Theology Classes

THE100E The Bible
An introduction to the Bible. Both the Old and the New Testaments are approached from their historical and theological perspectives.

THE201E Problem of God
The mystery and the problem of God examined in the light of representative resources of the Christian tradition. The nature of faith, the relationship of faith and reason, and the challenges to faith in the modern world are discussed.

THE202E Moral Theology
An exploration of the religious dimensions of human values and moral choices. The course focuses on the moral teaching of the Bible and the Christian tradition and discusses how that teaching might contribute to current debates about issues such as capital punishment, euthanasia and assisted suicide, human sexuality, the responsibilities of economic and political leadership, etc. Though there are lecture units in the course, the format of the class emphasizes student involvement and active class participation.

THE204E Catholicism Today

An investigation of the beliefs and practices which constitute the identity of Catholicism as a distinctive way of life. Particular attention is given to the impetus for renewal provided by the Second Vatican Council and to an assessment of the current state of the Church. Related issues include authority and dissent in the Church, the emergence of liberation theology, and the Church’s response to the contemporary crisis of faith.

THE240E Saints, Signs and Symbols
An integral dimension of the Christian experience is the art and architecture that has been connected to worship, prayer, and meditation. This course will introduce the major signs and symbols of liturgical art as they appeared throughout the centuries. This study will include consideration of the following: ancient Hebrew symbols appropriated by the very first Christians; imagery found in the Catacombs; iconography and its magnificent development in the Byzantine period; art of the Middle Ages in Europe; Renaissance, and Baroque periods; and finally contemporary art. Differing from an art survey, this study will look to the spiritual and theological meaning of the signs and symbols as they have been portrayed in Christian faith – God’s creation, Christ and his life, and the saints of the church.

THE256E Religion in America
This class will discuss; religion and politics, as well race, gender and culture. When it comes to the history of the United States of America all of these are undeniably intertwined with each other and to study one means to study another. Also when one studies religion in America the topics of spirituality and theology also cannot be avoided. While these topics can potentially all be volatile we will look at the subject of religion in American with an eye to understanding the roots and reasons behind different religious group as well as the deep influence that religion has had upon the development of the United States, for good and for ill, and how it continues to influence American society, culture and politics to this day.

THE300E Saint Augustine: Pastor at the Dawn of a New Millennium

Ecumenical perspectives on love, friendship, and the human person; the family and the world; communities, communications, and the Church; conversion and the search for God. Ecumenical Institute, accelerated summer session.

THE300E Ecumenical Institute: The Psalms
An exploration of the Book of Psalms as the prayer book of Jews and Christians for over two millennia. Historical, literary, liturgical, and theological considerations surrounding the place of the Psalter in private and public prayer.

THE 311E Book of Genesis

A close reading of the first book of the Bible with particular attention to the canonical, literary forms, and unity of Genesis and a reading of the book in Jewish and Christian tradition.

THE314E Wisdom and Psalms of the Bible
Reading and discussion of the Books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Particular attention is given to the literary form of the Psalms, their origin and use in Jewish and Christian prayer over the centuries.

THE316E Biblical Perspectives on Women

This course is an extended reflection on the role and place of women in the Bible. Its purpose is to bring the student to a greater awareness of the meaningful part that women have in the unfolding of the scriptural story. Writings that introduce various contemporary avenues of interpreting biblical texts, which focus on the feminine presence, are used. Prerequisite: THE100E recommended.

THE320E Introduction to the New Testament
A study of the literary forms, the historical setting, and the theological teaching of the New Testament. Emphasis is on a close reading of the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, selected Letters of Paul, and the Revelation to John. Particular attention is given to the Old Testament roots of the New Testament.

THE321E Matthew, Mark, and Luke
A study of the life and ministry of Jesus in light of recent developments in Synoptic Studies, with special attention to the theological perspectives of Matthew, Mark, and Luke as reflected in their varying presentations of the Good News. (Formerly “The Synoptic Gospels”)
THE322E The Letters of Paul
The influence of the life and thought of Paul on the early church and on Christian thought today. The course includes an examination of the historical, social, theological, political and spiritual forces that brought Paul to the forefront of early Christian thinking. Also considered are his travels, letters, and the key themes in his writings as they relate to contemporary understanding.
THE323E John’s Gospel
A general introduction to the Fourth Gospel, the First Letter of John, and the Book of Revelations. Topics include John’s understanding of Christ and Christian living.

THE332E Christ, Yesterday & Today
An extended reflection on the meaning and significance of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the course is to help students deepen their understanding of the Church’s confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Biblical foundations, doctrinal development, and enduring witness to Christ in the contemporary world enter into consideration.

