Graduate Theological Union

Systematic and Philosophical Theology







Student Work


Whitney A. Bauman, From
Creatio ex Nihilo to Terra Nullius:
The Colonial Mind and the
Colonization of Creation

Joseph Prabhakar Dayam,
Re-imagining an Indian Theology
of the Cross Using Dalit Cultural

Kathryn S. Eisenbise, For Thy
Neighbors’ Good: Anabaptist
Soteriology, Separatism, and Social

Jennifer Elisa Veninga, Theology
for a Secular Age: The Danish Social
Imaginary and the Cartoon Crisis of





David Batstone (Ph.D. '89)
I am not for sale

Alexis Latner

Alexis Latner (M.A. '85),
Creating Worlds

Terrence Tilley

Terrence Tilley (Ph.D. '76),
2008 Alumnus of the Year


Related Blogs


Happy Lutheran, by Kristin
Johnston Largen (Ph.D. '02)




Kristin Johnston Largen
(Ph.D. '02), Associate Professor of
Systematic Theology, Lutheran
Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado
(Ph.D. '01), Associate Professor of
Religious Studies, University of Miami

Nancy Pineda-Madrid (Ph.D. '05),
Assistant Professor of Theology and
Latino/a Ministry, Boston College

Joel Schalit (M.A. '94),
Israeli-American author,
publisher, freelance editorial
consultant, Berlin, Germany

Shibley Telhami (M.A. '78),
Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and
Development, University of

Terrence Tilley (Ph.D. '76), Avery
Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of
Catholic Theology, Fordham

Kirk Wegter-McNelly (Ph.D. '03),
Assistant Professor of Theology, Boston




This Area of Concentration is available to students affiliated with any of the GTU 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.

M.A. Requirements


Ph.D., Th.D.



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 twentyfirst 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 their 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.

Language Requirements

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.


During their first two years of course work, students are advised to take several advanced seminars for credit each semester. 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.

Comprehensive Examinations

The Comprehensive Exam on Theological Methodology

At the conclusion of the second required class, Methods and Doctrines in Contemporary Theology, the faculty teaching the class will administer a standardized four hour (6 hours with ESL petition) closed book exam. This comprehensive exam will be taken by all students prior to all other comprehensive exams, and will therefore not be included in the comprehensive exam proposal.

The student proposes a Comprehensive Examination committee after passing the Theological Methodology Examination. This committee has to be approved by the GTU Academic Dean before the student’s proposal is presented to the Area for its approval. Comprehensive Examinations allow students to develop academic expertise in their chosen field while keeping breadth of perspective in view.

There are three written Comprehensive Exams plus an oral defense:

1. The History of Theology. The first exam tests the student's grasp of a significant doctrine or idea through each of four historical periods (Early Church, Medieval/Reformation, Modern, Contemporary).

2. Major Figure. For this exam 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).

3. Contemporary Theological Problem. For this exam, 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: 3a. a Historical Trajectory or 3b. a 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.

Allied Field Requirements

Students applying to Systematic and Philosophical Theology as an allied field are accepted by the Area faculty, and an initial Area advisor is assigned by the 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 standardized comprehensive exam.




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; Patristic Theology; Patristic Spirituality; Comparative Theology (especially Christian- Buddhist dialogue); Tibetan Buddhism; Contemporary Systematic Theology.

MICHAEL J. DODDS, O.P. • DSPT (Philosophy and Systematic Theology) • Philosophical and Theological Anthropology; Divine Action; Trinity; Philosophy of Nature; God and Suffering; Theology and Science; God in Science and Religion.

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 (Systematic Theology) • Theological method drawing from critical social theories (especially post-colonial and queer forms of theorizing); theological anthropology, Christian eschatology; the significance of digital media culture for constructive theological work.

BRYAN KROMHOLTZ, O.P.  • DSPT (Theology) • Contemporary and medieval eschatology; sacraments; nature and grace and nouvelle theologie; theology of aesthetics.

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, O.P. • DSPT (Theology, Philosophy) • Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy of Language; Philosophical Aesthetics; Concept of the Person; Thomas Aquinas; Kant and German Idealism

ROBERT RUSSELL • GTU/CTNS (Theology and Science) • Methodology in Theology and Science; Doctrine of Creation and Modern Scientific Cosmology; Non-Interventionist Divine Action and Quantum Mechanics; Suffering in Nature / Natural Theodicy; Resurrection, Eschatology and Big Bang Cosmology.


Consortial Faculty Resources

EDUARDO C. FERNÁNDEZ, 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.

EDWARD KRASEVAC, O.P. • DSPT (Philosophy/Theology) • Moral action theory, intentionality, double-effect reasoning; Historical Christology, particularly the relation between faith and history; Natural law theory within the tradition of Aquinas.

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.

ANH TRAN • JST (Theology) • Ecumenism; intercultural dialogue; comparative religion/theology; Asian theology; Christian missions in Asia

MARGA VEGA • DSPT (Philosophy) • Theory of knowledge; philosophy of mind; ancient philosophy; Aristotle; aesthetics and theory of art; theory of metaphor; metaphysics; logic.