Spring 2015 Course Descriptions

Spring 2015 Course Descriptions


COURSE TITLE:  Paul the Apostle 


SECTION TIMES/DAYS: Wednesday 7:15 – 9:45

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jeffrey S. Siker


In this course we explore the person, ministry, and message of the apostle Paul from historical, literary, social, and theological perspectives, with attention to our own interpretive contexts as well.  The principal topics of the course include:

  • the various worlds that shaped Paul's context (social, historical, religious)
  • the content and contexts of the letters in the New Testament written by Paul, as well as to the debate over letters written in Paul's name
  • the depiction of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles
  • the presentation of Paul in non-canonical writings after the NT
  • the significance of Paul's letters for the development of Christianity
  • modern interpretation and discussion of Paul in relation to various ethical and theological debates (sexuality, women in the church, church and politics, et al)
  • the place of Paul's writings in current debates about Jewish/Christian relations
  • critical understanding of developments in scholarship about Paul


1) Students will know the content of Paul's letters and the contexts that shaped them.

2) Students will be able to engage in critical exegesis and evaluation of Paul's letters and the theological debates about these letters both in ancient and modern contexts.

3) Students will value the significance of Paul in the shaping of the Christian tradition and in the ongoing debates about Christian identity. 


-preferable for students to have had THST 600 (NT Theology) or 601 (OT Theology)


  • A Bible (modern translation)
  • M.J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.
  • James Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.
  • V.P. Furnish, The Moral Teaching of Paul: Selected Issues.  3rd edition.  Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.


  • two exegetical papers (5-7 pages each)
  • midterm exam
  • final paper (15-20 pages)
  • seminar participation



Yoga Philosophy: Text and Practice: YGST 620                              

Hinduism: Vedānta and Yoga:THST 612.1  

Spring 2015

Professor Christopher Chapple

Course Description:

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

Karma and Creativity, Chapple

Course Work/Expectations:

The first 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


TERM:Spring Semester 2013

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

Office: UNH 3765

            (310) 338-2857; (310) 338-1947



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
  • PDF materials


  • Several short reading analysis papers (40% of final grade)
  • A research paper on a specific topic in systematic theology (60% of final grade)
  • Length: twenty pages minimum





SECTION TIME: M 4:15-7:00 p.m. – UH 4511



The course will introduce students to the foundations of theological ethics.  After a historical introduction dealing with different models of ethical thinking, the course will look at the following: biblical roots of moral theology, the mediation of faith and moral reason -- with special reference to the relation of philosophical and theological ethics, the ecclesial dimension of Christian morality, the debate on normative theories and the integration of virtue ethics, fundamental moral option and action theory.  Applications to contemporary issues in the fields of bioethics, social and sexual ethics, as well as pastoral theology will be used to exemplify the meaning and function of different foundational frameworks and the relation between theory and practice in moral theology.


To introduce students to basic methodological questions in fundamental moral theology

To learn critical tools for ethical decision making

To relate foundational frameworks to concrete normative problems

To understand how theological themes inform and shape moral arguments and ultimately moral life. 


Undergraduate Degree


Richard M. Gula, Reason Informed by Faith: Foundations of Catholic Morality (New York: Paulist Press, 1989)

Klaus Demmer, Shaping the Moral Life: An Approach to Moral Theology, transl. by Roberto Dell’Oro (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2000)

Klaus Demmer, Living the Truth: A Theory of Action, Brian McNeil, translator (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2010

In addition, a Reader, prepared by the professor, will be available for purchase on the first day of class.


This graduate course is a combination of lectures and student participation through discussion sessions.  Assignments include in-class presentations, essays, and a research paper (15-20 pages) by the end of the semester.  




COURSE TITLE: Foundations of Theological Ethics


SECTION TIME/DAYS: T 4:30-7:00PM at the Diocese of Orange

INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Matthew Petrusek

Course Description:

This graduate-level seminar provides an in-depth examination of the central ideas and methodologies that constitute the field of “theological ethics.” The course will identify and evaluate how foundational thinkers in the history of theological ethics respond to the fundamental theological, ontological, anthropological, epistemological, and ethical questions that ground and motivate theological-ethical inquiry. Within this broad interpretive framework—which will include philosophical as well as religious texts—we will also examine and evaluate specific theological-ethical paradigms (e.g., natural law, virtue, agape/caritas, different forms of “sola scriptura,” imago deiimitatio Christi, mysticism, liberation, etc.), the constitutive components of moral action (e.g., freedom, responsibility, rationality, desire, will, conscience, experience, vulnerability to individual and social sin, etc.), and relevant socio-economic contexts (e.g., persecution, the formation of the early Church, Protestant and Catholic Reformations, modernity, industrialization, post-modernity, globalization, poverty, war, etc.). The course will also ask students to take stands on normative theoretical questions (e.g., Which theological-ethical alternatives seem most justified and why?) and practical moral problems (e.g., How can theological-ethical inquiry help us address concrete economic, legal, political, biomedical, social, etc. issues?). Seeking to tie these strands together, the course’s overarching goal is to establish a conceptual framework for appreciating and evaluating the methodological and substantive unity-in-diversity and diversity-in-unity that constitutes the discipline of theological ethics.

