Graduate Theological Union
Systematic and Philosophical Theology
Theology students develop solid grounding in a specific theological discipline while integrating dimensions of university-based study into their theological curricula. Students may choose to pursue
- a theologically oriented program taking into account issues raised by the university disciplines,
- a philosophically oriented program concentrating on cross-disciplinary issues coordinated with suitable work at the University of California,
- a theological program oriented toward the natural sciences using the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences as a major resource,
- a theological program with an interdisciplinary component involving the establishment of a foundation of credentials in another GTU Doctoral Area designated as an “allied field.”
David Batstone (Ph.D. '89)
Core Doctoral Faculty
KEVIN F. BURKE, S.J. • JST (Systematic Theology) • Christology; Liberation Theology; spirituality; ecclesiology; theological method; theological synthesis; Ignacio Ellacuría.
THOMAS CATTOI • JST (Christology and Cultures) • Christology; patristics; interreligious dialogue—Buddhist/Christian dialogue; Tibetan Buddhism.
MICHAEL J. DODDS, O.P. • DSPT (Philosophy and Systematic Theology) • Thomas Aquinas; Divine action; theology and science; divine attributes; God and suffering.
MARION S. GRAU • CDSP (Theology) • Constructive theological approaches to Christian doctrines; soteriology; theological hermeneutics; theology and economy; theologies between cultures; postcolonial missiology; ecological theology; process theology; post-structuralist, gender, race, class and queer approaches to theology.
GEORGE E. GRIENER, S.J. • JST (Historical and Systematic Theology) • Roman Catholic enlightenment; history of 18th and 19th century theology; theology of suffering; theology of the Trinity; the Christian God; the human person; Karl Rahner’s philosophy of religion.
JAY EMERSON JOHNSON • PSR/CDSP (Systematic Theology) • Constructive theology and critical social theory; post-colonial and queer theorizing for theology; intersections of sexuality, gender, race, and economics in theological discourse; socio-political constructions of the body in and for constructive theology; theological anthropology; Christology; eschatology.
FLORA A. KESHGEGIAN • CDSP (Pastoral Theology and Women in Ministry) • Trauma studies; suffering; violence; reconciliation; theologies of redemption; theological anthropology; practical theology; women in ministry.
GREGORY LOVE • SFTS (Systematic Theology) • Christology and Atonement; relation between divine and human agency; providence and evil.
TED PETERS • PLTS (Systematic Theology) • The evolution controversy; the stem cell controversy; the future of systematic theology; Genesis commentary.
ANSELM RAMELOW • DSPT (Philosophy) • Philosophy of religion; philosophical aesthetics; philosophy of the person; free will; philosophy of language.
ROBERT RUSSELL • GTU/CTNS (Theology and Natural Sciences) • Resurrection, eschatology and physical cosmology; Trinitarian theologies of Pannenberg, Tillich, Rahner, and Peters in relation to the natural sciences; time and eternity in relation to physics; non-interventionist objective divine action (NIODA) and quantum mechanics; Christology and life in the universe; creation and physical cosmology; theological and scientific methodologies; inter-religious dialogue and natural science.
PHYLLIS ANDERSON • PLTS (Theology) • Ecumenism.
EDUARDO C. FERNANDEZ, S.J. • JST (Pastoral Theology and Ministry) • Relationship between faith and culture; U.S. Hispanic theology and ministry; Hispanic religious expressions; celebration of sacraments in multicultural contexts Mexican history and the history of the southwest; relationship between art, spirituality, and inculturation.
DANIEL JOSLYN-SIEMIATKOSKI • CDSP (Church History) • Late antique and medieval Jewish-Christian relations; cult of saints; late antique and medieval Latin Christianity; Anglican history; comparative theology; non-supersessionist Christian theologies of Judaism; Anglican theologies of religion.
JOHN KIESLER, O.F.M. • FST (Theology) • Theology of religious life; theology and spirituality of mission.
EDWARD KRASEVAC, O.P. • DSPT (Theology) • Natural Law in the tradition of Aquinas; autonomy of the will in contemporary Roman Catholic Ethics; Relation of Christian Faith to historical Jesus research.
BRYAN KROMHOLTZ, O.P. • DSPT (Theology) • Contemporary and medieval eschatology; sacraments; nature and grace and Nouvelle Theologie; theology of aesthetics.
REBECCA PARKER • SKSM (Theology) • Religion and violence; liberal theological views of suffering; process theology; religion and the arts; feminist theology – interpreting the death of Jesus.
MOSES PENUMAKA • PLTS (Theology) • Theologies from the margins; Christology and non-duality; ecclesiology.
INESE RADZINS • PSR (Theology) • Feminist theory; continental philosophy; Simone Weil; Emanuel Swedenborg.
