded, changing modes of transmission, and the interactions between the performer, the notator, the poet/dramatist, the patron, and the scholar throughout the Middle Ages. The work begins in the early Christian period and ends in around 1400, providing an overview of the development of music in its historical contexts. The first half of the course, focuses upon repertory during and after the monumental changes of the Carolingian period. As the church controlled the means of book production, all that survives is sacred music, most of it is liturgical. Students will prepare transcriptions for use in our work and to do this, expertise in a variety of subjects will be well-received, from composition and music theory, to music performance, to Latin studies, history, and liturgics. A class project at mid-term will involve the reconstruction of a medieval Vespers service from the manuscripts we have been studying, including a Carthusian diurnal written in Paris in the thirteenth century, but preserving a tradition that is far older. This work will be filmed as part of a project supported by the Mellon Foundation: "Performing the Middle Ages." The second half of the course will focus on rhythm, music and poetry, and dramatic and narrative structures, ending with the performance of scenes from Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum, a musical play that will drawn on a variety of student expertise, from the theological to the musical, the art historical to the digital. Student will have an opportunity to engage with a digital reconstruction of Hildegard's musical cosmos. The course is open to graduate and professional students, as well as to advanced undergraduates in Theology and the MI. The inter-disciplinary nature of the subject precludes prerequisites; all are welcome, and musical expertise is not required. Individual projects and presentations will be tailored to each student's training, interests, and expertise.
THEO 40628: God, Science and Morality
Recent advocates of "biologicizing" the study of morality claim that theological accounts of ethics are either superfluous or erroneous. After examining the evidence presented by scientists and philosophers who support this movement, students will then test the strength of the evidence against various scientific, philosophical, and theological critiques. Students will also evaluate constructive appropriations of the same biological findings by moral theologians. Course readings survey the fields of neuroscience (Joshua Greene, Jonathan Haidt), primatology (Frans de Waal, Marc Hauser), evolutionary psychology (E. O. Wilson, Stephen Pinker), philosophy of science (G. K. Chesterton, Michael Polanyi, Stephen Jay Gould, Philip Kitcher), philosophy of religion (Sarah Coakley, Timothy Jackson, John Hare), and natural law (C. S. Lewis, Jean Porter, Stephen Pope). Students will write a series of essays that culminate in a statement of their own theological response to these biological accounts of morality.
THEO 40629: Christian Ethics, Pastoral Practice
The instructors are specialists in Chinese and world religious traditions, who will bring an interdisciplinary dimension to this team-taught course. This content of the course will be diverse with readings drawn from anthropology, art, history, media, philosophy, sociology of religion, and theology. Suffering, the feeling of dis-ease, anguish, is a cardinal and enabling principle of major world religions and ideologies such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Marxism. As well, it is a definitive experience of the seeker of truth or religious insight that proved effective in the dissemination of religion in many parts of the globe. In the industrially developed world where suffering is identified with personal harm or abuse, it is essential to avoid it. The course aims to introduce the student to a horizon of counterintuitive considerations on the universality of suffering and its effects as human agency. The course readings will consist of original texts in translation along with theoretical works that will permit the students to acquire a language of interpretation necessary to an exploration of the experience of suffering in its many forms and a consideration of the many kinds of meaning that religions have assigned to it.
This course explores comparative and cross-cultural aspects of religion; an investigation of the nature of conflict; an attempt at achieving a dialogue among religions and cultures, and understanding religious pluralism. This course is not a world religions course, a study of various religious traditions of the world. Rather, this course emphasizes the dialogical approach in examining the philosophical and theological foundation of religious pluralism and cross-cultural dialogue.
A course on the spiritual journey through the ages: the figure Gilgamesh (the human quest of eternal life), the figure of Socrates (the sense of a deeper life that lives through death), the figure of Jesus (the I and thou with God in Christianity; how this leads to an understanding of death and resurrection, or Incarnation and Trinity), Dante and the spiritual journey (the Christian sense of a life that lives on both sides of death), Kierkegaard and the eternal self (the Christian encounter with the modern sense of selfhood), and a concluding vision (the experience of the presence of God). Requirements include a midterm and a final exam (take home exams) and a personal essay.
This course has as its essential context the crisis of authority of discourse in the modern period subsequent to literature gaining independence from Christianity. It focuses specifically on the three main postures literature strikes vis-à-vis confessional forms of Christianity no longer thought to have cultural capital. (1) The antithetical posture. Here Christianity is viewed in exclusively negative terms as repressive, authoritarian, and obscurantist, the very opposite of a true humanism that is literature's vocation. Readings include Voltaire and French existentialism. (2) The retrievalist posture. This posture is fundamentally nostalgic. The loss of Christianity's cultural authority is mourned, and literature is seen as an illegitimate substitute. Readings will include Dostoyevsky, T.S. Eliot, and Flannery O'Connor. (3) The parasitic posture. Here Christianity is criticized but not totally dismissed. Portions of it are savable, especially select elements of the New Testament that emphasize human being's creative capacities. Readings include Coleridge, Shelley, and Emerson.
This course provides a first introduction to some of the more influential spiritualities practiced by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Eastern Orthodox Christians down through the ages and seeks to determine their significance for contemporary Roman Catholic spiritual praxis and theology. In order to properly understand the practices of Hindu yoga and bhakti, of Buddhist vipassana and Zen, of Muslim salat/namaz and Sufism, of the Eastern Orthodox Jesus Prayer/Hesychasm and the accompanying place of human effort in asceticism and morality, it will be necessary to examine underlying convictions about the nature of the human person and the supreme reality, of divine presence and grace, as well as the declared ultimate goal of spiritual endeavor, whether it be expressed more in terms of a communion of love or of enlightened higher consciousness.During the semester we will not only study important spiritual texts of other religions, but we will also practice meditation, visit a local mosque for Friday prayers and sermon, and be instructed by expert guest speakers who represent religious traditions other than our own.
THEO 40851: Seeing Christ, Seeing Buddha
Until only recently, and in all the world's cultures, religion has been the chief inspiration and patron of the visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, etc.). Religious traditions have generally gloried in the arts they have inspired and fostered, celebrating them for the ways in which they stimulate faith, enhance piety, and even shape theology. And yet, at various crucial times in history, the arts have become objects of religious suspicion and disdain, sometimes even to the point of being condemned or forbidden by religious authorities. This course will examine the complex relations between religion and the visual and plastic arts with an eye especially towards discerning what kinds of value religions have found in them and what reasons they have sometimes had to be wary of them. Focusing on two religions, Christianity and Buddhism, on the close study of selected masterpieces of the arts of both, and on their discourse about the arts, this course will treat of the significance of the arts in religion and the significance of religion in the arts. Please note that no prior study of Buddhism is required