Undergraduate Course Offerings in Theology
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UCOR 141 Biblical & Historical Perspectives: An examination of the historical, literary, and theological aspects of a select number of key biblical texts and a discussion of their contemporary relevance. Core Theology.
UCOR 142 Theological Views of the Person: A study of theology through an investigation of the question: "What does it mean to be human?" Students engage this question in relationship to self, others, the world, and the Divine, with attention to Christian and other views. Core Theology.
UCOR 143 Global and Cultural Perspectives: A study of some of the world's great religions which are thought to be particularly representative of humanity's religious experience; namely, archaic traditions, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Chinese traditions, and the Islamic path. Core Theology.
UCOR 152 Theological Ethics: An introduction to the central issues of theological ethics, including methodological and practical concerns. The course will focus on the Christian tradition, especially Roman Catholicism, with some attention given to other approaches. Topics include the formulation and formation of moral values, the sources and development of Christian ethics, and examination of selected contemporary moral issues.
UCOR 232 Faith and Atheism: An examination of the claims which atheists make against faith and the response made by believers to these arguments. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
UCOR 253 Health Care Ethics: A study of practical and theoretical issues in the ethics of health care. Issues include life and death questions, professional-patient relationships, and moral aspects of the health care professions.
THEO 103 Basic Greek 1: The fundamentals of Greek grammar and syntax with exercises in translation. Lecture.
THEO 201/WSG 202/AFST 202 Women & Christianity: This course places the received wisdom of the Christian religion in conversation with the ways in which it has been interpreted both by the tradition's dominant narrative as well as by women and men who challenge that narrative across generations and cultures. Attention will be called to multicultural perspectives in light of issues and themes that engage feminist and womanist scholars of religion. Some of the topics that will be discussed include power structures, violence, sexual violence, racism, socio-economic conditions, ways of imaging the divine and participating in religious rituals, and interpretive and communal authority. Theme Area Social Justice.
THEO 202/WSG 203 UCSL: Christianity, Embodiment, and Violence: Want to make a difference? Tired of just talking about social justice? Interested in psychology, sociology, public policy, education, or health, but still need to take a theology course? The course examines the research, writings, and experiences of women and men in the Christian tradition. Particular attention will be paid to religious justifications for sexual violence and gender discrimination; and the role that theology and faith communities have played in both condoning and resisting such violence in the US. Theme Areas Social Justice and Faith and Reason. Foundational CEL.
THEO 203: Hinduism and Buddhism: This course offers an in-depth exploration of Hinduism and Buddhism. What are their historical origins and how have they developed over time? How are they lived out in everyday life? Most importantly, what wisdom do they offer, and how might this wisdom become part of our lives? We will examine these traditions through their sacred texts (e.g., Bhagavad Gita, Lotus Sutra), major figures (e.g., classical figures such as Krishna and the Buddha and contemporaries like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama), forms of prayer and meditation (e.g., yoga, mindfulness, lovingkindness), and by engaging in conversation with local Pittsburgh communities. While there will be historical and cultural background, the primary focus will be theological, attending to how these traditions conceive of: ultimate reality; the human condition; liberation from suffering and human happiness; the global ecological crisis; and interreligious dialogue and peace. Lecture. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 204/AFST 204: Approaches to Black and African Theology: This is an introductory course to theology from African and African American perspectives. Students are opened not only to Roman Catholic theological traditions but also to the diversity of approaches in theology within which Black, African, and Third World theologies are located. The dialectical engagement of African and Black Theologies and the methodological and interpretative shifts that account for their emergence and ongoing development are rooted in African and Black history and tradition. The course has also added pastoral dimension; the preparation for and enhancement of ministry in the Roman Catholic Church to peoples of African descent.THEO 206 Christian Mysticism: The course centers on the mystical theology of Christian religion. The main texts will be the Bible and primary texts from the tradition of Christian mystical writings. With an eye on discerning the internal logic of Christianity as a whole (not just its doctrines but it rituals and spiritual disciplines too), the course begins with a reflection on a paradigm of Christian theology that emphasizes the "iconic" nature of God-talk; this paradigm views theological words and ideas as the "letters" that seek to express the spiritual reality of God's ineffable mystery without reducing it to a verbal or conceptual idol. This is the essence of written testimonies to mystical experience in the Christian tradition. The mystical and the esoteric are necessary for understanding the doctrinal and exoteric truth claims in the entirety of the Christian tradition. As one illustration, the course applies this paradigm of "iconic" writing as a lens for interpreting the development of classical Christological and Trinitarian doctrine, as well as the development of the theology of grace. Finally it examines several primary texts by spiritual-mystical theologians from the tradition. Overall the focus of the course is
THEO 206 Christian Mysticism: The course centers on the mystical theology of Christian religion. The main texts will be the Bible and primary texts from the tradition of Christian mystical writings. With an eye on discerning the internal logic of Christianity as a whole (not just its doctrines but it rituals and spiritual disciplines too), the course begins with a reflection on a paradigm of Christian theology that emphasizes the "iconic" nature of God-talk; this paradigm views theological words and ideas as the "letters" that seek to express the spiritual reality of God's ineffable mystery without reducing it to a verbal or conceptual idol. This is the essence of written testimonies to mystical experience in the Christian tradition. The mystical and the esoteric are necessary for understanding the doctrinal and exoteric truth claims in the entirety of the Christian tradition. As one illustration, the course applies this paradigm of "iconic" writing as a lens for interpreting the development of classical Christological and Trinitarian doctrine, as well as the development of the theology of grace. Finally it examines several primary texts by spiritual-mystical theologians from the tradition. Overall the focus of the course is on the symbiosis of Christian mysticism and a Christological-Trinitarian doctrine of God. The course will include writings by authors such as Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, John Cassian, Maximus the Confessor, Richard of St. Victor, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart, John Ruusbroec, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales.
