Theology Major/Minor

The Theology Department at Saint Mary’s carries out the traditions of the Lasallian Catholic community and seeks to engage learners in the ancient quest for meaning in truth, as those in faith continue to seek and understand.

Along with core courses found in the faith traditions content areas, students who choose to major or minor in theology engage in advanced studies that enable them to further understand the complexity and integrity of the Lasallian Catholic theological traditions.

Courses in the major area address theological topics such as systematic and moral theology, historical theology, biblical studies, and pastoral theology. A theology major is desirable for students who plan to do research in theology or religion and can lead to graduate studies in the liberal arts. It may also prepare students to teach religion in a Catholic high school or for positions in pastoral or youth ministry.

Career Options

The theology major is recommended for students who plan to do research in theology or religion, as well as benefit any students whose future careers require high regard for the human spirit. Knowledge of theology is also strong preparation for graduate studies in the liberal arts.

High School Preparation

High school courses that help prepare students for a major or minor in theology include English Literature, Hebrew, Latin Literature, Psychology, Sociology, World History, and World Religions.

Enhance Your Experience

Students who major or minor in theology oftentimes pursue additional studies in pastoral and youth ministry and sociology

Theology Minor

Theology minors find it supplements most any major in the liberal arts including history, human services, psychology, and sociology. A minor in theology can also further knowledge of a student’s relationship to God or similar personal interests. 

Degree Requirements

A. One of the Faith Traditions One (FT1) courses from:

TH112 History of the Bible (3 cr.)

The Christian Bible inspires faith for billions of persons worldwide and is a best-seller every year. In this course the Bible is studied as a product of God and of people. Students consider how the Bible actually emerged in the lives of Jews and Christians as well as how it sustains Christianity today. Typical areas of study are the Bible's literary forms, historical contexts, and faithful heroes.

TH113 Bible and Belief (3 cr.)

The Christian Bible inspires faith for billions of persons worldwide and is a best-seller every year. In this course the Bible is studied as a means of God's revelation. Special focus is given to how different denominations vary in their respective use of the book as a source of divine revelation. Also considered is how broad assumptions about the nature of the text shape various theologies and how issues like inspiration, myth and ethics are determined both from and for the reading of the Bible.

TH114 Religions of the Book (3 cr.)

The Christian Bible inspires faith for billions of persons worldwide. In this course the Bible is studied as an example of the world's Scriptures. Comparisons and contrasts are drawn between both the content and the use of Scripture in Jewish, Christian and Muslim denominations. Attention can be given to some of the uses of Scripture in eastern world views, for example, Hinduism and Buddhism.

TH115 The Mystery of Salvation (3 cr.)

The Christian Bible leads to Christ, the mystery of salvation. This course is divided into four parts corresponding to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: professing our faith, celebrating our faith, living our faith, and praying our faith. The primary sources are Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

B. One of the Faith Traditions Two (FT2) courses from:

H333 The Destruction of Christian Unity: The Reformation (3 cr.)

The Reformation refers to the sixteenth-century religious movement that culminated in both the reform of the Latin Church and its division.  The course surveys the state of the Church before Luther, a time of great upheaval with popes in Avignon, the Great Schism, and conciliarism.  It balances a study of the theological issues such as justification, Scripture, and the sacraments, that defined the magisterial Protestant Reformation in its Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican traditions, with its Catholic counterpart associated with the Council of Trent, a reformed papacy, and new religious orders such as the Jesuits, and  Brothers of the Christian Schools.  Special emphasis is placed on the longer and shorter intellectual, political, and social causes of the Reformation, some of which can be traced back to ideas, often heretical, found in the early Church and to medieval scholastic speculation.

TH250 Christian View of the Human Person (3 cr.)

This course explores the set of Catholic Christian doctrines and interpretation surrounding the question "what does it mean to be a human person?" for example, the creation to the image of God, sin, redemption, sacramentality, and vocation. There is a focus on modern questions of the mind, conscience, embodiment, gender, and sexuality.

TH260 Foundations in Catholic Theology (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to Catholic theology that explores fundamental tenets, e.g., the Triune God, the creation of the cosmos and humanity, sin, grace, salvation, revelation, sanctification, and sacramental imagination. Students attend to the development of these creedal doctrines building on their biblical understanding of how these doctrines frame the human experience through a coherent system of thought, which addresses the challenges that modernity and post-modernity pose to the Christian world view. Students who have taken TH209 should not take this course.

TH270 Christianity in a Global Context (3 cr.)

Through comparison and contrast, students define and articulate how the Christian, especially Roman Catholic, world view relates to those of others. Prior to such comparisons students focus on being able to articulate the basic world view of several mainstream religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the religions of the Far East, especially Shinto, Dao and Confucian thought.

C. The following course:

TH209 Methods in Catholic Theology (3 cr.)

This course explores the tenets and practices of theology through the study of the interpretations of Christian doctrines noted in the Nicene Creed and select catechetical texts. Issues of method, authority, and practical ministry are highlighted.

D. 9 additional Theology credits

Courses must include a minimum two upper division courses

A. Theology Core:

TH209 Methods in Catholic Theology (3 cr.)

This course explores the tenets and practices of theology through the study of the interpretations of Christian doctrines noted in the Nicene Creed and select catechetical texts. Issues of method, authority, and practical ministry are highlighted.

TH210 Introduction to the Old Testament (3 cr.)

