Department Chair: Dale Launderville

Department Faculty: Jon Armajani, Kimberly Belcher, Charles Bobertz, Martin Connell, Kathryn Lilla Cox, Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman, Miguel Diaz, Bernard Evans, Daniel Finn, Mary Forman OSB, Juliann Heller, Suzanne Hequet, Noreen Herzfeld, Ephrem Hollermann OSB, Jeffrey Kaster, Patricia Kennedy OSB, Dale Launderville OSB, Daniel McKanan, Anna Mercedes, John Merkle, Michael Patella OSB, Mary Reuter OSB, Anthony Ruff OSB, Vincent Smiles

Rooted in a 1,500 year old Benedictine tradition, the department of theology offers courses which, for the most part, focus on various aspects of the Christian faith. Complementing the Roman Catholic character of the department, the offerings include studies in other Christian traditions, Judaism, Islam, and eastern religions. Through these courses, students explore perennial questions about the reality of God, the meaning of human existence, and the relationship between God, humanity, and the world.

Students graduating with a major in theology are prepared for a wide variety of graduate school programs and careers.


The Department of Theology conducts assessment of student learning in order to determine how well the department and its students are accomplishing the program’s specified learning goals and objectives. This assessment activity provides the Department with systematic feedback to make curricular and pedagogical improvements. While the Department protects confidentiality, students should expect that their coursework may serve as evidence in the assessment process and that they may be asked to provide other data or participate in assessment reviews.

Major in Theology (44 credits)*

THEO 111, The Biblical Tradition
THEO 220, Philosophy for Theology (Fall)
THEO 221, Thinking Theologically (Fall)
THEO 210, Historical Development of the Christian Church (Spring)
THEO 300, Engaging Scripture (Spring)
THEO 390, Fundamental Theological Conversation (Fall)
THEO 396, Capstone: Theological Conversation (Fall)
Four courses from at least two of the four following areas: Scripture, Systematics/Moral, Spirituality Liturgy/Pastoral, and History/World Religions

*New Major approved by curriculum committee December 2010.

Major in Theology with a Concentration in Pastoral Ministry (54-64 credits)** 

Theology Major Core Requirements  (24 Credits)
THEO 111, The Biblical Tradition
THEO 220, Philosophy for Theology (Fall)
THEO 221, Thinking Theologically (Fall)
THEO 210, Historical Development of the Christian Church (Spring)
THEO 300, Engaging Scripture (Spring)
THEO 390, Fundamental Theological Conversation (Fall)
THEO 396, Capstone: Theological Conversation (Fall)

Pastoral Ministry Required (18-24 Credits)

THEO 380, Pastoral Ministry (New Name: Theology of Ministry)
THEO 346, Diversity in Christian Community or THEO 328 Hispanic Theology
10-16 credits of THEO 397 Internship (Serves as THEO Capstone)

Pastoral Ministry Options: Choose one course in three of the four areas (12 Credits)
Choose One Liturgy Course:  Theology of worship with practical application
THEO 350 Christian Worship
THEO 351 Initiation and Eucharist
THEO 359 Ritual Studies
THEO 359 Liturgy Topics
Choose One Pastoral Care Course:  Theology of pastoral care with practical application
THEO 333 Suffering and Christian Healing
Choose One Catechetical Course:  Theology of catechesis with practical application
THEO 381 Youth Ministry
EDUC 355 Secondary School Pedagogy for Theology 9-12
Choose one Christian Spirituality Course:  Theology of spirituality with practical application
THEO 339 Spiritual Companioning
THEO 339 Disc/Christian Decision Making
THEO 330 Christian Spirituality
THEO 331 Benedictine Spirituality

**Approved by department February 2011; awating curriculum committee approval.

Major in Theology with a Minor in Secondary Education (76 credits)

  • Theo 220 Philosophy for Theology
  • THEO 221, Thinking Theologically
  • THEO 300, Engaging Scripture
  • THEO 390, Fundamental Moral Theology
  • two sections of THEO 395, Advanced Seminar in Theology (or substitute)
  • 4 credits of philosophy: PHIL 331, 333, 334, or 354
  • 4 upper division theology credits as electives
  • 44 education credits required for secondary education minor

Minor in Theology (20 credits)**

  • Theo 221 (Thinking Theologically)
  • THEO 220 (Philosophy for Theology) or THEO 203 (Historical Development of the Christian Church)
  • THEO 300, Engaging Scripture  
  • 8 upper division theology credits as electives

**Approved by department February 2011; awaiting curriculum committee approval

  • THEO 220 Philosophy for Theology

    A historical survey of western philosophy from Plato to the twentieth century, designed to offer "coathooks" for understanding the connection between theology and philosophy.
  • Offered once a year in fall.
  • Ordinarily taken during the first or second year.
  • THEO 221 Thinking Theologically

