Courses

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. 

cunningham classStudents enjoy courses with our world-class faculty, including Prof. Larry Cunningham

Popular upper-level courses in theology include:

  • Augustine
  • 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

Information on the Two University Requirements in Theology

Directed Readings:

Students pursuing a directed readings course should have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in their major. The proposed course of study may not duplicate or reflect content of regularly offered courses. The work should reflect the intellectual challenge, intensity, and time commitment reflected in the number of credit hours awarded. Departments will normally limit the number of directed readings classes that may fulfill the requirements of the major to two.
 
A directed readings course is expected to have regular meetings with the faculty mentor and an amount of reading and writing assignments equivalent to a regular three-credit course in Theology. Students must work with their faculty mentor to develop a specific timetable for consultations and submission or presentation of student  work. Mentors will advise the student on possible sources of information, provide feedback on a regular basis, suggest and facilitate consultation with other faculty or sources to assist the student, and offer constructive criticism. All directed readings must be approved by both the instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students and instructors should agree upon a Directed Readings Contract, and contact Undergraduate Coordinator Allison Collins at allisoncollins131@nd.edu for processing.

International Opportunities

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.

Spring 2017 Courses

THEO 20103 - The One Jesus and His Many Portraits: The Various Images of Jesus in the New Testament and Beyond

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 20213 - Following Jesus

This course traces the development of the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and its theological significance today. The course proceeds in four units. It first explores Christian teaching on Original Sin (the sin from which Mary is believed to have been preserved). It then examines key primary texts (Anselm, Aquinas, Duns Scotus) in the development of the Marian dogma. Third, it focusses on the Marian apparitions in 1858 at Lourdes, which occurred four years after the promulgation of the dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Fourth, it studies the contemporary significance of the dogma for Christian anthropology, ecclesiology, and ecumenism. The teaching on Mary’s Immaculate Conception is shown to be interconnected to the Church’s beliefs about human nature (creation, Fall, sexuality), Christ, redemption, the sacraments, and sanctification. 

THEO 20246 - From Bernard to Bernadette: The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception 

The class examines the various theories of the afterlife in Christian history and theology. It explores how Christians have thought about heaven, hell, purgatory, and limbo; the resurrection of Jesus and everyone else; the relationship of virtue and sin to eternal reward and punishment; the geography of the underworld; and the ethics of immortality from ancient Greece to today's Google's immortality project.

THEO 20251 - The Catholic Faith

This course is intended to serve as a resource for catechists and religious educators. It provides a basic theological introduction to the material represented in Pillars I and II of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Creed and the Sacraments. The course is specifically designed to cover this material in a way that will provide facility in teaching it in a variety of contexts. Readings will come not only from the Catechism, but from various primary sources, both traditional and contemporary illustrative of the theology that forms its background. The course will be especially useful for anyone wishing to acquire an understanding of the basic doctrines of the Catholic faith and of the theological integration of these doctrines.

THEO 20260 - The Trinity

A study of the development and meaning of Trinitarian doctrine. 

THEO 20263 - Picturing the Bible: Visual Scripture in Christian and Jewish Art 

A study of the ways Christians and Jews represented their sacred stories in visual art throughout history. Examples include the decoration of worship spaces (churches and synagogues), tomb chambers and sarcophagi, liturgical vessels, pottery bowls and plates, gold glasses, and early illuminated books. Students will examine the differences and similarities between Jewish and Christian sacred art, noting the modes by which these two communities expressed their faith and reinforced their distinct religious identities, initially within the broader context of a pre-existing and polytheistic Roman culture and later in a dominantly Christian one. 

THEO 20425 - The Nuptial Mystery: Divine Love and Human Salvation

This course introduces students to the study of theology through attention to the sacrament of marriage. The structure of the course, drawn from the rite of marriage, seeks to understand the nature of divine and human love and how this love is salvific for the human person. The course, grounded in historical study, will introduce students to major sources for Christian theology. The class will treat themes related to a natural theology of love; the understanding of God as lover within the Scriptures and the Tradition; sexual ethics and a theology of family life; and, a spirituality of marriage in the modern age.