THE334E Sacraments
The nature of religious symbolism and the sacraments. A study of the tradition of the Church’s worship in the liturgical prayers of the sacraments with special emphasis on the initiation rites of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

THE341E Moral Issues in Health Care
This course is an introduction to medical ethics. It studies the questions of genetic control, birth and the family and abortion. It further examines the rights of the patients and the responsibility of medical personnel. The questions of death, death with dignity, suicide and euthanasia are investigated
THE342E Theology of Human Sexuality
This course seeks to clarify what God has revealed about the nature and the purposes of human sexuality. Beginning with a study of Christian moral principles and moving to an examination of biblical teachings on the subject of sexuality, course topics include masturbation, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and birth control from the perspective of a theology of marriage.

THE343E Social Teachings of the Church
A study of the social teachings of the Church, based on the writings of early Christian, medieval, and modern authors. The aim of the course is to discover and understand the distinctive principles of Catholic social teaching and to reflect on current critical issues in the light of those principles
THE350E Introduction to Spirituality: Foundational Dimensions
This course provides an overview of spirituality in regard to its foundational dimensions. This approach to the study of spirituality provides the student with an opportunity to survey the diverse understandings surrounding spirituality. Since we approach the topic from an ecumenical perspective, the selection of readings are taken from the writings of persons whose lives illustrate both time-tested insights and practices that are common to the major religious traditions. We note the origins of the division of systematic theology from that of ascetical-mystical theology (spirituality) and the historical reasons that resulted in this departmentalization.
THE 371E Religion and Modernity
Taking its bearings from the works of representative thinkers, both religious and secular, the course investigates the encounter between Christianity and modernity. Attention is focused on the relationship between Christianity and the theoretical foundations of modern science and modern liberalism, the attempted accommodation between Christianity and modernity, the modern criticism of religion, and the challenge of Christian faith in the contemporary world.

THE372E Religious Thinkers of the 20th Century
The reigning optimism of the later 18th and 19th centuries has given way in our time to a more precarious sense of limits. If our scientific progress has empowered us to achieve an unprecedented degree of comfort, it has also given us the possibility of bringing massive destruction upon our world. Within this perilous context, religious thinkers have posed the permanent questions of knowledge and wisdom, belief and unbelief, freedom and salvation, in ways that address our most pressing concerns. The works of several important religious thinkers are studied with a view toward clarifying and deepening an understanding of the contemporary human situation.
THE373E Psychology of Religion
An introduction to the psychology of religion with special attention to religious experience and expression, religious development in childhood and adolescence, and the question of religious pathology and religious maturity. Readings are taken from a broad range of thinkers including Allport, Frankl, Freud, Glaser, James, Jung, Kohlberg, and Powell. Among the issues discussed are relations between religion and psychological health, the development of religious thinking throughout the life cycle, and the function of religious symbolism in the lives of individuals and societies.
THE375E Religion/Science Dialogue
This course proposes that a Science-Religion dialogue is necessary for the survival of our Western Culture. It provides an historical review of past and present Science-Religion relationships. Special attention is given to the momentous shift in the content and methods of 20th century Science. The new Science not only disallows the pretensions of its earlier materialistic model but opens the door to a fruitful relationship with Religion. The essential need for purpose and meaning that only religion can provide to this relationship is the central message of the course.
THE383E Asian Traditions
An introduction to the Islamic, Indian, and Chinese traditions through selected sacred texts and works of literature, art, and music. Particular attention is given to the foundations of Islam and Islam’s encounter with modernity.

THE385E Introduction to Islam
An introduction to Islam through readings in the Qur’an and some major works of Islamic thought and literature. Attention is given to the origins and spread of Islam and to its encounter with other religions and with modernity.

THE388E The Chinese Tradition
An introduction to the Chinese tradition through the teachings of its greatest sages and selected works of its greatest writers and artists.

THE390E Religious Geniuses Discuss the Meaning of Life
Is there a point to it all? Why are we here? How can we be happy? Why do innocent people suffer? What must we do to live well? What can we hope for? These are the difficult questions every thinking person asks, no matter how much she or he tries to avoid or ignore them. The world’s great philosophers and religious thinkers have wrestled with these questions just as we do and have proposed their own answers, answers that have shaped the thinking and lives of millions of human beings over the centuries. This course is designed to involve students and teacher in the conversation with these thinkers about life’s meaning, allowing us to learn from these classics, to question them, and to refine our own thoughts and questions under the guidance of some of humanity’s giants, including Jesus, the Mishnah, the Buddha, the Bhagavad-Gita, Lao Tsu, Muhammad, Confucius, and Socrates.
THE390E Special Topics: Jerusalem
This course is a special trip to Israel offered by Assumption College in conjunction with the Worcester Institute for Senior Education (W.I.S.E.). Students will be joined on the tour by Assumption College Professor of Theology Marc LePain, Ph.D, who will act as their faculty guide to the Holy Land. Highlights of the trip include visits to Palestinian Territory, a cable car journey to the top of Masada, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, and tours of Jerusalem and other ancient cities.