Description of Courses

Back to Main Page
Major and Minor in Theology
Undergraduate Courses
M.A. in Theology
Three-Course Sequences

M.A. Courses
Theology Resources
on the Web

Theology Conferences




print version

100.  The Nature of Religious Experience 

The primary aim of this course is to introduce students to a critically reflective understanding of the phenomenon of religion.  This entails the exposition of a reasoned approach to religion and the application of this approach within a cross-cultural context.  The course is designed to help students deal more intelligently with religious issues and to appreciate a plurality of religious perspectives.  3 credits.  Dr. Sundararajan.


200.  Comparative Religion 

Among the many questions that confront the student of religion today, the most challenging is religious pluralism.  There are several questions that must be dealt with here:  Do we study other religions merely to satisfy our own curiosity, or is there a deeper dimension to this effort?  Is it possible that our faith might be deepened by an awareness of the spirituality expressed in other religions, or does such an awareness shake our faith to its very foundations?  This course takes a close look at these and similar questions and attempts to find meaningful answers and responses.  The course also examines key aspects of various world religions in an effort to reach a deeper appreciation of the spirituality of humankind.  3 credits.  Dr. Sundararajan.


205.  Myth and Culture

Why do myths play such an important role in human culture?  This course introduces students to a variety of methods for understanding the role of myths in religious communities and in modern secular culture.  The bulk of the course is devoted to an examination of the major classical and contemporary theories of the meaning and interpretation of myths (anthropological, structuralist, psychoanalytical, etc.), with examples drawn from a variety of cultures both ancient and modern.  3 credits.  Dr. Bychkov.


222.  Religion and Politics

Should religion be kept out of politics, or does religion have a vital role to play in political life?  This course explores the influence of religion in American politics from the Plymouth Fathers to the present, with special attention to the contemporary scene.  Issues to be considered include the changing place of religion in American political history, the meaning and interpretation of the religion clause of the First Amendment, the tensions between majority and minority religious and political ideologies in America, the secularist impulse in American political life, and the rise of the "Religious Right."  3 credits.  Dr. Stanley.


224.  Religion and Sports

While most people today think of sports as a purely secular pastime, religion and sports have been closely intertwined throughout most of human history.  This course examines the historic relationship between religion and sports and the controversies that have surrounded various contemporary efforts to link religion and sports (Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Promise Keepers, prayers at sporting events, etc.).  3 credits.  Staff


230.  Faith and Doubt

Modern secular culture has raised many questions for religious faith.  Traditional views of God have been challenged from a variety of directions, and the idea that one should submit one's life to a higher power runs counter to contemporary ideas about human freedom and psychological well-being.  This course will examine recent critiques of belief in God and the nature of faith in order to clarify what might be required of an intelligent faith in God today.  3 credits.


245.  Introduction to Christian Ethics

What does it mean to think and live as a Christian in today's world?  How does one decide?  This course will explore some of the answers that Christian thinkers have given to such questions.  The investigation will include an examination of selected moral and theological problems such as abortion, poverty, war, and racism.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


246. Christian Business Ethics

Some people think that the business world has no place for ethics--all that matters is the bottom line.  But real-world business people grapple with ethical issues every day.  Some of these issues are personal (honesty, relationships with others, etc.), while others pertain to the way the company fulfills its competing responsibilities to employees, customers, stockholders, the community, and the environment.  What moral standards should guide the conduct of a business?  The Christian moral tradition offers ample resources (biblical, theological, and spiritual) for evaluating the ethical dimensions of business practices.  This course examines the many ways in which Christian principles can be applied in the workplace and evaluates the role of business in our free-market economic system.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


251.  Eastern Spirituality

In recent years many Americans have incorporated Asian spiritual practices like yoga and meditation into their daily lives.  But few have taken the trouble to study and understand the broader spiritual traditions from which these practices were taken.  This course will examine the mystical traditions and practices of the major religions of India and Asia as expressed in their Scriptures and other spiritual writings.  Primary attention will be given to Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist forms of spirituality.  3 credits.  Dr. Sundararajan.


