Course Descriptions


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




TERM: Fall 2015

COURSE TITLE: Foundations of New Testament Theology


SECTION TIME/DAY: M 4:30-7:00 pm

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. David A. Sánchez 


The course is designed to introduce students to 1) the historical-critical analysis of the New Testament as an entrée to a more textured understanding of the political, historical, social, cultural, and theological/pastoral dimensions of the text(s); and 2) the role social-location plays in both the historical and contemporary interpretation of texts (history of interpretation). As a result, students will consider their individual (private) and community’s (public) engagement of the New Testament (texts reading texts) in the processing and actualization of biblical interpretations (“scripturalization”).


Through their exposure and immersion into both text and textures of Bible and biblical interpretation, students should gain a more complex understanding of the basic contours of the New Testament; begin to assess how culture, race, gender, sexual-orientation, class, and ethnicity impact theological reflection; and the social implications and/or ramifications for constructed interpretive practices. This course is designed to empower students to conduct critical research and write intelligently and persuasively on both Bible and biblical interpretation as socially—conditioned and –located readers. Finally, this course is designed to prompt students to evaluate the role biblical interpretation(s) play in promoting an acute sensitivity to living (i.e. interpreting) responsibly in a culturally diverse world thereby promoting justice and service of faith.


Wayne A. Meeks, Gen Ed., The Harper-Collins Study Bible, ISBN-10: 0060786841; ISBN-13: 978-0060786847

Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, ISBN-10: 0300140169; ISBN-13: 978-0300140163

James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, ISBN-10: 0300056699; ISBN-13: 978-0300056693

Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, ISBN-10: 0195182499; ISBN-13: 978-0195182491


  • Preparation of all assigned readings
  • Informed and respectful contributions to class discussions
  • Consistent class attendance and promptness
  • Completion of a two tri-term exams (take-home) @ 4-6 pages each, and a final paper @ 15 pages



COURSE TITLE: Medieval Theology


SECTION TIMES/DAYS: Wednesday, 7:15-9:15

INSTRUCTOR: Professor Harrison


This course examines select topics in medieval theology.  We begin with a study of the institutions in which theological reflection principally took place – monastery, school, and university – and we consider the varieties of theology associated with these different institutions.  We devote the bulk of the course to theological topics of central importance to medieval people: the relationship between faith and reason; the geography of the afterlife, the resurrection of the body, and the immortality of the soul; eucharistic theology; the communion of saints; ecclesiology; atonement.  We proceed through a close reading of medieval texts, written by women and men, in a variety of genres, including commentaries on scripture, formal theological treatises, prayers, Lives of saints, miracle collections, and visionary literature.  Among the authors we read are Augustine, Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Anselm of Canterbury, Abelard, Gertrude of Helfta, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and Julian of Norwich.   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 the theological questions important to medieval people as well as of the variety of responses to such questions.  Students will learn how to read carefully medieval texts and scholarly works on medieval theology.  They will learn to write historically responsible analyses of texts significant to medieval theology.  They will come to value learning about the questions medieval people asked as well as the religious ideas and experiences of women and men who lived in a world very different from our own. 


Graduate students with a willingness to wonder and to work hard!


To be determined 


Students are required to read carefully all assigned texts before class and to be prepared to contribute regularly and thoughtfully to class discussions.  Attendance is required, and students’ in-class participation will be evaluated.  More than one absence will lower a student’s grade.  Students are responsible for writing a short paper (2-4 pp.) almost every week and giving a number of oral presentations.  (The first paper is due on the first day of class.)  There is, furthermore, a final research prospectus (not fewer than 15 and not more than 20 pages). 



COURSE TITLE: Foundations of Theological Ethics 
SECTION TIME/DAYS: Tuesdays 7:15-9:45 | Fall 2015
INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Elizabeth Quirós

Course Description:
This course introduces students to the foundations of Christian theological ethics. Following an historical overview, we will closely examine particular theo-ethical paradigms, including biblical, ecclesial, natural law, virtue, actions, liberation, etc. Students will work with primary and secondary text sources to analyze and evaluate these different approaches to theological ethics. Applications to contemporary issues in the field of bioethics will be used to exemplify the meaning and function of different foundational frameworks, and the relation between theory and practice in moral theology. The main objective of this course is to familiarize students with how theological themes inform and shape moral arguments and ultimately moral life.