Student Learning Outcomes:

The purpose of the course is to help students to:

-Establish a broad and sophisticated understanding of some key themes, ideas, and methodologies in the history of theological ethics.

-Appreciate the “dialectical” or “conversational” character of theological ethics by examining how different viewpoints often respond to each other in the form of preserving insights of competing views while seeking to redress their perceived shortcomings.

-Think critically about how theoretical theological-ethical reflection directly relates to various spheres of concrete action, including individual decision-making, the creation and implementation of social and political norms and laws, the role of the “church” both internally (including pastoral issues) and within a religiously-pluralistic society, etc.

-Examine the conditions for the possibility of moral action and how it relates to the human good. 

-Explore the relationship between philosophy and theology in an ethical context.

Prerequisites: Graduate status

Required Texts:

-St. Thomas Aquinas. Introduction to Saint Thomas Aquinas, ed. Anton C. Pegis. The Modern Library, 1948.

-Day, Dorothy. Loaves and Fishes: The Story of The Catholic Worker Movement. Orbis Books, 1997.

-Gustavo Gutiérrez. We Drink from Our Own WellsThe Spiritual Journey of a People. Orbis, 2003.

-Martin Luther. Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger. Anchor Books, 1962.

-Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World, ed. James M. Washington. HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.

-John Howard Yoder. The Royal Priesthood: Essays, Ecclesiological and Ecumenical, ed. Michael G. Cartwright. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.

-Additional readings will be available through MYLMU Connect, including selections from Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, St. Augustine, John Calvin, the Radical Reformers, Papal Encyclicals, Reinhold Niebuhr, and John Paul II

Course Work:

Attendance/Participation (including leading seminar discussion): 10%

Take Home Midterm: 25%

Seminar Presentation: 10%

Research Paper: 25%

Take Home Final Exam: 30%



Title:  Foundations of Pastoral Theology

Course Number:  THST 670-01

Section Times/Days:  Tuesday 4:30-7 pm

Instructor:  Dr. Brett C. Hoover and Dr. Michael Horan

Description:  This course will offer a foundation in pastoral theology by exploring the contemporary “lay ministry explosion” in Catholicism. This phenomenon offers the occasion and context for engaging in pastoral theology and allows us to step back even while engaged in it, in order to consider the nature, tasks, style and purpose of pastoral theology in relation to other branches of theology. In an effort to do this, the course will be grounded in the biblical, historical, sociological and theological sources for constructing a theology of pastoral ministry appropriate to various settings. Through this course, we will make use of the practical theology method in pastoral theology but also consider various other approaches.   

Student Learning Outcomes: As a result of this course, students will be able…

  • To locate the place and particular function of pastoral theology in the larger theological matrix, that is, the theological discipline and its various subfields (biblical, historical, etc.);
  • To analyze the general social, cultural, and ecclesial context of Christianity in the United States and analyze the specific context of particular faith communities;
  • To name and develop selected elements needed to construct a theology of ministry that is faithful to the biblical and historical heritage of ministry, and adequate to the contemporary experience of Catholic lay and ordained ministers;
  • To make use of key pastoral theological methodologies, especially those of practical theology;
  • To make theological arguments about key issues in pastoral practice today;
  • To analyze selected theological issues embedded in the official church documents and the writings of theologians on the topic of pastoral ministry.

Pre-requisites: THST 600.

Required Texts:

  • Gula, Richard M. Just Ministry. New York: Paulist, 2010.
  • Hahnenberg, Edward P.  Ministries: A Relational Approach.  New York: Herder and Herder, 2003.
  • Claire E. Wolfteich, Navigating New Terrain:  Work and Women’s Spiritual Lives (New York: Paulist Press, 2002).

Course Work:

Expectations for this class include a written summary analysis of reading, oral presentations on class topics, theology of ministry papers at the beginning and end of the course, a contextual analysis paper, and a final research and integration paper.





