Spring 2015 Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2015 Courses

THEO 20103: One Jesus and His Many Portraits

This course explores the many different faith-portraits of Jesus painted by various books of the New Testament: e.g., from suffering servant abandoned by God through high priest interceding with God to Godself. In each case, the course will ask how this particular portrait did or did not have an impact on subsequent Christian faith and what it may say to faith in Christ today. The course will combine a lecture format with discussions, readings, and reflections on the readings.

THEO 20206: U.S. Latino Spirituality

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the dynamic origins, development and present status of the collective spirituality of the Latinos/as living in the USA. Emphasis will be placed on the Mexican Americans since they are not only the largest group but likewise the ones who have been living in the USA the longest. Drawing on history, cultural anthropology, Christian Theology and your own experience, this course will explore the roots and development of contemporary Latino Spirituality in the United States. As we explore in depth the spirituality of a people, this course will also help you discover and explore the roots and development of your own collective and personal spirituality.

THEO 20213: Following Jesus

Christian faith is a matter not just of ideas, but of discipleship: recognizing in Jesus the "anointed one" sent by God to fulfil the hopes of Israel, and trying to conform one's desires and way of living to his. In this course, we will consider some of the major documents (beginning with the Gospels) in which Christians have reflected on who Jesus is, and on what his presence in our humanity promises us and demands from us, as a Church and as individuals. We will ask: what is the way of Jesus? what might it mean for us to walk on his way? 

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 20251The Catholic Faith

This course is a theological introduction to the basic teachings of the Catholic faith. The primary text is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This will be supplemented by theological source readings from all periods. The emphasis will be on the coherence of the system of basic Catholic teaching as a whole. The argument is that the coherence is located in the love of God which lies at the heart of all Christian mysteries. "Love alone is credible" in the words of one famous theologian of the twentieth century and it is that love, and that credibility, that we will set ourselves the task of investigating.

THEO 20412: Christian Initiation & Eucharist

The Rites of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist) and the Eucharistic Liturgy as the primary sacramental celebrations of and in the Church: their biblical and anthropological foundations, historical evolution, contemporary forms and pastoral effectiveness. Requirements will include 3-4 short papers and three unit exams. 

THEO 20424: Holy Communion and Disunity

The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is understood by all the churches to be a sign of Christians' unity with one another and with Christ. From the period of the Reformation, however, communion has become a sign and instrument of disunity between Christians of different denominations. This course will begin by looking at ecumenical agreements about the Eucharist after Vatican II, and then examine the development of the understanding of communion through church history, including disputes over how the Eucharist should be celebrated and received, questions of Christ's presence in the Eucharist, and the idea that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. 

THEO 20605: Intro to Catholic Moral Theology

This course will explore what it means to live "the good life" according to Catholic theology. We will address questions such as: Why should I be moral? What is happiness? What makes actions and people good or bad? What does God or the Church have to do with ethics? Is there an ultimate purpose to my life, and will there be an afterlife? The course itself will be structured around the moral and theological virtues that are the basis of traditional Catholic moral theology. We will cover general topics such as grace, sin, holiness, freedom, the passions, natural law, and social justice. These will lead us into concrete and controversial topics such as euthanasia, abortion, premarital sex, homosexuality, and just war. The course will draw primarily upon the classical Catholic tradition, as represented especially by St. Thomas Aquinas. The overall goal is to grasp and explain what follows from the challenging claim: "There is only one real sadness in life: not to be saints."

THEO 20616: Theo, Ethics & 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

This course examines the economic dimensions of violence in light of Catholic social teaching and Western political and economic thought. After an in-depth overview of Catholic social teaching in relation to alternative social theories, we bring them to bear on the issue of violence in three social spheres: the domestic (domestic abuse and sexual assault), the economic (sweatshops), and the international political (war). In each case we will examine Catholic responses to the problem.

THEO 20625: Discipleship: Loving Action

This course is designed for students who have completed a Summer Service Project Internship (SSLP or ISSLP) through the Center for Social Concerns. The main objective is to afford students the opportunity to combine social analysis with theological reflection. The course material will span a variety of ethical issues, including education, globalization, restorative justice, racial justice, power relations, environmental justice, and structural violence. These topics will be held in conversation with the Catholic social tradition. A major component of the course will entail the presentation and analysis of student-generated research emerging from the SSLP/ISSLP. 

THEO 20637: Biomedical Ethics

A discussion of ethical problems in the medical profession in light of natural law and Christian moral principles.

