Loyola University Maryland

Department of Theology

Course Descriptions

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All courses are three credits. Those courses which are cross listed with undergraduate Theology courses require graduate students to read and write more. They may also require further contact with the professor.

Courses by topic:

Scripture (TH 600-619)

TH 600 Old Testament Survey

This course will introduce students to the content of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament (the Torah, Prophets, Writings, and Deutero-Canonical Books) and to the history of its interpretation, including scholarly approaches since the rise of historical-criticism.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate familiarity with the diversity of material in the Old Testament; 2) display knowledge of the historical contexts which gave rise to its literature, theories about its development, and the ways in which it has fueled the Christian imagination and nourished Christian communities over time.

TH 601 New Testament Survey

This course introduces students to the text of the New Testament and a variety of historical concerns related to Second Temple Judaism and the Greco Roman worlds in which the story of the New Testament is set and from which the text of the New Testament emerges.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) a strong knowledge of the content of the New Testament; 2) a familiarity with the historical context in which the New Testament is set; and 3) a working knowledge of some of the critical debates characteristic of contemporary New Testament scholarship.

TH 602 Prophets and Prophecy [This is a joint BA/MTS course (TH 350)]

This course will examine the biblical stories about prophets, as well as the works of the classical or “writing” prophets.  Students will be introduced to the roles of Israelite prophets in the light of Ancient Near Eastern prophecy in general, and to the role of prophetic preaching in the development of Israelite religious thought.  Examination of prophetic books will include the study of prophetic poetry, the historical contexts in which prophets spoke, the theological perspectives of each prophetic work, as well as the ways in which Old Testament prophecy is taken up in the proclamation of the New Testament.  Students successfully completing this course will demonstrate ability to: 1) compare the prophetic preaching and rhetoric of the major and some of the Minor Prophets; 2) analyze some of the ways in which the legacy of the biblical prophets helped shape the thought of the New Testament, and the Christian ethical traditions; 3) explain why it is that piety, for Christians, involves concern for social justice, and discuss how the concern for social justice fits into the larger Christian theological outlook and analyze scholarly literature related to the Prophets.

TH 603 Genesis and Exodus in the History of Interpretation

This course will offer a close study of the first two books of the Bible—from the story of creation, through the covenants with Abraham and all of Israel on Mt. Sinai—by means of the study of their history of interpretation from the New Testament to the Patristic writers, through to contemporary literary approaches.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) a firm knowledge of the various textual details of Genesis and Exodus; 2) a knowledge of key figures and patterns in the history of interpretation; 3) the ability to evaluate critically these figures and patterns.

TH 604 Old Testament Texts in Hebrew

This course will closely examine selected Old Testament texts in Hebrew.  The course seeks to build on the language skills students have developed in order to introduce more advanced exegetical, linguistic and text critical skills.  Students who are successful in this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) an appropriate level of the technical skills and methods needed for advanced Old Testament study at the PhD level; 2) a working knowledge of the relevant technical secondary literature and be able to evaluate its claims.

TH 605 Jesus and the Gospels [This is a joint BA/MTS course (TH 347)]

This course is devoted to learning how to read and analyze the gospels and their portrayal of Jesus.  The gospels are both narrative accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and historical artifacts of early Christianity.  The course will reflect on both of these aspects of the gospels.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) a mastery of the content of the gospels both in their similarities and differences and 2) familiarity with a variety of scholarly approaches to analyzing the gospels.

TH 606 The Life and Writings of St Paul   [This is a joint BA/MTS course (TH 355)]

This course is devoted to learning how to read and analyze the letters of Paul. The arguments in Paul’s letters are often subtle, couched in an idiom and rhetoric that is often more foreign to us than we might think, and engage different issues from what one might normally expect.  Second, there is more secondary literature on Paul than almost any other figure in the history of the world.  Students will be introduced to some significant pieces of scholarly literature related to the texts we are reading.   Students who successfully complete this course will demonstrate:  1) a familiarity with the texts of Paul; 2) a comprehension of some of the main scholarly issues related to the study of Paul.

TH 607 New Testament Texts in Greek

This course will closely examine selected New Testament texts in Greek.  The course seeks to build on the language skills students have developed in order to introduce more advanced exegetical, linguistic and text critical skills.  Students who are successful in this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) an appropriate level of the technical skills and methods needed for advanced New Testament study at the PhD level; 2) a working knowledge of the relevant technical secondary literature and be able to evaluate its claims.

