Master of Arts in Religious Studies Courses

RS 502 - Synthesis Paper

(Credits: 2.00 - 3.00)

This is the final course to be taken as part of the requirement for the MARS degree (for MARS students admitted prior to Fall 2013). The synthesis paper provides the opportunity for students, under the direction and with the approval of a faculty member, to write a final integrating paper on a topic in their chosen area of interest or area of concentration.

RS 508 - Contemporary Catholicism

(Credits: 3.00)

This course examines the evolution of the life and teachings of the Roman Catholic tradition from the modern period to the present. In particular the course focuses on the documents of Vatican Council II (1962-1965) and the subsequent developments in the life of the Church.

RS 514 - Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

(Credits: 3.00)

In this course, the class will focus on the Roman Catholic church's approach to and practice in ecumenical dialogue by studying the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism and subsequent encyclicals, and by examining recent agreements between the Roman Catholic communion and the Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed communities.

RS 520 - Women and Theology

(Credits: 3.00)

This course examines the historical beliefs about the nature, place and role of women as understood in Christianity and the major world religions as well as an overview of the goddess and wiccan traditions. Topics include a study of contemporary women theologians, women's spirituality and women in ministry.

RS 527 - Christian Anthropology

(Credits: 3.00)

This course focuses on the understanding of the human person in the Christian tradition. The course explores the theological understanding of topics such as human nature, grace, sin, freedom, justification, and salvation.

RS 528 - Franciscan Intellectual Tradition

(Credits: 3.00)

The course introduces students to the richness of the Franciscan intellectual tradition. Beginning with Francis and Clare of Assisi, students will examine how men and women passed on the tradition to the present day. Through reading, discussion, and theological reflection, students will identify the Franciscan views of God, Jesus Christ, the world, and the human person throughout the centuries. Finally, students will discover how the tradition interfaces with religious experience, economics, politics, the natural sciences, philosophy and theology in the 21st century.

RS 533 - Catholic Education in America

(Credits: 2.00)

Students will examine the history and mission of Catholic education in America. The course unpacks the unique culture and the successful outcomes of Catholic schools and the role they have played in American society and in the Catholic Church in America. The course also examines the unique challenges of maintaining this culture and success given modern social change, globalization and the realities of the changing Church in America. Special attention is given to Church documents on Catholic education and Catholic Social Teaching and also to best practices for creating community among teaching colleagues, students and parents.

RS 541 - Biblical Greek I

(Credits: 3.00)

This course is an introduction to the language of biblical Greek. It provides students an opportunity to become familiar with the original language of the New Testament texts know as Koine Greek (the 'common' Greek used by people of the New Testament period). The course will focus specifically on the noun and verb systems, with the goal of acquiring basic skills in exegesis for translation and interpretation.

RS 542 - Biblical Greek II

(Credits: 3.00)

This course is an introduction to the language of biblical Greek. It provides students an opportunity to become familiar with the original language of the New Testament texts known as Koine Greek (the 'common' Greek used by people of the New Testament period). The course will focus specifically on the verb systems and build upon Biblical Greek I (noun system), with a goal of acquiring basic skills in exegesis for transflation and interpretation. Prerequisite: RS 541.

RS 545 - Spirituality and Human Growth

(Credits: 3.00)

The spiritual journey moves people toward wholeness as integral human persons. The goals of this class are to explore the dynamic of Christian spirituality; to examine several psychological-theological views of the integration process; and to pursue the implications of the process for pastoral ministry.

RS 552 - The Study of the Scriptures

(Credits: 4.00)

This course acquaints the beginning graduate student with the types of literature found in the Old and New Testaments, the characteristics of the different books and sections in the biblical corpus, and the cultural, historical, religious and theological environments in which this literature was formed. The course provides a basic orientation to Sacred Scripture that will guide subsequent biblical studies. Students should recognize that this course engages in the academic study of the Bible. While many faith communities understand these writings as a source of divine guidance and a tool for personal reflection, these are not the primary foci of this class.

RS 553 - The Study of Systematic Theology

(Credits: 4.00)

This course orients students to the various aspects of theological studies and the way theology functions in the Christian community. Key topics such as God, human being, Christ, Spirit, church, faith and revelation, scripture and tradition, sin and evil, and worship are explored with an eye to how they are integrated into the entire discipline of theology. Contextual models for doing theology are explored. The course aims at helping the student develop a framework in which to understand how one engages in critical theological reflection in light of human experience and ecclesial/ministerial life.

RS 554 - The Study of Church History

(Credits: 4.00)

This course provides an overview of 2000 years of church history, focusing on select, significant persons, events, movements, and ideas (theological, cultural, social and intellectual) that have shaped the Christian Tradition. The course will highlight the dynamic character of that history (the conflicts, challenges, and creative developments) using the tools of historical critical analysis to help students better understand both the “what” and the “why” things happened as they did.

RS 555 - Independent Study

(Credits: 1.00 - 3.00)

This is a guided study of a topic in religious studies chosen by the student with the approval and under the direction of a faculty member with competence in the selected area.

RS 556 - Pastoral Theology

(Credits: 2.00)

This course examines the theological roots of ministry, both lay and ordained. It outlines ministry as a leadership function, explores significant issues which influence and impact ministry and reflects upon what it means to have a pastoral perspective in specific situations in the faith community and society. Students will focus on resources and choose assignments pertinent to their ministry areas.

