Course Descriptions

Below you will find links to course offerings and their descriptions from previous years with the most recent being listed first.


Spring 2014 Course Descriptions

Please note that more course descriptions will be added as the become available.


Course Title: Foundations of Old Testament Theology

Course Number: THST 600.1

Section Times/Days: Wednesday Evenings 7:15-9:45 pm

Instructor: Dr. Daniel L. Smith-Christopher


Course Description

     This course is intended to be a challenging introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) at the Graduate Level.  The emphases of this course begin with historical and literary familiarity with the Hebrew Bible, with a continued emphasis on the Theological questions for Christian Theology that are raised by these texts and traditions. This is a “historical-critical” approach to Textual analysis.  Students are invited to probe, question, and explore new ideas about the Bible, and the different reading strategies of Biblical analysis (Cross-Cultural, Feminist, Social Science, Postcolonial, etc.). 


Student Learning Outcomes:

Students will:

(1)   Have a basic orientation to all the books of the Old Testament.

(2)   Have a basic grasp of essential dates of Old Testament History, and the importance of those events for the study of the Bible.

(3)   Have a basic understanding of the different genres of Old Testament Literature, such as Poetry, Wisdom, Prophetic Texts, Law, Story.

(4)   Have a basic understanding of critical approaches to the study of the Bible.

(5)   Have a basic understanding of some of the primary Christian Theological issues raised by Old Testament study in the context of the Church.


Prerequisites/Recommended Background

    There are no prerequisites to this course.  It is a basic course intended for the first or second year of University.


Required Texts:

1) Bible - New Revised Standard Version (New American Bible is OK.)

2) Collins, John J., Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Fortress Press) [Careful – do NOT purchase the “Short” version of Collins’ textbook!]



Course Work / Expectations

     1) Class attendance is required

     2) I grade on a point system.  There will be 6 quiz-type short tests, spaced every  two-three weeks, covering BOTH reading and lecture material.  Each test is worth 10 points. There is no mid-Term or Final in addition to these tests.  Only the tests.

      3)  All students will write the final paper (13-18 pages), an analysis of a selected Bible passage, which is worth up to 40 points.   Full Research Paper expectations – citations, bibliography, etc.  There will be detailed instructions.




Course Title: Yoga Philosophy: Text and Practice

Course Number: YGST 620 (Hinduism: Vedānta and Yoga THST 612.1)

Section Times/Days: M 4:30-7:00 pm      

Instructor: Dr. Christopher Chapple


In this course we will explore the foundational teachings of two traditional philosophies of classical India.  Vedānta, which includes the study of the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, and later commentarial literature, develops a theology of Brahman that sees an intimate relationship between the inner workings of the human person and the larger rhythms of the cosmos.  Yoga, which tends to be less theologically specific, emphasizes practices of ethics, movement, and meditation that have been applied in several religious traditions.  We will read and discuss several primary texts and interpretive materials.


Student Learning Outcomes:

Students will learn the major theological categories of the religious traditions of India, including the Vedic approach to multiple deities, Upaniṣadic approaches to embodied spirituality, Yoga’s emphasis on applied asceticism, and the attempt through the Bhagavad Gītā and the Yogavāsiṣṭha to mediate and reconcile these views.  Students will acquire a working vocabulary of Sanskrit theological terms and enrich their writing skills through the preparation of two papers. 


Required Books:

Meditations through the Ṛg Veda, Antonio T. deNicolas

The Thirteen Principal Upaniṣads, Robert Ernest Hume, tr.

Avatāra: Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gītā, Winthrop Sargeant

Yoga and the Luminous, Christopher Key Chapple

The Concise Yogavāsiṣṭha , Swami Venkatesananda, tr.

Classical Sāṃkhya, Gerald Larson

Yoga in Practice, David Gordon White


This paper, of about 15 pages, will integrate the student’s understanding of key ideas from the Vedas or Upaniṣads.  Topics to be explored may include specific gods and/or goddesses of the Vedas, including research on how these are integrated into the tradition of Hindu household worship; the four “languages” or concept areas of the Vedas; or a close explication of one hymn or a series of hymns.  Other themes might include: the concept of Brahman; the role of Self; the “Great Sentences” of the Upaniṣads; the nature of faith; the role of the elements, senses, and body; the significance of food; theories of health and well being; the role of ritual.  One could also do a close read of one section of one of the larger Upanisads or devote the paper to a close analysis of one of the shorter texts.


The final paper will explore a topic pertaining to the practice of Yoga, the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gītā, or the story tradition of the Yogavāsiṣṭha.  It may include a close exposition of portions of a specific text.




Course Title:   Introduction to Systematic Theology

Course Number: THST 630

Section Times/Days: T 4:30 – 7:00 pm         

Instructor: Rev. James L. Fredericks, Ph.D.


