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Theology and Religious Studies Course Offerings

THRS 117 Theological Foundations (Core: TF)
This course will introduce students to the principal elements of Christian theology, particularly in the Catholic tradition, including biblical studies, historical and systematic theology, and ethics. It will address foundational theological questions, including: what does it mean to study God, and why do we do it; what sources are available for the investigation of God and how do we evaluate these sources; what images and metaphors have been and continue to be used for God; and what implications does belief in God have on ethical behavior and the building of communities?

THRS 201 The Bible Yesterday and Today (Core: CI)
The Bible plays a greater role in American culture than in any other Western society, a fact demonstrated by the current debates surrounding the teaching of evolution in public schools or the legalization of same-sex marriage. This course explores the following questions: what are the historical reasons for the Bible’s present influence; what were the social, political, literary and religious beliefs of the biblical authors; how has the biblical text been interpreted by both Jews and Christians for the past 2,000 years; and how have these interpretations influenced modern beliefs about the Bible.

THRS 203 The Quest for God (Core: CI)
In its most basic sense, theology is talk about God.  This course investigates the Christian tradition’s quest to speak rightly about God by exploring the historical development of the Trinitarian doctrine as well as engaging contemporary understandings of God.  It gives attention to currents of feminist, liberationist, and process models for God as well as concepts of God in a post-modern, religiously plural world.  Theology and Religious Studies majors/minors should take THRS 209: Doctrine of God for major/minor requirement.

THRS 209 Doctrine of God
In its most basic sense, theology is talk about God. This course investigates the Christian tradition’s “God talk” by exploring the historical development of doctrines of God as well as engaging contemporary images and concepts of God, giving attention to currents of feminist, liberationist, process, and post-modernist understandings of God.

THRS / AMER 221 Religion in America (Core: DD)
Examines the historical development of religious movements in America, both mainstream and peripheral groups, and analyzes the religious perceptions by which Americans have viewed themselves as a nation and culture, including a contemporary assessment.

THRS 242 Liturgy and the Sacraments
This course examines the nature of the liturgy and the sacraments as the forum in which the Church expresses and forms its identity and mission in the world. The course examines the historical evolution of the seven traditional sacraments as well as the other major rites of the Church. Finally, the course explores the implications of the reformed liturgy for Christian life and ministry in the contemporary world.

THRS 255 / PHIL 250 Philosophy of Religion (Core: WT)
This course examines the rational assessment of religious beliefs and concepts and arguments used in their support. The course considers contemporary challenges to belief in God and the responses to these challenges.

THRS / PHIL 265 Asian Philosophy and Religion (Core: BB)
A study of the major philosophical and religious traditions of South and East Asia. The course emphasizes the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological aspects of each major tradition are covered. Spring semester.

THRS / WMGS 268 Sexuality, Intimacy and God
This course explores the meaning and significance of sexuality and sex for human fulfillment. It examines the ethics of intimate and sexual relationships in light of Christian theological and scriptural traditions as well as reason (including social and scientific sources) and contemporary human experience. Specific topics under examination include “hookup culture” on contemporary college campuses; the social construction of gender and sexual expression; unmarried sexuality; same-sex relations; contraception; abortion; and sexual violence. Students engage various theological, philosophical, natural and social science sources, including imagery in the popular media, traditional Roman Catholic teaching, “revisionist” theological perspectives, and feminist insights regarding the body, sex, and human relationships more generally.

THRS 280 Introducing Christian Traditions
This course examines the history of Christianity in its theological, social and institutional dimensions, from the New Testament era to the present. This development is studied in a variety of historical and cultural contexts, presenting through representative figures and issues both continuity and diversity in Christian thought and life in the midst of society. This course prepares theology and religious studies majors/minors for more advanced courses in the theology and religious studies curriculum.