TH 608 Ways of Reading Scripture

This course will introduce students to critical debates regarding the interpretation of biblical texts.  Students will learn the central debates of philosophical hermeneutics as they relate to theological interpretation of Scripture.  This course will also involve a study of interpretive disputes regarding specific texts as a way of illustrating the theoretical issues at stake.  Students who are successful in this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) an ability to articulate the importance of being a self-reflective interpreter; 2) knowledge of a variety of interpretive practices characteristic of contemporary scholarship; and 3) the ability to analyze critically specific examples of biblical interpretation.

Historical Theology (TH 620-639)

TH 621 Historical Theology I (Patristic to Medieval)

This course surveys major figures in Christian theology from the second through the fifteenth centuries, including Church Fathers of both the East and West and the Western Medieval tradition.  This course will emphasize reading primary source material, with an eye both to its historical context and to its relevance for theology today.   Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) identify key Christian thinkers of the medieval and patristic eras and be able to articulate accurately their chief theological contributions; 2) trace the development of key Christian  doctrines (e.g. the Trinity, the two natures of Christ) from their patristic formulation through medieval disputes concerning them; 3) describe the intimate relation in the patristic and medieval eras between the development of theological doctrines and the interpretation of the Bible; 4) relate the historical development of Christian thought to the wider course of events in the patristic and medieval eras.

TH 622 Historical Theology II (Early Modern to Modern)

This course will survey major figures in Protestant and Catholic theology from the sixteenth century through the twentieth, with special emphasis on the reformations of the sixteenth century and theological responses to the Enlightenment and Modernity. This course will emphasize reading primary source material, with an eye both to its historical context and to its relevance for theology today.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) identify key Christian thinkers of the early modern and modern eras and be able to articulate accurately their chief theological contributions; 2) trace the development of key Christian doctrines (e.g. nature and grace, ecclesiology, sin and forgiveness) from their early modern formulation through to the modern period; 3) relate the historical development of Christian thought to the wider course of events in the early modern and modern eras.

TH 623 The Theology of Thomas Aquinas [This is a joint BA/MTS course (TH 338)]

Thomas Aquinas was a major medieval theologian who remains as controversial in the twentieth century as he was in the thirteenth century.  This course studies Aquinas’ life and social context, his exegesis of Scripture and selections from his major theological works.  The course also focuses on how Aquinas might be a resource for contemporary theological and philosophical work. Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate knowledge of the content of Aquinas’s thought: i.e. the particular positions he takes on selected questions in theology and philosophy; 2) demonstrate facility with the style of Aquinas’s thought: i.e. how to read a discussion in the queastio format, the role played by the making of distinctions, the relationship of philosophy to theology; 3) formulate cogent objections to Aquinas’s positions, as well as possible responses that Aquinas could make to those objections.

TH 624 Patristic Biblical Interpretation

This course will introduce students to the exegetical and homiletical writings of the Greek and Latin Church Fathers. The course will cover early Christian debates concerning methods of scriptural interpretation as well as the influence of Greco-Roman and Jewish exegetical practices. It will also include close study of biblical interpretation as the Fathers practiced it, in homiletical and formal interpretive works. Students will also be introduced to the vast body of secondary literature on this topic. Students who are successful in this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) an appropriate level of the skills necessary for advanced study of patristic biblical interpretation at the Ph.D. level; 2) knowledge of the relevant secondary literature, as well as the ability to critically evaluate it.

TH 625 Introduction to the Theology of St. Augustine [This is a joint BA/MTS course (TH 335)]

This course will examine the writings of the most influential Latin theologian of the patristic period, Augustine of Hippo. It will emphasize close study of Confessions and The City of God, but it will also include careful examination of a selection of Augustine’s other writings, especially those arising from controversies surrounding Pelagianism, Donatism, and Manicheeism. The course will also devote attention to Augustine as preacher and biblical interpreter. Students who are successful in this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) an appropriate level of the skills necessary for advanced study of Augustine at the Ph.D. level; 2) knowledge of the relevant secondary literature, as well as the ability to critically evaluate it.