PREREQUISITES: This section of THST 630 is for the Orange Cohort



The purpose of this course is threefold. First, the course provides graduate students with an opportunity for reflection on the contemporary situation that forms the context of both theological inquiry and pastoral ministry. Second, the course provides a survey of basic Christian doctrines (e.g. faith and revelation, God, Christology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology). Third, the course allows students to do research in depth into a particular theological issue having to do with Christian doctrine.



A familiarity with the history of Christian doctrine and contemporary theological debates about Christian doctrine.

The development of skills for critical reading and expository writing.

Skills for the engaging contemporary ministry with theological reflection



Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin editors, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives Vol. 1 and 2

PDF materials



Attendance of all lectures, participation in all discussions

Completion of all assigned readings prior to the class discussions

Reading analysis papers, two pages, double spaced, stapled

Part one: Identify the basic claim of the author and give a synopsis of the structure of his/her argument

Part two: Make a claim about the text and support your claim with a clearly organized argument. This is not to be a “personal reflection.” Neither is it to be a collection of miscellaneous thoughts or musings. Give a theological critique of the author’s position centered on one issue.

Make very clear where part one ends and part two begins

Collectively, these papers constitute 40% of the final grade

A research paper on a specific topic in systematic theology

Length: twenty pages minimum double spaced, paginated, footnotes not endnotes, stapled

Any standard academic style-format is acceptable

Declaration of topic area: 24 Jan

Bibliography: 7 February

Annotated bibliography: 13 March

Thesis statement and outline: 3 April

Final paper due: 8 May, (Tuesday of exam week)The research paper counts for 60% of final grade




Course Title:  Introduction to Systematic Theology

Course Number:  THST 630.1

Section Times/Days:  M 4:30-7:00

Instructor:  Rev. Thomas Rausch, S.J.



This course explores classic themes in systematic theology, God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith, Christian anthropology, the Church and the sacraments, eschatology.  It will seek to place them in their biblical origins, historical development, and contemporary significance in light of the current philosophical, cultural, ecumenical, interreligious, and pastoral concerns. 



1.      Know the major themes, methods, and authorities in systematic theology

2.      Facility in speaking and writing about the these themes

3.       Appreciate Roman Catholic, ecumenical, and interreligious approaches



Graduate status



Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives

Thomas P. Rausch, Eschatology, Liturgy, and Christology: Toward Recovering an Eschatological Imagination

Additional articles on ERes



The course will be a seminar, requiring attendance and intelligent class participation.  There will be a midterm exam, a research paper, and 2 page weekly reflections on the readings for the week. 




Course Title: Research and Writing Seminar

Course Number: 696.01

Section Times/Days: Wednesday 4:30-7:00

Instructor: Charlotte Radler



This graduate capstone course is open to students who have completed the Comprehensive Exam Seminar. Building on the research proposal crafted in that course, students will develop a Master’s level thesis through careful research and analysis, rigorous argumentation, and creative theological reflection. Students will drive the class in terms of presenting their own work, working constructively to assess their colleagues’ writing, and discussing the theological, ethical, pastoral, and cultural implications of their collective work. The instructor will facilitate class discussions, establish milestones for the progression of the thesis, and help edit the thesis. The instructor will also work with the external reader of the thesis, who will be assigned in consultation with the student, instructor, and Graduate Director.



In virtue of taking the Research and Writing Seminar course, the student will:

·         To understand the research skills and strategies necessary to write a successful thesis.

·         To refine their writing skills and improve their ability to articulate an effective theological argument.

·         To engage in critical conversations with their peers regarding complex theological ideas and their implications for the church, academy, and society.

·         To value the modest, but important contribution that a thesis can make to wider theological discourse.



Comprehensive Exam Seminar



David Rosenwasser & Jill Stephen, Writing Analytically. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009 (5th

edition or later)


Additional articles and other reading materials will be available through Blackboard



Attendance/ Participation:                                            10%

Drafts of thesis:                                                           30%

Response to other students’ draft of thesis                 20%

Oral presentation of final version of thesis:                 10%

Final version of thesis:                                                 30%




Course Title: Christianity between Colonialism and Postcolonialism

Course Number: THST 698.2

Section Times/Days:  M 7:15-9:45 pm

Instructor: Susan Abraham



The center of theological production has shifted from the Northern and Western hemisphere to the Global South:Africa, Asia and Latin America. What are the contours of this shift? On the one hand the rise of Pentecostalism in the Global South has given rise to a reactionary Roman Catholic theology determined to stem the hemorrhage of Roman Catholics to Pentecostal churches in the context of globalization. On the other, critical theologies of liberation in the North and the South reveal the collusion of Pentecostalism and official Roman Catholicism with global capitalism, and Western economic, militaristic and cultural neo-colonialism.  Readings will explore Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and liberation theological proposals for Theological Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology and Mission with a view toward articulating a decolonized global Christian theology. The course will aim to provide an orientation to theology in a global context through extensive reading and intensive writing exercises. All students will participate in a conference style paper presentation with a respondent to spark discussion in class.