THEO 20605 - Introduction to Catholic Moral Theology

This course will introduce students to how the Christian tradition has reflected (and continues to reflect) on what it means and what it takes to live a good life. We will pursue questions like: what does God have to do with what's ethical? Why are we called to be good? How do we know what is good? How should my thinking about these things relate to what other persons have to say about them? The aim of the course is to think deeply about these basic questions by considering how Christian beliefs about our relationship with God, creation, and humanity have oriented and shaped the Church's own moral reasoning. Beginning with a basic overview of what the Christian tradition has said about the goals of Christian ethics, the course will then move through a historical overview of three key theories of moral theology: divine command theory, natural law, and virtue ethics. We will then examine how these concepts and ways of moral thinking cash out in concrete situations, by using them to analyze difficult contemporary moral issues related to the central moral commands of Scripture: feed the hungry (poverty), care for the widow and orphan (family and sexuality), and welcome the stranger (immigration and refugees). 

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 for Justice

This course is designed for students who have completed a Summer Service Project Internship (SSLP or ISSLP) or Social Enterprise Microfinance Internship (SEMI). It affords students the opportunity to re-engage their immersion experiences. Students will employ tools of social analysis, theological reflection, and rhetoric relative to both topics such as hunger, homelessness, poverty, incarceration, and immigration, and themes such as freedom, solidarity, mimesis, power, and the preferential option for the poor. The goal of the course is to develop a theology of discipleship to which justice is integral, including considerations of worship, sustainability, social reconciliation and restorative justice. 

THEO 20639 - Theology, Ethics, and Business

This course is intended to be an introduction to Catholic moral theology customized for those discerning a career as a business professional. In the wake of ethics failures at a number of prominent corporations, business leaders have renewed their call for ethical behavior and have begun to establish criteria for hiring morally thoughtful employees and to institute ethics education in the workplace. In the first part of the course, we will examine Catholic theological ideas about conscience and how it functions in the process of making a moral decision. In the second part of the course, we will examine a selection of Catholic writings on the idea of vocation and calling, as well as the nature of human work, the relationship between workers and management, and the norms of justice that ought to govern these relations. Finally, we will examine ideas about character and virtue to assess the challenges and opportunities for moral formation in a business context. Class format will combine analysis of theological texts and discussion of business cases. Course requirements include a midterm and final examination and a group project. 

THEO 20665 - Theology of Human Development

The course offers an introduction to theological thinking about "development," understood as integral development, i.e. personal growth as well as development of nations; the course reconstructs important milestones throughout the history of Christian teaching on "development," and presents important voices. There will also be space to look into the distinctive theological contribution to contemporary development discourse. The course is a development course - i.e. it takes up a major theme (development) in the Christian theological tradition; subjects the theme to systematic inquiry; develops the theme historically, with attention to the full sweep of Christian history; and, in light of the systematic and historical understanding of the theme, explores experiential and pastoral implications. The course will reconstruct the milestones of Christianity's discussion of development beginning with biblical sources and early Christian writings, exploring aspects of the monastic tradition and the conversations and conflicts between theology and scientific/technological progress. There will be space to discuss religious orders and their contribution to development and culture, and to look into the broader context of mission studies. Particular theological traditions such as liberation theology and contextual theology will be taken up with special consideration of their discussion of "development." Special attention will be paid to Catholic Social Teaching since development-related challenges are at the core of the Catholic Social Tradition with its documents since Pope John XXIII.  This historical overview is led by a systematic interest: What is the theological meaning of development? The course explores the distinctive theological perspective on development against the background of development studies in general. There will be five guiding questions: 1) What does the theological tradition say about development ("culture," "cultivation," "progress," "cyclization") - looking at biblical texts as well as Christian writings? 2) What is the place of "development" in Catholic Social Teaching even before 1891? 3) What are successful ethically justifiable responses to development challenges in the course of Christian history? 4) How is development discussed in contemporary interdisciplinary development studies? 5) What is the distinctive theological contribution to contemporary debates on development? 

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 spiritualties 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 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 20887 - Christianity and Other Religions: Biblical and Historical Perspectives 

This course examines some of the ways the Christian tradition has thought about other religions, and some of the practices Christians have adopted toward religious others throughout history (e.g., polemic, evangelization, warfare, coexistence, dialogue, cooperation, borrowing, etc.). Since it has been a major historical catalyst for inter-religious encounters, Christian mission will be given special attention throughout the course. Students will be encouraged to critically assess various approaches and thus to grow in their ability to think theologically, in this case, about religious diversity or pluralism. Our question is not simply, how have Christians responded to other religions, but also, how should they? Our task in this course necessarily entails an attempt to understand several non-Christian religions, living and dead. We will also be exposed to some of the ways other religions have responded to Christianity. 

