If you have questions or want more information, please, contact Dr. Sandra Sullivan-Dunbar, Graduate Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By studying the most common features of the Christian “Gnostic worldview” (including their Christologies, theologies and anthropologies), we will try to analyze the complexity and transformations of some early Christian reflections from around the end of the first century through the third. This will help us understand the reasons for the success and perceived threat of what was then called “The Heresy of Evil.” To accomplish this purpose we will read and discuss key passages from the so-called Gnostic Gospels (The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Mary [Magdalene], The Gospel of Judas, The Gospel of Truth) and from other Gnostic texts, focusing particularly on the nature and mission of the Savior and on the way(s) salvation was conceived and (believed to be) obtained.
The Israelite experience of God (and the covenanted life with God) changed radically in the wake of the Babylonian Exile (586–539 BCE), when the Jews returned to the Promised Land as a people under foreign rule and at times facing foreign occupation. As later Greek rulers increasingly challenged Jewish identity and religious practice, Jewish stories with unlikely heroes emerged, revealing sites of resistance and rebellion against foreign rule. These tales often showed clever Jewish heroes using their wits and their natural strengths to challenge foreign courts and armies. And shining in the midst of these tales were three stories of women—Ruth, Esther, and Judith—stories that stand out for the sheer power and range of their protagonists’ unexpected victories.
We will read these stories in the context of similar Jewish tales—the Joseph story, the book of Tobit, the apocalyptic revelation of Daniel, and the guerilla warfare of the Maccabees—in order to contextualize the narrative worlds in which Ruth, Esther, and Judith live and resist. And more to the point, we will explore what makes these heroes different from their narrative counterparts: as women, as actors, and as defining markers of Jewish identity in the centuries after their stories had been told.
This course highlights six models in liberation theology: 1) the socio-economic model, 2) the cultural model, 3) the racial model, 4) the gender and sexual orientation model, 5) the religious model, and 6) the physical disability model. The classic definition of liberation theology as “critical reflection upon Christian praxis” will serve as the cornerstone to build theological conversations around the life-threatening and life-giving character of human actions and experiences.
THEO 427-001 (combined 517-001): St. Paul’s Contribution to Christianity
Tuesday 4:15 pm - 6:45 pm
The purpose of this course is twofold: (1) to understand what Paul was saying through the lens of an analysis of his Letter to the Romans and, to a lesser extent, of his Letter to the Galatians, all of this set against the backgrounds of early Christianity, early Judaism, and the Greco-Roman world; and (2) to understand how one goes about interpreting Paul by analyzing the significant development of this thought from Galatians to Romans.
The format of the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. The students are expected to be active participants in the discussions (10% of the final grade).
a. For those taking the THEO 427 course, the requirements are as follows: (1) three four-page papers during the semester (each worth 10% of the final grade); (2) a final fifteen page paper at the end of the semester (worth 30% of the final grade); and (3) a final examination (worth 30% of the final grade).
b. For those taking the THEO 517 course, the requirements are as follows: (1) three five-page papers during the semester (each worth 10% of the final grade); (2) and a final twenty-five page research paper at the end of the semester (worth 35% of the final grade); and (3) a final examination (worth 25% of the final grade).
c. For those taking the THEO 517 course, there will also be an additional hour each week for reading and discussing Romans and other relevant texts in Greek. Those taking THEO 427 and who have a good knowledge of Greek are welcome to join this group. The day and time for this will be determined at the first class.
THEO 447 - 002 (combined 378-001): German Intellectual History:
The Critique of Social Power in German Philosophy, Theology, and Literature
Friday 2:45 pm - 5:15 pm
This course offers a unique opportunity to encounter one particular strand of German Intellectual History, the critique of social and political power and strategies of resistance and subversion from philosophy, theology, and German literature. While the course is offered in English, with texts offered in translations of the German works, the German originals are considered as foil for the discussion.
We will read two authors that shaped modern German philosophy like no others (Kant and Marx), selections from Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900, examples of German-speaking literature (Kafka, Bachmann), two Christian theologians who shaped the postwar political theology (Sölle, Metz), and some exemplary literature that addresses the divided country (U. Johnson), complemented with Oscar-winning movie “The Life of Others”. Finally, we will explore the legacy of colonialism (U. Timm), refugees (H. Arendt), and end with essays on war and current German affairs (C. Emcke).
The course aims to bring together undergrad and graduate students in theology, philosophy, and Modern Language/German who are interested in the German intellectual culture. The course is open to anyone interested in exploring some major German authors on the critique of social power.