THEO 207 Believing, Thinking, Feeling, & Choosing: An investigation of Catholic and a selection of other perspectives on the relationship of faith, reason, feelings and action-the movements of believing, thinking, feeling and choosing-with reference to classical traditions and contemporary political and cultural issues. Students will explore together a critical current problem on which there are widely differing views, as well as issues relevant for their own growth as responsible leaders in the workplace and society.
THEO 212 Sacred Scriptures of Ancient Israel: This course provides an introduction to some of the most important texts, themes, and persons of the Hebrew Bible, with an eye to the role they have played in constructing and reinforcing individual and communal identity-specifically the identity of the people of Israel. We will alternate between scholarly readings of the texts, reflecting the broad consensus (or, in some case, the main positions) of specialists in the area, and traditional readings stemming from various ancient interpreters weaving exegesis, ritual, and ethics into the sacred canopy-the symbolic universe-of Judaism and Christianity.
THEO 213 The Old Testament: A presentation of the Old Testament writings in their dynamic context of culture, politics, and geography, as well as an introduction to their literary modes, theologies, and themes.
THEO 214 The New Testament: A presentation of the books of the New Testament, including their literary makeup, historical origins and testimony, and theological content; practical approaches in interpreting key passages of the New Testament.
THEO 215 Jesus and the Visual Arts: Christian visual art is often incomprehensible unless the viewer is able to recognize the references to biblical texts. This course teaches how to approach, decipher, and appreciate Christian visual art as a form of biblical interpretation. Students will become familiar with the exegetical and theological dimensions of visual art produced along the centuries in the orbit of Christian civilization (Syria-Palestine, Asia Minor, Northern Africa, Eastern and Western Europe) and in over a century of cinematography. Theme Area Creative Arts.
THEO 216 Religion, Media, and Pop Culture: Examination of the religious, theological, ethical issues and perspectives raised by various forms of media and popular culture, including: marketing, sports, movies, television, and music. Special attention will be given to the nature of their relationship and the theological and spiritual issues currently present in their interface. Theme Area Social Justice.
THEO 217 The Bible and Mystical Experience: "Biblical literacy" - one of the benchmarks of a well-rounded education in the Humanities - does not only designate a working knowledge of who-what-when in the Bible, but also encompasses a reflection on the history of biblican interpretation; and a significant aspect of the way in which Jewish and Christian sacred texts have been received and used along the centuries is the inextricable link between biblical interpretation and various claims to mystical experience. Such claims have played a crucial role in the construction and confirmation of individual and communal identity-specifically the identity of biblical Israel and the identity of those who see themselves as legitimate heirs of biblical Israel: Jews and Christians. The course will revolve around the theme of "theophany" (or, manifestation of God), with a special interest in the implicit and explicit depictions of the divine in the Bible. Students will become familiar with a number of "key" biblical texts exemplifying what scholarship calls "sacred mountain ideology" (Genesis 2-3; Exodus 3, 19, 24, 32; Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1), and study the reception history of these texts in early Christianity. The texts will be divided thematically (Eden, Sinai, Zion, Tabor), and the course will place special emphasis on the way in which these texts were used to articulate early Christian claims to mystical experience. We will examine the texts themselves, in their historical, social, and religious contexts, but pay special attention to the ways in which biblical texts were reread and reinterpreted along the centuries, and to the stated and unstated. Lecture. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 220 Jesus the Christ: An introduction to the study of Jesus as Christ and Savior, concentrating on the principle mysteries of his existence. The insights of the New Testament and the early church councils will receive special attention, as well as representative interpretations among the theologians.