Student Learning Outcomes: 
The purpose of the course is to help students to: 
-Understand the Scriptural, historical, doctrinal, and experiential dimensions of Christian reflection in the moral life
-Examine and critically compare different methodological approaches within Christian theological ethics
-Engage in a careful analysis of the relationship between foundational frameworks of moral theology and contemporary normative problems
-Appreciate the normative implications of arguments and issues and to value their wider theological, ethical, pastoral, and social implications

Graduate status. 

Required Texts: 
Charles Curran, Catholic Moral Theology in the United States. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2008 (9781589011960)

Paul Ramsey, Basic Christian Ethics. Library of Theological Ethics. Louisville: Westminster/ John Knox Press, 1993 [1950].  (0-664-25324-5) 

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Theological Bioethics: Participation, Justice, and Change. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2005. (978-1-58901-075-8)

Required texts are subject to change

Additional readings to be found on MyLMUConnect

Course Work: 
Participation: 20% 
5 Critical response papers: 40% 
Final Paper: 40%



COURSE TITLE: Spiritual Formation for Pastoral Ministry


DAY/TIME:  M 7:15-9:45


*Please note this is a sample description of a section taught during a previous semester and is subject to revision.


Union with God, personal awareness, and pastoral sensitivity form the heart of effective ministry. This course will focus on cultivating a holistic spirituality capable of balancing self-possession and self-transcendence, contemplation and action, work and leisure, self-care and care of others. A variety of spiritual disciplines will be explored and experienced, with special attention given to developing one's own personal spiritual practice. The course will include both theoretical and experiential learning.


Students will demonstrate an ability to reflect on their life and ministry experience and to articulate an understanding of their experience in light of the topics covered in the readings and class discussions. Students will make explicit and evaluate their approach to Christian discernment, with specific notice of the history of grace and the history of temptation in their lives. Students will formulate a way or rule of life that can foster spiritual vitality in both their personal and ministerial life.


For graduate students and ministers, ordained or lay.  It is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED that those taking this course have at least two years of experience in some form of pastoral ministry.







COURSE TITLE: Comparative Mysticism 

COURSE NUMBER: THST 6082.1  /  YGST 6082        

Day/Time: Mondays 4:30 to 7:00 

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Key Chapple


In this class we will explore the inner or mystical life as articulated in the life and practice of various religious traditions.  We will begin with a study of a modern classic: The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, the pre-eminent American philosopher and psychologist as well as the key ideas of Carl Jung.  We will then examine the Jewish and Islamic mystical traditions, as well as key writers in the emerging field of contemplative Christian ecology.  Yoga and mysticism will be examined through the writings of 20th century philosopher Sri Aurobindo. 


Students will be familiar with the psychological approaches to religious experience as found in William James and Carl Jung.  Students will learn the principles and practices of mystical theology from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Yoga traditions.  They will be versant with primary figures. They will also be able to write about and discuss this topic.

Graduate status in Theological Studies or Yoga Studies. 


William James, Varieties of Religious Experience

Joseph Campbell, ed., The Portable Jung

David Cooper, God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism 

Anne Marie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam

Douglas Christie, The Blue Sapphire of the Mind

Thomas Berry, Evening Thoughts

Debashish Banerji, Seven Quartets of Becoming: A Transformative Yoga Psychology Based on the Diaries of Sri Aurobindo


Students will be required to complete two projects.  The first will be a response paper and presentation based on a portion of one of the books listed above.  This will provide students with an opportunity to explore an area of their choosing, whether the psychological substrate or Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or Yogic approaches to the spiritual life .  The second project will be a research project and presentation pertaining to mysticism and/or spirituality, particularly in its relationship to one or more specific theological traditions.  Suggested topics might include the life and work of various individual mystics (Rumi, Kabir, Lalla, Hildegard of Bingen, George Fox, Al-Junayd, Patanjali, etc.) or a study of the general philosophical and theological issues that surround the study of mysticism, drawing from literature by contemporary writers such as Nasr, Katz, Stace, Underhill, and others.



COURSE TITLE: Graduate Theology Pro-Seminar                                             


SECTION TIMES/DAYS:  T 4:30-7:00                                              

INSTRUCTOR: Daniel L. Smith-Christopher


This graduate course introduces students to the basic concepts, themes, and methods of Christian theology. We will analyze the concepts and themes of God, Jesus Christ, Trinity, creation, anthropology, sin, free will, justification, atonement, ecclesiology, and hermeneutics.


  • Gain knowledge of basic concepts and themes of Christian (Catholic and Protestant) theology.
  • Understand some of the major methodological debates pertaining to different theological approaches,
  • To value the importance of substantive theological debates (historical and contemporary) regarding the interpretations of Christian teaching.
  • To learn research skills and to improve critical reading and writing abilities, particularly with respect to the articulation of theological and normative arguments.


