Undergraduate

For course times and locations, please search the university's on-line catalogue.

The Religious Question I and II

The introductory undergraduate course for Comparative Theology is offered as The Religious Quest. All other courses are electives or graduate level courses.

THEO 1161/1162 The Religious Quest: Comparative Perspectives
You must take both sections of the Religious Quest I and II (THEO 1161 and THEO 1162) to receive Core credit. There are no exceptions.

The Religious Quest explores the individual and communal search for wisdom about human nature, the world, ultimate realities and God, secrets of love and death, also enduring values to live by and paths to spiritual maturity. Although each section is different, likely themes include symbols, myths, doctrines, rituals, holy texts, saints, comparisons and contrasts among traditions, relevance of classical religious traditions to issues in today's world, inter-religious dialogue today, and religious diversity in the Boston area. Each section brings the Biblical and Christian tradition into conversation with at least one other religious tradition.

2018-19 Sections

All sections satisfy Core requirements for Theology and Cultural Diversity:

  • Catherine Cornille (TA Yujia [Sam] Zhai)—Hindu and Christian traditions
  • Natana Delong-Bas (TA Andrew Vink)—Islamic and Christian traditions
  • John Makransky (TA Tiffany Lee)—Buddhist and Christian traditions
  • David Mozina (TA Noemi Palomares)—Chinese and Christian traditions
  • Richard Brad Bannon—Hindu and Christian traditions
  • Ruth Langer (TA David Maayan)—Jewish and Christian traditions
  • James Morris (TA Christopher McLaughlin)—Islamic and Christian traditions
  • Craig Danielson—Hindu and Christian traditions
  • Hans Harmakaputra—Islamic and Christian traditions


Non-Core Courses

Fall 2018

THEO 1700 Theological Inquiry (Natana Delong-Bas), satisfies Core requirement for Theology; open to freshmen only
This course introduces students to the study of theology in an academic setting. With a focus on theology as a process of open-ended inquiry, the course explores such topics as God, faith, symbol, doctrine, reason, transcendence, love, suffering, death, and the cultivation of spiritual and ethical practices in view of human flourishing. While working primarily within the Judeo-Christian tradition, the course draws upon insights from other religious traditions as well as other academic disciplines. One part of a two-course sequence: students taking this course will enroll in a Core Renewal Theology course in the other semester of the academic year.

THEO 2114/AADS 1114 Introduction to African & African Diaspora Religions (Kyrah Daniels), satisfies Core requirement for Cultural Diversity
This introductory course examines African Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions, as well as African Diaspora religions of Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, and Black American conjure/roots work. Employing a comparative religion approach, we explore Black Atlantic religious themes such as: God(s) and ancestor veneration, divination and sacred space, initiation and sacred arts, healing and the environment, gender and power, the impact of slavery on conversion/continuity, migration and diaspora. Ultimately, this course encourages students to reevaluate their understanding of Africana religions, recognize diverse cultural philosophies and ritual knowledge systems, and engage with written and visual materials that underscore the values of these traditions.

THEO 3544 Prophetic Tradition: Exploring the Hadith (James Morris)
Using English translations, this seminar surveys the ways the corpus of Prophetic hadith has inspired every area of Islamic life, including spiritual devotions and practices; theology, cosmology, and eschatology; family, social, and economic life; models of proper behavior; the interpretation of the Qur'an and sacred history; and later disciplines of Arabic learning. Seminar focuses on acquiring familiarity with the structure, contents, and uses of major Sunni hadith collections (but including representative Shiite sources) as well as later influential short collections (Nawawi, Ibn Arabi).

THEO 4472/PHIL 4472: Buddhist Ethics in Theory and Practice (John Makransky)
We first study classical Buddhist ethical principles and practices in ancient India, Southeast Asia and Tibet. We then discuss some leading contemporary Buddhist writings on ethical analyses of issues in social justice, ecology, global economics, war and peace. Daily mindfulness practice, based on class instruction, is required. Requirements: Weekly writing of 3 pages, active class participation, and final paper.

THEO 5387/PHIL 5387 Mahāyāna Buddhism in East Asia (David Mozina), satisfies Core requirement for Cultural Diversity, open to undergraduates and graduates
The bodhisattva--a wise and compassionate being dedicated to the salvation of all sentient beings--is arguably the model for and model of Buddhist practice in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and, more recently, North America and Europe. This course will explore the cultic dimensions of Buddhism in East Asia--the modes of self-cultivation and worship that have revolved around the figure of the bodhisattva. Close readings of texts and images will challenge Western assumptions about what Mahayana Buddhism has been all about, and by extension, how we imagine the general categories "theology" and "religion."