RS 557 - Philosophy of God

(Credits: 3.00)

This course investigates various ways in which philosophers have spoken about God. The following topics are examined: the relation between faith and reason, the existence of God, the “nature” of God, as well as various challenges to God’s existence which arise from considerations of the problem of evil and of scientific knowledge.

RS 558 - Ecclesiology

(Credits: 2.00)

This course will view the Christian Church in its historical manifestations from the apostolic period to the present. The goal will be to explore the authentic identity, values and practices that the People of God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have assumed through the centuries. Questions to be posed: how does the Church meet the challenges of cultural and social diversity? To what extent can one arrive at an ecumenical understanding of the Church amid various Christian traditions that have arisen through the centuries? What are the implications of any conclusions about the Church for the pastoral life of the community?

RS 559 - Worship and Sacrament

(Credits: 2.00)

This course is an historical, theological, and pastoral overview of the constitutive elements of Christian worship and sacrament (time, space, word, and ritual/symbolic act), with special attention to the basic principles of liturgical theology and practice. Emphasis will be placed on interpreting liturgical documents and ritual texts with a view to theological interpretation and pastoral practice. Prerequisite: A foundational course in systematic theology or department approval.

RS 562 - Morality and Justice

(Credits: 2.00)

This course is an introduction to the biblical/theological foundations of morality in the Christian tradition. The first part of this course will introduce the students to fundamental moral theology by highlighting various methods and debates within the discipline. This will provide the foundation for the second part of the course which focuses on special moral theology, or how moral decisions are made when dealing with concrete issues. The second part of the course also will highlight areas of social justice and ethics in relation to the moral life.

RS 565 - Introduction to Urban Ministry

(Credits: 1.00)

This course introduces students to the theology and practice of urban ministry. Students will examine the biblical foundations and analytical skills necessary to plan effective strategies in urban ministry. Students will assess the needs of their own professional and spiritual formation for this ministry. The course is the initial learning experience for students seeking certification in urban ministry.

RS 568 - The Bible and the City

(Credits: 2.00)

The course explores the biblical authors' viewpoints about the city as a social and theological reality. Students also will review contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation, applying these skills to the use of the Bible in an urban pastoral setting.

RS 580 - Wisdom Literature and the Psalms

(Credits: 2.00)

This course introduces students to the Wisdom Literature and Psalms of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible as products of their original historical and religious setting, as well as foundational documents for Judaism and Christianity. Using historical-critical and comparative methodologies, the various texts and their representative traditions are studied as interpretive responses to the life situations of Jews in the ancient world and normative forming texts of respective religions thereafter (Judaism and Christianity). While many faith communities understand these writings as a source of divine guidance, the primary focus of this course is the academic study of the text as it was intended for its original audience by the original author.

RS 581 - Religion in American

(Credits: 2.00)

An introduction to the development of religion in America, the basic beliefs of its major religious traditions, their relationship to and impact upon, the social, economic and political life of the nation, and their relationship to American civil religion.

RS 582 - The Synoptics:Mark, Matthew and Luke

(Credits: 2.00)

This course will examine the three Gospels called Synoptic (Mark, Matthew and Luke). Through the use of contemporary biblical methods of interpretation, each Gospel will be analyzed for its unique contributions to the story of Jesus, the early Christian community and subsequent theological reflection.

RS 584 - The Franciscan Heritage and Intellectual Tradition

(Credits: 2.00)

This course addresses the Franciscan heritage (concepts and practices of poverty, simplicity, prayer, conversion, community) and the theological development of a distinctly Franciscan intellectual tradition covering the topics of God, trinity, incarnation, creation, sin, redemption and the nature of the human person. The relevance of these understandings and practices for the modern world also will be explored.

RS 585 - Christian Spirituality: Personal Growth and Development

(Credits: 2.00)

Our spirituality encompasses every aspect of our lives as individuals and as a human community. It is so woven into the fabric of our lives that spirituality is in fact inseparable from the life force within us. This course will explore definitions and understandings of spirituality through the Christian era in various Christian denominations. By analyzing the lives of certain believers of past ages, the course will also address the integrating potential that a balanced spirituality provides in the life of a believer.

RS 586 - 'Listen Carefully,But Do Not Understand!' The Message of the Old Testament Prophets

(Credits: 2.00)

This course introduces students to the message of the prophets of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible as products of their original historical and religious setting, as well as foundational documents for Judaism and Christianity. Using historical-critical and comparative methodologies, the various texts and their representative traditions are studied as interpretive responses to the life situations of Israelites in the ancient world and normative forming texts of respective religions thereafter (Judaism and Christianity). While many faith communities understand these writings as a source of divine guidance, the primary focus of this course is the academic study of the text as it was intended for its original audience by the original author.

RS 587 - Mystery of God

(Credits: 2.00)

This course is an exploration of the mystery of the triune God, the central teaching about the nature of the divine in Christian understanding. It will trace the historical development of the doctrine of the Trinity from its biblical roots to its contemporary resurgence, and investigate the implications of Trinitarian belief for liturgy, spirituality and lives of justice.

RS 588 - Paul: Windows on His Thoughts and His World

(Credits: 2.00)

This course examines the person, the writings, and the thought of Paul of Tarsus who, after Jesus of Nazareth, is perhaps the most influential figure in the formation of the early Christian community. Beginning with Paul's story and his world, the course will employ contemporary biblical methods of interpretation as it examines his letters and studies his thought as it is expressed in those letters. These insights will then be brought to bear on the role of Paul's thinking in contemporary Christian theological thought.