THEO 20653: Synergoi

This is a community-based learning course focusing on the interrelationship of food, justice, the sacramentality of creation, liturgy, and the place of cooperatives in the Catholic social tradition. What does it mean for human beings to become synergoi, or co-operators with God's creative activity in their own local community as responsible members of God's creation called to live sustainably? As a requirement of the course, students will work with members of the local community at the Monroe Park Grocery Cooperative and with local farmers to bring fresh, affordable food into underserved neighborhoods of South Bend through MPGC. The course will be limited to twenty-five students and will require twenty hours of community-based work over the semester.

THEO 20663: Holy Cross Spirituality, Virtue

This course offers an introduction to the spirituality of the Congregation of Holy Cross through an examination of the biographies of the Congregation’s members. As a development level course in theology, the primary goal of the class is to familiarize students with the historical development of three classic theological topics (spirituality, saints and virtue) by focusing on the charism, lives and apostolates of Holy Cross. An important secondary goal will be to help students to develop an appreciation for how Holy Cross has influenced and continues to inform the work of the University of Notre Dame and what would be required to live by that vision after graduation in professional life, family life, and in local Church communities. The course will host a number of guest speakers from Notre Dame and from other Holy Cross institutions. Course requirements include midterm and final examinations and a short research paper. 

THEO 20801: Theology of Disability

This course introduces students to Christian theological reflection on the physical limitations, disabilities, and impairments of the human being. The topic will be considered in the light of Scripture, classic theological texts, relevant philosophical resources, and the apostolic witness. Students will be familiarized with contemporary theological work on disability and cognitive impairment.

THEO 20811: Jesus and Salvation

An exploration of the mystery of Jesus the Christ and the experience of salvation through examination of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Part I); the development of classic Christian doctrine (Part II); and selected contemporary perspectives and questions (Part III). 

THEO 20828: Christianity and World Religions

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the basic teachings and spiritualities of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. We will approach these religions both historically and theologically, seeking to determine where they converge and differ from Christianity on such perennial issues as death, meaning, the nature of the ultimate Mystery, the overcoming of suffering, etc. We will also examine some traditional and contemporary Catholic and Protestant approaches to religious pluralism. Our own search to know how the truth and experience of other faiths is related to Christian faith will be guided by the insights of important Catholic contemplatives who have entered deeply in the spirituality of other traditions. By course's end we ought to have a greater understanding of what is essential to Christian faith and practice as well as a greater appreciation of the spiritual paths of others. Requirements: Short papers, midterm exam, and final exam.

THEO 20883: The Character Project

This course draws students from specific dorm partners. Permission for registration will only come through these partnerships and at this time permission cannot be obtained any other way. "Who am I?" and "Who am I becoming?" This course explores the resources for response that the Christian faith provides for these questions. In order to conduct this exploration, we will wrestle with debated issues relating to the understanding of the human person that emerge from the Christian tradition. This intellectual work will provide language drawn from a theological vocabulary of growth and freedom that allows students to articulate with more profundity and specificity the moral issues pertinent to their own lives. Students will engage in sustained dialogue with one another regarding such issues both within and outside of class meetings. The combination of the readings, lectures, and conversations of the course will thus bring the initial two questions about identity and moral growth into contact with serious theological questions about the meaning of being human: "Who is God and what does the revelation of God have to do with the end to which human life is oriented?" "What is grace and how does grace work in relation to human freedom?" "Who is the human person and what is involved in the formation of human character?" Ultimately, this course will explore the Catholic theology of grace, which maintains that union with God and personal freedom grow in direct rather than inverse proportion to one another. In addition to the regular weekly meetings, this course will include one retreat day at the beginning of the semester. 

THEO 20892: Atheism & 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 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 22637: Biomedical Ethics Discussion

A discussion of ethical problems in the medical profession in light of natural law and Christian moral principles. 

THEO 30402: Bible & Liturgy

This one-credit “Know Your Catholic Faith” course provides an immersion experience in the art of interpreting and praying the Bible within the liturgy. The class begins with a session Sunday afternoon, January 25, intended to introduce students to the role of the Bible in liturgical prayer with particular attention to the Liturgy of the Hours. From February 13-15, 2015, the class will meet in southern Indiana at Saint Meinrad’s Archabbey where we will join the monks in their prayer, as well as participate in lectures and spiritual reading. The class will meet once more after spring break (TBA) to engage in deeper theological reflection on the immersion. 

