Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 900: Theologies of Resurrection
    The Christian event of resurrection generates some of the most powerful and fraught claims about salvation and the afterlife. How do we interpret the claim that life miraculously arises from death? This course takes the speculative theology of the afterlife and situates it within the present climate of endings and discourses of aftermath (trauma, globalization, climate change etc.). We will examine influential theologies of resurrection in the Christian tradition, exploring the issues at stake in claims about the body, the afterlife, and salvation. Given that the event of resurrection is at the nexus of various doctrines (christology, eschatology, soteriology), this course will pursue a constructive theological approach to these classic themes and feature analysis of the relationship between methodologies in systematic theology, constructive theology, and practical theology. This course will provide orientation both within the Christian tradition and extend to notions of resurrection in comparative theology, continental philosophy, popular culture, fiction, and poetry. Readings include: Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Dante, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rowan Williams, James Cone, Toni Morrison, Sharon Betcher, Marie Howe and Mary Szybist (poets), C.S. Lewis' sci-fi trilogy and dystopian literature
  • 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 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.