Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Theo 281 Christianity through Time

Fall 2016

FALL 2016 - THEO 281: Christianity through time

Introduction to historical theology


Instructor:  Fr. Rudolf Kutschera  

Office hour: Mondays 1-2 p.m. and by appointment

Office: JFRC 102         Phone: 06.355.88.370

E-mail: rkutschera@luc.edu 



Wednesdays 10:00-12:30


1. Course Description

This is a survey course in the history of Christian thought. Students will learn the characteristics of major patterns within Christian thought, major figures within these patterns, and major cultural interactions.

Students who successfully complete this course will be familiar with major events and figures in the history of Christian thought and will be able to form a perspective on the effect of Christian thought on several cultural periods. This knowledge will be helpful when visiting major Christian sites in Rome and when being asked about the effect of Christian thought on history.

            +Knowledge Area Satisfied: Theological and Religious Studies Knowledge

            +Skills Developed: Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions

            +Values Area: (Understanding Spirituality or Faith in Action in the World)


2. Required  Reading

e-text: Alister E. McGrath. Historical Theology. An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Kindle Edition: $ 27.07

Other sources:

The Bible (any translation, available free online)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, available for free online: www.vatican.va/archive/ccc/index.htm

Documents of the Second Vatican Council, available for free online: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/index.htm

The Rule of St. Benedict, available for free online: http://www.osb.org/rb/text/toc.html#toc


3. Course Schedule


Week 1   M

Introduction and Syllabus; “Why historic theology?”
Basics of the Bible

(AMcG  1-14)

Week 2   M

 The Jewish roots of Christianity

Nostra Aetate 4 

Bible and Tradition in the Patristic Period

(AMcG 17-25)

Week 3   M

On-site visit of San Clemente: From Paganism to Christianity in Rome



Week 4   M

Selected dogmatic controversies (AMcG 41-73)

Week 5   M

Selected dogmatic controversies


(extracts from the Rule of Benedict)

Mid-term exam

Week 6   M

Mid-term break

Week 7  M

Theological insights in the Middle Ages on Faith and Reason

 (AMcG 84-86; 90-93; 98-109)

Week 8  M

Movements for Church Reform in the Middle Ages; Renaissance Humanism

(AMcG 115-118)

Week 9  M

Reformation and Catholic Reform

(AMcG 125-134; 146-171)


Week 10  M

On-site visit of       Il Gesù: The Catholic Reform and the heritage of St. Ignatius 


Week 11  M

Reflection on the visit


(AMcG 183-190; 210-217)

Week 12  M

Western theological movements since the enlightenment (AMcG 195-209)

Week 13  M

On-site visit of Sta. Maria Aracoeli and the question of religion and politics

Week 14  M

Today’s theological disputes

(AMcG  252-269) 

Review for final

Week 15  M

Final exam



4. Requirements for the course and evaluation

In accordance with the JFRC’s Academic Policies, it is expected that students will attend and participate actively in all class meetings. Active participation in the class excludes emailing, facebooking, and surfing at random on the internet. Absences require prior permission from the instructor or the JFRC direction, or medical certification. More than ONE unexcused absence must reduce your grade. Active participation in discussions depends on the completion of the weekly reading assignments. Late arrivals and early departures will also be noted. 

Class will consist of an introductory lecture and the discussion of the texts assigned for that day. Students must bring the textbook and (digital) copies of the assigned sources to each meeting in order to facilitate class discussion.

      Mid-term exam, and presentations                                33%

      The Final Examination                                                       33%

      Writing assignments* plus quizzes                                33%

[*Writing assignments (10 pages total, bibliography not counted) are to be submitted by hard copy on the due date.]

Grading  Scale:

A                 93-100                                                    C          71-74.5

A-                89-92                                                      C-         68-70.5

B+               86-89                                                       D+       63-67.5

B                 81-85                                                       D         60-62.5

B-                78-80                                                       D-        57-59.5

C+               75-77                                                       F          below 57


Determination of grades ultimately resides in the judgment of the instructor; however, if you ever feel that you have been graded inaccurately, please come to see me.


5. Academic integrity 

      Failure to comply with the standards and regulations of academic integrity will be reported and Loyola University Chicago’s policy will be enforced. Please see: http://www.luc.edu/academics/catalog/undergrad/reg_academicintegrity.shtml


6. Knowledge Area Objectives

To understand the meaning of historical theology and how it differs from other types of theology. Know major eras, figures, doctrines, and controversies of the Christian theological tradition. Understand the role of historical context in the formulation of theological doctrines and ideas and be able to draw meaningful connections between a particular Christian doctrine or idea, its historical context and its current relevance. Be able to analyze and interpret Roman Catholic religious texts, beliefs, and practices using standard scholarly methods and tools. For example, students should be able to analyze and interpret some papal and conciliar statements, in particular of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Discuss the role of these texts in the lives of believing Roman Catholics.


7. Skills (Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions)

     Students will: 

      1. “Comprehend, paraphrase, summarize, and contextualize the meaning of varying forms of communication.” In class discussions, quizzes, and/or examinations, students will demonstrate the ability to comprehend, paraphrase, summarize, and/or contextualize texts, ideas and events of the Christian tradition. 

      2. Develop “strategies for seeking and synthesizing information to support an argument, make a decision, or resolve a problem.” In class discussions, quizzes, and/or examinations, students will be encouraged to articulate reasoned arguments about materials studied in the course or sites in Rome that have been visited or to comment on arguments to which they are exposed in the class. 

      3. Monitor students' own “individual thinking or behavior” in relationship to Roman Catholicism “in order to question, confirm, validate, or correct” their presuppositions and prejudgments. Class discussions will require students to reflect on their own presuppositions and correct erroneous opinions by appealing to data and reasoned argumentation.


8. Values Area (Understanding Spirituality or Faith in Action)

      1. Students who identify themselves as Roman Catholic or claim a Catholic heritage in some way will be enabled to “demonstrate knowledge of and . . .  to articulate the foundations of one's own. . .  beliefs or faith traditions.” Similarly, non-Catholic students will be enabled to “demonstrate knowledge of and . . . to articulate the foundations of . . . others' beliefs or faith traditions” (competency a). The required reading, class discussions, student writing, and examinations will promote such competency.

      2. In the Christian ethos, belief and worship are gradually but surely to shape one's way of life. Thus, a study of the history of Christianity will enable students to “demonstrate how faith traditions or belief systems have been or can be related to intellectual and cultural life” (competency b).  Mainly class discussions and student writing will promote such competency.

      3. Since Roman Catholicism focuses upon fundamental issues of personal identity and meaning, the study of historical theology in this course will “develop an ability to reflect upon the applications of one's beliefs or faith traditions to decisions in one's personal, professional, and civic life” (competency c). Mainly class discussions and student writing will promote such competency.

      4. Finally, students taking this course will be able to evaluate the religious perspectives (competency d) and demonstrate knowledge of the central ethical teachings (competency e) of Christianity.