THRS 302 Forgotten and Found Sacred Texts (Adv. Core: BB)
This course examines the fascinating stories surrounding the loss and rediscovery of significant text collections in the history of Judaism and Christianity, for example, the Cairo Genizah, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, the Aleppo Codex, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Each of these collections played a significant role in their respective communities and their rediscovery in the modern era reveals much about contemporary scholarship in general and particularly the impact of colonialism and orientalism in the encounter between Western scholars of Judaism and Christianity and Middle Eastern cultures. Spring semester, alternate years.

THRS 309 Biblical Exegesis and Research
This course introduces students to both historical-critical and post-modernist methods in academic biblical research. Students will learn the assumptions behind these methods, their usefulness to biblical interpretation, and how to use them. Theology and religious studies majors/minors only.

THRS 310 Marriage and Family as Vocation (Adv. Core: CI)
This course explores the moral and religious dimensions of marriage and family, with particular attention to resources within the Catholic Christian tradition. It will address such questions as: what does it mean to place the marriage commitment and the wider commitment to the family in the context of a relationship to God; what does it mean to consider marriage a vocation and sacrament; how does the vocation of marriage develop over time; how do careers, children, aging parents and other obligations affect the marriage relationship; what does it take to sustain a lifelong martial commitment in our culture; and what are the distinct characteristics and responsibilities of Christian family life.

THRS 312 Church: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Adv. Core: CI)
This course explores the nature and mission of the Church from the early Christian communities to the present day. Special attention will be given to the theology of the Church that emerged from the Second Vatican Council, especially the essential communal nature of Christianity. Attention will also be given to challenges that confront the Church today, including issues of sexuality, women in the Church, celibacy, and how the Church is called both to witness to and to be challenged by society.

THRS 314 The Origins of Biblical Monotheism (Adv. Core: CI)
The course will trace the development from the polytheistic religions of the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds and the multiple origins of ancient theological and philosophical critiques of those beliefs which in turn led to the belief in a single deity, understood in various ways. Careful attention will be given to the rationales used to both support and undermine long-held religious systems along with the ongoing development in the understanding of a single supreme being.

THRS 315 Mary Through the Ages
This course will be an examination of the figure of the Virgin Mary, as she has been experienced by Christians (and some non-Christians) for the last two millennia. We will study the development of her cult by examining canonical and non-canonical scripture, Mary in art, the development of Marian doctrine and dogma in the Catholic Church, Mary’s role in Protestantism and Islam, Marian apparitions, and Mary as a figure of liberation and oppression. The course will also include a field trip to the recently approved Marian apparition site in Champion, Wis. As a major focus of Christian life and devotion, examining the figure of Mary and the role she has played in the lives of believers is an important part of understanding the Christian tradition.

THRS 316 Who is Jesus? (Adv. Core: CI)
An attempt to answer the biblical question “And who do you say that I am?” is a central issue of theology. This course looks at today’s answers formulated in continuity with scripture and tradition but shaped in the light of contemporary culture and experience.

THRS / WMGS 318 Feminist Theology (Adv. Core: CI)
This course introduces students to feminist theology as a theology of liberation, examines its foundations in feminist theory and Christian revisionist sources and explores its contributions to the Christian, especially the Catholic, faith tradition.

THRS 320 The Christian Tradition (Adv. Core: CI)
This course examines the history of Christianity in its theological, social and institutional dimensions, from the New Testament era to the present. This development is studied in a variety of historical and cultural contexts, presenting through representative figures and issues both continuity and diversity in Christian thought and life in the midst of society. For non-Theology and Religious Studies majors/minors only.

THRS 322 Survey of the Hebrew Bible (Adv. Core: CI)
The Hebrew Bible is an intriguing mix of unity and diversity, due mostly to the fact that it is a composite literary collection that draws together numerous independent tales and narrative fragments. Beyond this, in the pages of the Hebrew Bible one also finds three important relationships. First, because the Old Testament is both ancient Near Eastern literature and a Scripture for present day Jews and Christians, there is the relationship between the past and the present. Second, because the Hebrew Bible is the object of scholarly study and an integral part of religious belief, there is also the relationship between the academy and communities of faith. Third, because the Hebrew Bible, although part of the Christian Bible, was written by non-Christians many years before the birth of Jesus and today functions as the sacred scriptures of two distinct religious traditions, there is the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

