Courses

  • STH TT 821: Topics in Ph&Rn
    This course description is currently under construction.
  • STH TT 824: Scientific Approach to Religion
    This seminar examines interpretations of religious beliefs, behaviors, and experiences deriving from the biological, evolutionary, psychological, cognitive, neurological, and medical sciences. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 825: John Wesley's Theology Today
    The theology of John Wesley, though projected from an historical past, is a living and dynamic force in contemporary theology. This course examines the primary doctrinal, methodological, and practical commitments of John Wesley?s theology as developed in his sermons, hymns, writings, and life-praxis. The course also explores contemporary trends in Methodism and in Wesleyan theology more generally as they attempt to respond to the present theological situation and to the future prospects of a Christian faith lived out in the twenty-first century. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 826: Political Theology
    Recent developments across a variety of disciplines have led to deep and widespread interest in "political theology" -- a diverse range of approaches to interrogating, (re)imagining, and (de)constructing the intersection of politics, religion, and theology, present and past. Scholars have argued that dominant paradigms of sovereignty, the secular, modernity, and liberalism are themselves secularized, corrupted, or otherwise transformed versions of Jewish and Christian theology. Others contend that modern political practices and paradigms represent not the legacy of early modern secularization but the trail of an early modern reinjection of theology in political and social theory. Others still find in the practices of contemporary communities lived political theologies that subvert existing power structures and cast doubt on common conceptions of contemporary political life and possibilities. This course examines these competing developments, readings, and proposals; their interactions; and the contested histories, theories, and values that underwrite them. Considering political theology as both a historical and contemporary phenomenon and engaging a range of perspectives and figures, the course also considers relations and interactions between political theology and other approaches to questions of "religion and politics."
  • STH TT 827: Jewish and Christian Justice
    In this jointly-taught seminar, we will explore the lives and work of six influential Jewish and Christian figures involved in social and environmental activism in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will delve into the autobiographies, biographies and writings of six selected figures, encountering and analyzing the social-religious contexts in which they lived, their theological and ethical commitments, and the dynamics of individual and communal transformation revealed in their lives. Further, we will analyze how the ideas and experiences of these individuals illumine contemporary social and environmental issues and point to potential responses by religious seekers and leaders, with particular attention to Jewish and Christian communities. The seminar is designed as an interreligious, cross-cultural encounter, and will encourage students to explore the values, ideas and practices of their own communities; to share in a common meal each week and other traditional practices; and to explore resonances and differences across communities and contexts, as revealed in the individuals we study and in our own lived experiences.
  • STH TT 828: Liberal Evangelical Christianity
    The general aim of this course is to learn about the history, sociology, theology, and ethics of the tension between liberals and evangelicals that has persisted among Protestant Christians within the United States, under various names, since early in the nineteenth century. The specific aim is to situate a variety of moderate possibilities within this tension. These range from mid- twentieth-century movements such Neo- Evangelicalism (represented by Billy Graham and Carl Henry, among others) and the hearty reception of famous preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick, who defined himself as 'liberal evangelical'; through the revolutionary social visions of evangelicals such as Ron Sider and Tony Campolo, the cultural critique of Jim Wallis and the Sojourners Community, and the Christian pacificism of Anabaptists such as John Howard Yoder; to the green evangelicals, liberal evangelicals, evangelical liberals, progressive evangelicals, and radical moderates of today. The class is intended for master's students interested in the liberal-evangelical tension and especially in the prospects for transcending that tension both in individual faith identities and in congregational contexts. The class should help participants become more articulate communicators and more effective leaders around issues bearing on this tension. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 829: Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas is one of the most important figures in the history and development of Western philosophy and Christian theology. On nearly everything he writes about -- from virtue to the sacraments, metaphysics of identity to the incarnation, war to soteriology -- he has something interesting, important, and illuminating to say. And whether one agrees with his particular conclusions or not, it is difficult to engage his work without growing as a thinker and reader. This doctoral seminar constitutes an extended engagement with Thomas's thought, primarily through attention to his Summa theologiae. Engagement with secondary sources will be sparing so as to keep our focus on the text itself. We will be reading with an eye to understanding Thomas both on his own terms and as a resource for contemporary work in philosophy, theology, and religious studies. The course's focus this year is on Thomas's ethics (especially his conceptions of virtue, habit, and human action); the relations between his ethics and his overarching theological and intellectual project; and the ongoing philosophical and theological interest of these dimensions of his thought. The course is suitable both for advanced Aquinas students as well as those new to his thought.
  • STH TT 831: Brains, Bodies & Religions
    Graduate Prerequisites: one previous course in religion or consent of instructor.
    This seminar is about religion and embodiment -- in detail. We begin with an introduction to the major religion-relevant themes of both critical social theory and the evolutionary cognitive neuroscience, which are often taken to be opposed ways of seeing human life--we will investigate this claim of incompatibility throughout the seminar. We then continue by working through research articles on a variety of fascinating and vital topics related to brains, bodies, and religions, first focusing on evolution of religion and subsequently on sex, gender, and race. Through reading these research articles, class presentations, writing a paper, and seminar discussions, seminar participants will learn about the evolutionary and cultural origins of religion and morality, the interplay of virtually species-wide cognitive- emotional tendencies and flexible cultural creativity in cultures and religions, the exploitation of the human cognitive-emotional system in economic practices, religion and violence, the embodied and socially constructed qualities of religious beliefs and practices, the neurological and cultural aspects of religious ritual and spiritual experience, and the interplay of biology and culture in human sexuality and sexual identity, race and racism, aesthetics and morality. Bodies matter, and bodies matter for religion --on those points critical social theory and the evolutionary cognitive neuroscience are in agreement.
