Ronald A. Pachence, PhD, CHAIR
María Pilar Aquino, STD
Susie Paulik Babka, PhD
Joseph A. Colombo, PhD
Bahar Davary, PhD
Mary Doak, PhD
Orlando O. Espín, ThD
Russell Fuller, PhD
Florence Morgan Gillman, PhD, STD
Aaron S. Gross, PhD
Evelyn Kirkley, PhD
Louis Komjathy, PhD
Dennis W. Krouse, STD
Mary E. Lyons, PhD
Lance E. Nelson, PhD
Maria Pascuzzi, STD, SSL
Patricia A. Plovanich, PhD
Emily Reimer-Barry, PhD
Karen Teel, PhD
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, PhD
Theology and the study of religion reflect upon the existence and nature of God, the human experience of God, and God’s revelation in the world. In this department, the Roman Catholic tradition is pre-eminent within a curriculum that is both ecumenical and cross-cultural. Since all upper-division courses presuppose a religious studies foundation, students are expected to have completed at least one lower-division course before enrolling in upper-division courses. Students are advised to attend to the various prerequisites specified for upper-division courses.
The Theology and Religious Studies Major
Major Requirements – 36 units
HRS 116 and one other course
- One course from THRS 312-321
- Either 341 or 342
- One course from 381-388
- 360, 364, 495W, 496W
- 12 upper-division elective units
Majors may concentrate in specific areas of study through careful distribution of their elective units, including biblical studies, theological ethics, systematic theology, world religions, church history, etc. It is important to select an advisor specialized in one’s area of interest.
The Theology and Religious Studies Minor
Minor Requirements – 18 units
THRS 116 and one other course
THRS 360 or 364, and 9 other elective units
Theology and Religious Studies Courses (THRS)
THRS 110 The Nature of Religion (3)
An introduction to the study of religion, investigating universal constants in religious experience, such as myths, symbols, ethical values, and concern with the meaning of life and death.
THRS 112 Introduction to World Religions (3)
A survey of the major religious traditions of the world, focusing on an understanding of the religious world views and practices that shape culture across the globe. Selected readings from these traditions, which will include Christianity, the religions of India and East Asia, Judaism, Islam, and the religions of indigenous oral cultures.
THRS 114 Introduction to Catholic Theology (3)
This course is an introductory survey designed to prepare students for upper-division courses in Christian theology. Topics may include the scriptures, history of the Church and/or theology, the nature of theological discourse, introduction to theological terms and definitions, and examination of select topics or issues in theology. Emphasis will be placed on the constitutive dimensions and characteristics of the Roman Catholic tradition.
THRS 116 Introduction to Biblical Studies (3)
A study of the Old and New Testaments and their formation, historical character, primary themes, and interpretation.
THRS 119 Christianity and Its Practice (3)
An introduction to Christian belief and practice through reflection on classic and contemporary expressions of the Christian life.
THRS 312 Hindu Faith and Practice (3)
A historical and systematic study of Indian religion from the Vedic revelation to modern theologians, with special emphasis on points of contact between Hindu and Christian thought. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.
THRS 313 Jewish Faith and Practice (3)
An examination of Jewish beliefs and practices, their historical and biblical foundations, and their theological and cultural expressions. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, 116, or consent of instructor.
THRS 314 Buddhist Faith and Practice (3)
An introduction to the academic study of Buddhism. The course systematically explores the historical development, philosophical premises, religious practices, social institutions, and cultural expressions of the world’s Buddhist traditions, with special emphasis on points of contact between Buddhist and Christian thought. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.
THRS 315 Islamic Faith and Practice (3)
A study of the life of the prophet Muhammad, the fundamentals of the message of the Qur’an, its relationship to Judaism and Christianity, and questions which Islam poses in modern history. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.
THRS 320 Native American Religious Traditions (3)
A historical and systematic investigation into the spiritual contribution of Native Americans, their ethos, and their meaning for Christianity and the future of humanity. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.
THRS 321 Afro-Latin Religions (3)
This course studies the three main religions of African origins in Latin America and the United States. Lukumí/Candomblé, Vodoun, and Umbanda are approached and interpreted from diverse perspectives: historical, cultural, theological, etc. Their formation and development are contextualized in the Latin American experience of slavery. Their contemporary significance is discussed. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, 358, or consent of instructor.
THRS 330 Foundations of Christian Ethics (3)
A study of the life of Christian discipleship, centered on the development of moral character, on the role of communities in the living of Christian life, and on norms for the personal and social actions of Christians. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 334 Christian Social Ethics (3)
A study of the Christian community’s relation to civil society and of socioethical problems in light of Christian tradition. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 335 Catholic Social Thought (3)
A study of modern Catholic social teaching with a focus on major official Catholic documents since the late nineteenth century that have dealt with moral issues of contemporary social problems: from the economic aftermath of the Industrial Revolution to globalization, international relations, environmental change, and contemporary warfare. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 341 Christian Worship (3)
An introduction to the study of Christian liturgy through an examination of the history of liturgical practice, of myth and symbol as dimensions of sacramentality, and of theological and cultural principles of celebration. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or consent of instructor.