THEO 5474 Jews and Christians: Understanding the Other (Ruth Langer), this course is an exercise in interreligious learning sponsored by Boston College’s Center for Jewish-Christian learning
Interreligious dialogue requires interreligious understanding. This course will build a foundation for genuine dialogue between Jews and Christians by posing fundamental theological questions in a comparative context. Students will gain an understanding of the other tradition while also deepening their understanding of their own, discussing such matters as the human experience of God, the purpose of human existence, the nature of religious community, and the ways that the communities respond to challenges, both contemporary and ancient.


Spring 2019

THEO 2114/AADS 1114 Introduction to African & African Diaspora Religions (Kyrah Daniels), satisfies Core requirement for Cultural Diversity
This introductory course examines African Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions, as well as African Diaspora religions of Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, and Black American conjure/roots work. Employing a comparative religion approach, we explore Black Atlantic religious themes such as: God(s) and ancestor veneration, divination and sacred space, initiation and sacred arts, healing and the environment, gender and power, the impact of slavery on conversion/continuity, migration and diaspora. Ultimately, this course encourages students to reevaluate their understanding of Africana religions, recognize diverse cultural philosophies and ritual knowledge systems, and engage with written and visual materials that underscore the values of these traditions.

THEO 3441 The Islamic Humanities and the Akbari Tradition (James Morris)
The spread of Islam as a world religion after the 13th century involved an explosion of spiritual, social, and cultural creativity in vernacular languages and cultures across all regions of Asia and SE Europe. Everywhere this transformation reflected the manifold influences of Ibn Arabi (d. 1240/638) and the Akbari tradition of his philosophic, theological, artistic and poetic interpreters. This course moves from an introductory overview of his key writings to representative interpreters in Iran, Central Asia, India, China, and the Ottoman world, with an overview of his global contemporary influences in psychology, literature, philosophy, and religious thought.

THEO 3527 Meditation and Action: Interfaith Explorations (John Makransky)
Tibetan Buddhist understandings of the nature of awareness with its capacities for wisdom and compassionate responsiveness are explored through contemporary writing and guided meditations adapted for students of all faiths and backgrounds. Buddhist thought and practice is then brought into conversation with Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen and other faith-based activists for learning across religious boundaries (comparative theology) and to shed light on the students’’ own spiritualities as bases for social service and action. Weekly writing, active weekly discussion, two ten-page papers.

THEO 3548/PHIL 4448 Buddhist Thought and Practice (John Makransky)
We explore aspects of early, Southeast Asian, and East Asian traditions of Buddhism, focusing on ways that Buddhist philosophy informs and is informed by practices of meditation, phenomenological investigation, ritual and ethics. Students will be instructed in mindfulness exercises (cultivating fuller awareness of things) to inform our studies. Weekly writing, active discussion, two short papers, one longer paper.

THEO 4456/PHIL 4456/HIST 4846 The Holocaust: A Moral History (James Bernauer)
The tragic event that ruptured modern western morality will be examined from a variety of perspectives. We shall study the testimony of both its victims and its perpetrators. Special attention will be given to consideration of the intellectual and moral factors which motivated resistance or excused indifference. We shall conclude with interpretations of its meaning for contemporary morality and of its theological significance for Christians and Jews.

THEO 5500/ICSP 3310 Women and Gender in Islam (Natana Delong-Bas)
This course explores women and gender roles in Islamic history, civilization, and societies, beginning with the pre-Islamic period and continuing through the present. The goal is to present women and womens issues as central to the main narrative of Islamic history, rather than as a side story. This course explores questions related to both historical and contemporary religious interpretation and practice, Sunni, Shia and Sufi, as well as the impact of religion and gender constructs on womens access to the public sphere, positions of leadership, and legal status.

THEO 5530 The Self Between Eastern and Western Thought (Catherine Cornille, Matthew Kruger)
Description TBA

THEO 6578/PHIL 6578 Daoism (David Mozina), satisfies Core requirement for Cultural Diversity, open to undergraduates and graduates
Daoism (sometimes spelled Taoism) has been imagined in the West as an Eastern philosophy of blithe individuality and environmental consciousness. But what have Daoist thought and practice meant to Chinese practitioners? The answer might surprise. This course will examine major moments of thought and practice from the early, medieval, and modern periods of China’s most successful indigenous religious tradition. Close readings of texts and images will challenge Western assumptions about what this religious tradition has been all about, and by extension, how we imagine the general categories “theology” and “religion.”