At JST, we study what we call "culturally contextual theology."
Rather than approaching academics from an ivory tower, we study theology in context. Our contexts are plural: the west coast marked the tech world, migration, climate change, rich cultural diversity, and spectacular environmental beauty; the Christian tradition which forms us as professors, students, and people of faith; our vocations as priests, scholastics, religious sisters and brothers, and lay people from all over the world; and our ministries in parishes, universities, schools, and social justice organizations.
We bring these contexts with us as we study the breadth and depth of theology, from Scripture and the history of Christianity; to systematic theology and ethics; to liturgy, sacraments, and spirituality. We also study the skills needed for ministry today.
Students are able to choose courses from JST, the Graduate Theological Union, and the University of California, Berkeley that allow them to explore their theological questions, deepen their faith, and prepare for their future.
Book of Daniel: Court Tales & Visions
Focus on the Book of Daniel as a wisdom and apocalyptic text, with a particular attention to its literary and theological themes as well as its colonial context.
Children of Sarah, Hagar & Mary
An exploration of scriptural stories, histories, and interreligious issues concerning women across the three great traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Concludes with a two week immersion experience in Jerusalem, Israel during the January intersession.
Literary Criticism of the Old Testament
A survey of literary criticism and literary methods used to study biblical texts. An examination of the application of literary methods to actual biblical texts.
An investigation of the historical, compositional, and literary dimensions of the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible including relevant outside readings and contemporary ministerial issues and challenges with which they intersect.
Paul in Context
A historical, theological, and contextual introduction to Paul's letters. Beyond ancient contexts, the course examines histories of the reception of Paul's letters and contemporary approaches to reading Paul today.
Pentateuch, Histories: Methods
A socio-historical and literary survey of the Pentateuch and Histories with attention to the effects of culture upon both the composition and reception of these writings in faith communities. Provides a foundation in critical methodologies and in the theory and practice of exegesis.
Wisdom in Ancient Israel
Exploration of the books of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Ben Sira.
Claiming the Psalms for the 21st Century
A literary-contextual approach to the study of the Old Testament Psalms with attention to how these ancient verses can more fully become expressions of our contemporary prayer addressing the topics and events of this era (e.g., poverty, racism, trauma, ecology, social justice, modernist quests for God, violence, etc.).
Gospel Literature: Methods
This foundation course (a combination of lecture and seminar) introduces students to the practice of New Testament interpretation through historical, theological, and contextual study of the Gospels. The course will orient students to the Roman Mediterranean context of early Christianity and introduce a wide range of critical approaches (including feminist, womanist, postcolonial, queer, and disability scholarship).
Mark from the Margins
In this upper-level seminar, students will explore and practice critical approaches to reading the Gospel according to Mark, focusing on insights from postcolonial, feminist, and queer theory.
Ruth - A Cultural & Literary Study
A cultural and literary study of the book of Ruth with particular attention to its contemporary representations and how they function as intertexts that both challenge past interpretive traditions and broaden the interpretive horizons of this book.
Gospel of John
The Gospel of John as Resource for Spirituality, Theology, and Ministry.
This course is intended to help students gain competent access to the riches of the Fourth Gospel (John) as a resource for spirituality (experience of God), theology (thinking coherently about God), and ministry (fostering the Reign of God in this world). Because it is a short, intensive course the approach will necessarily be selective and will require considerable independent work by the students.
John's Gospel: Recent Literary Approaches
This seminar surveys and discusses recent literary approaches to John's Gospel from the late 20th century until now. The introduction of the course deals with conventional questions such as place and date, relation to the synoptics, composition, and theological features. The remaining of the course focuses on acquaintance with the Fourth Gospel itself and on literary interpretations of the whole Gospel or of sections of it with attention to the various methods and approaches used. Students will take turn at leading discussion on sections of the Gospel according to John and of secondary literature and will produce a final paper approaching one feature/passage of the Fourth Gospel from a literary perspective in dialogue with scholarly literature.
How to Read the Book of Job(?)
The biblical scholar David Noel Freedman once published an article whose title posed a genuine question: “Is it Possible to Understand the Book of Job?” From the book’s opaque language to its purported layers of composition to its slippery rhetorical questions, Job is difficult to pin down. This course constitutes an attempt to understand Job by reading through the book from beginning to end over the course of the semester in conversation with a range of contemporary voices.