THEO 30655: On Human Dignity

This course will examine the theological presuppositions of the concept of human dignity, based principally on the documents of the Second Vatican Council, encyclicals of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching, and associated theological literature. The course also will consider insights from philosophy, political science, and other disciplines as they bear on the theological understanding and clarification of the concept of human dignity.

THEO 40003: Elementary Hebrew II

This is the second of a two-semester introductory course in Biblical Hebrew; under normal circumstances, the student must complete the first in order to enroll in the second. In addition to the completion of Lambdin's elementary grammar, students are introduced to some (modified) Biblical texts.

THEO 40005: Intermediate Hebrew II

This fourth-semester course in biblical Hebrew will continue and build upon THEO 40004. While the latter was devoted to the reading of biblical prose, this installment of Intermediate Hebrew will introduce students to the beauty of biblical Hebrew poetry. Our efforts will be focused on the preparation, oral reading, and translation of selected biblical passages. But time also will be spent continuing to review basic grammar as well as developing an appreciation of syntax and poetic structure (e.g., parallelism) in this powerful medium of prayer, prophetic revelation, and the quest for Wisdom in ancient Israel.

THEO 40108: New Testament Introduction

THEO 40108 is an introduction to the history and literature of the early Christian movement. The focus of the course will be on the writings contained in the New Testament, and an attempt will be made to understand these writings as historical documents within their social and religious setting.The purposes of the course are (1) to provide insight into the cultural and religious matrix of early Christianity, (2) to develop a basic knowledge of the New Testament writings with respect to their literary and theological characteristics, (3) to provide an introduction to the contemporary critical study of the New Testament, and (4) to provide guidance in the art and methods of exegesis. The course is composed of five major segments: (1) The Jewish Matrix of Early Christianity, (2) Jewish Messianism and the Ministry of Jesus, (3) Jesus in the Memory of the Early Church, (4) Paul and the Spread of Christianity, and (5) Ethics, Eschatology, and Early Catholicism.

THEO 40202: The Christian 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 40283 - Section 01: Philo Women Theologians: Stein, 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 40295 - Section 01: Intro to Byzantine Theology

This course introduces students to major theological sources, themes, and debates of the Byzantine Christian East. Beginning with formative texts of the Greek patristic era, students proceed to cover key areas and “moments” of Byzantine theology: Christological debates in the aftermath of Chalcedon; iconoclasm and icons; ascetic and monastic theology; developments in Liturgy and sacramental theology; approaches to Scripture; East-West relations; theological interactions with Islam; Hesychasm; and Byzantine Theology after 1453. The goal of the course is to equip upper-level undergraduate and Master’s-level students with an accurate overview of this vast, intricate, and fast-growing field of study. 

THEO 40296: Ukraine & Russia

The recent political and military conflict between Russia and Ukraine can hardly be understood without taking into account its religious and ecclesiastical dimension. Religious history and theological thought have been for centuries one of the catalysts for controversies and struggles between Russian imperialism and Ukrainian nationalism and a source of political imagination. Today, religion remains one of the crucial flash points in the relations between the two countries and peoples, given that Churches and their leaders are actively engaged in public discourse. Ongoing discussions about the “global positioning” of each of these countries between “East” and “West,” or: “Europe” and “Asia,” make massive use of and recourse to religious history and thought. This course will explore some basic paradigms of this discourse by highlighting the main personalities, topics and ideas of Ukrainian and Russian theology through the centuries, discussed against the background of the general religious history of Ukraine and Russia from their medieval beginnings to the present day. The clash between different ideological orientations will reveal itself as a clash between different understandings of Christianity, its history, and its message in the contemporary world. 

THEO 40297: Bible & Spirituality

For early Christians, the Scriptures were not only a source of doctrinal information. They were also “wells” from which believers drew “living water” and were refreshed (Origen), “chaste delights” for those who sought their inner meaning (Augustine), “weapons of the spirit” in the battle against temptation of every kind (Evagrius). Beginning with the reception of the Scriptures of Israel and the formation and canonization of the New Testament, this course explores the roles the Bible played in the early Church. How did the Bible function in the lives of early Christians? What was its place in corporate worship, in moral exhortation, and in prayer and spirituality? What interpretive frameworks and practices informed Christians? use of the Bible? What was its role in Christian monastic movements? How was the Christian Bible challenged by non-Christians, and how did Christians respond? 

