Graduate Theological Union
Christian Spirituality is an academic discipline that investigates Christian religious experience as such, that is, as both religious experience and as lived experience. It necessarily examines spirituality in light of the broad contemporary understanding of spirituality and in conversation with religious spiritualities outside the Christian sphere. Because the field is intrinsically interdisciplinary, students in the program are required to achieve a basic competence in five constitutive areas of study: biblical foundations of Christian spirituality; history of Christian spirituality; the field of Christian spirituality itself; a spirituality outside the Christian tradition; and the relation of spirituality to another academic discipline selected from the humanities, the social sciences or the natural sciences.
Although students may concentrate in any appropriate area of Christian spirituality, the GTU through its member schools, related institutes and relationship with the University of California, Berkeley offers especially rich resources for the study of biblical spirituality, history of Christian spirituality, liturgical spirituality, psychological dimensions of spirituality, certain traditions and schools within Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox spirituality and the dynamics and practices of spiritual formation. Students may collaborate with the various centers to investigate the intersection of Christian spirituality with for example, Judaism, Buddhism, or Islam.
Core Doctoral Faculty
THOMAS CATTOI • JST (Christology and Cultures) • Christology; Patristic theology; Patristic spirituality; comparative theology (especially Christian-Buddhist dialogue); Tibetan Buddhism; contemporary systematic theology.
JOHN C. ENDRES, S.J. • JST (Sacred Scripture) • Intertestamental literature (Book of Jubilees); Book of Psalms; Dead Sea Scrolls; Wisdom literature; scripture and Ignatian spirituality.
LISA FULLAM • JST (Moral Theology) • Moral theology; virtue ethics; Ignatian spirituality; sexual ethics; medical and bioethics.
BARBARA GREEN, O.P. • DSPT (Old Testament) • Old Testament/Hebrew Bible biblical narrative and hermeneutics; Christian spirituality and its relationship to OT/HB; the book of Jeremiah; thought and theory of Mikhail Bakhtin; biblical-based fiction; thought and theory of Rene Girard.
ARTHUR HOLDER • GTU (Christian Spirituality) • Christian spirituality as an academic discipline; history of Christian spirituality; Christian interpretations of the Song of Songs; medieval Christian mysticism; Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Benedictine spiritualities.
BRUCE LESCHER • JST (Lecturer in Christian Spirituality) • American Catholic spirituality; spiritual formation; spiritual practice; spiritual direction; spirituality and social justice.
ELIZABETH LIEBERT, S.N.J.M. • SFTS (Spiritual Life) • Discernment: historical, theological and practical approaches; spiritual direction in Protestant contexts; women's experience of the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola; spiritual formation.
DARLEEN PRYDS • FST (Christian Spirituality and Medieval History) • Lay spiritual practices; history of lay preaching; mysticism; technology (esp. social media) and spirituality; sports and spirituality.
WILLIAM J. SHORT, O.F.M. • FST (Christian Spirituality) • Franciscan spirituality; 16th-century Spanish mystics; 12th-14th century Christian spirituality.
DORSEY O. BLAKE • SKSM (Religion and Society) • Spirituality and prophetic justice; Dr. Howard Thurman; Gandhi and King; spiritual discipline and social change; mysticism and action.
JOSEPH BOENZI, S.B.D. • DSPT (Theology) • Francis de Sales and Salesian spirituality; Church history: nineteenth-twentieth century developments; new ecclesial movements and communities; the ecclesiology of Joseph Ratzinger; faith development and youth spirituality.
KEVIN F. BURKE, S.J. • JST (Systematic Theology) • Christology; Liberation Theology; spirituality; ecclesiology; theological method; theological synthesis; Ignacio Ellacuría.
JOSEPH CHINNICI, O.F.M. • FST (Church History) • American religious history; history of Vatican II; history of contemplation in western Christianity; 13th Franciscan movement.
SAMUEL HAMILTON-POORE • SFTS (History) • Prayer; spiritual direction; pneumatology; human experience of God; ecology and faith; Reformed spirituality.
PAUL JANOWIAK, S.J. • JST (Liturgical Theology)
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.
JAMES F. LAWRENCE • PSR (History of Christianity) • History of Christianity; history of biblical spirituality; western esotericism; Swedenborg.
ROBERT RUSSELL • GTU/CTNS (Theology and Science) • 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.
Offered at CDSP, DSPT, FST, JST, PSR, SKSM
Students in this area study Christian religious experience. The program is focused on Christian Spirituality in the context of the broad contemporary understanding of spirituality and in conversation with religious spiritualities outside the Christian sphere. Students work to develop competence in biblical and historical foundations of Christian Spirituality, but are also encouraged to be interdisciplinary and cross-cultural.
The doctoral program in Christian Spirituality prepares students to read and interpret biblical texts for Christian Spirituality; to contextualize the major figures, texts, and themes in the historical development of Christian Spirituality; to achieve a dialogical understanding of another spirituality not within the Christian tradition; and to do research and create analytical arguments in this interdisciplinary field. With these skills students have graduated from the program and gone on to teach religious studies, Christian Spirituality, and theology in undergraduate and graduate programs in colleges, universities, and seminaries; to administer and deliver programs at retreat centers; and to serve churches at local, regional, national, and international levels.
A master's degree providing a broad grounding in the various disciplines of Christian theology.
Students are required to attain proficiency in two research languages other than their native language, one of which is ordinarily French or German, or Spanish, and the other an ancient or modern language pertinent to the student’s research.
The Christian Spirituality Area Seminar (SP 5090) and two graduate courses in theology are required. After a diagnostic interview and in consultation with the academic advisor, additional courses are selected appropriate to the five major areas of the comprehensive examinations. A practicum in the field, normally completed before the writing of the special comprehensives, is also required.
Students are required to complete four comprehensive examinations: a four-hour examination in the history of Christian spirituality, an exam in the form of an extended research paper (30-40 pages) on a topic specifically in the field of Christian Spirituality, an exam on a spirituality outside the Christian tradition, and an exam on an outside field of study within the human and social sciences, the natural sciences, or literature and the arts. Students conclude their comprehensive examinations with a three-hour oral examination.
After successfully completing comprehensive exams, the student forms a dissertation committee and proceeds to formulate a dissertation proposal approved by the Area faculty and the Doctoral Council. An oral defense takes place upon completion of the dissertation.