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



This course is an introduction to the major theories and practices of comparative theology. As such, the course will address the debate over the theology of religions and will provide an introduction to the history and doctrines of various religions in dialogue with Christianity. Special attention will be given to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.


Learning outcomes include: (1) the development of skills for doing theology comparatively, (2) a familiarity with the history and basic doctrines of several religious traditions, and (3) a familiarity with the Catholic Church’s multiple responses to the fact of religious diversity in light of globalization.


REQUIRED TEXTS (subject to change):

  • Francis X. Clooney, Comparative Theology
  • James L. Fredericks, Buddhists and Christians: Through Comparative Theology to a New Solidarity
  • Other books TBA
  • Assorted essays (available on-line as PDFs) 


Several short essays during the semester. A research paper of 20-25 pages at the end of the semester.






TIMES/DAYS: M 7:15-9:45

INSTRUCTOR:  Fr. Jim Clarke


Learning Outcomes:  Students Will:

  • Read about contemporary models of spiritual direction.
  • Experience the process of spiritual direction.
  • Identify desired qualities in directors, directees, and spiritual direction relationships.
  • Explore contemplative listening.
  • Develop some skills in assisting others to notice and talk about their ongoing experience with God.
  • Explore how gender, racial, generational and cultural qualities can influence the practice of spiritual direction.
  • Describe how other Christian disciplines and particularly the directee's prayer life become part of spiritual direction conversations.
  • Analyze elements that influence discernment in the director, directee and spiritual direction meetings.
  • Reflect upon evaluating spiritual experiences.
  • Become acquainted with possible fruits and potential hazards resulting from participation in the Christian discipline of spiritual direction.
  • Identify appropriate accountability and supervision relationships for directors.
  • Discern whether they feel called to the ministry of spiritual direction. Do you desire to continue studying and become involved as a director?  Or is spiritual direction a discipline you feel called to pursue as a directee? 


THST Graduate Students Only

Required Texts:

  • Au, Wilkie. The Enduring Heart: Spirituality for the Long Haul. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2000.
  • Borysenko, Joan and Dveirin, Gordon. Your Soul’s Compass: What is Spiritual Guidance. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc., 2007.
  • Bakke, Jeannette. Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000.
  • Barry, Williams and Connolly, William. The Practice of Spiritual Direction. New York: The Seabury Press, 1982.
  • Guenther, Margaret. Holy listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction. Boston: Cowley Publications, 1992.
  • Ruffing, Janet. Spiritual Direction: Beyond the Beginnings. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2000.
  • Young, Wm. Paul. The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity. Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007.
  • Course Reader



COURSE TITLE: Research and Writing Seminar                     



INSTRUCTOR: Anna Harrison 


Building on the research proposal students wrote in the Comprehensive Exam Seminar, students in this course will write a Master’s level thesis. Students will regularly present their own work as well as discuss one another’s work.  The instructor will facilitate class discussions and establish a timeline for the thesis’ development.  The instructor will work with the thesis director, who will be assigned in consultation with the student, the instructor, and the Graduate Director.


Students who successfully complete will finish the semester with a completed thesis.  They will have learned about the research skills and strategies necessary to write a thesis; refined their writing skills and improved their ability to make an argument; engaged in in scholarly conversations with their peers and instructor regarding complex ideas and their implications for the world beyond the academy; come to value the modest but important contribution that a thesis can make to reflection on matters religious, including theological.


Comprehensive Exam Seminar 


To be determined 


There will be a significant amount of writing, including revision, in this course.  Because this course is a seminar, attendance and participation are especially important.  Two unexcused class absences will result in the lowering of the total course grade (e.g., from “A” to “A-,” “A-” to “B+,” etc).  Participation requires preparation.  I will always assume you have done the assigned reading and thought carefully about it before coming to class.  This is a demanding course.  Careful reading and writing will require a significant amount of time.  




Title:  Supervised Pastoral Field Education (Contextual Education Seminar)

Course Number:  THST 689-01

Section Times/Days:  Tues. 7-9:45 pm

Instructor:  Dr. Brett C. Hoover

Description:  Drawing upon an interdisciplinary framework, this field education seminar addresses ministerial leadership aimed at the whole person in the service of faith communities for the sake of God’s Reign.  It offers foundational concepts and skills required for effectiveness in ministry that is contextual, collaborative, and intercultural.  In a dialogical classroom context that models collaborative ministry, THST 689 seeks to engage students in theological reflection and ministry skill development.  It helps students reflect on required supervised field education experiences either at their full-time ministry or in some other approved ministry environment.  It aims to enable students to weave together theological, ministerial, and educational insights and understandings.  As present and future leaders in the church, students learn so that they may also be able to teach and train others in what they learn.