THEO 20889 - The Problem of Human Suffering

If religion has often been a source of strength and consolation in the face of human suffering, it is also true that the presence of meaningless suffering has posed one of the greatest challenges to religious practice and thought. We will examine this issue by studying classics in the Christian tradition, including the Book of Job, scriptural reflections on Jesus? suffering and death, and early church discussions of God’s omnipotence and human free will. After considering answers to the problem of suffering as it has been posed traditionally, we will consider the new shape it has assumed in the modern age, due to historical catastrophes like the Shoah, theological critiques of “redemptive suffering,” and Christian practices of solidarity. Authors considered will include Augustine of Hippo, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoevsky, M. Shawn Copeland, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Jon Sobrino and Dorothy Day. Students will be evaluated based on class participation (which includes frequent ½-page reading responses), a midterm exam, two 5-7 page papers, and a final exam. 

THEO 20890 - God and Dialogue

The course will explore the relationship between God and humanity through a variety of theological lenses. The asymmetrical relationship will be considered as a form of dialogue and as a path to finding new approaches to a dialogue of cultures viable today. Sources will include the Old and New Testament, St. Augustine, medieval Christian writers like St. Anselm of Canterbury, Ramón Llull, St. Catherine of Siena, and Nicholas of Cusa, Bartolomé de la Casas, Jewish thinkers like Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Pope Paul VI, Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Robert Schreiter, Virgilio Elizondo, María Pilar Aquino, Alejandro García-Rivera, the monks of Tibhirine, and Emmanuel Katongole.logy. 

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 30055 - Know Your Catholic Faith: Belonging to God: How to Dig Deeper in Prayer 

In the midst of life's busyness and hype and noise, how do you authentically connect with the God of the Universe? How do you find a single second in the thick of the pressures of coursework to breathe and ponder and reflect on the One-to- Whom-We- Belong? In this hands-on course, for six weeks in Lent, we’ll take the time to do that: we’ll lament with those who got gritty with God, the prophet Jeremiah and John of the Cross; we’ll breathe with the hescychasts of the desert; we’ll contemplate with Teresa of Avila; we’ll delight in creation with Pope Francis and Ignatius; and we’ll ponder the fervor of Jesus? own prayer life. If you feel like you’re faking it in your prayer life, come and dig deeper. If you feel like you’re doing pretty well, but hunger for more, come and dig deeper. If you’d simply like others to pray with, come and dig deeper. If “none of the above” describes you or you know almost nothing about prayer, come and check it out.  

THEO 30056 - Know Your Catholic Faith: Theology of the Body

This course will introduce students to Saint John Paul II's Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. The instructors will review and analyze the book, engage the students in a discussion of the Theology of the Body, and ask them for oral and written feedback on how these teachings apply to everyday life.

THEO 30057 - The Book of Exodus: A Spiritual Journey 

This course will convene during the liturgical season of Lent and conclude in Holy Week. The primary objective is to offer students the opportunity to read the Book of Exodus in light of the doctrine of creation, the liturgical life of the Church, the problem and promise of freedom, and the sanctification of God's people. Alongside the biblical text itself, students will engage selected biblical commentaries from both the Early Church and more contemporary sources. The centerpiece of the course is a lecture series under the same name, featuring three lectures on three separate nights (March 8, March 22, April 5). In addition to those meetings, the course will also meet on March 1 (Ash Wednesday) and April 12 (Wednesday of Holy Week) in a traditional classroom format.

THEO 40003 - Elementary Hebrew 2

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 40108 - New Testament Introduction

How did the New Testament come to be? This course will offer a critical introduction to the documents that make up the canon of the New Testament, considering questions of both origin (authorship, date, circumstances) and content (structure, purpose). Beginning with the earliest traditions about Jesus, the course will in turn examine Jesus, the Pauline writings, the Gospels and Acts, and Hebrews to Revelation. Attention will also be paid to familiarizing students with basic methodological approaches.