252.  Western Spirituality

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a common spiritual heritage, but each religion has developed its own unique understanding of the way humans should approach and experience God.  This course examines the mystical traditions and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as expressed in their Scriptures and the writings of later spiritual leaders.  3 credits.  Dr. Apczynski, Dr. Bychkov. 


260.  The Meanings of Jesus 

Jesus of Nazareth is not only the theological center of the Christian faith but also the pivotal figure in the history of Western civilization.  Debates over who he was and what he sought to accomplish have engaged the best minds of generations, and conflicts over these questions have divided nations and led to bloodshed.  This course will explore the diverse and sometimes opposing views that Christians have held about Jesus over the centuries.  Prerequisite:  CLAR 106.  3 credits. Staff


263.  Sacraments 

What is a sacrament?  Why are sacraments so important in the spiritual life of the church?  This course examines the theological basis of the sacramental system and presents a survey of the sacraments as celebrated in Christian churches.  Included in the course is a study of symbols, rituals, and the psychosocial dynamics of sacramental celebration.  3 credits.  Staff.


264.  American Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious institution in America.  Yet for much of its history the American Catholic community has struggled to find its place in a predominantly Protestant (and often hostile) culture.  This course offers an overview of the theological and historical development of American Catholicism as a specific expression of the Roman Catholic Church that has been molded in a unique way by American culture. Prerequisite:  CLAR 107.  3 credits.  Dr. Apczynski.


270.  Who Was Jesus?

Many contemporary biblical scholars claim that the picture of Jesus that appears in the New Testament is a complex mixture of historical fact and pious imagination.  These scholars have developed a variety of methods for distinguishing the "historical Jesus" from the "Christ of faith."  How valid is their approach?  What can we really know about the historical person of Jesus?  How does this compare with what the Christian church has believed about him over the centuries?  This course will explore these and other questions as we seek to discover the "real" Jesus of Nazareth.  Prerequisite:  CLAR 106.  3 credits.  Dr. Stanley.


290.  Research Tools

This course will introduce students to the wealth of tools that are available to help with research in Theology.   The first part of the course will introduce students to the use of concordances, lexicons, theological wordbooks, commentaries, and other resources that are commonly used in the study of biblical texts.  The second part of the course will explore a variety of print and electronic resources that can be used to locate materials in other areas of theological studies.   3 credits.  Staff.


291.  Religion on the Internet

This course will introduce students to the wealth of tools that are available to help with research in Theology.   The first part of the course will teach students how to use concordances, lexicons, theological wordbooks, commentaries, and other resources that can shed light on the meaning of biblical texts.  The second section will examine the methods and tools commonly used by historical scholars in their research.  The third section will explore various print and electronic resources that can be used to locate materials in other areas of theological studies.   3 credits.  Staff.


299.  Special Topics in Theology

An intensive study of a topic or issue not usually addressed in other courses offered by the department.  The topic of the course will be advertised in the course schedule prior to the semester when it is offered.  The course may be taken more than once provided the content has changed.  3 credits.  Staff.


304.  Women and Religion

Religion has played a key role in defining society's understanding of women and the roles that women have been allowed to play across the centuries.  This course examines how women have been viewed and treated in the major religious traditions.  Special attention is given to feminist critiques of traditional religion and the struggles of women to take control of their own religious destinies.  Prerequisite:  THEO 100 or 200.  3 credits. Dr. Abraham


313.  Indian and Asian Mythology

As in most societies, myths and legends play an important role in the social and religious life of India and Asia.  Yet people in the West know very little about these stories and their influence.  This course examines some of the key myths and legends of the religions of India and Asia, with special attention to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.  The aim of the course is to gain a better understanding of the religious lives and perspectives of Hindus and Buddhists through a study of their "mythical resources."  The place of these stories in Indian and Asian cultures will also be examined.  3 credits.  Dr. Sundararajan.


323.  Religion and Science

Do science and religion offer competing or complementary understandings of the material world?  This course explores the historic and contemporary relation between scientific and religious views of reality.  Issues to be addressed include the origins of the universe ("Big Bang" cosmology), the nature of the physical universe (quantum mechanics, chaos theory), the origins of humanity (evolutionary theory), and the basis for moral conduct (sociobiology).  3 credits.  Dr. Stanley.