Mission, Church, and Cultures
Introduction to mission and world Christianity that surveys biblical, historical, cultural and theological resources for the theory and practice of mission, with particular emphasis on current concerns and perspectives.
Canon Law: Introduction & Marriage
An overview of the 1983 Code of Canon Law with emphasis on pastoral application and the rights and obligations of the Christian faithful. The second half of the course covers both the celebration of marriage as the law prescribes and the work of marriage tribunals when a marriage ends in divorce.
Celebrational Rites and Practice
This course acquaints students preparing for presbyteral ordination in the Roman Catholic Church with the principle rites of the Church’s liturgy. Its goal is to develop prayerful leaders of prayer and to develop in presiders the necessary skills for gathering the ecclesial body and celebrating the sacramental rites of the Church.
Composing Sacred Spaces
The goal of this part-workshop, part-art history course is to prepare and empower students to make aesthetic decisions by providing historical background and practical tools for creating spaces--real and virtual--for retreats, meditation, and prayer.
Confessional Rites & Practice
Examination of the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation from its historical, theological, moral, pastoral, liturgical and canonical perspectives. The course is designed for those who will preside at the Sacrament of Reconciliation as presbyters.
The course covers practical topics related to serving as an administrator in a Catholic parish, school, or other organization. Specific topics include: leadership; stewardship; human resources; the diocesan Catholic school system; parish budgets and finance councils; parish pastoral councils; volunteers; and self-care. Exploration of the theology of preaching in the Christian tradition and investigation of the ways that different theological perspectives intersect with the preaching event. Opportunities for shared preparation (lectionary based) and actual preaching integrate the practical ministry of the preacher with the theological investigation.
Theology of Preaching
Exploration of the theology of preaching in the Christian tradition and investigation of the ways that different theological perspectives intersect with the preaching event. Opportunities for shared preparation (lectionary based) and actual preaching integrate the practical ministry of the preacher with the theological investigation.
Introduction to Prison Ministry
A three-part course providing an overview of Catholic prison ministry with an emphasis on pastoral care.
Counselling from a Pastoral Perspective 1
Highlighting pastoral case material and a relational counseling process, the course introduces students to the basic interviewing/counseling skills of pastoral counseling. The course is taught from a clinical psychodynamic perspective with attention to professional ethics for pastoral ministers. The class will utilize lecture, discussion, and role playing.
The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola
In the tradition of Western Christian life, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola certainly have a leading role as a practical method to seek and find the will of God. The course introduces the study of the composition of the text and its literary and theological structure.
Experiments in Prayer and Meditation
Exploration of ways of prayer and meditation within the western Christian tradition and helping people notice and articulate their religious experience as a ground and test of their theological reflection.
Spiritual Direction Practicum
Focus on religious experience in spiritual direction for those engaged in or preparing for this ministry. This course enables participants to identify, articulate and develop religious experience.
Spirituality, Scripture, and Self-Implication
This course is designed for advanced M.Div., MA, ThM and STL or STD students. The seminar will employ a modified class format (lectures, presentations by students, discussion, online learning aspects etc.) to bring spirituality into direct dialogue with biblical texts, but also mystical traditions in poetics and imagery embedded in contextual theologies referring to biblical text.
Discernment: Ignatius and Beyond
Examines the theory and practice of discernment in the Christian tradition. Ignatian-oriented theory and practice grounds the course, but various other perspectives will also be presented. It covers both personal and communal discernment suitable for leadership groups. Complements the Internship in "Spiritual direction, but useful for anyone intending to serve in pastoral ministry.
Foundations of Christian Lived Experience
The course offers the opportunity to have familiarity with an interdisciplinary approach to the lived experience of the Christian revelation, especially from an anthropological, philosophical, and theological point of view.
Christian Lived Experience and Mysticism
The lived experience of the relationship with God in the Christian revelation is interpreted by the apostle Paul as a relationship with the mystery of God/Christ. The Fathers of the Church had developed this perspective, and the later tradition has deepened it. The course presents some of the more important figures of this tradition and a contemporary understanding of it.
Reflection on Christian Lived Experience
The course offers an initiation to the historical development of reflection on the lived experience of the Christian revelation. The proposal highlights this reflection from the Gospels through the centuries, with particular attention to the XXth Century, when this perspective was established as an academic discipline.
Mariology in Dialogue
An exploration of the development of Mariology from its inception to the present, and a conversation with Hindu and Buddhist reflection on the divine feminine.
