Introduction to Christian Theology

Overview

Introducing the main teachings of the Christian Church, this course considers theological ideas from the early centuries and the Middle Ages, and modern writings principally from the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

The course considers the development of Christian thinking about God, taking account of apocryphal texts and 'vernacular' theologies, as well as Church Councils and official doctrines, such as the Trinity. We shall examine the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius and the 'mystical' tradition that followed from him, e.g., in Nicholas of Cusa. We shall also consider the growth of a more 'rationalistic' style of theology, as found in Thomas Aquinas. Attention will be paid to the writings of visionaries such as Bridget of Sweden.

We shall consider the fundamental point of dispute at the Reformation -- whether creatures can mediate between God and humanity -- and address the Catholic theology of the Counter-Reformation. We shall also consider the growth in the theology of Holy Wisdom.

Finally, we shall critically examine the theology of the twentieth century, including both major authors and the alternative perspectives of liberation theologies, and their twenty-first century successors.

Programme details

Course begins: 18th Jan 2022

Week 0:  An Introduction to Teams – Course orientation

Week 1: The One God: Biblical and philosophical background; the difficulties presented by Christian claims about Jesus

Week 2: Who is Jesus Christ? The early Christian witnesses (2nd-5th centuries)

Week 3: Trinity and Incarnation defined (the ecumenical councils of 325, 381, 431 and 451)

Week 4: Pseudo-Dionysius and his world (5th-6th centuries)

Week 5: The development of Platonic theology in the West: Eriugena, Llull and Cusanus

Week 6: The rise of scholasticism: Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus

Week 7: Unofficial theology: the influence of popular devotion and the writings of women

Week 8: Theology in the early modern period

Week 9: Holy Wisdom in Boehme, Soloviev and Bulgakov

Week 10: The twentieth and twenty-first centuries: Rahner and von Balthasar; theologies of liberation.

Certification

Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Fees

Description Costs
Course Fee £229.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00

Tutor

Dr Sarah Jane Boss

Speaker

Sarah Jane Boss is a theologian who specialises in Mariology and the theology of Creation.  She has published widely, and teaches courses at several institutions of higher education.

Course aims

The course will enable students to think theologically for themselves.

Course Objectives:

1 To enable students to address the question: What is the purpose of theology? Can it help us to know God personally, or can it only help us to know true propositions about God?

2 To give students a critical appreciation of the different styles and emphases that are found in the theological tradition.

3 To inspire students to want to pursue the study of theology more deeply than is possible in a course of one term.

Teaching methods

Lectures, including illustrated lectures; discussion of texts; discussion of questions presented in class.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to have:

A grasp of the doctrines established by the Church at the first four ecumenical councils;

the ability to explain at least one view of the relationship between faith and reason;

basic knowledge of the contribution made by three theologians to the development of Christian theology.

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed by one assignment, with an essay plan as a piece of formative work. The essay plan is 500 words long, to be submitted in week 6. The assessed assignment may be either a 1500-word essay or a 15-minute presentation to the class. Presentations will be given in weeks 9 and 10.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form

Application

We will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)