TH 1301, Introduction to Theology

Fall 2022, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 8:20-9:10 (section M), 9:20-10:10 (section K), and 10:20-11:10 (section E) in Charles Francis 008

Instructor: Dr. Todd Hanneken,, 210-431-8050 Office hours in Zoom ( and Reinbolt 303a, Mondays 11:15am-1:15pm, Wednesdays 11:15am-1:15pm, Fridays 11:15am-12:15pm, and by appointment through RattlerNavigate, email, or Canvas messaging.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the academic study of theology in Christian traditions, engaged with other traditions. The course introduces students to fundamental ideas, terminology, cultural contexts, literature, and texts that hand down human questions and understandings of God and what it means to be God’s people. This course fulfills the core requirement for a first theology course. Dr. Hanneken’s sections in particular explore the enduring questions of the Jewish and Christian traditions, from ancient Israel to the world today. The variety of views will be explored in their historical contexts. We will also explore the variety of ways in which we go about asking questions and seeking meaning.

Required Course Materials

Todd R. Hanneken, Theological Questions (Atla Open Press 81; Chicago: Atla, 2022).

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course the student should be able to:

Activities and Responsibilities

Social responsibility, flexibility, and communication: Responsibility to the common good supersedes all other responsibilities associated with this course. The course never requires you to endanger others by violating health guidelines from the University or government. Situations may arise that take priority over following the prescribed plan of learning. Please be in communication with the instructor early and often if adaptations are necessary.

Quizzes: The eleven quizzes are designed to gauge comprehension, analysis, and retention of readings and lectures. There is emphasis on learning from your mistakes, so there will be opportunities to answer questions again (or modified versions). Whenever you don’t know something, go back to your notes or the reading to identify what you misunderstood and how to avoid making a similar mistake again. Quizzes can be rescheduled if missing the regular time is unavoidable and the quiz is rescheduled as soon as possible, no later than when the quiz is reviewed in class. For planned absences this generally means taking the quiz earlier than the scheduled time. Quizzes must be taken in the classroom unless alternative arrangements are made.

Exams: The midterm and final exams will be cumulative and will focus on retention, comprehension, and synthesis of points from the quizzes.

Presentation: Each student will make one ten-minute presentation on a topic drawing from a religious tradition other than Christianity. See the Presentation Rubric for expectations and grading scale. The topics are randomly assigned. Switching topics is allowed, but extensions will not be possible. See the Presentation List for assignments, dates, and a brief description of each topic. Note that the presenter should meet with the instructor a week in advance of the presentation.

Reading Responses: After completing each reading, students should submit in Canvas a brief response to the reading no later than 6:00am the day for which the reading is assigned (earlier is appreciated). The responses can raise a question about the reading, engage with the ideas presented in the reading, explain why you found a point interesting, or identify a point you found difficult or challenging. The responses should reflect having read the entire chapter carefully.


The quizzes are the most challenging part of the grade. Think of the goal as eight out of ten on a weekly quiz and four out of two on the two readings responses each week. That comes out to 100%.

In addition to the extra credit available on the reading responses, five points of extra credit are available for engaging with the public lecture at 7:00pm on November 17.

What follows until the schedule should be standard for all your classes at St. Mary’s.

University Policies

All university policies apply to this course, including the following.

This course adheres to the University grading scale.

LetterPercentQuality Points
FBelow 600.00

This course adheres to University academic policies and procedures.

This course adheres to the policies for academic dishonesty and misconduct, as described in the Student Code of Conduct.

This course adheres to the University attendance policy.

This course adheres to the University diversity statement. St. Mary’s University embodies the Marianist spirit of educating the heart and mind. The University draws on the example of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary, to create an environment that lets students thrive and where diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential. The intersectionality of our diverse experiences and characteristics are valued in all spaces within our community. Thus, we all must be committed to building an inclusive learning environment that values the individual experiences of every student in this course and where each has an opportunity to learn, engage in dialogue, question, and contribute to their fullest potential.

This course adheres to the policies for study days and final exams. There will be two study days, Wednesday, November 30 and Thursday, December 1, during which students prepare for final exams. No classes are scheduled on study days. Final exams will be held on Friday, December 2 and Monday-Wednesday, December 5-7. The final exam schedule can be found at

St. Mary’s University is committed to providing a safe, equitable, and fair environment where students can pursue academic excellence. Policies and procedures have been developed to foster and sustain such an environment and apply to all courses offered at the university. Students need to be aware of these policies and procedures, which can be found at

Please become familiar with these important policies and procedures, which include:

This course adheres to the University Disability Statement. In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act, Student Accessibility Services is the designated office responsible for coordinating all accommodations and services for students with disabilities at St. Mary’s University. St. Mary’s University supports equal access of qualifying individuals with documented disabilities to all educational opportunities, programs, services and activities. If you have a documented disability, or a condition which may impact your performance and want to request disability-related accommodations, you must first register with the Office of Student Accessibility Services, located in the Student Counseling Center (in the Center for Life Directions Building) in room 139. Please stop by the Student Accessibility Services Office, call 210-431-5080 or email to set up an appointment to meet with the Student Accessibility Services staff.