THEO 40298: Christianity in Middle East

The spread of Christianity from Palestine to the West is well-documented. Less well-known is the development of Christianity in the lands of its origin, the Middle East. This course introduces students to the largely untold story of Christianity that expresses itself in the native Aramaic language and culture of the Semitic East. The origins of the indigenous Christian churches of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. The development of these traditions will be viewed in relation to western/European forms of Christianity that have come to be viewed as mainstream and normative. The course concludes with an assessment of the impact of religious “fundamentalisms,” the diaspora of Middle Eastern Christians throughout Europe and the United States, and the contemporary state of Christianity in the Middle East. 

THEO 40402: Feasts and Seasons

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 40423: Performing Beauty 

This course offers an entrée to themes at the intersection of liturgy, theology, and aesthetics. The class will introduce students to major questions in theological aesthetics as they relate to liturgy. To what extent is beauty part of divine revelation, and how does “liturgical beauty” reveal? What role does art, drama, and poetry play in liturgical rites? Is there a beautiful way to participate in the liturgy, and if so, what is it? How does one judge the beauty of a prayer, a rite, a church, a sermon, or a piece of music? The course will examine these questions, not simply through an examination of systematic texts but through historic study of specific incarnations of liturgical beauty. These incarnations of beauty will include rituals, prayer texts, sermons, devotional books, mystagogical treatises, liturgical drama, poetry, hymnody, architecture, as well as painting and iconography. 

THEO 40609: Love & Sex Christian Tradition

Christian reflections on sexuality comprise one of the richest yet most controversial aspects of the Christian moral tradition. In this course, we will examine Christian sexual ethics from a variety of perspectives through a study of historical and contemporary writings. Topics to be considered include Christian perspectives on marriage and family, the ethics of sex within and outside of marriage, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality. Course requirements will include four or five short papers and a final examination. 

THEO 40613: Catholic Social Teaching

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the tradition of Catholic social teaching with a view to developing skills for critical reading and appropriation of these documents. We will examine papal, conciliar, and episcopal texts from "Rerum Novarum" (1891) up to the present time, identifying operative principles, tracing central theological, ethical, and ecclesial concerns, and locating each document in its proper historical context.

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 40708: Introduction to Islam

This is an introductory survey course of the emergence and development of Islam as both a religion and a tradition. Students will be introduced to the primary sources of Islamic beliefs and practices, as well as the relation of Islam to other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity. In the last few decades, the study of Islam has been, and is still, a vibrant field of research. We will critically examine various approaches to the study of Islam from the traditionalist approach to the critical, revisionist scholarship. The course will also explore the diversity of Islamic worldviews and expressions and the way in which they have been shaped by social, cultural, and political contexts, including the schism between Sunnis and Shi’is, various schools of Islamic law and theology, modern Salafism, and Islamic feminism. A special attention will be given to how certain concepts and/or doctrines developed over periods of time. This course uses an interdisciplinary approach with insights from the fields of theology, religious studies, history, and sociology. No prior knowledge of Islam is required.

THEO 40709: Modern Islamic Thought

Many Muslim thinkers and scholars have articulated the meaning and message of Islam in a contemporary idiom. For some members of the Muslim community such figures are heroes while others view them as a threat to Islam itself. This course will provide historical contexts in order to explore how Muslims navigate the discourses of modernity, especially the advent of modern science, the nation-state and politics, feminism and new understandings of self and history. We will examine key figures and read original texts as well as secondary sources in order to grasp the magnitude of change in moral, political, ethical and theological discourses as well as resistance to modernity. The course aims at equipping students with analytical skills and the resources to understand how religious ideas impact global affairs. 

THEO 40827: Comparative Spiritualities 

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 40837: Meaning, Vulnerability and Human Existence

This course explores the contribution that the coming together of theological and literary reflection can make to our understanding of the nature of meaning. Focusing on the work of Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Primo Levi, Dostoevsky and Shakespeare, students will address questions such as 'What is it we are doing when speaking, reading, using language?', 'How do the intellect and the imagination work in relation to literary texts?', 'How might all this relate to our ways of thinking about God, human nature, and the relationship between them?' Such questions will be addressed, in particular, through reflection on how the texts studied invite us to think about the nature of love, forgiveness, vulnerability and creativity. 

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: Philo-Theo Joint Seminar: Catholic Theologians & Philosophers Under the Radar 

While the names Rahner and Von Balthasar are familiar to most students of philosophy and theology, there are several figures of great importance who have received less attention in the contemporary imagination. This seminar will be devoted to reading some of the works of Karl Adam, Joseph Pieper, Jean Danielou, Louis Bouyer, Henri de Lubac, and Romano Guardini.