THEO 40202 - The Christian Theological Tradition II

The course will examine the development of the Christian tradition from the time of the Reformation to the present, with special attention to the confessional division of the western Christian tradition during the Reformation, and the responses that post-Reformation Christian traditions make to the secularization of Western culture. The objective of this course is to develop an ecumenical understanding of contemporary Christian traditions. Class time each week will consist of two lectures and one student-led discussion. Evaluation will be based on discussion, four short papers, and a final exam. Spring only.

THEO 40226 - Christianity in Africa

This course will address the theme of how Christian faith interacts with its surrounding context as Christians reflect on scripture and tradition in light of their experience. How do Christian theology and practice respond to issues arising from particular religious, cultural, and political contexts? How has this caused Christianity to take different shapes in varied historical and social settings? The church has wrestled with these questions since its inception, as the Acts of the Apostles and other New Testament writings show. Grounded in this biblical witness and a framework provided by contemporary theologians, we will explore these issues through examples drawn from the church in Africa. We will consider the work of African theologians as well as the lived theology of African Christians. We will survey exemplary cases from the history of the Christianity in Africa, but the course will focus on recent Christian theology, worship, and social ethics. For example, we will explore the development of African Christologies, how gender shapes the transmission and reception of Christianity, the Rwandan genocide, and the church’s role in peacebuilding. Through this course, students will be exposed to some of the varied manifestations of Catholicism and the broader Christian tradition in African contexts, and they will be trained to reflect on how context has shaped Christian faith in all settings. 

THEO 40254 - Saints, Relics, and Sacred Sites in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages 

An exploration of the Christian practice of sacred travel from the fourth century through the ninth, with special attention to circuits that include sites in Rome, the Holy Land, Africa, and Egypt. Students will study archeological remains (monuments), pilgrims? itineraries and diaries (documents), holy relics, and souvenirs that travelers produced, obtained, and carried back home. Christian pilgrimage will be compared with contemporary polytheist travel to shrines and temples as well as tourism in general to define its distinctive forms and purposes. Course requirements will include the production of a research paper that may include reflections on an actual pilgrimage experience. 

THEO 40270 - The Quest for Beauty

The course will study a selection of philosophical texts dealing with the nature of beauty (and the closely related issues of goodness and finality) and ranging in date between classical antiquity and the late fifteenth century. The project will include study in their entirety of Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus, Plotinus: Ennead I. 6 On Beauty and III. 5 On Love, Augustine: On Order and On Music, Dionysius the Areopagite: On Divine Names and Ficino: On Love, Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus, and Commentary on Plotinus? Enneads I. 6 and III. 5. We will consider more briefly passages in other authors influenced by the above works and their themes or ideas. Knowledge of Greek and Latin is desirable but not absolutely necessary (since most of the works named are available in English translation). Requirement: one final essay of ca, 20 pp. 

THEO 40283 - Philosophical Women Theologians: Edith Stein and Simone Weil 

This course pairs two extraordinary Jewish women philosophers of the World War II period who died during the period of Nazi persecution - Stein (1891-1942) in Auschwitz, and Weil (1901-1943) in England. Both studied under (and with) noted male philosophers - Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler, Von Hildebrand, and Alain, among others - and they developed their original insights on empathy and education (Stein), decreation and affliction (Weil) partly in response to their teachers. Both women struggled with their Jewish identity - Weil exemplifying an unconventional Christian Platonism and mysticism, Stein becoming a Catholic nun and canonized saint. Both wrote (auto)biographies. Literary and artistic criticism, meditations on mystical writings and experiences, and creative expressions (poetry and plays), as well as important essays on politics, philosophy, and theology belong to their fertile writings. Their lives and letters have inspired, in turn, the creative expressions of others: novels, plays, and poetry. Their intellectual quests in the shadow of the Holocaust led them to take up theological questions, studying St. Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius the Areopagite, St. John of the Cross (Stein), St. Francis, Bernanos, Marx, and Pascal (Weil). The answers they gave to God and others testify to the heroism and brilliance of their spiritual searches for truth and help to explain their continuing influence within the Church.