Learning Outcomes: As a result of this course, students will be able to:

  • make use of practical theological method in theological reflection;
  • articulate with appropriate terminology the connections between their experiences of ministry and the theology they are learning;
  • articulate key contextual factors—environmental, cultural, psychological, spiritual and ecclesial—that impact particular ministry sites;
  • facilitate work and learning groups in the context of ministry;
  • identify key administrative and legal issues important in pastoral ministry;
  • demonstrate improvement in prayer leadership and oral presentation (preaching) skills;
  • demonstrate improvement in the interpersonal and leadership skills necessary for effective ministry in particular contexts today.

Pre-requisites:  THST 600 and THST 670.

Required Texts:

Jeffrey H. Mahan, Barbara B. Troxell, and Carol J. Allen in Shared Wisdom: A Guide to Case Study Reflection in Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993).

Marti R. Jewell and David A. Ramey, The Changing Face of Church: Emerging Models of Parish Leadership (Chicago: Loyola, 2010).

Paul F. Peri, Catholic Parish Administration: A Handbook (New York: Paulist, 2012). 

Course Work:

Expectations for this class include some form of ministry, regular meetings with a ministry supervisor, keeping a theological journal, an interview with an accomplished minister in an area different from that of the student, an oral presentation including prayer leadership, and a final project.




COURSE TITLE: Theological Aesthetics 


SECTION TIMES/DAYS:  T 4:30pm – 7:00pm

INSTRUCTOR: Cecilia González-Andrieu, PhD.


“Beauty will save the world,” is a legendary statement from Fyodor Dostoyevsky expressing a radical hope embedded within many religious traditions.  This course examines the relationship of aesthetic experience to religious experience in Christianity, the centrality of the body and sensorial perception in human flourishing, and the role of creative work in passing along religious traditions.  We examine what the active and critical engagement with creativity reveals about human struggles, and the role of aesthetic wonderment in sustaining communities, propelling transformation and nourishing the desire and work for justice.


The student will engage a range of primary texts dealing with the role of beauty in theological reflection.

The student will develop the skills to encounter creative making through theological aesthetics methodology primarily within Christianity but also in other religious traditions.

The student will engage their community’s received aesthetics, engage with other aesthetic traditions and explore creativity through their own creative work.

The student will integrate theological aesthetics method with other theological disciplines of their own choosing (ethics, biblical studies, systematics, spirituality, culture, political and liberation theologies, etc.)


This is a graduate course which may be taken at any point during the program 


  • Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty, by Cecilia González-AndrieuBaylor University Press, 2012 -ISBN 978-1602583511
  • Theological AestheticsA Reader, ed by Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen, Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Company, 2004 - ISBN 978-0802828880
  • Senses of Devotion: Interfaith Aesthetics in Buddhist and Muslim Communities, by William A. Dyrness, Cascade Books, 2013 – ISBN 978-1-62032-136-2
  • Pastoral Letter To Artists by Pope John Paul II, 1999. Will be provided electronically. 


Engagement with all course readings evidenced in active and informed participation in class discussions and production of several short critical papers.

Regular class attendance. 

Participation in two encounters with creativity beyond class time.

Midterm creative project production.

Final Research Paper.






SECTION TIME: M 7:15-9:45 p.m. – UH 4511



The question of the beginning is central to our understanding of the human condition.  To be born is to be given to be by a source we do not control, released into life by life itself, a miracle that escapes self-determination and control, while calling, at the same time, for responsibility and care.  How do we articulate the difficult balance between reverence for life and stewardship for the conditions that make it more livable, indeed, more human?  The course examines bioethical questions that concern the beginnings of life. Topics include the ethics of abortion, maternal fetal conflicts, ethical problems in neonatology, as well as the ethical judgment on the entire field of assisted reproductive medicine -- from in vitro fertilization, to surrogate motherhood, gamete storage techniques, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. 


Engage in the critical analysis of bioethical questions at the beginning of life and articulate their theoretical and practical dimensions

Appreciate the importance of ethical dialogue between theology and philosophy

Understand the interplay of morality and law in relation to bioethical issues at the beginning of life

Become familiar with the clinical context of medicine and recognize the ethical challenges facing health care professionals and their patients today


Undergraduate Degree


A complete list of required texts will be provided


This graduate course is a combination of lectures and student participation through discussion sessions.  Assignments include in-class presentations, essays, and a research paper (15-20 pages) by the end of the semester.