• Emcke, Carolin 2007. Landscapes of war : letters to friends. Princeton, N.J. ; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.
• Johnson, Uwe. 1965. Zwei Ansichten. Frankfurt a. M.: Frankfurt a. M. Suhrkamp. / Johnson, Uwe. 1966. Two views. [1st ed.]. ed. New York: New York, Harcourt, Brace & World.
• Timm, Uwe. 2015. Morenga Roman. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch. /Timm, Uwe. 2005. Morenga: New England Natural Resources.
Some text will be provided online.
THEO 447-001 (combined 376-001): Philosophical Theology:
Language and Faith
Monday 4:15 pm - 6:45 pm
This course will focus on re-interpreting significant texts in the history of western metaphysics (e.g. Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Aquinas’ Summa, von Balthasar’s A Theological Aesthetics and many more) through the lens of one of the most significant critical contributions to metaphysics in the past century, Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer project. Agamben’s series, which focuses on western theological traditions from ancient Rome to the political theologies that undergird contemporary philosophical and political structures, takes an in-depth look at a variety of central metaphysical issues, including: Roman law on the ‘sacred man’ who can be killed but not sacrificed, Pauline formulations of a divided subject (spirit/flesh), Patristic writers on the economic Trinity and political sovereign power, Franciscan debates on possession versus use as well as forming an ontology of poverty, monasticism as a historical metaphysical laboratory, sacramental theologies understood through the existence of language and (legal) oaths, historical discussions of glory and providence as metaphysical-political constructs, angelology as a form of bureaucracy and the ‘work of God’ (Opus Dei) in relation to both liturgy and duty. Through close readings and discussions of selections from the Homo Sacer series, we will explore the long history of metaphysics from a particular point of view intended to elaborate new pathways for current theological and philosophical thought.
• Agamben, Giorgio. The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, trans. Patricia Dailey. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.
• Agamben, Giorgio. The Omnibus Homo Sacer. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017.
Selections of other texts will be available on Sakai.
THEO 460-001 (combined 393-003): Theology of Vatican II:
Thursday 4:15 pm - 6:45 pm
Course Description: On January 25, 1959, the ‘caretaker’ pope John XXIII [declared a saint in 2014], before a gathering of stunned cardinals, announced his intention to convoke an ecumenical council. John hoped this assembly would promote aggiornamento, that is “renewal,” in the Church and also promote Christian unity and world peace. During four plenary multi-month sessions that occurred between 1962 and 1965, the world’s bishops met to debate and ultimately approve 16 documents. The bishops were assisted by theological experts [periti], many of whom were deeply rooted in the ressourcement [“return to the sources”] that enabled the conciliar achievements. The sessions were witnessed by women “auditors” and representatives of other Christian traditions, who also influenced the crafting of the documents. With its appreciation of world cultures and religions and its openness to dialogue with them (e.g., the Assisi event in the photo above), Vatican II inaugurated what Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner termed the era of the “world church.” To those familiar with the history of Church councils, it is no surprise that the post-conciliar period has been marked by tensions and controversies over the interpretation and implementation of the council. Vatican II remains a primary source for a renewed understanding of the Church in the third millennium and thus the conciliar “event” and the documents that were promulgated merit sustained study. With this in mind, this course has several objectives:
• to attain a properly theological understanding of the Second Vatican Council based on the actual work of the Council--to this end, an attentive reading of the primary documents promulgated by the Council is the primary labor of the course.
• to achieve a deeper understanding of the Second Vatican Council as an event in the modern history of the Roman Catholic Church--to this end, the study of secondary sources will cast light on the historical and theological background and context for the Council.
• to assess the reception of the conciliar teachings, amidst tensions and disputes, with special attention to the renewed implementation of the Council’s teachings under the leadership of Pope Francis [Bishop of Rome since 2013]. Students will have the opportunity to work in teams to investigate how Vatican II impacted local Chicago parishes.
• to gain an appreciation of the reading and interpretation of the documents of the Church's Magisterium as an authoritative source for doing theology.
• to promote familiarity with research materials and methods of theological study.
THEO 470 - 001 (combined 393-001): Foundational and Critical Issues in Theological Ethics:
Christian Social Ethics in the Modern and Contemporary Periods
Tuesday and Thursday 2:30 - 3:45 pm
This course leads students through a social-analytical, historical and constructive exploration of Christian morality in the modern and contemporary periods. This is a social ethics course that pays close attention to 1) the deep economic, political, and cultural transitions that marked the emergence of 'modernity' and then 'post-modernity' in the West and 2) the bearing these transitions have had on Christian ethics.
