Course Descriptions

Courses reserved for theology majors and minors

THEO 210 Historical Development of the Christian Church 

As an introduction to the history of Christianity and the Christian church from the New Testament era to the present, this course traces key Christian figures, events, trends and projects against the larger socio-cultural backdrop of world history.

Course objectives:

  1. To provide students with a fundamental knowledge of the key events and figures in Christian history. 
  2. To provide students with a framework for contextualizing the thought of major theologians.
  3. To help students understand the interplay between theology, power, and life in the Church.
  4. To help students see how Church teachings develop over time.
THEO 220 Philosophy for Theology 

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 from Plato to the 20th century.

Course objectives:

  1. Students will be able to trace the chronology of the Western philosophical tradition.
  2. Students will be able to articulate the connections between Western philosophical ideas and the development of Christian theology.
  3. Students will be able to identify major philosophical thinkers who have influenced the development of theology (including but not limited to, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Kant).
THEO 221 Thinking Theologically 

This overview of topics within systematic theology – God, Trinity, Christ, grace, salvation, church, sacraments – has a twofold aim: (1) developing skills of theological thinking, speaking, and writing, and (2) providing a framework in which to place more specialized courses.

Course objectives:

  1. Introduce the major topics and thinkers of systematic theology in their historical contexts. These topics include:  the sources and methods of theology; the Triune God; the person and work of Christ; theological anthropology (human nature, grace, and sin); the church; the sacraments; Christian theology of religious pluralism; and eschatology.
  2. Through the reading of primary sources representing a wide range of historical periods the students will learn to identify correctly an author’s argument, develop the ability to compare and contrast various theological positions, identify some of the historical and philosophical factors which influenced them, and form a theological judgment today.
  3. Relate traditional theological themes to contemporary questions (e.g., ministry in the church, religious pluralism and salvation).
  4. Develop the skill of writing on theological topics, through short and long assignments.
THEO 300 Engaging Scripture

The goal of the course is to deepen students’ familiarity with foundational, biblical texts and with the different ways these texts have been read through the centuries. Content will ordinarily include at least one major section from each Testament (Pentateuch or Prophets and Gospels or Pauline Letters) and the intertextual nature of the texts will be highlighted (e.g. “Abraham” in Romans 4; “Passover” in Eucharistic texts and so on). Students will also learn various hermeneutical methods used through the ages (e.g. patristic, historical-critical, reader-response, feminist, canonical, etc.).

Course objectives:

  1. Students will know the texts of the OT (at least Pentateuch or Prophets) and the NT (at least Gospels or Letters) through extensive reading of those texts and will demonstrate this knowledge through exegetical and theological papers on representative passages.
  2. Students will understand the polyvalent character of Biblical texts and will study and employ a variety of methods and approaches for their interpretation. These “methods and approaches” will be representative of the ancient church, the historical critical method and postmodernism. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of these methods and approaches through class discussion and through exegetical and theological papers.
  3. Students will understand the canonical and the ecclesial contexts of the scriptures: i.e. the unity and intertextuality of the various scriptural books, and the mutuality among texts, canon and churches. Students will demonstrate their understanding through class discussion and through exegetical and theological papers.
THEO 390 Fundamental Moral Theology 

This course seeks to introduce students to basic concepts and debates encountered in thinking about the moral life and to some fundamental contested issues in contemporary moral debate. The first part of the course focuses on fundamental moral theology and includes such concepts as human action, human agency, natural law, freedom, conscience, and the Christian moral life. The second part of the course focuses on application of Christian moral reasoning to contemporary issues.

Course objectives:

  1. Students will develop an understanding of human action as moral, as well as exploring basic issues in moral psychology (desires, practical reason, virtues, etc.).
  2. Students will gain a knowledge of the role of law, especially the role of natural law, freedom, and conscience, in relation to human action and psychology.
  3. Students will understand the specific and distinctive character of the Christian moral life, with attention to the place of God, the sacraments, and Scripture in moral thinking.
  4. Students will use their knowledge of moral theology to present and analyze contemporary moral debate on a contested issue.
THEO 396 Theological Conversations 

The Senior Capstone Course in Theology focuses on students integrating the theological education they have received thus far through a focused experience of research and discussion.  “Discussion” will include formal presentations of research.  “Research” will primarily involve students taking responsibility for their own ongoing education by learning more deeply what theology is, learning research methods, and bringing research to fruition in the writing of papers.  A primary focus of research will include investigation of how theology correlates with other disciplines and ideas, and why theological inquiry remains critically important for church and society.

Course objectives:

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to work independently on a theological research project of their own choosing. 
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate a variety of theological resources and perspectives both within theology, and between theology and other disciplines.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to present and discuss their work.
  4. Students will demonstrate sensitivity to the question of theology’s responsibility to respond to the needs of church and society.
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman
Chair, Theology Department
CSB Richarda P5