Students survey examples from the Pentateuch, Prophetic, Historical and Wisdom texts, their forms, settings and theology. This survey incorporates an appreciation for some basic contemporary interpretive methods. Methods encouraged by Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation are studied.

TH220 Introduction to the New Testament (3 cr.)

Students survey examples of texts from the Pauline, Catholic and Pastoral Epistles, the Gospels and Acts; Hebrews and Revelation are also introduced. Working with the interpretive strategies gained in TH210 Introduction to Old Testament, students begin to assess the dynamics of interpretation through the completion of an exegetical paper.

TH250 Christian View of the Human Person (3 cr.)

This course explores the set of Catholic Christian doctrines and interpretation surrounding the question "what does it mean to be a human person?" for example, the creation to the image of God, sin, redemption, sacramentality, and vocation. There is a focus on modern questions of the mind, conscience, embodiment, gender, and sexuality.

TH310 Principles of Sacraments and Liturgy (3 cr.)

Students consider the history, theology, and practice of Christian sacramental life as they address the questions of ritual, celebration, and worship. The course also examines general principles of liturgy and ritual, as well as guidelines for planning and implementing pastorally effective liturgy.

TH345 Catholic Social Teaching (3 cr.)

This course acquaints students with the modern history and current application of Catholic social teaching, focusing on the themes of economics and work, life and death, and war and peace issues. Students engage both primary and secondary literature and examine how Christians critically think through social issues. A service learning component is offered.

TH350 Introduction to Catholic Moral Theology (3 cr.)

As the foundational class in moral theology, this course addresses the different moral theologies in the Catholic tradition, from Scriptural ethics to natural law. Contemporary issues are addressed as a means of explicating schools of ethical method and applying moral reasoning.

TH360 History of Catholic Thought (3 cr.)

Defining moments in Catholic tradition from earliest Christianity up to the First Vatican Council (1869–70) are investigated. Official Catholic teachings, major thinkers and cultural movements are considered for their insights into faith and human development.

TH375 Contemporary Catholic Thought (3 cr.)

In concert with the history and texts of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), students consider theological and pastoral thought from the 20th and 21st centuries. Special attention is paid to ecclesiological innovations concerning lay and clerical leadership, the local and universal Church, and the universal call to holiness and justice.

TH400 Christology (3 cr.)

This writing intensive course studies the development and interpretation of Christian theological doctrine on the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. The course treats issues from the various interpretations of the Gospel tradition to the development of doctrine (particularly in the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon) to modern interpretations of the role of Christ in systematic theology.

TH475 Interactive Research Seminar (3 cr.)

Majors prepare professional credentials as well as collaborate with a professor to conduct research within an area of their interest and the professor's expertise. Preparation of credentials may include development of a personal mission statement, resume, and certifications relevant to national standards for Catholic lay ecclesial ministry. Research approximates graduate-level study of classical and contemporary perspectives that are doctrinal, academic, and/ or pastoral.

B. 12 credits from the following courses:

GK101 Beginning Greek I (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to the basic grammar and syntax of classical Greek.  Students will read and translate passages from original Greek texts. 

GK102 Beginning Greek II (3 cr.)

This course completes the introduction to Greek grammar while furthering translation skills. 

HB101 Beginning Hebrew I (3 cr.)

The focus of this course is to provide learners with basic guides to further exegetical work using the Hebrew bible.

L101 Beginning Latin I (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to the basic grammar and syntax of classical Latin.  Students will read and examine primary texts from the ancient world. 

L102 Beginning Latin II (3 cr.)

This course completes the survey of Latin grammar while introducing students to the translation of classical Latin authors, early Church fathers, and some later Church liturgy.

PH253 History of Ancient Philosophy: Thales – Aristotle (4 cr.)

This course, the first of four sequential courses in the history of philosophy, is a survey of Greek philosophy from its origins in the thought of Presocratic poets and philosophers to its later development in the dialogues of Plato and writings of Aristotle. Through the close reading of primary sources in their historical context and through a wide variety of other exercises, students gain an appreciation for the major texts, themes and problems that have shaped the Western philosophical tradition. Students also begin to develop a facility with the various tools and terms with which philosophers in the Western tradition have worked.

PH354 History of Medieval Philosophy: Augustine – Ockham (4 cr.)

In this course, the second of four history of philosophy courses, students study the development of philosophy in the Middle Ages through its contact with Christianity. The goals of this course are to examine the following themes and philosophical problems: the relation of faith and reason, spirituality and philosophy; human knowledge and contemporary theories of art, an examination of selected figures and movements in art history, and an analysis of the vital interrelationship between the two disciplines of philosophy and art.

PH355 History of Modern Philosophy: Bacon – Hegel (4 cr.)

In this course, the third of four history of philosophy courses, students study the major philosophical movements of the early modern period beginning with the rise of inductive natural science. Students then examine rationalism, empiricism, Kant's critical philosophy, and Hegel. The central epistemological theme of the course reflects the modern conviction that before other sciences may be studied with profit, the possibility and modes of human knowledge must be determined.

PH358 History of 19th and 20th Century Philosophy: Kierkegaard – Wittgenstein (4 cr.)

This course, the fourth of four history of philosophy courses, is an examination of the post-Kantian philosophy focusing on selected major movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as idealism, phenomenology, existentialism, and British analytic and ordinary language philosophy. Readings may include Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, James, Foucault, Wittgenstein, MacIntyre, and John Paul II, among others.