    This course offers theology majors a common grounding in Christian doctrine.
  • Offered once a year in fall.
  • Ordinarily taken during the sophomore or junior year.
  • Prerequisite: THEO 111. One course in philosophy recommended.
  • THEO 210 Historical Development of the Christian Church 

    Offered once a year in spring, beginning spring 2012.
    • THEO 300 Engaging Scripture

      This course offers theology majors a common grounding in Christian approaches to Scripture, building on THEO 111.
    • Offered once a year in spring, beginning spring 2005.
    • Ordinarily taken during the sophomore or junior year.
    • Prerequisite: THEO 111.
    • THEO 390 Fundamental Moral Theology

      This course offers theology majors a common grounding in Catholic moral theology, building on the foundations laid in THEO 200, 201, and 300.
    • Offered once a year in fall, beginning fall 2005.
    • Ordinarily taken in senior year after the completion of most requirements for the major.
    • Prerequisite: THEO 111. Recommended: THEO 200, 201, 300.


111 The Biblical Tradition. (4)
This course offers an introduction to the discipline of Christian theology, giving primary attention to texts from the Bible (including selections from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Pauline Letters), emphasizing prominent biblical themes (including creation, covenant, and reign of God), and considering some post-biblical developments in the tradition.

200 Philosophy for Theology. (4)
The method, content and status of theological reasoning have always been influenced by the wider intellectual world in which it operates. This course will examine the nature of that influence by surveying major thinkers and developments in the history of Western thought that have played a formative role in Christian theology.

201 Thinking Theologically. (4)
While offering an overview of topics within systematic theology (God, Trinity, Christ, grace, salvation, the Church, and sacraments), this course fosters skills of theological thinking, speaking, and writing, and provides a foundation for more specialized courses.

202 Engaging Scripture. (4)
The goal of the course is to deepen students’ familiarity with foundational biblical texts and with different ways these texts have been interpreted through the centuries. Content will ordinarily includes at least one major section from the Old Testament (Pentateuch or Prophets) and the New Testament (Gospels or Pauline Letters).

265 Readings in Theology. (0-1)
In this course, students and various members of the theology faculty will read and discuss current and classic writings in the discipline. Topics will vary from semester to semester. Offered most semesters. 

271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Consult department chair for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

301 Old Testament Theology. (4)
A survey of writings sacred to both Jewish and Christian traditions, this course examines the three parts of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Law, Prophets and Writings). The various types of literature found in the Old Testament (narrative, law, prophetic oracle, poetry, etc.) are analyzed according to traditional and contemporary techniques of biblical interpretation. Special attention is paid to theological themes(God, creation, redemption, etc.).

302 New Testament Theology. (4)
This course provides a historical and theological overview of the major New Testament writings. While studying select portions of the Gospels, the Pauline letters, and other writings, this course analyzes various types of literature found in the New Testament (apocalyptic, homiletic, liturgical, etc.).

303 The Beginnings of Israel: Pentateuch. (4)
This course focuses on the Israelites' encounter with God at the time of their liberation from slavery in Egypt, and on their reflection upon God's special relationship with them and their ancestors from the time of creation until their entry into the Promised Land. Emphasis is placed upon Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy.

304 The Prophets of Israel. (4)
Through a study of select prophetic writings from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, this courses focuses on the prophets sent by God to challenge the Israelite people to be faithful to the covenant with God and to promote justice in the society of their time.

305 Jesus and the Gospels. (4)
This course explores the origins of the Gospels and the meaning of the teachings and deeds of Jesus as presented in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

306 Paul and His Letters. (4)
This course presents a survey of Paul’s life and thought as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and other writings, and it pursues a historical and theological study of the genuine letters of Paul as he confronts challenges during the development of early Christian communities.

307 Bible, Church and Gender. (4)
Focusing on the importance of Bible and Church for society, ideas about femininity and masculinity, roles of women in the Christian tradition, the use of the Bible as a norm for modern sexual ethics and family values, and views on marriage and sexuality, this course explores the engagement between the Christian biblical tradition and modern perspectives arising from the study of gender.

308 Theology in the Light of Science. (4)
This course will comprise an investigation of the historical and evolving relationship between theology and the natural sciences. This will involve some study of a) the rise of science in the western world, b) the reception and resistance it has encountered within Christianity, c) recent theologies that have taken account of major scientific advances, and d) some major issues that require and bring together contributions from both theology and the natural sciences. 

309 Topics in Scripture. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

310 Forms of Christian Community. (4)
This course provides an overview of Church history with a special emphasis on Christian communities from the earliest monastic communities and parishes to contemporary Catholic Worker houses. Several activities and field trips are scheduled outside of regular class periods.