THRS / WMGS 324 Women in the Bible (Adv. Core: CI)
This course uncovers the untold and often troubling stories about women in the world of biblical literature. The material provokes thought and dialogue regarding the biblical writers’ perspectives on gender, sexuality and personhood. Students will be encouraged to think honestly and courageously about their own assumptions regarding authority and identity and participation in unjust social systems. Students will learn new methodologies to analyze gender and sexuality in order to rethink long-held social norms. Throughout the course, students will regularly reflect on how biblical representations impact the roles of women and men in contemporary society.

THRS 325 Providence, Suffering and Freedom (Adv. Core: CI)
This course examines various possibilities for making sense of the traditional Christian belief in an omnipotent, all-loving, providential God in light of the contemporary awareness of the immensity and tragedy of human suffering and the growing recognition of the depth and radicalness of human freedom.

THRS / CLAS 327 Ancient Wisdom and the Modern Search for Meaning (Adv. Core: CI)
What is the good life? What can a person truly know? Is there justice in the world? These are some of the fundamental, universal questions of the human condition. This course will raise these questions and look at how the biblical wisdom literature answers them along with similar writings from elsewhere in the ancient world as well as modern literature and film. As a result of this analysis, students will have the opportunity to construct a coherent and viable structure of meaning for their own life journeys.

THRS 329 The New Testament
This course examines the writings of the New Testament and the creation of those texts within the context of Second Temple Judaism and the larger Greco-Roman world. Students will consider the canonical New Testament, in addition to select non-canonical writings, and the larger question of why certain texts were canonized and others were not. Students will develop skills in close reading of biblical texts, engagement with the traditions and contributions of critical biblical scholarship, including the principles of Catholic biblical interpretation, and the process of contextualizing biblical texts in the social, political, and religious environment of the Greco-Roman world.

THRS 331 Judaism and Christianity: The Holocaust (Adv. Core: CI)
The examination of the historical and contemporary relation of Jews and Christians, through a study of critical events, comparative literature, and correlated theologies, in an analysis which recognizes both interrelated unity and tragic antagonism. In line with Catholic teaching on the Shoah, the course strives to create a deeper understanding of the interrelated causes of genocides in general, and the Holocaust in particular. Students should become more aware of the relationship between religious discourse and its political and social ties, as well as the complicity of all human beings in unjust social structures.

THRS 333 Christian Ethics (Adv. Core: CI)
This course explores the connection between being a Christian and being a morally responsible person. It addresses foundational questions of ethics in light of the Christian narrative, such as: what kind of people should we be; what should we do; and what sort of communities should we construct. It therefore focuses on three dynamic, interdependent dimensions of morality: character, choices and community. Some applied ethical issues will be examined. Theology and religious studies majors/minors sign up for THRS 433.

THRS 337 Character and the Moral Life (Adv. Core: CI)
This course examines the relationship between morality, happiness, and the good life by focusing on the qualities of character that are necessary for human flourishing, especially the virtues. Special attention is given to the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. The second half of the course explores the seven capital vices that are most detrimental for human well-being: envy, vainglory, sloth, greed, anger, gluttony and lust. Prerequisite: THRS 117.

THRS 338 Religion and Literature: Christian Mysticism
This course will involve reading mystical literature of the Christian tradition in order to understand this important dimension of Christian theology and experience. Through extensive reading of a wide range of primary documents across many eras, students will be able to explore this important, but often overlooked, dimension of the Christian tradition.

THRS 339 World Scriptures (Adv. Core: BB)
This course examines the role and contents of normative religious texts in some of the major religions of the world (e.g., Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism). Students will be introduced to the different ways that authoritative religious texts are viewed by their adherents, understand how their authority is exercised in their respective traditions, and read a good portion of primary sources from these different traditions.