This course adheres to all emergency adaptations declared by the University.

Preliminary Schedule

Unit 1: Introductions

Week 1, August 17-19, Introductions

Wednesday, August 17, Introduction to this class

Syllabus (LINK)

Friday, August 19, Introduction to the academic study of theology

Unit 2: The Israelites

Week 2, August 22-26, The Israelites 1

Monday, August 22, Who are the Israelites?

Reading: Theological Questions 2.1 Who are the Israelites?

Wednesday, August 24, What kind of god do we have?

Reading: Theological Questions 2.2 What kind of god do we have?

Friday, August 26, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: The Life of the Buddha

Presentation: Pantheism

Quiz 1

Week 3, August 29 – September 2, The Israelites 2

Monday, August 29, Theodicy: Is God just?

Wednesday, August 31, Israelite Practice

Reading: Theological Questions 2.4 How should we live our lives?

Friday, September 2, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: Trimurti

Presentation: The Four Noble Truths

Presentation: The Eightfold Path

Quiz 2

Unit 3: Early Judaism and Christianity

Week 4, September 7-9, Early Judaism and Christianity 1

Monday, September 5, Labor Day (no class meeting)

Wednesday, September 7, How did the Greeks and Romans change the meaning of life?

Friday, September 9, Where is the world going?

Reading: Theological Questions 3.2 What does God have planned for this world?

Quiz 3

Week 5, September 12-16, Early Judaism and Christianity 2

Monday, September 12, Who is Jesus?

Reading: Theological Questions 3.3 Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

Wednesday, September 14, Why did Jesus die?

Reading: Theological Questions 3.4 Why did Jesus die?

Friday, September 16, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: Reincarnation and Moksha/Nirvana

Presentation: Life of Muhammed

Presentation: Homer, Odyssey Book 11

Quiz 4

Week 6, September 19-23, Early Judaism and Christianity 3

Monday, September 19 What will Jesus do in the future?

Reading: Theological Questions 3.5 What will Jesus do in the future?

Wednesday, September 21, Are we ready?

Friday, September 23, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: Islamic Eschatology

Presentation: 5 Pillars of Islam

Presentation: The Jewish Liturgical Year

Quiz 5

Week 7, September 26-30, Mary and Midterm

Monday, September 26, Mary

Reading: “Mary, Mariology, and Marianists” in Theological Questions Supplements (LINK)

Presentation: Mary in Islam

Wednesday, September 28, Mary

Friday, September 30, Midterm

Unit 4: Christendom

Week 8, October 3-7, Christendom 1

Monday, October 3, What if the Roman Empire isn’t so bad after all?

Wednesday, October 5, What is the Church?

Reading: Theological Questions 4.2 What is the Church?

Friday, October 7, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: Early Caliphates

Presentation: Maimonides

Quiz 6

Week 9, October 10-14, Fall Break

Monday, October 10, Fall Break (no classes)

Wednesday, October 12, We will use this day to catch up if necessary.

Friday, October 14, Class will be cancelled while Dr. Hanneken is away at the Theology Overnight Intensive.

Week 10, October 17-21, Christendom 2

Monday, October 17, What about the Jews?

Wednesday, October 19, How should Christian life be practiced?

Reading: Theological Questions 4.4 How should religious life be practiced?

Friday, October 21, Presentations and Quiz

Unit 5: Reformation

Week 11, October 24-28, Reformation 1

Monday, October 24, Who were the protestant reformers?

Wednesday, October 26, What did they protest?

Reading: Theological Questions 5.2 Whom do you trust with big decisions?

Friday, October 28, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: Sunni and Shi'i

Presentation: Hadith and Fiqh

Quiz 8

Week 12, October 31 – November 4, Reformation 2

Monday, October 31, Do my actions affect my salvation?

Reading: Theological Questions 5.3 What do I have to do to be saved?

Wednesday, November 2, How should I live my life?

Unit 6: 20th Century

Week 13, November 7-11, 20th Century 1

Monday, November 7, What happened in the 20th century?

Wednesday, November 9, How does faith hold up to reason in the 20th century?

Reading: Theological Questions 6.2 Faith and/or reason?

Friday, November 11, Presentations and Quiz

Presentation: Karl Marx

Presentation: Richard Dawkins

Quiz 10

Week 14, November 14-18, 20th Century 2

Monday, November 14, Is Christianity useful?

Wednesday, November 16, What can I do to make it more useful?

Thursday, November 17, 7:00pm UC-A, Extra Credit

Dr. Anathea Portier-Young, “From the Throne to the Cross: Mediating Bodies in the Prophetic Illuminations of the Saint John’s Bible”

Friday November 18, Presentations and Quiz


Final Review and Exam

Monday, November 21, No class meeting (Dr. Hanneken in Denver for Socity of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting)

Wednesday, November 23, No class meeting (Thanksgiving Break)

Friday, November 25, No class meeting (Thanksgiving Break)

Monday, November 28, Review for Final Exam

Wednesday, November 30, Study Day (no class meeting)

Final exam at day and time announced by the registrar