Study of the documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) with historical background. Focus on the theological content of the documents, their implementation, and current status of the issues, especially as these are being received by Pope Francis.
Ecology and Liturgy
Exploration of the vital connection between human concern for the Earth community and worship of the living God. Special attention is given to the encyclical Laudato Si' (2015).
Inculturation and Liturgy
Inculturation is a work of justice and liberation by which Christian communities grow into the richness of their mature identity. Focus given to issues of globalization, justice, popular religion, women, as well as community resilience and sustainability.
A theological introduction to the actions, symbols, texts, and contexts of Christian liturgy. Particular attention is given to reflection on the Church’s worship as the arena of encounter with the Paschal Mystery of Christ and as a communal participation in the Trinitarian life.
A systematic view of the nature of the sacraments, the sacramental economy as a way the Church understands created reality, the community of faith, the individual believer within that Body of Christ, and the seven sacraments. Particular attention devoted to the reform of Roman Catholic sacramental life that developed after Vatican II, as well as the emerging issues of cultural diversity and the unity of the Church in a global reality.
Sacraments in Latino Context
An inculturated approach to the theology, preparation and celebration of sacraments for a U.S. Church which is becoming predominantly Latino. Introduces both the theology of the sacraments and pastoral resources for celebrating sacraments in a Latino context.
Theological Readings in Spanish
By providing select readings from such topics as Sacred Scripture, Christology, Ecclesiology, Mariology, and Sacraments, this course provides the student not only an opportunity to read theology in Spanish but also a chance to teach and preach in the same language.
Theology and Spirituality of Priesthood
Contemporary sacramental and ecclesial understanding of presbyteral order, biblical foundations for priesthood, and contemporary theologians reflecting on religious life in the Catholic Church.
Christology Ancient and Modern
An exploration of the development of Christology from the New Testament to the major councils, the medieval times, the Reformation, and contemporary debates including feminist/liberationist/Black/Asian/Latin American approaches.
A cross-cultural approach to Christology which considers the social and cultural contexts of Euro-American, Latin American, African, and Asian Christians.
Foundations of Theology
Introduces the nature and function of theology through a systematic inquiry into the dynamics of faith and revelation, the role of scripture and tradition, the use of religious language and symbols, the genesis of doctrine, the operation of theological method, and the relationship of theology to praxis.
Introduction to Eschatology
Scriptural sources, patristic and medieval developments of theologies of “the last things” (death, judgment, heaven, hell, and purgatory, and the general resurrection) in addition to contemporary pastoral and social dimensions of eschatology in terms of liturgy, ecclesiology, and social justice.
An introduction to ecclesiology that surveys biblical, historical, cultural, and theological resources for the understanding of the Christian churches, with particular emphasis on ecumenical concerns and global perspectives.
Overview of the development of the theology of the Holy Spirit from its scriptural foundations, its patristic and medieval developments, and some modern pneumatological developments. Sacramental, ascetic, pastoral, and ecclesiological issues are considered.
A historical, critical, and pastoral approach to the study of Christian Systematic Theology. It examines the major subdisciplines of theology in their historical developments and interrelations with each other: the theology of revelation, trinitarian theology, Christology, ecclesiology, the theology of creation, eschatology, sacramental theology, and more.
A foundational theological inquiry into self-understanding, including concepts of person, affectivity, sexuality, individuality, and community based on contemporary social and natural sciences.
Theology and Interfaith Dialog
Exploration of the various historical and contemporary approaches to the theology of religions and interreligious dialogue including the phenomenon of multiple religious identity and the implications for contemporary missiology.
An overview of the development of Trinitarian theology, from its gradual emergence in the early Christian period all the way to the present.
The course will give students a thorough grounding in approaches to the study of theology by introducing methods for research. Through close reading of select texts from a variety of historical and cultural contexts and introductions to exemplary projects from the various sub-disciplines of religious studies, students will develop a comprehensive grasp of key figures in the development of academic theology and their distinctive methodologies.
Person, The Self, The Sciences
This seminar explores theological interpretations of the human person (theological anthropology) in the context of social, psychological, and evolutionary / neuro-scientific contributions to the field: the emergence and evolution of consciousness in cultural context; the role of autobiographical and social/community memory in forming identity; the structures and constraints that shape human freedom.
Food, Justice, and Eucharistic Eating
This seminar invites a more profound appreciation of the sacredness of food and eating, the planetary interdependence that a just food system entails, and the destructiveness of the current industrial food system that has left millions of persons hungry and without adequate food to live productive and dignified lives.
