Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • 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.
  • 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 936: Barth and his Interpreters
    Karl Barth is recognized as one of the most influential Christian theologians of the 20th century. The course explores his impact through an examination of the central ideas and commitments of Barth's thought. Rooting his work within the German context, we will also examine and assess the transmission of his work within the U.S. context. The first part of the course focuses on Barth's writings, paying particular attention to his rhetoric. The second part examines works that connect Barth to constructive projects and pressing questions in our current historical moment.
  • STH TT 940: Ecclesiology
    This course asks the question, ?What is the church?? in dialogue with Christian theological figures and schools representing Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian traditions. While one of the aims of this course is that students be conversant with those voices, it ultimately aims at the student?s ability to articulate the ecclesiology of his or her own community and to bring that to bear on the contemporary situation and particular problems of Christian practice in church and society. Meets with TJ940.
  • 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 954: Scientific Approaches to Religion
    This seminar examines interpretations of religious beliefs, behaviors, and experiences deriving from the biological, evolutionary, psychological, cognitive, neurological, and medical sciences.
  • STH TT 956: Atheisms and Theologies
    The general aim of this course is learn about varieties of atheism-older "classic atheism," so-called "new atheism" of recent years, and theologically inspired forms of atheism-and to understand the various theological responses to atheism. Questions of particular importance are: (1) How strong are traditional and new atheistic arguments? (2) Where does or should theology stand in relation to the arguments of atheism? (3) What are the origins of modern atheism? (4) Should postmodern mystical theologies and iconoclastic anti-anthropomorphic theologies that reject a determinate divine being be considered atheistic? If so how does this sort of atheism relate to other types? The class is intended for advanced masters students and doctoral candidates interested in con-temporary theology and its conceptual roots in older theological debates. Meets with STH TT 816.
  • 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.
  • STH TT 966: Fem/Womani Theo
  • STH TT 974: Religious Experience
    This seminar is a multidisciplinary study of religious experience, drawing on philosophy, theology, literature, psychology, sociology, the cognitive sciences, and the neurosciences. An advanced research seminar, this course presumes significant background knowledge in theology and philosophy and is designed for doctoral students. Advanced master's students can participate with the permission of the instructor.
  • STH TT 998: 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.