311 Christian Lives: Biography and Autobiography in the History of Christianity. (4)
This course provides an overview of Church history with special emphasis on the shape of individual lives from the early martyrs and monks to such twentieth-century leaders as Dorothy Day.

312 Christianity in Relation to Judaism. (4)
This course explores the emergence of Christianity within and from Judaism, traditional anti-Jewish formulations of Christian faith, contemporary Christian affirmations of Judaism's validity, and the implications of these new affirmations for Christian self-understanding and for Christian-Jewish relations.

314 Global Christianity. (4)
This course examines the development of Christianity in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, continents that are now home to more than half of the world’s Christians.

317 Religion in Latin America. (4)
The changing nature of religious cultures in Latin America from the pre-Columbian period to the present day. Includes the study of indigenous religious practices, the European "spiritual conquest" of the New World, the creation of syncretic forms of Catholicism, 19th century conflicts between religion and secularism, the spread of Protestantism in the 20th century, and the advent and course of liberation theology in Latin America. Within a historical context, examines the role of religion in shaping sense of self, forms of community, and human interaction with the physical world. Every third semester.

319 Topics in Historical Theology Studies. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

323 The Reality of God. (4)
This course explores the meaning of the existence, nature, attributes, revelation, and presence of God according to the Jewish and Christian traditions, giving special emphasis to the grounds for believing in God and Trinitarian doctrine.

324 Women's Theological Perspectives. (4)
This course introduces students to the critiques and alternative reconstructions that feminist/womanist/mujerista/Latina theologians present with respect to traditional Christian understandings of scripture, God, human personhood (including body and sexuality), and the church using scriptural, historical, cultural, social, and spiritual approaches.

325 The Meaning of Christ. (4)
This course examines Christian understandings of the person and work of Jesus Christ as expressed by New Testament writers, Church councils, creeds, liturgical prayers, and theologians.

326 The Catholic Church Today. (4)
Focusing on Vatican Council II as a pivotal event in the Roman Catholic Church, this course examines models for understanding the Church today, its leadership structures, its tasks in society, and its ecumenical and inter-faith endeavors. Each semester, special attention is paid to current issues facing the Church.

327 Christian Approaches to Other Religions. (4)
This course examines a variety of Christian theological positions on other religions. Perspectives from the Bible, Church councils, doctrinal statements, and works of theologians are studied. Concurrently, attention is given to other religions and their relationships to Christianity.
328 Hispanic Theology in the United States. (4)
This course explores how U.S. Hispanic experiences (of religion, culture, gender, etc.) mediate theological approaches to the Bible and Christian doctrines. It offers a survey of the origins and presence of U.S. Hispanic communities and examines central biblical and theological themes in the writings of contemporary U.S. Hispanic theologians.

329 Topics in Doctrinal Theology. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

330 Christian Spirituality. (4)
This course provides a study of the Christian tradition of spirituality as reflected by some classic and contemporary Christian writers, with particular focus on the influence of beliefs (about Trinity, Christ, grace, etc.) and elements of spiritual formation (such as prayer, reading, solitude, and social responsibility) on Christian living today.

331 Benedictine Spirituality. (4)
This course explores the origins and essentials of Benedictine spirituality, giving special attention to how this spirituality is expressed in the lives of the monastics at Saint Benedict's Monastery and Saint John’s Abbey. It encourages students to envision for themselves and others how the lessons of Benedictine spirituality can influence their lives whatever their vocation might be.

333 Suffering and Christian Healing. (4)
This course considers human suffering and the Christian ministry of healing from historical, literary, psychological, scientific, and theological perspectives.

334 Spirituality of the College Male: Male Spirituality and Sexuality. (4)
This course will use the experience of the college male as the point of departure for a consideration of the interplay between male sexuality, masculine identity and spirituality, and the ways in which these might be better integrated. This course will examine concepts found in long-established and contemporary studies of spirituality, male sexuality, and masculinity. Of special interest will be the ways in which male sexuality, masculine identity and spirituality affect men's relationships with God, self and the other. Underlying this course is the assumption that the development of a personal spirituality will help one to be more attentive to the voice of God, more aware of one's own existence, and better able to form communities founded on respect for individual persons. 

339 Topics in Spirituality. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

340 God and the Moral Life. (4)
This course explores how God makes a difference in the way Christians live. It develops views of the moral life within a Christian theological vision of goodness, sin, redemption, vocation, and human community. Within this vision, the course deals with contested moral issues such as euthanasia, homosexual activity, contraception, and war.

342 Theology of Sexuality and Marriage. (4)
While addressing contested questions regarding premarital sex, homosexual activity, contraception, divorce, etc., this course focuses on how Christian narratives from scripture and tradition shape our visions of sex and marriage.