T. HOWLAND SANKS, S.J. • JST (Historical and Systematic Theology) • The community called Church; Vatican II revisited; faith and culture; theological method.
MARGA VEGA • DSPT (Philosophy) • Theory of knowledge; philosophy of mind; ancient philosophy; Aristotle; aesthetics and theory of art; theory of metaphor; metaphysics; logic.
Offered at all schools
Study in systematic and philosophical theology engages in the ongoing task of interpreting the Christian faith in response to our modern and emerging post-modern culture. Students and faculty analyze the ancient biblical faith by tracing its influence on the history of ideas, its traditional philosophical reformulations, and its various contemporary reconceptualizations. Emphasis is given to the need for theology to be pursued in an ecumenical spirit and to increased attention to cross-cultural dimensions of understanding.
The primary objective of the Area is to educate doctoral students for scholarly research and teaching. They will interpret the Christian tradition, in the context of the ecumenical and interreligious consortium of the Graduate Theological Union, and in response to the challenges posed by contemporary cultures. Students and faculty analyze this tradition by tracing the history of theological ideas and contemporary reconceptualizations. The methodological starting point for this program is taken from twentieth- and twenty-first century developments in Protestant and Roman Catholic theology. Those developments are understood in light of their historical sources with a view toward contemporary constructive thought.
In consultation with the advisor, students are expected to design a personalized program that provides them with solid grounding in a specific theological discipline, while integrating dimensions of interdisciplinary academic study into their theological curricula.
Students will pursue a theologically or philosophically oriented program, engaging with a variety of issues and resources. These resources include those housed in the various GTU Affiliates and Programs, or are available from neighboring institutions such as the University of California in Berkeley.
During the student’s first semester in the doctoral program the advisor will appoint a committee of Area faculty members to conduct a diagnostic interview in order to assess the student’s academic strengths and weaknesses. The advisor will write a summary of the committee's findings and make recommendations for a preliminary plan of study to the student. A copy of this summary will be sent to the dean of student's office.
The student must show competence in two foreign languages (not a computer or mathematical language) in which a substantial theological literature exists. Proficiency must be shown in both languages before proceeding to the Special Comprehensive Exams. The Area reserves the right to require additional languages if they are crucial to a student's chosen course of study.
Required and Recommended Coursework
During their first two years of course work, students are advised to take several advanced seminars for credit each semester (12 credit hours). Over the first two years of their program, students must write four papers covering the following mandatory distribution requirements:
- Each paper has to be set in one of four historical periods (Early Church, Medieval/ Reformation, Modern, Contemporary)
- Each paper has to critically analyze one or more thinkers in a different period and context.
- The papers should critically analyze the context, doctrinal formulations and theological method of the figures or problems involved.
Students are required to take the annually offered classes ST 5020 Methods and Doctrines I (History of Theology) and ST 5021 Methods and Doctrines II (Contemporary Theology) preferably during their first year. At the conclusion of the second required class, Methods and Doctrines in Contemporary Theology, the faculty teaching the class will administer a four hour (6 hours with ESL petition) closed book exam (the General Comprehensive Exam).
Special Comprehensive Examinations
The student proposes a Special Comprehensive Examination committee after passing the General Comprehensive Examination. This committee has to be approved by the GTU Academic Dean before it the student’s proposal is presented to the Area for its approval. Special Comprehensive Examinations allow students to develop academic expertise in their chosen field while keeping breadth of perspective in view.
The Special Comprehensives consist of three written segments plus an oral defense:
- The History of Theology. The first segment tests the student's grasp of a significant doctrine or idea through each of four historical periods (Early Church, Medieval/Reformation, Modern, Contemporary).
- Major Figure. For this segment, the student may take a four-hour closed-book single sitting exam, write a 25-40 page paper, or design and teach a course (following the procedures for the latter in the GTU Doctoral Handbook).
- Contemporary Theological Problem. For this segment, the student may take a four-hour closed-book single sitting exam, or write a 25-40 page paper (following the procedures for the latter in the GTU Doctoral Handbook), or design and teach a course (provided this option was not used for the ‘major figure’ part of the exam). The exam may take one of two forms either of a 3a. Historical Trajectory or a 3b. Constructive Proposal.
Dissertations in the Systematic and Philosophical Theology Area are limited to 100,000 words, including text, documentation, and bibliography (approximately 400 pages). Further details regarding the dissertation and oral defense are found in the Area Protocol and the GTU Doctoral Handbook.
Students applying to Systematic Theology as an allied field are accepted by the Area faculty, and an initial area advisor is assigned by the Systematic Theology Area Convener. Students are required to complete the required courses ST-5020 Methods and Doctrines I (History of Theology) and ST-5021 Methods and Doctrines II (Contemporary Theology)
and to successfully complete the associated general comprehensive exam.