Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • STH TT 866: Feminist and Womanist Theologies
    As one of the core courses in the theology sequence at BU School of Theology, this course introduces students to feminist and womanist approaches to the study of theology. It aims to provide students with a grounding in the major ideas and methodologies of feminist and womanist theologians. The first part of the course focuses on questions of method and provides students with grounding in the early history and development of feminist and womanist theologies. The second part focuses on important theoretical engagements that mark significant reassessments of notions of the body, sexuality, agency, and subjectivity within theological work. The third part highlights new trajectories and positions students' work within the ongoing conversation of feminist and womanist discourse. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 871: Science Literacy and Scientific Boundary Questions
    This course introduces contemporary science to students with research and writing interests in the area of science, philosophy, and religion. It also treats scientific boundary questions, which are philosophical, ethical, and theological questions raised by science yet not answerable within science itself. This is more than a popular science course; it is the course to take when you are ready to go beyond popular science, and you are ready for integrative thinking that connects science, philosophy, history, ethics, and theology. The Fall semester lectures are on the biological sciences. That semester can be taken independently of the Spring semester on physics. The mathematics required for the Spring lectures on physics is taught through the whole year in a separate meeting. You should consult the instructor about your background and readiness to take this course prior to registering.
  • STH TT 872: Science Literacy and Scientific Boundary Questions
    This course introduces contemporary science to students with research and writing interests in the area of science, philosophy, and religion. It also treats scientific boundary questions, which are philosophical, ethical, and theological questions raised by science yet not answerable within science itself. This is more than a popular science course; it is the course to take when you are ready to go beyond popular science, and you are ready for integrative thinking that connects science, philosophy, history, ethics, and theology. TT872 lectures are on physics. TT871, on the biological sciences, can be taken independently of TT872 on physics. The mathematics required for the TT872 lectures on physics is taught through the whole year in a separate meeting. You should consult the instructor about your background and readiness to take TT871 or TT872 prior to registering.
  • STH TT 874: Contemporary Theological Systems
    An exploration of contemporary systematic perspectives on the Christian faith aimed at facilitating the development of the student's own ability to think theologically and to construct his or her own theological perspective in light of his or her own theological tradition and the contemporary situation. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 889: Theologies of Sexual Identity
    A study of the conceptual, biblical, historical, scientific, and critical roots of the current issues about sexual identity, focusing on women's ordination and gay marriage as prisms to understand the feminist and gay cultural revolutions. These movements have called attention to sexual identities more generally, and the theology of sexually identity for all human beings will be developed. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 890: Topics in Speculative Philosophy: The Axiology of Thinking
    A detailed study of the thesis that valuation structures thinking in imagination, interpretation, theorizing, and the pursuit of responsibility. Principal texts are the instructor's Reconstruction of Thinking, Recovery of the Measure, and Normative Cultures. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 895: Rise of Neo-Confucianism
    This course is an analysis of the rise of Neo-Confucianism in the Song Dynasty and its continued development in the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties in China as well as its transmission to Korea, Japan and Vietnam. The synthesis of Zhu Xi's daoxue 道學 [Chu Hsi] (1130-1200) will serve as a major case study of the development and influence of Neo-Confucian philosophy. The course will also pursue the modern developments of New Confucianism in East Asia and the West with the examples of New Confucianism and Boston Confucianism. One of the interesting features in the modern period has been the revival of Confucian-Christian dialogue. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 898: Theology and Trauma
    This course aims to bring the recent studies in the interdisciplinary study of trauma to bear on the field of theology. What unique challenges does the phenomenon of trauma pose to contemporary theology? The first part of the course explores recent studies in trauma, focusing on three areas of research: 1) neurobiology of trauma, 2) clinical/therapeutic studies, and 3) literary approaches to trauma. The second part of the course examines theological engagements with issues of radical suffering. The third part brings together the insights from the first two and focuses on the question of what it means to witness theologically to individual, societal, and global trauma. We will look at issues and contexts such as the criminal justice system, war, poverty, and racism. In this final part, students will be working towards constructive theological engagements with issues of trauma through interaction with a variety of mediums: art, literature, spiritual practices, and film. The course is not a counseling course. It aims to provide rich theological reflection around issues of suffering, violence, and trauma, both individual and global. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 899: Schleiermacher
    The primary aim of this course is read and understand the theology of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, one of the most important and influential European intellectuals of the 19th century, and known variously as the Father of Romanticism, the Father of Hermeneutics, the Father of German Plato studies, the Father of Modern Protestant Theology, and the Father of Liberal Christian Theology. The course focuses on The Christian Faith (CF) but also covers some other of his writings particularly On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (OR) and Letters to Lücke (LL) and some biographical material. The secondary aim is to help students develop their own theological ideas in detailed conversation with Schleiermacher's, a purpose for which CF is particularly well suited. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 900: The Theological Imagination
    Within the arena of constructive theology, theologians are increasingly describing their theological projects in terms of analyzing and reshaping "imaginaries." The course traces the emergence of this 'turn to the imaginary' within modernity and postmodernity and examines what's at stake theologically in this turn. This seminar involves: 1) exploring the concept of 'the imaginary,' identifying philosophical, sociological and literary influences; 2) articulating what's at stake for theology; and 3) constructing theological visions that can expand the study and practices of Christian traditions. The first part situates the rise of the concept of the imaginary within the context of modern theology. Here, we will examine the varying reasons for theological appeals to the imagination, asking what's at stake for each and will examine the portrait that each presents of theology's relationship to modernity. We will be engaging questions of the nature and task of theology, theological method, immanence/transcendence, and religious language. The second part will focus on critiques of the western (Christian) imaginary. In this part, we take a decidedly postmodern turn and explore the appeals to the imaginary from various thinkers who are trying to reshape the imaginary otherwise. The third part will focus on the form of theology and explore the implications of our study for the re-forming of theological discourse.