Students will acquire a sense of the theological diversity arising out of modern colonialism. A key outcome is the understanding that religion in many postcolonial contexts has been a source of resistance against colonial power. Further, Christian theology today does not exist in isolation to other religious movements including the manner in which Christian theology itself is produced in diverse theological and political contexts. Students will read and write intensively, at the graduate level for the course and learn the method of conference presentation, that is the reading of a 20 minute research paper for the course.



Introductory work in theology, as well as more advanced work in Theological Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology and Mission theology.



No required texts. Readings from primary sources.



Graduate level reading, writing and oral delivery skills in a discussion and seminar setting.




Course Title: THST 698: Religion and Film

Course Number: THST 698

Section Times/Dasy: Section 1: Tuesdays 4:30 to 7:00 pm

Instructor: Amir Hussain



This course is as much about the use of film to study religion as it is about the use of religion to study film. In other words, we will use different films to facilitate discussion about various dimensions of and issues in religion. And conversely, we will use images, metaphors, and teachings found in religion to discuss the layers and elements visually and audibly portrayed on screen. Through different critical approaches, this course will examine how religion, as variously defined, pervades the modern cinema and how one may engage in dialogue with this phenomenon.



1) To think and discuss critically film from both religious studies and theological perspectives; 2) To broaden understanding of the term “religious” and then to realize its significant role in film plot, narrative, and imagery; 3) To demonstrate thinking both empathetically and critically about conflicting religious claims; and 4) Through class participation and assignments have improved their verbal and written skills.






John Lyden, editor, The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film (Routledge, 2009). 

Course Readings Distributed in Class.



It is important for each student to know at the outset that this course requires daily reading, written assignments, a seminar presentation, and regular class participation. Grades will be determined as follows:


50%     Written Assignments (5 assignments of 4 pages each, worth 10% each)

10%     Class Participation
30%     A Theological Essay/Reflection of 15 Pages
10%     Seminar Presentation




Course Title: Nuns, Beguines, and the Medieval Women’s Movement

Course Number:  THST 698.03

Section Times/Days:  Tuesday, 7:15 pm  --  9:45 pm

Instructor : Anna Harrison



This course examines the lives and writings of religious women in the western Christian Middle Ages.  It considers, in addition, attitudes of the dominant culture toward women, especially with regard to women’s religiosity.  Our approach is primarily that of religious and cultural history.  Within this context we will focus on the interpretation of scripture, a number of discrete theological questions (for example, whom God saves and how; the role of human beings in forwarding their own salvation; responsibility of self for other), the place of the liturgy in women’s piety, especially the liturgy of the mass and the divine office, and spirituality (for example, the place of conversation and of friendship in the spiritual life).  Topics on which we focus include: community, the afterlife, eucharistic piety, the monastic life, the beguines, and the medieval women’s movement.  We proceed through a close reading of primary texts, written, for the most part, by women.  We focus on the visionary writings collaboratively produced by the thirteenth-century nuns of Helfta as well as on the visionary text associated with the nuns’ older contemporary, the beguine Mechtild of Magdeburg.  We will situate our study in the larger context of medieval religious attitudes and devotional practices.



Students who complete this course successfully will gain an understanding of some of the basic theological questions medieval people took up as well as a variety of responses to questions of interest to women and men in the Middle Ages.  Students will learn how to read carefully medieval texts and scholarly works on medieval religiosity.  They will learn to write historically responsible analyses of texts significant to medieval history.  They will come to value learning about the questions medieval people asked as well as the religious ideas and experiences of women who lived in a world very different from our own. 



Students with a willingness to wonder and to work hard!



Gertrude the Great of Helfta, The Herald of God’s Loving Kindness, Books 1-2, ed. Alexandra Barratt

Gertrude the Great of Helfta, The Herald of God’s Loving Kindness, Book 3, ed. Alexandra Barratt

Gertrude of Helfta, The Spiritual Exercises, ed. Gertrud Jaron Lewis and Jack Lewis

Mechtild of Magdeburg, The Flowing Light of the Godhead, ed. Frank Tobin



Students are required to read carefully all assigned texts before class.  Because this is a seminar, students are expected to contribute regularly and thoughtfully to class discussions.  Each week, each student will be required to take primary responsibility in presenting the content of a text or texts.  Attendance is required, and students’ in-class participation will be evaluated.  More than one absence will lower a student’s final grade by one full grade.  (For example, a “B” will become a “C.”)  Students are responsible for writing a short paper (2-4 pp.) almost every week.  (The first paper is due on the first day of class.)  Students are, in addition, responsible for a number of formal presentations. A final research prospectus is due at the end of the semester. For those who have already produced a prospectus under the instructor’s guidance, a final research paper is due at the end of the semester.