324.  Religion and Race

Religion has played a key role in the development and support of racist beliefs, attitudes, and institutions in he Western world.  But religion has also been a powerful tool for combating racism.  This course will examine both sides of this troubling aspect of Western religious history, with special attention to groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Black Muslims that explicitly link race and religion.  Substantial attention will also be give to current scientific and sociological thinking on the subject of race.  3 credits.  Dr. Stanley.


325.  Religion and Art

The arts have been an important channel of religious expression from the ancient cave dwellers to the present.  This course examines the role played by the arts in the Christian tradition and the modern secular world.  The first part of the course focuses on the varied uses of music, painting, sculpture, etc., in the life and liturgy of the church, including theological interpretations of the role of art in liturgy.  The second part examines the spiritual power of contemporary secular forms of art.  3 credits. Dr. Bychkov.


328.  Advertising Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth occupies a central place in the artistic tradition of the Western world.  Most of the historic representations of Jesus were designed to "advertise" various aspects of the Christian faith.  This course examines how social factors and religious politics combined with the dynamics of advertising to produce varied artistic images of Jesus throughout the centuries.  The course will also look at how the same process has led to different depictions of Jesus among various ethnic and political groups in contemporary society.  3 credits.


329.  Religion and the Paranormal

Is ESP real?  Is there such a thing as "mind over matter"?  Do ghosts really haunt houses?  This course aims to acquaint students with the results of scientific investigations of ESP/telepathy, clairvoyance/precognition, and PK (psychokinesis) over the past ninety years both within and without the laboratory.  The course then explores the theological and philosophical implications of these findings, including what light they might shed on such problems as the spirituality of the soul, survival after death, communication with the dead, miraculous healing, prophecy, etc.  3 credits.


330.  Philosophy of Religion

Philosophers have sought to understand the ultimate nature of reality from the ancient Greeks to the present.  Some have argued in favor of a religious outlook on life, while others have raised serious problems for religious interpretations and/or rejected them entirely.  This course offers a philosophical and theological investigation of the fundamental questions at the heart of religious belief, including the existence of God, the place of humanity in the universe, the rationale for ethical behavior, and the problem of evil.  3 credits.


332.  Contemporary Religious Thought

This course investigates the central ideas and concerns of selected twentieth-century religious thinkers and theologians who have enhanced our understanding of issues of faith, religion, and contemporary culture.  Prerequisite:  CLAR 107.  3 credits.  Dr. Apczynski.


343.  Christianity and Society

Nearly all forms of Christianity have taught that Christians have some sort of obligation to the broader society in which they live.  But Christians have frequently disagreed about the nature of that obligation.  Should Christians support or challenge the status quo?  What forms of social influence are consistent with the Christian message?  Are certain government policies more "Christian" than others?  This course explores some of the methodological problems involved in analyzing decisions on social policy and assesses the various stances that Christians have taken toward the political, economic, and cultural structures of their society.  Prerequisite:  THEO 243.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


345.  Catholic Social Thought

The Catholic church has fostered a variety of approaches to social problems during its long history.  After centuries of support for more conservative social policies, the church has moved in recent years toward a more prophetic social posture.  This course examines the historic and contemporary teachings of the Roman Catholic church on issues of social morality.  The course will include a focused study of the major papal encyclicals and pastoral letters by church leaders on social issues.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


349.  Issues in Christian Ethics

This course will examine how Christian ethical principles can been used to analyze a particular ethical problem.  The content of the course will be announced in the course schedule prior to the semester when it is offered.  The course may be taken more than once provided the content has changed.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


357.  Merton's Heart:  The Journey and Thought of Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, a one-time faculty member at St. Bonaventure, was one of the most influential spiritual writers of this century.  This course takes students on a journey through the life and writings of Thomas Merton.  The course includes an analysis of Merton's theological reflections on contemplative religious experience and his prophetic approach to social problems that arose out of his contemplative awareness.  3 credits. Staff


359.  Special Studies in Spiritual Traditions

An intensive study of a particular issue or thinker in historic or contemporary spirituality.  The topic of the course will be advertised in the course schedule prior to the semester when it is offered.  The course may be taken more than once provided the content has changed.  3 credits.  Staff.


