Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • 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.
  • 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 911: The Rise of Neo-Confucianism: Daoxue and Beyond
    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 [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.
  • 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 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: Proseminar in Comparative Theology
    A study of the development of the new theological sub-discipline known as Comparative Theology (comparative here means the comparison and contrast between and among different traditions representing diverse cultural regions, both diachronic and synchronic in form and function). There will be a series of introductory remarks by the instructor (ca. two weeks). For the balance of the course, students will make class presentations based on various readings and more specialized research projects. The goal of the course will be to provide an overview of the field as well as the articulation of individual approaches and methods for constructing comparative theologies.
  • STH TT 930: Modern Western Theology II: 1914 to Present
    A comprehensive introduction to theological figures and themes of the twentieth century in a seminar format. Signficant background in theology is required. Verify prerequisites with professor.
  • STH TT 932: 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.
  • STH TT 934: 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 Locke (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. The class has 800-level and 900-level designations to accommodate both advanced masters and doctoral students, respectively.
  • STH TT 945: 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.
  • STH TT 946: Advanced Systematic Theology I: God and Creation
    A study of creations as the fundamental religious relation between God and the world, defining both. Develops an adequate Christian theology of God and explores alternate conceptions of God.
  • STH TT 947: Advanced Systematic Theology II: The Human Condition
    Study of the theological dimensions of human life, examining the Christian notions of sin and salvation, and some variants and alternatives to these and other religious traditions. Develops a contemporary Christology.
  • STH TT 948: Advanced Systematic Theology III: Sanctification and Religious Life
    Study of both personal and communal dimensions of the religious life. Examines the church and the religious practices of ritual, symbol making, and paths of spiritual perfection. Develops a systematic doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the church.
  • STH TT 949: Hermeneutics for Teaching and Preaching
    The purpose of this course is to hone skills at the doctoral level in various tasks of hermeneutics (fancy word for interpretation) necessary for preaching and religious education. Religious life has both ultimate predicaments and ultimate ecstatic fulfillments. These can be sorted roughly into five basic problematics that take various forms in nearly all religions, although this course will focus on Christianity with some informal treatments of other religions. These problematics are (1) living under obligation, with issues of righteousness, discernment of justice and morality, guilt, and forgiveness, (2) the quest for personal wholeness, with issues of suffering, brokenness, dignity, and sanctification, (3) the engagement of others, with issues of ingroup/outgroup distinctions, loving enemies, loving in different ways, and loving nature, (4) the attainment of a value-identity in ultimate perspective, with issues of the meaning of life and coping with finitude and ambiguity, and (5) gratitude for sheer existence, with issues of radical contingency, affirmation of life and death, and union with and distance from God. Each of these problematics singly and in combination with others has been called "salvation," but the complexity of religion requires that they be thought together and each one interpreted to the others. The four domains of hermeneutics (scripture, experience, tradition, and reason) will be explored through the grid of these five religious problematics.
  • STH TT 961: Varieties of Religious Naturalism
    The aim of this course is 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.