THRS 340 World Religions in Dialogue (Adv. Core: BB)
This course offers a critical and comparative introduction to the world’s non-Christian and mostly non-Western religious traditions. Focusing on Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Islam and several indigenous religions as well as new religious movements, the course investigates and compares these traditions with special attention given to contexts. A key component of this course involves examining the phenomenon of globalization and the issues of diversity and interaction between traditions.

THRS 343 Prophet and Savior: Muslim and Christian Theologies in Dialogue (Adv. Core: BB)
The Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ occupy central places in the theological imaginations of the Muslim and Christian traditions.  These figures also raise important theological issues and questions for interreligious dialogue between Muslims and Christians.  In this course, students will explore theologies of the Prophet and the Savior from within the traditions as well as theologies that emerge between the traditions.  They will also master theories of and models for interreligious dialogue and critically consider the significance of interreligious dialogue for their own theological self-understanding.

THRS 350 Christianity and Religious Diversity (Adv. Core: CI)
In what ways is Christian, theological self-understanding informed by encountering non-Christian religions? This course investigates both aspects of the question with particular attention to themes such as cosmopolitanism, hybridity, pluralism and relativism. First, students examine Christian theological resources — both traditional and emerging — for understanding religious diversity. Secondly they explore the development, beliefs, and practices of the Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic traditions. Students draw on the Christian theological framework to answer constructively questions about the relationship between Christianity and these religious groups.

THRS 355 Theology of Spirituality (Adv. Core: CI)
This course is an introductory exploration of the theology of prayer and the spiritual life, it explores the realm of religious faith and the various means by which humans enter into an explicit relationship with God. Students will be exposed to the various schools of Christian spirituality as they have arisen in the history of the Christian community. In addition, class sessions will be devoted to discussing the relationships of spirituality with the human condition.

THRS 360 Exploring Catholic Theology (Adv. Core: CI)
This course is an introduction to Catholic theology in light of the Second Vatican Council. It will examine developments in Catholic theologies of God, Christ, the Church, the sacraments and especially the fundamental elements of Catholic morality.

THRS 361 Catholic Intellectual Tradition (Adv. Core: CI)
This course identifies the central distinguishing characteristics of the Catholic intellectual tradition. It examines the impact of the tradition in art, literature, philosophy and science. Finally, the course entails a critical appraisal of the distinctiveness of the Catholic intellectual tradition and an evaluation of its unique accomplishments and shortcomings.

THRS 389 Special Topics
This course is an in-depth study of one or more major issues confronting contemporary religion. Students are challenged to make concrete applications of the role of theology and religious practice in issues of the early 21st century and to evaluate the impact of the heritage and tradition on their own thinking and on society in general. Topics will change from semester to semester but may include such issues as the Holocaust, nuclear weapons, abortion, racism and church-state relations.

THRS 400 Christology
This course examines the varied responses to the biblical question “And who do you say that I am?”  It explores contemporary approaches formulated in conversation with scripture and tradition but shaped in the light of contemporary culture and experience. Prerequisite: THRS 117. Spring semester, alternate years.

THRS 433 Christian Ethics (Adv. Core: CI)
This course explores the connection between being a Christian and being a morally responsible person. It attends to foundational questions of ethics in light of the Christian narrative, such as: What kind of people should we be? What should we do? What sort of communities should we construct? It therefore focuses on three dynamic, interdependent dimensions of morality: character, choices and community. Some applied ethical issues will be examined. Prerequisite: Theology and Religious Studies major/minor.

THRS 460 Advanced Seminar
This course offers senior theology and religious studies majors and minors the opportunity to engage in a research project on a special topic, theme or theologian. Spring semester.

THRS 490 Independent Study (2 or 4 credits)
A course allowing staff and students to explore together topics of special interest. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of the associate dean of humanities.

THRS 494 Internship
This course is an action/reflection experience for those seeking skills in ministry. Students are placed in the local community. In addition to regular weekly service, students are required to meet each week in a supervised class with an instructor from the Theology and Religious Studies faculty. In those meetings, students explore the bases of practical theology, as that science reflects on the pastoral experience.

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