  • STH TT 832: Paul Tillich
    Centered on one of the major theological works of the twentieth century, the Systematic Theology, this course is designed to assist students to contextualize, interpret, and analyze the thought of Paul Tillich and to assess its significance for contemporary theology. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 833: Religion and Science
    This course examines the relationship between religion and science (R&S) through three main lenses. The first is historical: it surveys antique, medieval, and modern developments in the interaction between R&S in the West. The second is methodological: it focuses on ways of construing the R&S relation today, with an emphasis on dialogue and integration approaches. The third is applied: it concentrates on a specific issue in current R&S research--namely, God, evolution, and suffering in nature (sometimes called the "problem of natural evil"). The course is open to all graduate students. No background in science is necessary. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 835: Nicholas of Cusa?s Mystical Theology
    This course explores theological, philosophical, and experiential aspects of late medieval Christian mystical thought in the Dionysian tradition. It does so through an in-depth study of the writings of fifteenth century German mystic Nicholas of Cusa. In addition to closely analyzing primary texts that convey quintessential Cusan theological notions (such as the "coincidence of opposites" and God as "Not-Other"), students will investigate the writings of important predecessors who influenced his thought, and will consider, too, trends in the contemporary study of Cusa's mystical theology.
  • STH TT 837: Doing Theology in a Global Context
    Methodological course which aims to construct a theological method that is appropriate and helpful to theologians and pastors in a post-colonial and globalized world. This would involve mapping the global/post-colonial context and examining the various sources, methods, and norms of theology in light of this new context. Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 838: Mysticism: East and West
    What is mysticism? In this interactive seminar, we will engage in close reading and analysis of texts describing direct communion with a divine or absolute reality. Texts drawn from Chinese, Indian, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Neoplatonic traditions.
  • STH TT 840: Images of Christ in World Christianity
    This is a course in Christology, approached from a world Christianity perspective. I introduce students to a variety of images of Christ from all over the world - mostly in the form of paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art and some writings - and help them to reflect on the content and method of christological reflection. This is done without neglecting the African-American and Feminist/Womanist concerns. Students are given the option of turning in a piece of art portraying their own image of Christ in lieu of a final paper. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 841: Christian Encounters with Hinduism
    This course begins with a survey of Hinduism - its history, beliefs, and practices - and moves on to trace the history of Hindu-Christian encounter both in India and the US. Three pieces of writing are studied as samples of encounter - my book on The Crucified Guru, John Thatamanil's book The Imminent Divine, and Francis Clooney's Christian God, Hindu God. The course ends with examining the various theologies of religions and constructing a appropriate theological stance for a healthy encounter with Hindus today. The course will involve both visit to Hindu temple, and meeting Hindus as guest speakers in the class. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 842: Lab Placement
    This is a course for students in a variety of Boston University School of Theology and Division of Religious and Theological Studies degree programs who are registered for laboratory placements. It is not available to students at other schools in the Boston Theological Institute.
  • STH TT 843: Religion and Science Lab
  • STH TT 844: War and the Human: Theological Responses to 21st century War
    What motivates us to fight? What are the practices of war saying about who we are, as persons and as a nation? What is the impact of war? This course brings theological insights to bear on current practices of war. Beginning with analysis of the dimensions of 21st century war, we will explore perennial human questions raised within the context of war: love/hate, shame/guilt, conscience, justice, community, identity, and death. This course aims to deepen theological exploration and also seeks to empower students to develop constructive theological responses to war. The course focuses on current practices of war by the U.S. and features site-visits and engagements with different sectors of society directly involved in war/healing work. Topics addressed include: terror & the role of religion in war post 9/11; religion in the military (chaplains, race, class, gender, religious pluralism); the discourse of war - just war, pacifism; technology, intelligence, & the media; trauma and war; the function of race, class, and gender in war; peace, protest, and religious communities. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 845: Spirituality, Medicine & Health
    The general aim of this science-religion course is to learn about the complex entanglements among religious traditions and spirituality, medical traditions and healing modalities, and norms for physical and mental health. This will involve (i) in Part 1 of the course, gaining a basic grasp on the history of the medical traditions of China, India, the Middle East, and the West, including the metaphysical frameworks that inform those traditions; (ii) in Part 2 of the course, studying the complex controversy over spirituality and health research and attempting to decide whether and how the efficacy of healing modalities is to be evaluated; (iii) in Part 3 of the course, understanding how western biomedicine interacts with the array of medical traditions and spiritually inspired healing modalities that thrive in the West; and (iv) throughout the course, addressing philosophical, theological, and ethical questions about norms for mental and physical health and comparing metaphysical frameworks for health and healing. The class is intended for advanced masters students and doctoral candidates interested in the science-religion dialogue, and particularly in spirituality and health. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 849: Queer Theology
    This course examines the emergence of queer theology as it has been derived from queer theory and LGBTQ social justice activists. It will acquaint students with the history of the term "queer", its challenges, its reappropriation and the impact queer theology is having on the Christian faith and practices. We will especially investigate how "queering" may contribute to theology as academic discipline, church practice and as an instrument of social justice. This course will privilege an intersectional analysis. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)