THRS 342 Christian Sacramental Practice (3)
A study of the practice, history, and theology of Christian initiation, eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or consent of instructor.
THRS 343 Christian Marriage (3)
A theological study of Christian marriage with consideration of the historical development and current pastoral understanding of this sacrament. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 353 Early Christianity (3)
A study of the theology and religious practices of the first five centuries of Christianity. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 354 The Medieval Church (3)
A study of the theology and religious practices of Western Christianity from the sixth through the 15th centuries. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 355 The Reformation Era (3)
A study of the theologies and religious traditions leading to, and expressed in, diverse ecclesial communities in Christianity during the 16th and 17th centuries. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 356 Catholicism in the United States (3)
The history of the Catholic Church in the United States of America and theological reflection upon its unique development and characteristics. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 357 Protestantism in the United States (3)
The history, theology, and cultural developments of Protestants in the United States, including the following denominational families: Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Holiness/Pentecostals, Congregationalists, Lutherans, and the Disciples of Christ. Prerequisite: THRS 112, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 358 Latino / a Catholicism (3)
A culturally contextualized study of the beliefs and practices of Latino/a Catholics in the U.S., with particular emphasis on popular Catholicism. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 360 Jesus in Christian Tradition (3)
A critical investigation of the person and ministry of Jesus in light of Scripture and the Christian tradition. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 361 Christian Understanding of the Human Person (3)
A theological exploration of the meaning and dignity of human persons in terms of their relationships to God and to creation. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 362 Christian Understandings of Salvation (3)
An examination of Christian understandings of salvation from biblical, historical, and contemporary perspectives. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 363 Belief and Unbelief (3)
An investigation in the context of modern atheism and secular humanism into the validity of the claim of religion to speak truthfully of God and to describe the adequate response of human beings to the divine being.
THRS 364 Theology of the Church (3)
An investigation of the origin, nature, and function of the Church, primarily from the Catholic perspective. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 366 The Problem of God (3)
The questions What is God?, Does God exist? and What does it mean to believe in God? are investigated against the background of classical theism and modern thought.
THRS 367 Feminist Theology (3)
An exploration of contemporary feminist theologies from the Christian perspective to gain knowledge of their contributions and challenges to the whole of the Christian tradition. Included is a survey of historical emergence, methods and approaches, major theological themes, tasks, and spirituality. Prerequisite: THRS 112, 114, 116, or 119.
THRS 368 Latino / a Theologies (3)
An analysis of the contexts, methods, major themes, authors, and texts of Latino/a theologies. Liberation and cultural theologies will be emphasized. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 369 Liberation Theology (3)
A study of the origin, characteristics, method, central themes, and current expressions of liberation theology. Special emphasis on the understanding of revelation, God, Jesus Christ, the Church, the human being, Christian ethics, social justice, and Christian spirituality. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or 119.
THRS 370 Gender and Religion in the United States (3)
An examination of religion’s role in shaping womanhood and manhood, and the roles men and women have played in shaping religious communities in the U.S. Prerequisite: THRS 112, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 371 Cults and Sects in the United States (3)
An examination of new religious movements commonly called cults and sects in the U.S. Prerequisite: THRS 112, 119, or consent of instructor.
THRS 381 The Five Books of Moses (3)
A study of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and their composition and most important themes and concepts. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 382 The Prophetic Traditions of Israel (3)
A study of Old Testament prophets in their historical, social, and political backgrounds. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 383 The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (3)
A study of the sayings and deeds of Jesus as handed down by the early Christians and recorded in the first three Gospels. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 385 Paul, the Man and his Message (3)
A study of Paul, his social-historical context, and his theological thought. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 386 Johannine Theology (3)
A study of the Gospel and the letters of John. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.
THRS 388 The World of the Bible (3)
A study of historical, political, social, cultural, and religious issues of selected periods of biblical history.
THRS 390 The Holocaust: Death of God or Death of Humanity? (3)
A study of the Holocaust focused on the moral and religious dilemmas it raises for Jews and Christians.
THRS 494 Topics in Theology and Religious Studies (3)
A study of selected major figures or problems or movements or periods in either Christianity and/or other religions. Specification will be made by the instructor. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
THRS 495W-496W Senior Research Seminar (3)
This is a two-semester, capstone course to assist majors in producing an original research project. Students will register for one unit in the fall semester and two units in the spring. During the fall, students will meet once a week in order to learn research methods, including the establishment of an adequate bibliography for a major paper and the delineation of a topic, and to acquire facility in the use of a manual of style. The approved topic will result in a substantial research paper to be completed and presented in the spring. The spring sessions will also include student assessment of the major. Not available for core curriculum credit. Required for majors of at least junior status; other students must have consent of the department chair.
THRS 499 Directed Individual Study (1-3)
Prerequisite: consent of instructor and approval of the department chair and the dean.