African Theological Ethics: Development and Issue
Exploration of the development of principles, methods, and theories of African theologies and ethics including the contribution of African Christianity to global Christianity from cultural, anthropological, ecological, Christological, and eschatological perspectives.
Catholic Social Thought
Study of contemporary Catholic social thought, including both the major documents of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the work of Catholic ethicists who address social issues using the framework of CST.
Ethics, Economics & Liberation
The course aims to address the following question: How does the tradition of Christian reflection on economic justice relate to the task of liberating whole peoples and the whole person in the face of globalization? We engage this question by studying (1) aspects of the tradition of Catholic social teaching and (2) various liberation theologies and spiritualities in order to address (3) the implications of globalization for how we think about and live our Christian faith, and (4) the implications of faith for how we respond to globalization and economic injustice. We will seek to apply these theoretical frameworks to a range of contemporary issues that transcend national borders: genocide, migration, terrorism, humanitarian intervention, development, mining, and forests degradation.
Ethics of Social Reconciliation
A study of theological and ethical questions connected to social reconciliation in relation to themes of justice, liberation, mercy, forgiveness., and common ground.
A course at the intersection of sexual ethics and social ethics that engages Christian thinking on sex, gender, marriage, family, and children.
Feminist Theology and Ethics
A consideration of major voices in feminist theology and ethics. Will treat both constructive and ethical questions, emphasizing the dialogue between sex and gender studies and theology.
Political Theology in the Context of Africa
Since the second Vatican Council, Catholic theology has passed through very determining developments. Some even claimed that theology has successfully negotiated the turning of a more classical approach to a more interdisciplinary way of theologizing. From an African perspective, the renewal of faith has also engaged theologians to think Christian faith in relation to the world in the move, which is in taking into account the social and political dimensions of faith. Thanks to the work of theologians such as J. B. Metz and J. Moltmann, attention has been called to de-privatize God-talk and to interpret faith as incarnated in the world. This course provides insights and meanings of political theology in an African context. More specifically it will address ways of God seeking in the midst of various situations, and how the particular context of Africa is a theological locus. Experiences of suffering and hope, reconciliation and justice, peace and conflicts resolution, among others, will highlight the ongoing interpretation of faith in African societies.
Theologies of Liberation: Ethical Dimensions
The course will engage various liberation theologies beginning with the Latin American liberation theology as it traces its origins to the grassroots Christian communities that struggled for justice.
Culture, Context & Lived Religion
An introduction to the concept of culture and its implications for theological study and pastoral ministry today. The course attends to theoretical concerns and to issues such as secularization, religious change, and the salience of religiosity in shaping people’s perceptions, identities and strategies of action.
Using a cross-disciplinary approach, this course examines the making, meaning, and reception of Marian images within the various social, religious, and cultural milieus from which they emerged.
Religion & Social Theory
An introduction to important works in classical and contemporary social theory that enable to understand the complexities of contemporary religion. The course covers topics such as secularization; social conflict and change; identity theory; globalization; rational choice theory.
Religion & Social Transformation
How does one go about changing the world? This course investigates on the efficacy of religious ideas and constituencies with respect to understanding and challenging institutional power, engendering civic discourse and engagement, and contributing to social activism.
Self, Sacred and The Secular
A study of the sacred and secular are inextricably understood as entwined within everyday life, especially in terms of the ongoing project of identity construction.
Hope: An Experiment in Loving the Future
What is hope? How and when does it become manifest and what difference does it make? Why do we hear more and more expressions of hopelessness amid our public discourse? How can we learn to nurture hope -- what the philosopher Paul Ricoeur famously dubbed a "passion for the possible" -- within our everyday lives and for the purposes of fashioning a better, more humane future? These are the sorts of questions that animate this course, which is experimental in at least a few senses. First, we draw upon philosophy, theology, biography, sociology and so forth to determine if we can come to a deeper understanding of what hope can be and how it can inflect (even constitute) our lives. Second, tilting in the direction of hope -- making an effort to hone it, taking time to think about it, etc. -- is itself experimental, testing whether it is indeed the sort of variable upon which the prospects of a future propitious of human flourishing truly depend. And, third, since this is the first time teaching this class, it's hard to know how deeply it might resonate with students' lives, scholarship and ministries. However, my work on this topic thus far gives me reason to be enormously hopeful.