TH 630 Readings in Greek and Latin Patristics

This course will examine closely selected writings from the Greek and Latin Church Fathers. Students in this course will study the writings of specific Church Fathers and/or theological themes that are most important for the development of Christian theology.  The course will build on the language skills students have developed in order to introduce more advanced exegetical, linguistic, and text critical skills. Students who are successful in this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) an appropriate level of the skills necessary for advanced study of patristics at the Ph.D. level; 2) knowledge of the relevant secondary literature, as well as the ability to critically evaluate it.

Systematic Theology/Doctrine (TH 640-659)

TH 640 Survey of Systematic Theology

This course surveys the major topics in Christian theology and their relationship to each other.  It treats significant developments in contemporary theological discussions of God, Christ, the Spirit and the Church, grace and human destiny.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) describe specific theological doctrines and topics and the various interconnections between elements of Christian theology; 2) demonstrate a familiarity with key figures and movements in theology and 3) evaluate them critically.

TH 641 Christianity and Its Critics [This is a joint BA/MTS course (TH 322)]

Beginning with the earliest followers of Jesus, Christianity has responded to criticism from those outside the faith and from dissenters within. This course investigates historical, theological, political, socio-cultural, and philosophical problems related to Christianity and asks students to evaluate ancient and modern critiques of Christianity and judge the adequacy of Christianity’s response.  Students who successfully complete this course will be able to: 1) criticize some of the reasons for dissent from Christianity and offer a reasonable defense of aspects of the Christian faith; 2) identify and critically explain some of important apologetic moments in the history of Christian thought; 3) apply their learning to situations and contexts in the contemporary world.

TH 642 Christ, Sin, and Salvation

This course is an introduction to the doctrine of atonement and its implications Christian faith, practice, and doctrine.  The class considers three questions:  Is belief in the doctrine of atonement a fundamental Christian claim?  Is the atonement of Jesus effective for all people or is it effective only for some?  What theory of the atonement is the best explanation of how and why Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is necessary to save people from sin?  Students who successfully complete this course will be able to: 1) conduct research into the history of atonement theory; 2) explain the assumptions behind the major models of the atonement; 3) state how the atonement is related to other doctrines in the Christian faith and 4) criticize the ways in which contemporary critical reflection on atonement theory offers modifications or expansions of traditional approaches.

TH 643 Nature and Grace

This course examines disputes regarding the question of the relationship between our natural human capacities and God’s grace. The first half of the course will focus on the history of such disputes, including Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther and Jansenism. The second half of the course will focus on how disputes over nature and grace were central to Catholic theology in the 20th century and continue to be important today.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) describe the various meanings given to the terms “nature” and “grace” in the Bible and in the subsequent theological tradition; 2) articulate the way in which key figures in the theological tradition have related nature to grace; 3) relate different theologies of nature and grace to other areas of theology, such as fundamental theology, Christology, ecclesiology, and sacramentology.

TH 644 Vatican II and the Postconciliar World [This is a joint BA/MTS course (not yet numbered)]

The Second Vatican Council is the central event in modern Roman Catholic life and thought – and it has had enormous impact on Christian ecumenism, dialogue and cooperation among religions, and solidarity with the joys and griefs of all modern men and women.   Our world is “postconciliar” (“after the Council”) in at least two senses: some say we have yet to meet the challenges the Council left for subsequent generations, while others say that we no longer live in the same time as Vatican II.  We will read the central texts of Vatican II, along with crucial debates over the Council in the postconciliar world (from . . . through the 199? Synod of Bishops, to current debates over the hermeneutics of the Council).   Students will learn to read conciliar texts intelligently, bring them to bear on contemporary theological arguments, and construct a vision of our theological postconciliar future.  Students completing this course successfully will demonstrate the ability to: 1) discuss the central theological tenets of Vatican II and how Vatican II construes the tasks of theology; 2) analyze the documents of Vatican II as one Council among many; 3) evaluate critically various scholarly responses to Vatican II.

TH 645 Contemporary Doctors of the Church

A “doctor” is a teacher.  Who are the best teachers of the Church today, why, and how can others learn from as well as criticize them?  Students will read and discuss contemporary theologians who are or may be teachers of the universal Church.    Students who successfully complete this course will demonstrate the ability to: 1) describe and analyze specific contemporary theologians in the light of the traditional notion of “Doctor of the Church”; 2) analyze contemporary theological issues in the light of the work of specific “Doctors”; 3) analyze and evaluate the scholarly literature related to specific “Doctors.”