362.  Francis and the Franciscan Tradition

The spiritual movement initiated by Francis of Assisi has played a key role in the spiritual and intellectual life of the Catholic church from the Middle Ages to the present.  This course will examine the life of St. Francis and his impact on the church and the world.  The course will also look at some of the great Franciscan scholars like St. Bonaventure in order to explore the influence and applications of Franciscanism to the modern world.  3 credits. Staff


363.  Christianity and Mythology

Does Christianity have myths, or are myths found only in other forms of religion?  This course compares the Christian experience of God with myths from other religions and cultures, some of which have influenced the Christian understanding of God's relation to humanity.  The course includes a review of various theological perspectives on the relation between Christianity and myth.  Students will also investigate the relation between myth and theology in the works of such 20th century Christian "mythmakers" as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.  3 credits.  Staff


367.  Christian Marriage 

The institution of marriage is not uniquely Christian, but Christian marriage has been invested with special significance through centuries of theological reflection and practice.  This course explores the theology and spirituality of marriage as a "sacrament."  Subjects to be considered include the historical development and theological understanding of marriage as a sacrament; human sexuality; responsible parenthood; interpersonal relationships; and intimacy.  The course will also address selected issues in the area of sexual morality.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


368.  Body, Sex, and Sacrament

The Christian tradition has always been uncomfortable discussing issues pertaining to the body and sexuality.  Why should this be?  This course examines the reasons for this discomfort and offers a more positive assessment of "embodiment" as a vital aspect of Christian theology and spirituality.  The course will include a constructive interpretation of Catholic teachings about ritual and sacraments, the incarnation of Jesus, and human sexuality.  3 credits.


385.  Religion and Human Development

Who is more capable of religious faith:  a child, a teenager, a middle-aged  adult, or an older person?  Does the nature of faith change as one moves through the life cycle?  This course examines the prevailing concepts of human development in our society and explores their implications for spiritual development.  The course includes a consideration of appropriate religious education strategies for each age.  3 credits.  Staff.


399.  Special Studies in Theology

An intensive study of a topic or issue not usually addressed in other courses offered by the department.  The topic of the course will be advertised in the course schedule prior to the semester when it is offered.  The course may be taken more than once provided the content has changed.  3 credits.  Staff.


430.  Theological Methods

Contemporary theologians use a variety of methods as they seek to conceptualize and communicate the Christian faith in an increasingly pluralistic world.  This course will survey a variety of contemporary approaches to theological reasoning through an examination of key themes and issues.  Prerequisite:  CLAR 106 and 107; junior or senior standing.  3 credits. .  Dr. Apczynski.


440.  Contemporary Moral Theology

Debates over moral and ethical issues have become increasingly complex with the rise of modern science, the gradual secularization and diversification of Western culture, and the "turn to the subject" in modern thought.  Christian ethicists have had to develop new ways of thinking about moral issues and moral agency in light of these challenges.  This course looks at some of the conceptual problems associated with the practice of moral theology in the contemporary world and investigates some of the ways in which Christian moral theologians have sought to address these challenges.  Prerequisite:  CLAR 106 and 107; THEO 245; junior or senior standing.  3 credits.  Dr. Fodor.


460.  History of Christianity

For much of the last two thousand years, the history of Western civilization has been framed around the history of the Christian church.  This course surveys the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Fathers to the modern era.  Attention will be given to the social, institutional, and intellectual aspects of the Christian faith.  Prerequisite:  CLAR 106 and 107; junior or senior standing.  3 credits.  Dr. Blastic.


470.  Contemporary Biblical Interpretation

Theologians and biblical scholars have subjected the Bible to rigorous critical investigation since the rise of the historical-critical method in the 18th century.  This course examines the tools and methods used by contemporary scholars in their studies of the Bible, with an emphasis on more recent developments.  Students will learn to use the tools and methods of modern scholarship through the study of selected texts from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures. Prerequisite:  CLAR 106 and 107; junior or senior standing.  3 credits.  Dr. Stanley.


490/491.  Readings in Theology--Independent Study

Under the guidance of a professor, the student will pursue an advanced research project that involves significant reading and writing.  1-6 credits.  Staff.