THEO 224: Ancient Near Eastern Mythology: A thematic study of the mythologies of the ancient Near East, particularly Sumerian, Akkadian (Assyrian / Babylonian), Syro-Palestinian, Hittite, and Egyptian. The focus of this class will be threefold: an analysis of the material in their own right; their analogues and antecedents in Greek mythology; and finally their parallels within Biblical literature. Among the aims of this course is the understanding of the culture and world out of which the Bible emerged. Texts that will be considered include: the Babylonian Epic of Creation (Enuma Elish) and the well-known Epic of Gilgamesh. Lecture.
THEO 226 Ancient Religions of the Middle East: An exploration of ancient middle eastern religious ideas and practices through consideration of texts from ancient Israel, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, and Palestine. Care will be given to the historical and social contexts of these religions as well as the archaeological evidence for their practice. Lecture.
THEO 228 The Birth of the Bible: Among the common questions heard in Biblical circles are: How did we get the Bible? How can we be sure that the books it contains are the books that are supposed to be there? What about all those other books-books like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene-what are we to make out of them? This course will consider these questions and others as we seek to explain how the Bible came to be a book, and how the contents included were ultimately settled upon. This course will also include reflections on the origins of Christianity and incorporate readings from many of the so-called "other books."
THEO 230 Global Diversity: Churches and their Cultural Contexts: The center of Christianity has shifted from the West to the Global South and East. As the gospel penetrates new cultures and situations, it must answer new questions and seek to surface new understandings. The course will explore the global diversity of Christianity by analyzing the cross-cultural transmission of faith as fundamental to the understanding of church in our time. This explanation will be made from an East-West perspective. Lecture. Theme Area Global Diversity.
THEO 232 Faith and Atheism: An examination of the claims which atheists make against faith and the response made by believers to these arguments. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 243W Jews Under Empire: An exploration of Jewish history in the imperial contexts of the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods (c. 539 BCE-100 CE) and geographic regions of Palestine and the Diaspora, especially Egypt. We will examine the strategies Jews employed to explain and live under empire through critical study of the creative and diverse corpus of their ancient literature. A key focus will be religion, but politics, society, economy, and the military will also be discussed. Lecture. Theme Area Global Diversity, University Core Writing Intensive.
THEO 245 God, Money, and Power: A study of the religious and ethical meaning of wealth and power in human life, both personally and socially. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 246 Contemporary Perspectives on the Common Good: This course will examine various recent proposals for a revived ethic of the common good and assess the adequacy of these proposals. Theme Area Social Justice.
THEO 248 Religion and Ecology: A study of the relation of the human to the rest of the earth community and the role religion has played in defining it. Theme Area Faith and Reason & Social Justice.
THEO 248C Religion and Ecology: A study of the relation of the human to the rest of the earth community and the role religion has played on defining it. Part of the Natura learning community.
THEO 249 Ancient Egypt: Language, Literature, Culture and Biblical Connections: An investigation of the language, literature, culture, and history of the ancient Egyptians. We will begin with the political unification of Egypt approximately 3100 BCE and continue through Pharaonic history until the periods of Greek and Roman occupation. This course will include a brief introduction to hieroglyphics and will explore the profound Egyptian influence on Biblical literature and history. Lecture.
THEO 264 Religion & Global Conflict: This course offers a foundation in religious ethics related to conflict and its resolution. It explores the ways that religion can be a motivating force for both violence and peacebuilding. The course will examine the teachings of Christianity and Islam on the moral questions surrounding warfare, and it addresses major religions as well as indigenous traditional religious practices on post-conflict reconciliation, peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The class will look at present and past conflicts that involve Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, the Philippians, and India, as well as the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Theme Area Faith and Reason & Social Justice.
THEO 264C Religion & Global Conflict: This course offers a foundation in religious ethics related to conflict and its resolution. It explores the ways that religion can be a motivating force for both violence and peacebuilding. The course will examine the teachings of Christianity and Islam on the moral questions surrounding warfare, and it addresses major religions as well as indigenous traditional religious practices on post-conflict reconciliation, peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The class will look at present and past conflicts that involve Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, the Philippians, and India, as well as the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Theme Area Faith and Reason & Social Justice.
THEO 270 Eastern Christianity: A study of the main theological developments in the Eastern Church from the Patristic age on through the medieval times until the modern days as they shape its distinctive spirit and mentality and as they are interpreted in the Eastern Churches. Theme Area Social Justice.
THEO 271 Anti-Semitism: This course will explore the nature and history of the hatred and persecution of Jews (antisemitism) in western culture. It will pay special attention to the philosophical, sociological, psychological, and religious roots of antisemitism. It will also focus on antisemitism's most violent manifestations during the 20th century to the present. Theme Area Social Justice.