THEO 40402 - Liturgical Year

The Church measures time and lives not by the civic calendar but according to its own cycle of feasts and seasons. This course will explore the origins, evolution, and theological meaning of the central feasts and seasons of what is called the liturgical or Church year: the original Christian feast of Sunday; Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; Lent, Easter, and Pentecost; and with some attention to the feasts of the saints. What do we celebrate on such occasions and how might we celebrate these feasts and seasons "fully," "consciously," and "actively?" Of special interest to those who work with the liturgical year in a variety of ways and for all who seek to understand the way in which the Church expresses itself theologically by means of a particular calendar, as well as for Theology Majors and interested graduate students in theology. Course Requirements: Three take-home unit exams and a major research paper.

THEO 40427 - The Eucharistic Mystery: A Study in Liturgical Theology 

Here is the question this course will consider: (a) The Eucharist makes the Church, (b) the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, (c) therefore how must we understand the Eucharist in order to account for it causing such an effect? The guide through this puzzle will be liturgical theology. If we consider liturgy to be the theologia prima (primary theology) of the Church, then a more penetrating grasp of liturgy will lead us to a deeper appreciation of both the Eucharist and the Church. 

THEO 40428 - The Bible and the Liturgy

This majors level course is designed to introduce students to the theological, liturgical, and material culture of the Bible in the context of the liturgy. The following questions will be considered: What is the role of the Scriptures in shaping liturgical and sacramental practice in both early and medieval Christianity? What physical forms did the Bible take, and how was it used? How did Missals develop? What are the implications of the Psalter’s transformation into the Book of Hours? Questions such as these will be tackled using biblical and liturgical exegesis, key texts in sacramental theology, codicology (archeology of the book), and book history. The course will involve encounters and activities involving medieval manuscripts and early imprints in the Hesburgh Library’s Rare Book Room. Activities and assignments will link medieval books at Notre Dame with the St. John’s Bible, which will be on campus during the 2017 year through the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. All course meetings will take place in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections Seminar Room. 

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 40632 - The Heart's Desire and Social Change 

Beyond financial prosperity and material gain, many people today speak about the hunger to find purpose and meaningful work that has lasting impact on society, culture, and the global community. We not only want to find lucrative employment but to discover a way of life that resonates with the deepest part of ourselves. When we experience a consistent flow between our life’s energies and our daily tasks, we are the most alive, engaged and at peace. But how can we find a way to integrate our inner and outer lives? This course will help students clarify their deepest passions in life that facilitate personal formation and social transformation. At its core it will explore the process of self-awareness and self-development that lead ultimately to self-gift. Some of the major themes we will look at include: values, spirituality, discernment, identity, true self/false self, justice, flow, freedom, Catholic Social Teaching and mission. 

THEO 40634 - African Literatures and the Moral Imagination

To imagine is to form a mental concept of something which is not present to the senses. Imagination therefore deals with "framing". Like everyone else, Africans ponder over their condition and their world on the basis of their experience, history, social location and other realities which provide the "frame" through which they construct and address reality. In this course, through the study of some significant African literary works and some literary works about Africa we will study the self-perception of the African and the way the African has ethically viewed his / her reality and tried to grapple with it over a period of time (colonialism, post colonialism, apartheid) with regard to various issues on the continent (political challenges, religion, war and peace) and over some of the social questions (class, urbanization/ city life, sex and sexuality, relationship of the sexes), etc. We will read such authors as Joseph Conrad, Amos Tutuola, Chinua Achebe, Athol Fugard, Wole Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chimamanda Adichie, Syl Cheney-Coker, Tsitsi Dangaremga, Nawal El Sadawi, Ferdinand Oyono, and some others. Using these and many authors we will ask questions about what constitutes the moral imagination, how such an imagination is manifested in or apparent in the social, personal and religious lives of the various African peoples or characters portrayed in these literary works; to what extent the moral sense has helped/ conditioned or failed to influence the lives of these peoples and characters. We will also inquire into the extent and in what ways the writers in our selection have helped to shape the moral imagination of their people.

THEO 40639 - Introduction to Christian Ethics 

Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior has practical implications for the way believers construe the world, organize their lives and engage with the world. In this course students will be introduced to the basic elements in Christian moral thinking and decision making. We will look at nature of ethics in general and of Christian ethics in particular. We will cover questions related to the specificity of Christian ethics, Jesus and moral thinking, the human (Christian) person as moral agent, and the different methods employed in making ethical decisions. This course is therefore a foundational course which is meant to prepare students for further studies in moral theology and ethics or for life as responsible Christian men and women who are reasonably well equipped to face up to the implications of their faith for life in the world.

