Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • 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)
  • STH TT 852: Theological Thinking for Everyday Life and Ministry
    This course aims to teach theological thinking by doing a lot of it. The class is designed to place the specific experiences of participants in conversation with each other and with the wisdom of the authors of the readings. The aim is to become more effective theological thinkers. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 854: Classic Jewish Thought
    This course investigates basic human and religious issues as they have been understood in the classical Jewish tradition: creation and revelation, good and evil, the nature of suffering, the relationship between God and human beings, and the relationships of human beings to one another. We will explore these issues through investigation of sources from the Bible, midrashic literature, Talmud, and Jewish philosophy. Special attention to the role of Torah and its interpretation in Jewish life and thought. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 855: The Theology of Christian Mysticism
    Graduate Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.
    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. (Requires TF 701/TF 702 as prerequisite.)
  • STH TT 856: Preaching for the Modern World: Preaching Theological Challenges
    Consideration of the ways in which the contexts of preaching today differ from those in which the familiar formulations of theology came into being as well as the theological implications of the differences. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 857: Postmodern Theology and Spirituality
    While postmodern thought is often accused of being relativistic and even nihilistic, contemporary theologians have depended on insights from postmodern thinkers to construct theologies that address injustice and advocate for change. This course aims to examine the philosophical and theological critiques of modernity, with an eye towards the constructive possibilities emerging from thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler. The course examines theological proposals that draw on postmodern thought to re-conceptualize divinity in the midst of central challenges of our time: the value of life, alterity/difference, historical trauma, and the future. It aims to provide students with a better understanding of postmodern theories with an eye to their theological significance.
  • STH TT 858: Theologies of Dialogue
    Graduate Prerequisites: STH TT 810.
    An examination of the major contemporary theological options proposed for the theory and practice of dialogue by the churches and theological communities. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 861: Varieties of Religious Naturalisms
    The aim of this seminar is to learn about varieties of religious naturalism and how they have been, and can be, incorporated into philosophical and theological reflection. The seminar will read a variety of works in contemporary religious naturalism, from twentieth-century classics to current contributions, and from theoretical analyses of the meaning of naturalism to surveys attempting to map out the territory of plausible viewpoints. We will also track the close relationship between religious naturalism and both ecologically-rooted forms of spirituality and nature-centered forms of mysticism. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)