  • STH TT 901: Core Texts and Motifs: Western Traditions
    An intensive year seminar, in English translation, of key primary texts and philosophical-theological-religious ideas of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism. Particularly well suited to doctoral students. Advanced master's students with permission of instructor only.
  • STH TT 902: Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions: East
    Prereq:(CASCC101 & CASCC102) or two courses in religion or philosophy. *An intensive seminar in primary texts and key ideas of theology and religious philosophy as developed in representative world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism. Second course in a year-long sequence. Each semester may be taken independently.
  • STH TT 913: Science and Religion
    Quantum entanglement is one of the most remarkable ideas to have emerged from physics in the twentieth century. Identified as a consequence of quantum theory already in the 1920s, it was not confirmed as a physical phenomenon until the 1980s. The broader implications of living in an "entangled" world are only beginning to be felt outside the walls of physics. This course explores the significance of quantum entanglement for theological reflection on creaturely and divine relationality.
  • STH TT 921: Proseminar: Religion and Science
    This doctoral level seminar provides an advanced introduction to the core literature and issues of the interdisciplinary field of religion and science. The primary texts are Ian Barbour's Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues, John Hedley Brooke's Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, the edited collection titled Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue (Mark Richardson and Wesley Wildman, eds.), and the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science (Philip Clayton, ed.). The four primary areas considering during the semester are: historical relations, comparative method, disciplinary perspectives, and theoretical debates. The course is a requirement for BU PhD students in the science and religion track of Division of Religious and Theological Studies. Advanced masters students may enroll with the instructor's permission.
  • STH TT 923: Philosophical Cosmology
    The purpose of this course is to introduce students to major positions in philosophical cosmology relative to the twin questions of the nature of God and scientific knowledge of the natural world. Connected with both of these is the question of where value lies in the world, if anywhere, given the assumptions of a fact-value distinction in modern science. The main interest will be with discussions in the West, although some comparative points will be made.
  • STH TT 924: Theological Aesthetics
    Why is the retrieval of beauty essential in an age of terror? Grace Jantzen suggests that a displacement of beauty in western consciousness can be directly correlated with the increase of violence in post/modernity. Following Jantzen’s call for a theology of beauty, we will explore the significance of aesthetics in the current religious landscape. Using Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theological aesthetics as a lens for exploring the relationship between beauty and the divine, we will examine key works in western thought in which beauty plays a significant role (Plato, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, John Damascene, Bonaventure, Kierkegaard). In the second half of the course, we will survey recent discussions of aesthetics in continental philosophy, literature, and ethics as they intersect with the study of religion (using Continental Aesthetics Reader). In these latter sessions, we will focus on specialized topics: sacred space, sacred dance, sacred bodies and advertising, and sacred writing in order to see how the theory engaged in the first part of the course informs contemporary issues. What impact does this theological retrieval have on contemporary discussions of justice, trauma, conflict, and terror? What role could theological aesthetics play in a heavily visual culture? Although we will trace beauty predominantly through Christian thought, students are encouraged to pursue projects in which they explore the aesthetic dimensions of other religions.
  • STH TT 925: Special topics: Contemporary Pragmatism
    Readings in contemporary pragmatism, including Richard Rorty, Cornel West, Jeffrey Stout, Victor Anderson, Robert Brandom, Richard Bernstein, Warren Frisina, and Robert Neville.
  • STH TT 926: 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 928: Theology Proseminar
    The purpose of this seminar is professional formation of doctoral students in Boston University through the study of certain central approaches to theology and an introduction to program requirements, faculty and library resources, reading lists, and qualifying examinations.
  • STH TT 929: 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.