TH 646 Debates in Twentieth-Century Theology

This course will introduce students to a selection of theological debates from the 20th century.  The course will present the figures and arguments of both sides of the debate.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate familiarity with the works of specific theologians; 2) analyze and evaluate competing theological claims as they arose in specific times and places.

TH 647 Theology after the Enlightenment

This course is offered as an introduction to the Enlightenment and theological responses to the Enlightenment, from the end of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century.  Beginning with the debate between Kant and Hamann, the focus of the course will shift to specifically Catholic responses to the Enlightenment by members of the Tübingen school, such as Johann Sebastian Drey, Johann Adam Möhler, and Johannes Kuhn.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) a familiarity with the Enlightenment as an historical period (focusing on its major figures and major texts) and as a way of thinking; 2) the ability to assess the theological implications of the Enlightenment.

TH 648 Theology and Phenomenology

This course is offered as an introduction to phenomenology, the philosophical movement associated with Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, and subsequent theological innovations in response to it.  Other figures that will be considered are Erich Przywara, Martin Heidegger, Edith Stein, John Paul II, and Jean-Luc Marion.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) a familiarity with the central terms and concepts of phenomenology; 2) the ability to assess the merits of phenomenology as a philosophical discipline and 3) to show how twentieth-century Catholic philosophers and theologians responded to phenomenology.

Comparative Theology (TH 660-669)

TH 660 Comparative Theological Readings of the Qur’an

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the holy book of Islam. After a survey of the historical and the literary setting of the Qur’an we will concentrate on a close reading of a number of theologically relevant passages. We will compare translations and interpretations in order to get an idea of the most important semantic fields. We will look at some of the most important voices in the history of tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis) but we will also consider Christian theological approaches of the Qu’ran.
Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate: 1) a basic knowledge of the Qur’an and the history of its interpretation 2) although students will read the Qur’an in English, they will develop some limited knowledge of the basic categories and terms of the Qur’an in Arabic.

TH 661 Comparative Theological Approaches to Islam

The main purpose of this course is to introduce students to the history of Christian interpretations of Islam. After a survey we will concentrate on reading some of the basic Christian texts about Islam and try to establish the history of their influence (Wirkungsgeschichte) on the image of Islam in the Christian West. We will compare this image to the self-representation of Islam in some theological texts that can be read as counterparts of the Christian interpretations of Islam. This will enable us to get an idea about the mutual influence of the two religious traditions.  Students successfully completing this course will demonstrate the ability to: 1) distinguish and evaluate different Christian theological approaches to Islam; 2) describe both the difficulties and possibilities of applying basic notions of Christian theology to the reading of Islamic texts.

TH662 Buddhism and Christianity

This class provides a general survey of the encounter between Christianity and Buddhism.  The course examines the metaphysical and theological conflicts between them. Topics will include God, the soul, metaphysics, causality, epistemology, and ethics. The course will take special care to dismantle many of the fantasies that contemporary Europeans and Americans have about Buddhism, and we will conclude with a discussion of the political uses and abuses of reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism. Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate knowledge of the basic history and teachings of Buddhism; 2) articulate the relevant points of agreement and disagreement between Buddhists and Christians.

TH 663 Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Middle Ages

This course examine the philosophical and theological trialogue among Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers in the Middle Ages on such questions as the nature of divine power, the status of human speech about God, and the problems and possibilities associated with belief in the Incarnation. Among the thinkers discussed are Al Ghazzali, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Maimonides, and Aquinas.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) identify key Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers of the medieval era and be able to articulate accurately their chief theological contributions; 2) employ with facility the philosophical categories (Platonist and Aristotelian) used by medieval theologians; 3) articulate the theological similarities and differences that obtain among Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers.

Ethics and Culture (TH 670-690)

TH670 ETHICS: Roman Catholic Moral Theology

This class offers an introduction to the history, vocabulary, and methods of moral theology in the Roman Catholic Church with a special emphasis on contemporary case studies. Readings will include relevant passages of Holy Scripture, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bl. Duns Scotus, Leo XIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Gustavo Gutiérrez, and Alasdair MacIntyre. Topics will include the Christian conception of holiness, its sacramental expression in marriage and holy orders, scholastic and phenomenological approaches to moral theology, Catholic social thought, liberation theology, and contemporary sexual and biomedical ethics. Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate a basic knowledge of the terms and methods of Catholic moral theology and its chief rivals, utilitarianism and deontological ethics.

