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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
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 to two the number of Directed Readings classes that may fulfill the requirements of the major.
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 3-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.
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 2014 Courses
Courses details are subject to change. Please consult InsideND for additional details.
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 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 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 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 20605: Intro to Catholic Moral Theology
This course provides an overview of how the Catholic tradition has reflected on what it means to live "the good life." It addresses questions such as: What is happiness? What makes an action (or a person) good or bad? What do God, Jesus Christ, and the Church have to do with ethics? Is there an ultimate purpose to my life? How do my judgments about these things relate to what other persons have to say about them? Working from scripture, the apostolic witness, and key texts in the history of Catholic theology, this course explores how Catholic beliefs about God, creation, the human person, and Jesus Christ have oriented and shaped the Church's moral reflection. General topics will include virtue, grace, sin, creation, conscience, freedom, the love of God and neighbor, and the role of scripture and the sacraments in the moral life. We will also relate these themes to difficult questions in economic justice, war, healthcare, and human sexuality.
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 20616: Theology, Ethics and the Environment
What does it mean to think and act as a Christian in an age of environmental degradation and uncertainty? Although this may be a new query brought on by our current context, theologians have been reflecting upon the created order and the human place within that order for centuries. Focusing on the development of Roman Catholic thought while also drawing on Eastern Orthodox and Protestant sources, this course seeks to introduce students to primary texts in the Christian theological tradition from the patristic to the modern era and demonstrate their pertinence for addressing contemporary ecological problems. Students will gain an understanding of the central ecological issues of our day, develop a critical awareness of the assumptions and values of the mainstream environmental movement, and acquire the tools to think and act in ways that are creative, compassionate, and informed by centuries of theological reflection.
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 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 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 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 20803: God's Grace and Human Action
What are the respective roles of God and the human person in salvation? Are ideas of human freedom and of the value of human acts compatible with a belief in God as the source of grace and redemption? These and other questions about salvation have been hotly debated by Christian theologians throughout the centuries. This course analyses the positions articulated by such figures as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, and examines how they shaped the Catholic-Protestant debate about the role of good works, and of God, in salvation.
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 20847: Christianity and the Challenge of Buddhism
In 1997 Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) suggested that in the future Buddhism, rather than Marxism, might be the principal challenge to the Church. He has also, of course, fully endorsed the declaration of the Second Vatican Council that the Church "rejects nothing that is true and holy" in other religions, including Buddhism. Against the background of these two judgments - which may seem, but really are not, mutually contradictory - this course will consider: The fundamental differences between Christianity and Buddhism, both in matters of doctrine and in matters of spiritual and moral practice. The reasons why - despite, or perhaps because of, those differences - Buddhism today attracts increasing interest in cultures once shaped chiefly by Christianity The beliefs and values that both Buddhism and Christianity can legitimately be said to share and the ways in which they can reasonably be expected to collaborate with one another. Our overriding purpose will be to explore the ways in which Christians, especially Catholic Christians, can, should, or must view and relate to Buddhism. In the course of this exploration, the course will also provide a basic introduction to the fundamentals of Buddhism.
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 20891: Atheism & the Question of God:
The aim of this course is to bring some clarity to contemporary debates about God by examining what Roman Catholics mean when they speak about, profess faith in, and pray to God as Trinity. The Christian belief in the Trinity is not merely one belief among others, but is rather the very heart of the Christian faith. It has become increasingly difficult, however, for modern men and women to make sense of the Trinity, especially in light of the challenge represented by modern atheism. It is therefore important for theologians to explore what is distinctive about the God of Jesus Christ with the claims of atheists in mind. Students will read selections from the Old and New Testaments, as well from various figures in the early Church, in order to see how the doctrine of the Trinity developed from the Church's understanding of its Scripture, its liturgy, and its life. Students will also read selections from influential atheists and contemporary Catholic thinkers, in order to see how their concerns can help refine our understanding of the faith.
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 30045: Know Your Catholic Faith - Who Can Be Saved
This course will examine Catholic teaching on the possibility of salvation for those who do not share the Catholic faith. Can atheists be saved or followers of other religions such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists? And what precisely is meant by salvation? How has Catholic teaching on these issues evolved through the centuries? The course is part of the Know Your Catholic Faith series offered through the Department of Theology and does not fulfill the 2nd theology university requirement.
THEO 33502: Know Your Catholic Faith - Saints
A saint provides a vision of a life lived with God as well as a model for how to live this life. In this course, we will look at specific saints to see the ways in which their lives bear witness to the love of God, while also considering the spiritual practices and pathways that these saints offer to the life of the Church. As part of the "Responding to God's Call" series, this course will combine theological study with large and small group discussions, as well as communal and individual prayer. The series as a whole seeks to provide theological, spiritual, and communal resources for ongoing discernment. The staff of the Notre Dame Vision program will facilitate this course in collaboration with the Department of Theology.
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).