THEO 40707 - Scripture, Violence and Peace

The complex relationship between religion, peace and violence has preoccupied scholars in the last few decades. Some argue that religion is inherently violent, while others contend that it can be a resource for peace. At the heart of this contention is the fact that religious scriptures contain both violent and non-violent passages. This course will discuss both elements in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures and how they have been interpreted and understood by believers across different generations and contexts. We consider such essential questions as: How have these passages been understood in the pre-modern period, and to what extent have they been recontextualized in the modern context? Can the violent element of the Holy Scripture be interpreted fruitfully for interactions among different religious communities in the modern world? This course will address these questions through a critical analysis on how these passages shape the believers' approach to the "other" even today. NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF JUDAISM OR CHRISTIANITY OR ISLAM IS REQUIRED FOR THIS COURSE.

THEO 40714 - Reading Laudato'Si from an African Context 

The course introduces students to the historical, political and economic dimensions of the ecological crisis in Africa. It will also introduce students to hopeful signs and innovative models of sustainable land use, food production and economic entrepreneurship underway in some poor communities in Africa. The course is designed around Pope Francis’ two central convictions in Laudato Si namely: (1) the close connection between the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and (2) the spiritual “wound” that lies at the heart of the ecological crisis: our inability to live as creatures made from the dust of the earth. The overall objective of the course is to help students to see the connections between the spiritual wound, the ecological crisis and poverty in Africa. It will also help students appreciate how Christian faith and theology can contribute to the healing of the wound, and in so doing inspire fresh experiments of an integrated approach, which fights poverty, protects nature and restores human dignity. 

THEO 40715 - Saints of Central-Eastern Europe 

From St. Adalbertus to St. John Paul the Great, this course is dedicated to studying the history of the region from the cultural and religious perspective of the Christian concept of sainthood (Roman as well as Greek Catholic). We will focus on the development of the cult of saints in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (contemporary Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine), but we will include also case studies from Bohemia, Slovakia, and Hungary. Beginning with studying the key theological concepts, we will proceed to learn briefly about the politics of sainthood and making saints in the Middle Ages, and then will focus on saints from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will explore the impact of state ideologies (an empire or a nation-state) and political ideologies, including nationalism, imperialism, liberalism, and socialism on the formation and promotion of the cult of saints. During our course, we will use a variety of sources, including visual, literary, and film.

THEO 40871 - The Theology of the Person 

What is a person? The question of defining personhood abounds in many fields of enquiry, whether theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, art, law, etc. Is God personal? How does that relate to humans as persons? Are animals persons? What distinguishes a person from a non-person? Answers to such questions seem to be ever-changing in the modern world. In this course, rooted in Scripture and Christian tradition, we will explore the ways in which the theology of the person is articulated and developed over time, from the revelation of God to Moses as the personal “I am” to debates about the person of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity in the early and medieval periods. This will be combined with modern theological discussions of the implications of Trinitarian and Christological dogma for our understanding of human personhood and destiny. What we learn will in turn be brought into conversation with contemporary approaches to personhood in literature, philosophy, sociology, medical science, and art. The course aims to equip students with the knowledge, confidence, and historical grounding to engage in critical debate and discussion on this crucial topic for the contemporary world. 

THEO 43001 - Proseminar

This course gives an introduction to the study of theology. In particular, it provides: [1] an overview of theology and its disciplines / areas of specialization, [2] bibliographies of primary and secondary sources for theological research, and [3] information about internships and career opportunities for theology majors. The course meets once each week for 50 minutes throughout the semester. Students are expected to attend every class. Two short papers are required at the end of the semester. Required of all Theology majors.

THEO 43203 - Joint Seminar in Theology and Philosophy: Aquinas and Scotus

This seminar will compare the divergent outlooks of two main figures of the high medieval period, Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) and John Duns Scotus (d. 1308), on a number of central topics in theology and philosophy, including the nature of theology; the possibility and degree of our natural knowledge of God; divine attributes; and God's relation to creation (e.g. foreknowledge, Incarnation, establishment of the moral law). The course will proceed through a judicious mix of lecturing and close reading of assigned text.