The Pro-Seminar is intended as a “first course” for MA Theology and Pastoral Theology students.


McGrath, Alister E., Christian Theology: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell (5th Ed), 2011

McGrath, Alister E., The Christian Theology Reader: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

Rausch, Thomas, I Believe in God: A Reflection on The Apostles Creed, Liturgical Press, 2008.

       Other readings will be distributed to the class as handouts.


Mid-Term to Evaluate Progress

The 18-20 page research paper.  Possibilities include:

  • Compare two or three different Theologians in terms of their content and method, appeals to different theological sources, etc.
  • Compare two or three different Biblical theologians in their use and interpretation of either the same passage, or the same theological issue using and citing scripture.
  • Present a classic theological issue as defined by McGrath, and reflect on other theologians’ views as well as reflect on their pastoral implications.
  • Present a theological issue comparing and contrasting three different AGES in Theological development and history (e.g. Patristics, Reformation, Contemporary)



COURSE TITLE: Comprehensive Exam Seminar


SECTION TIMES/DAYS: Wednesday, 4:30 – 7:00 pm

INSTRUCTOR:  Jim Fredericks


*This is a sample course description from an earlier semester and is subject to change.


This is the required comprehensive exam seminar for all MA in Theology students enrolled in the 42-unit program. While drawing on previous course work, the seminar also requires participants to study additional sources that will help them integrate their theological education and provide a foundation for their research projects. The comprehensive exams will be administered as a part of the course requirements. Students are required to take two exams and produce a proposal for a Master’s thesis. The first exam covers general themes in systematic theology. The second exam is based on bibliography reflecting a specific interest of the student. This exam is administered by a faculty member who has agreed to serve in this capacity with the consent of the course instructor. The research proposal is supervised by the faculty member who will eventually serve as the student’s thesis-director. This faculty member must be approved by the course instructor.


General familiarity with the work of major Christian thinkers

Ability to articulate and evaluate major theological themes

Ability to construct theological arguments

Ability to integrate theological ideas



REQUIRED TEXTS (tentative):

Fiorenza and Galvin, Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives [Fortress, 2011] ISBN-10: 0800662911

Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (Bloomsbury Academic, 2011) [this is available as an e-book through Hannon Library

Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology (Fortress Press, 1993), ISBN-10: 0800628225

Richard Gaillardetz,  Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Orbis, 2008); ISBN-10: 1570757690

David Powers: The Sacraments: the Language of God’s self-giving, (Crossroad, 1998) ISBN-10: 0824517989



FIRST EXAM (25%): The first exam tests the student in general themes in systematic theology.

SECOND EXAM (25%): The second exam tests the student in an area of theological concern of specific interest to the student.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL (25%): The proposal for a research project, presumably, will be the topic of the MA thesis which the student will write in the spring semester. 




Course Number/Section: BIOE 6000 – THST 6998.1

Section Times/Day: M 7:30-10:00 – UH 4511 (BIOETHICS CONFERENCE ROOM)



Bioethics represents a complex intellectual phenomenon in the canon of newly emerging disciplines.  Although an established academic field, it stills struggles to find a formal and coherent methodology for the analysis of ethical problems triggered by advances in medicine and the life sciences.  The course introduces students to the historical, theoretical, and thematic dimensions of bioethics.  More specifically, the course looks at historical contribution of theologians and philosophers to bioethics; it addresses the theoretical challenges of bioethics as an interdisciplinary field, with an emphasis on dominant theories in bioethics; and, finally, it touches upon the main topics of bioethics, including medical experimentation, assisted reproductive technologies, genetics, transplantation, assisted suicide and euthanasia. 


  • Understand the basic problems, methods, and approaches to the field of bioethics.
  • Familiarize with the main ethical theories of bioethics and identify the philosophical components of the public discussion on bioethical issues.
  • Engage in the critical analysis of bioethical questions and articulate their theoretical and practical dimension.
  • Appreciate the importance of ethical dialogue across different philosophical traditions.


Undergraduate degree


Albert R. Jonsen, The Birth of Bioethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)

Jessica Pierce and George Randels, Contemporary Bioethics: A Reader with Cases (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 7th edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)

Additional material will be distributed during the semester at the Professor’s discretion


2 in class presentations, 2 essays and a research paper.   Further information for the written assignments will be provided in class.