THEO 274 Beginnings of Christianity: This course, offered at Duquesne's Rome campus, is an introduction, starting from New Testament times until about 500AD, to several key figures at the rise of Christianity like Mary Mother of God, as well as Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the founders of Christian Rome. Throughout history Rome has fascinated Christians and non-Christians alike. The course explores how in the early centuries the followers of Jesus Christ lived their faith centered upon Him. It then goes on to investigate how the theological tradition of the importance of Rome developed in the Church and the Papacy. The course considers how the early Christians related faith and reason, and also suffered for their belief in martyrdom. Theological material will be offered which will help the students to understand better their time in Rome. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 281 African Religions: This course explores indigenous, traditional, and contemporary African religious expressions and belief systems with special attention to the particular location in which the course is situated. Through assigned readings and engagement with select African religious rituals and practices, this course seeks to give greater insight and understanding into the reasoning, practices, and expressions of African religions. Lecture.
THEO 282 Christian Faith and Reason: The divine is sensed and responded to in various geographical, cultural, and chronological contexts. The rationale behind this was to investigate the nature of religious experience which included looking at the nature of religious faith and its expressions. The nature of religious faith and its expressions however, seem to differ as a result of various contexts. This can be attributed to the different ways of reasoning that is used by different contexts. At the heart of understanding religious experience therefore is an understanding of the reasoning used to express religious faith. In other words, the relationship between religious faith and reason must be explored. Pope John Paul II has explored this question in his encyclical Fides et Ratio his exposition as well as critical reactions to it will be explored. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 283 Judaism, Christianity and Islam: A study of the beliefs and practices of these three monotheistic religions: the distinct character of each, the varieties within each religion, and the continuities and the differences among all three. Theme Area Global Diversity.
THEO 283W Judaism, Christianity and Islam: A study of the beliefs and practices of these three monotheistic religions: the distinct character of each, the varieties within each religion, and the continuities and the differences among all three. Theme Area Global Diversity. Writing Intensive.
THEO 301 Marriage: We will look at interpersonal relationships and marriage from a sociological, cultural and theological perspective. Hooking up, cohabitation, divorced, sexual behavior, gay marriage etc. will be discussed.
THEO 313 Archaeology and the Bible: An illumination through archaeology of the historical setting, the cultural background, and the events described in the Bible; a general introduction to the techniques of archaeological investigation and a study of the principal archaeological sites in Palestine.
THEO 314W Thomas Aquinas: An introduction to the philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, focusing on such topics as God, nature, knowledge, language, the problem of evil, and the relation between faith and reason. Lecture. University Core Writing Intensive.
THEO 322 Jesus of Nazareth: History and Theology: Jesus of Nazareth is the most historically important and influential person who has ever lived. Over the centuries, billions of people have believed this 1st century Jewish man to be the incarnation (or "enfleshment") of God and to be powerfully alive, present, and active today. Many non-Christians also admire him for his teachings and religious significance. This course will be an extensive study of the life of Jesus of Nazareth as it is given in our best historical sources about his life: the four Gospels in the New Testament. By placing Jesus in the historical setting of 1st century Palestinian Jewish life under Roman rule, we seek to grasp what the words, deeds, and events of his earthly life would have meant in his own day. In doing so, we will also attend to the ways in which the four evangelists receive and interpret the figure of Jesus in their Gospels. Our goal will be to arrive at a better understanding of this most historically important individual, whom Christians believe to be God become human. Lecture. Theme Area Faith and Reason.
THEO 323 Archaeology of the Ancient Near East: The Ancient Near East is sometimes called the "Cradle of Civilization" because it was here that writing, urbanism, and agriculture first emerge. In the course, we will focus upon the development of the Mesopotamian urban civilizations, and the Fertile Crescent in general, from the Sumerians to the time of Alexander the Great, in roughly chronological order. Attention will be paid to the so-called peripheral regions, such as Anatolia, and Syro-Palestine (Levant) with their own archaeology and history. The emphasis throughout is upon material culture, particularly as it bears upon subjects like the political, social, religious, and economic systems that allowed these great civilizations to thrive, along with the institutions and values that constituted the fabric of daily life. Ample attention will also be given to the emergence and development of writing, which had its genesis in this region. Finally, given that the Near East has from its outset, been a region fraught with political instabilities, consideration will also be given to the conducting of fieldwork in such tenuous environments. Lecture.
THEO 375 Special Topics in Theology: An opportunity to pursue a particular interest of professor and students. Lecture.
THEO 439 Theology of Ministry: An analysis of the concept of ministry; the meaning of the term and its historical expressions; the evolution of ministerial orders; "new" ministries and contemporary ministerial topics in the church; the use of theological reflection in ministry. Lecture.
THEO 492 Independent Study in Theology: Students may pursue independent research topics with an instructor, including a formal arrangement for regular meetings and assignments. Department approval required. Independent Study.
THEO 493 Directed Readings in Biblical Studies: The topics will change regularly and will be published within the department. Readings.