TH 671 Contemporary Catholic Moral Theology

This course would examine Catholic moral theology, with particular attention to the major schools of thought within the contemporary tradition.  Key magisterial texts (notably John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor) would provide the point of departure.  Schools of thought to be examined include the new natural law (Grisez/Finnis), the critics of the new natural law (Hittinger), the proportionalists (Fuchs, McCormick), the virtue school (Pinckaers), and the narrative school (Baxter).  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate a knowledge of the basic concepts of Catholic moral theology, 2) to interpret ecclesiastical and theological documents on ethics in context, 3) to evaluate critically the theses defended by competing schools of contemporary Catholic moral theology.

TH 672 Natural Law in Catholic Context

This course would examine the development of natural law as a central mode of moral reflection in Catholicism.  The classical (Cicero) and biblical (Wisdom Literature, Paul) roots of natural-law ethics would be studied.  Aquinas’s Treatise on Law would be the centerpiece of the course.  Diverse contemporary Catholic natural-law thinkers (Connery, Grisez, Finnis, McCormick, George) would be studied.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate a knowledge of the historical development of the natural-law moral tradition;  2) demonstrate a mastery of the specialized concepts used in natural-law arguments; 3) assess critically divergent schools of natural-law thought in contemporary Catholic ethics.

TH 673 Catholic Social Doctrine

In examining the major documents of the Catholic social tradition (such as Rerum novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, Centesimus annus), the course will focus on the shifting methodologies used in this versant of Church teaching.  The interdisciplinary nature of this canon (theological, philosophical, sociological) will also be examined, as well as the controversies among contemporary theologians in the interpretation and development of this doctrine.  Students successfully completing this course will be able to: 1) demonstrate a knowledge of Catholic social doctrine through an analytic grasp of the basic concepts used in this tradition; 2) display a hermeneutical ability to interpret key texts of the tradition in historical context; 3) display the capacity to engage critically with the central theories of this tradition in light of changes in contemporary society.

TH 619, 639, 659, 669, 690  Independent Study in a Specific Sub-discipline

These courses offer students an opportunity for further work in a specific sub-discipline of theology.  The structure, requirements and aims of each independent study will be worked out between the student and a particular professor who will take responsibility for directing the student’s work.

TH 700/701 Masters Thesis

The thesis is an opportunity for students both to bring together discrete elements from the curriculum and to explore a topic in greater depth than would be possible in a specific course. The thesis should draw together work from some of the theological sub-disciplines covered in the curriculum. Students will prepare their theses during their second year in the program. [Theses must conform to the university standards as listed in the Student Handbook.]

Normally, a thesis will neither be shorter than 15,000 words nor longer than 30,000 words including notes and bibliography. Students will be assigned a thesis advisor at the end of their first year in the program. Such assignments will be made by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the student, the chair of the department, and specific faculty members.

When students have submitted their thesis, a date for an oral examination will be set. The examination will cover material contained in the thesis and material related to the student’s course work. The examiners will include the student’s faculty advisor, at least one other faculty member, and a faculty member who will serve as the chair and moderator of the examination. That person’s primary role is to make sure that the examination proceeds in an orderly, civil, and fair manner. The student will receive a grade for the written thesis and a grade for the oral examination. The final grade for the thesis will be the average of these two grades. Students may not pass TH 700/01 unless they pass both the written and the oral part.

Timeline for TH 700/01

  • Summer before the second year: Students will be assigned faculty advisors. They should  begin to read with the aim of formulating an acceptable thesis topic. This topic must be submitted in writing to the Graduate Program Director.
  • First Friday in October: Students must have submitted their written thesis topic to the Graduate Program Director.
  • Oct. 20: Graduate Program Director conveys written approval of the thesis topic.
  • March 1: Final copy of thesis must be submitted if a student wishes to graduate in May.

A final copy of the thesis must be submitted to the Library. In addition to the specific formatting rules in the graduate catalogue, theses must use standard Greek and Hebrew fonts; abbreviations should follow the guidelines in the SBL handbook of style.