343 Theology and the Environment. (4)
This course explores what major religious traditions about humanity’s relationship to the rest of creation. Among the religious traditions surveyed in this course are Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Certain aspects of Native American spirituality are also considered. Particular attention is given to different Christian perspectives on the human relationship to creation.

344 Religious Perspectives on Economic Life. (4)
Moral theology asks what religious faith means for living a good life—for each person and for society as a whole. This course examines various visions of economic life held by religious people in the West, focusing on the Christian understanding of economic life.

345 Theologies of Violence and Nonviolence. (4)
This course examines theological perspectives on violence and nonviolence ranging from absolute pacifism to just war theory to the celebration of “redemptive violence.” Students have the opportunity to do service learning in an organization related to violence and nonviolence.

346 Diversity in Christian Community. (4)
This course explores how the Christian story affects the formation of communities where differences of culture, race, gender, age, and ability are encountered. It draws on scripture and tradition, particularly Catholic social teaching, and on historical and contemporary accounts of Christian communities that face issues of diversity.

347 Family, Church, and Society. (4)
Drawing on historical, sociological, and religious sources, this course introduces students to a range of perspectives concerning the intersection of family, church and society, focusing on issues such as cohabitation, dating, marriage, divorce, sexuality, homosexuality, and gender roles both within and outside the family.

349 Topics in Moral Theology. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

350 Christian Worship. (4)
This course offers an overview of the origin, development, and cultural aspects of Christian worship, giving special attention to the Church's celebration of the mystery of Christ in word and sacrament, and to the meaning and rhythm of Sundays, feasts and seasons.

351 Initiation and Eucharist. (4)
This course focuses on the Christian rites of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion) and the Eucharist as primary sacraments in the Church, exploring their Christological and anthropological foundations, historical evolution, contemporary forms, and pastoral effectiveness.

359 Topics in Liturgical Studies. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

360 History of Judaism. (4)
This course presents a survey of the history of the Jewish people and an analysis of the development of Judaism from biblical to modern times.

361 Studies in Jewish Thought. (4)
This course explores Jewish thought from biblical times to the present, unified around three principal themes: God, Torah, and the people Israel.

362 Contemporary Jewish Theology. (4)
This course explores the theological perspectives of leading contemporary Jewish thinkers, particularly on topics central to traditional Judaism and it compares those views with classical Jewish teachings.

363 Religions of the World. (4)
This course focuses on major religions of the world cross-culturally in terms of categories such as sacred text, sacred time, sacred space, myth, ritual, symbol, ethics, and politics. The relationships among the religions and topics pertaining to inter-religious dialogue are examined.

364 American Popular Religion. (4)
Analysis of the changing cultural meaning and experience of religion in America. Considers why American religious experience has been so diverse, how religiosity has shaped our society, and how in turn society's values and structure have shaped religion. Primary focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Yearly.

365 Islam and the Judeo-Christian Tradition. (4)
This course explores the history of Islam and its interpretations, as well as doctrines and practices among Muslims in various parts of the world. It examines the Quran and Hadith, and topics related to women and gender, Islamic law, and Islam and politics, and it examines the relationship between Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition.

369 Topics in Jewish Studies and World Religions. (4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Consult department chair for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

380 Pastoral Ministry. (4)
This course is an introduction to the theology and spirituality of pastoral ministry, which explores pastoral leadership and the structural components of parish life and ministry.

381 Youth Ministry. (4)
This course focuses on the theology and practice of parish youth ministry with special emphasis on specific methodologies for youth ministry.

382 Family Ministry. (1)
This course explores the theology of Christian marriage and family life, focusing on pastoral approaches to marriage preparation and to families.

383 Retreat Work. (1)
This course focuses on the theology and practice of retreat ministry, in which students design a retreat.

384 Social Concerns. (1)
This course focuses on Catholic social teaching and its implications for pastoral ministry.

385 Ministry to the Sick and Dying. (1)
This course examines pastoral ministry to the sick and dying, with a special emphasis on the grieving process.

389 Topics in Pastoral Theology and Ministry. (1-4)
Course title(s) and description(s) appear in the official class schedule published each semester.

390 Moral Theology. (4)
This course introduces students to basic ethical concepts (such as human action, human agency, natural law, freedom, conscience, and the Christian moral life) and to the application of Christian moral reasoning to contemporary ethical issues.

395 Advanced Seminar in Theology. (4)
This course presupposes a foundational knowledge of the bible and Christian theology, and introduces students to the content and method of a specific theological sub-discipline through intensive study of a particular topic (as indicated in the official class schedule).

397 Internship. (10-16)
This is a supervised practicum for students majoring in theology with a concentration in Pastoral Theology.

398 Honors Senior Essay, Research or Creative Project. (4)
Required for graduation with "Distinction in Theology." Prerequisite: HONR 396 and approval of the department chair and director of the Honors Thesis program. For further information see HONR 398.