The Theology area is concerned with the historical study of the self-understanding of a religious tradition, mainly Christianity and Judaism, and with the constructive interpretation of its meaning and truth for the contemporary world. Students in theology must, thereby, address questions of the history of theology, the definitive characteristics of theological claims and discourse, the criteria of meaning and of truth within a tradition, methods of theological reflection, the warrant (if any) for revision within traditions, and the manifold ways to answer or to sustain the criticism of theological ideas and religious beliefs. Students in theology thereby demonstrate their historical competence, methodological sophistication, and also grounding in some specific form of theological reflection.



Ryan Coyne, Kristine A. Culp, Kevin Hector, Dwight N. Hopkins, Jean-Luc Marion, Willemien Otten, Susan E. Schreiner, William Schweiker

Theology brief overview (PDF)

Progress Conference format

The progress (or pre-exam) conference is normally held in the spring quarter of the second year, or the fall of the third year.  In Theology, the progress conference is held with the student's panel of examiners for the qualifying examinations, and will normally include assessment of coursework to date, cogency of the course of study petition, readiness for qualifying examinations, and development of the dissertation project. A report from the advisor and a timeline for the qualifying examinations is submitted to the Dean of Students following the conference. 

Written Examinations

Students concentrating in Theology take three exams from those offered by the area. These choices should be determined, in consultation with the relevant faculty, on the basis of the student’s intended scholarly focus in the field. All students are required to take at least two of the three offered examinations in the History of Christian Thought (i.e., exams 1, 2, and 3). In all Theology examinations attention will be given to the use of scripture in the pertinent tradition as a theological source and norm, and the student will be expected to know the exegetical foundations of the theological positions discussed. The examinations will also test historical understanding and the ability to deal critically and, when appropriate, constructively with theological texts.

Given the purpose of the examinations in the Theology area stated above, all examinations will have “set bibliographies,” meaning that examinations are not tailored to the student’s dissertation topic. Additionally, a student may not take an examination of a perspective, theologian, or doctrine that is the principle focus of his or her intended dissertation.

1. History of Christian Thought, 150–1325 (Ancient and Medieval)
2. History of Christian Thought, 1277–1600 (Early Modern)
3. History of Modern Religious Thought (1600–1950)
4. A Constructive Theological Perspective (e.g., liberation, feminist, mystical, process theologies)
5. Theological Ethics/Moral Theology
6. A Major Theologian or Doctrine (e.g., Augustine; Christology)

Research Paper

In addition to taking the written examinations, a student concentrating in Theology will submit for the oral examination a research paper that typically engages a thinker or problem, relevant primary materials, and also important secondary scholarship with respect to the student’s scholarly aspirations. This paper is to be no longer than twenty-five, double-spaced pages, and must follow rubrics of The Chicago Manual of Style. Students should consult with their adviser about the most suitable paper for submission for the examination. If possible, the paper should represent some preliminary thoughts about a possible thesis topic.

As a preface research paper, the Theology area would like each student to submit a one-page summary of the significance of the paper in light of the student’s future work in the area. This statement should include: (1) a summary of the thesis of the paper; (2) a statement of how this paper relates to the student’s current theological interests. The completed paper with preface should be distributed to all of the examiners at least two weeks prior to the time of the oral examination.

Complete Area Overview and Exam Information (pdf)

Selected Theology Courses

THEO 30100 History of Christian Thought I. Otten
THEO 30200 History of Christian Thought II. Otten
THEO 30300 History of Christian Thought III. Schreiner
THEO 30400 History of Christian Thought IV. Staff
THEO 30500 History of Christian Thought V. Staff
THEO 30600 Introduction to Theological Ethics. Schweiker
THEO 30700 History of Christian Thought VI. Hopkins
THEO 30800 Introduction to Theology. Hector
THEO 30900 Politics and Culture of Black Religion. Hopkins
THEO 31100 History of Theological Ethics I. Schweiker
THEO 31200 History of Theological Ethics II. Schweiker
THEO 32100 Theology and Black Folk Culture. Hopkins
THEO 35900 African Thought and Worldview. Hopkins
THEO 37500 Spirituality of the Sixteenth Century. Schreiner
THEO 40200 Beyond Morality: Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Schweiker
THEO 40400 The Concept of ‘Religion’ in Modern Theology. Hector
THEO 40500 Black Theology: First Generation. Hopkins
THEO 40600 Black Theology: Second Generation. Hopkins
THEO 41000 Protest and Liberation: Protestant Theologies. Culp
THEO 41300 Calvin’s Institutes. Schreiner
THEO 41400 Modern Roman Catholic Moral Theology. Schweiker
THEO 41701 The Problem of God-Talk. Hector
THEO 41800 Justin Martyr. Martinez
THEO 42100 Problems in Theology and Ethics. Schweiker
THEO 42300 Readings in Luther. Schreiner
THEO 42500 Religion and Slavery: Theological and Historical Perspectives. Hopkins/Brekus
THEO 43100 The Catholic Reformation. Schreiner
THEO 43301 Contemporary Trinitarian Theology. Hector
THEO 43900 Luther and the Old Testament. Schreiner
THEO 44301 Pilgrimage and Exodus as Christian Theological Themes. Culp
THEO 44500 Black Theology and Womanist Theology. Hopkins
THEO 44600 Theology of Schubert M. Ogden. Gamwell
THEO 45601 World Christianity (1): Asian Theologies. Hector
THEO 46600 Self, World, Other: The Thought of Paul Tillich. Schweiker
THEO 47801 Protest Theologies. Hector
THEO 48800 Seminar: Theological Ethics I. Schweiker
THEO 48900 Seminar: Theological Ethics II. Schweiker
THEO 49000 Seminar: Theological Ethics III. Schweiker
THEO 49801 Exile in Jewish Thought and Literature. Mendes-Flohr/Brinker
THEO 50901 Hermann Cohen’s Religion and Reason. Mendes-Flohr
THEO 51400 Augustine on the Trinity. Marion

Why Chicago?

Theology PhD student David Latimore speaks to the mutliple contexts and publics that inform and support his work in the Divinity School.