The course begins with the classical analyses of emerging modernity in the work of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. With the enduring social-hermeneutical tools given by these foundational figures in social theory, the course moves through powerful, exemplary statements of Christian social ethics from the pre-World War II period to the post-World War II period in the West. Figures closely studied in this part of the course are Walter Rauschenbush, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John XXIII, Martin Luther King, and Gustavo Gutierrez. Entering into the post-modern period, the course moves to an excellent sociological description of this transition in the work of Stephen Crook Jan Pakulski, and Malcolm Waters. With this analysis in hand, the course concludes with a reading of Margaret Farley, Christopher Cook, and Pope Francis through a post-modern lens.
The course procedure combines instructor lectures, class discussion, and student-led discussions based on the assigned readings. Students maintain a Learning Portfolio throughout the course and complete their work with Final Assignments drawn from their portfolios. All students (undergraduate and graduate) do the same readings throughout the course. Some distinction is made between undergraduate and graduate students in the course assignments and final assignment.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (1995 ed.)
Christopher Cook, Alcohol, Addiction, and Christian Ethics (2008)
Crook, Pakulski, and Waters, Postmodernization: Change in Advanced Society (1992)
Margaret Farley, Just Love (2008)
Pope Francis, Laudato Sí (2015)
Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation (1973)
Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (1963)
Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World (1986)
Ian McIntosh, Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader (1997)
Walter Rauschenbusch, A Theology of the Social Gospel (1945 ed.)
THEO 570 – 001 (WSGS xxx): Theories of Justice
Friday 10:25 am - 12:45 pm
The concept of justice is central to any theory of ethics, and it has accompanied ethical thinking from the beginning. But what does justice mean, and how can it be achieved? How do we know when people are treated unjustly? We will explore some exemplary historical approaches, such as (moral) justice as virtue, the natural law tradition that precedes human rights and international law, and (legal and political) justice as constitutive principle to legitimize coercive measures of institutions (punishment for crimes and just war). We will examine the relation of mercy/compassion/solidarity and justice as the prophetic lens of justice.
We will learn about the modalities of justice, such as distributive, participatory, social, retributive, corrective or restorative, and intergenerational & ecological justice, and discuss current affairs through the lens of this conceptual language.
Throughout the course, students will engage in their own projects, focusing, for example, on global justice, migration, mass incarceration, reparations for past injustices and atrocities, international justice, the justification of (kinds of) punishment, or the theology of justice and mercy and divine justice.
Since the theory of justice is often regarded as the ‘public’ or ‘political’ dimension of ethics that contrasts with care in the ‘private’ or personal relations, any theory of justice must respond to its own ‘gendered’ features. For this reason, feminist approaches to justice will be used as an additional lens to discern the gender bias within the approaches, or to focus particularly on the impact the different modalities have from a gender perspective.
THEO 592 – 001 (6374): ISET Seminar, Dependency and Moral Agency
Wednesday 10:25 am – 12:55 pm
This course is the core doctoral seminar for the Integrative Studies in Ethics and Theology Program and is required for all ISET doctoral students in the coursework stage. This semester, the theme of the course will be Autonomy, Dependency and Moral Agency. Readings will explore various dimensions of dependency, agency, and their intersection through lenses both theological and ethical. Students will undertake research that connects to this theme in some way, culminating in a research paper.
Readings are likely to include the following:
• Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian
• Alisdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals
• Nancy Eiesland, The Disabled God
• Sandra Sullivan-Dunbar, Human Dependency and Christian Ethics
• Kristine Culp, Vulnerability and Glory
• Emilie Townes, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil
• Sallie McFague, The Body of God
• Selections from Karl Rahner, Eva Feder Kittay, Cristina Traina, Martha Nussbaum, Judith Butler, and others.
THEO 600 - 001 (2032): Dissertation Supervision
Students who have filed the dissertation paperwork and are currently writing should be enrolled in this course. You must be enrolled in some course every semester.
THEO 605 – 001 (2033): Master’s Study
Master’s students should enroll in this course during the semester in which they plan to take their comprehensive exams.
THEO 610 – 001 (2034): Doctoral Study
Students who have completed their doctoral level course work and are studying for the written and oral comprehensive exams should be enrolled in this course. You must be enrolled in some course every semester.