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 40207: Christ, Spirit and Transformation History
This course will look at the relationships between embracing an authentic Christian spirituality and working to transform society and history. We start from the observation that while "spirituality" is currently very popular in the United States, it is often extremely individualistic and presented as a haven or oasis in which to escape a harsh world. The thesis of this course is that this is an impoverishment or distortion of authentic Christian spirituality. To investigate this we will begin by looking at how spirituality is presented in the Bible, with particular attention to its relationship to conversion and evangelization, as expressed in and through people's involvement in their particular cultures and histories. Then we look at certain important figures in the development of a spirituality that is transformative of history, including (among others) Bartolome de las Casas and Henri Nouwen. Finally, we look at recent texts from the magisterium, beginning with texts of Vatican II and proceeding through select papal writings ("Pacem in Terris, Evangelii Nuntiandi"), and concluding with an analysis of John Paul II's insistence on the transformation of history as an integral part of a "new evangelization" of culture. Requirements: Two papers and a class presentation
THEO 40632: Heart's Desire and Social Change
This course will help students to explore their deepest passions and to translate those interests into concrete action through social innovation. The process will begin with discernment about vocation, through the lenses of theology and business. Students will then engage in a design thinking process to develop their interests and determine how these social passions can connect to their work or to an entrepreneurial project.
THEO 40635: Ecumenical Ethics
This course will enable you to explain how the traditions of moral theology within Roman Catholicism and Protestantism over the last century have created opportunities for ecumenical collaboration on ethical matters. You will not only study the declarations of ecclesial bodies and the work of influential theologians; you will also speak with local leaders in the academy and in churches who are studying and promoting Christian unity. You will practice integrating historical, theological, and philosophical methods of inquiry while attending to the topics of ecclesiology, public theology, human flourishing, natural law theory, divine command theory, and select practical issues. You will conclude the semester by contextualizing ecumenical ethics within the broader field of comparative religious ethics, especially in relation to Jewish and Muslim accounts of morality.
THEO 40707: Scripture, Violence and Peace
Scriptures contain both violent and non-violent passages. The former includes a wide range of discourses from simply an exclusivist claim of salvation to various types of the scriptural criticism of other religious communities, while the latter refers to a positive element that extends salvific promise to other religions and promotes peaceful co-existence among different religious communities. These violent and non-violent elements of scriptural tradition have often been discussed independently from one another. This course will discuss both elements in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures and how they have been interpreted and understood by believers in their exegetical works. 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 religious communities in the modern world? How much were the key scriptural polemical references about other religions responsible for the development of theology of religions? This course will address these questions through a critical analysis of how these passages influence the believers' approach to the "other" even today.
THEO 40805: Christian Anthropology
This course will explore contemporary perspectives on how Christians understand the mystery of being human in relation to the mystery of God. Questions to be considered include the following: What does it mean to be a human person? How are human beings related to the rest of creation? Do we have a vocation and destiny? What is human freedom and how has it been affected by human sin? What is meant by the Christian claim that Jesus life, death, and resurrection brought about salvation for all of humanity and for the cosmos? In an evolutionary context and a globalized world which includes new possibilities for human solidarity and collaboration, but also violence, suffering, and ecological devastation, what is the meaning of the Christian beliefs that human persons are created in the image of God, impacted by original sin but also redeemed, and promised a future that includes resurrection of the body and a new creation? This course is open to all students who have completed the two required courses in theology as well as to theology majors and minors.
THEO 40862: Introduction to Vatican II
Almost every aspect of Catholic life and theology has been impacted in some way by the work of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) ? even as there are ongoing debates about what exactly this impact should be. This course will introduce students to the event and documents of Vatican II as well as to diverse interpretations of the council. After a brief introduction to both the field of ecclesiology (the study of the Church) and the history leading up to Vatican II, the center of the course is an examination of the central documents of the Council with regards to the nature and mission of the Church. The final part of the course engages developments in the Church following Vatican II.
THEO 40863: Holocaust: Theological and Literary Responses
This course examines attempts by Jews and Christians to represent and interpret what appears to be unrepresentable and uninterpretable: the Holocaust. We will attend to reflections on the Holocaust in a variety of genres - memoirs, poetry, fiction, and film - as well as to struggles to articulate its consequences in the more analytical language of philosophy and theology. The goal is not to come to the "meaning" of the Holocaust or to "solve" the painful problems it presents, but to appreciate and learn from attempts to respond to it both creatively and responsibly.
THEO 40864: Christ the Beautiful
The class will review various New Testament portrayals of Jesus and the core Christological definitions of Nicaea, Constantinople, Chalcedon and Nicaea IV. We will learn about the controversies about portraying Christ and the saints in the Eastern Church, leading down to Nicaea II and discuss to what extent the Protestant Reformation was iconoclastic. We will study modern Orthodox "Iconophile" theologies such as that of Leonid Oupensky. We will study the changing depictions of Christ in Art from the 2nd century to modern times with a special focus on Christ in contemporary art. We will consider three "Jesus movies" specifically with reference to the aesthetics of the depiction of Christ. Running parallel each of these movies, we will read three works of "theological aesthetics," Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture by Makoto Fujimura, The Community of the Beautiful by Alejandro R. Garcia-Rivera, and Love Alone is Credible by Hans Urs von Balthasar.