Theology

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.

 

Faculty

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

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.

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

 

  •  Introduction to Phenomenology: Husserl. Marion
  • Theologies from the Underside of History. Hopkins
  • Theological Criticism: Eschatology and Embodiment. Otten
  • Kant on Religion and Rational Theology. Coyne
  • Politics and Culture of Black Religion. Hopkins
  • Approaches to Suffering: Theological Perspectives and Contemporary Meditations. Culp
  • History of Christian Thought I-VI. Various.
  • Contemporary Trinitarian Theology. Hector
  • Womanist Theology: A New Generation. Hopkins
  • Topics in Philosophy of Judaism: Ethics and Halakhah. Davidson
  • Theology of Schubert M. Ogden. Gamwell
  • Augustine on the Trinity. Marion
  • Theology and Black Folk Culture. Hopkins
  • African Thought and Worldview. Hopkins
  • Spirituality of the Sixteenth Century. Schreiner
  • Beyond Morality: Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Schweiker
  • The Concept of ‘Religion’ in Modern Theology. Hector
  •  Protest and Liberation: Protestant Theologies. Culp
  • Calvin’s Institutes. Schreiner
  •  Modern Roman Catholic Moral Theology. Schweiker
  • The Problem of God-Talk. Hector
  • Justin Martyr. Martinez
  • Problems in Theology and Ethics. Schweiker
  • Readings in Luther. Schreiner
  • The Catholic Reformation. Schreiner
  • Contemporary Trinitarian Theology. Hector
  • Luther and the Old Testament. Schreiner
  • Pilgrimage and Exodus as Christian Theological Themes. Culp
  • Black Theology and Womanist Theology. Hopkins
  • World Christianity (1): Asian Theologies. Hector
  • Self, World, Other: The Thought of Paul Tillich. Schweiker
  • Protest Theologies. Hector
  • Exile in Jewish Thought and Literature. Mendes-Flohr/Brinker
  • Hermann Cohen’s Religion and Reason. Mendes-Flohr
Why Chicago?

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

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