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Department of Theology, Reinbolt Hall, One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, TX 78228

TH7391, Theological Capstone Seminar: Eschatology

Spring 2019, Reinbolt 002, Tuesdays 6:30–9:15pm
Dr. Todd Hanneken,, Reinbolt 303a, 210-431-8050 (office)
Office hours: Tuesdays 5–6pm, Wednesday 9–11am, and anytime the door is open, which is almost all of the time.

Course Description

This seminar is meant to be the culminating experience of the student’s courses in scripture, ethics, and systematics. As such, it seeks to integrate learning in different areas of theology and prepare the student to continue theological inquiry and application after coursework. The topic of eschatology is suitable for such a synthesis because it encompasses the historical study of ideas through literature, traditional teachings beyond empirical knowledge, the ethical behavior demanded in the present in light of future judgment, and contemporary issues in American culture. Eschatology is literally the study of the last things, which can be thought of as the afterlife and the end of the world, the ultimate Christian hope, or the four last things (death, judgment, heaven, and hell). The course will trace the historical development of Jewish and Christian eschatological thought with a view to its significance today.


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



Participation begins with preparation and includes prompt attendance, willingness to contribute, and cooperation with the session leaders. You will all be leaders twice, so imagine the kind of audience you would like. Be prepared to speak about the readings from your own interests and perspective, and be flexible if the leader takes the discussion in another direction. Because the class meets only once per week, missing more than one session becomes a cause for concern.

Each student will be asked to take two turns leading the class for one hour. This leadership should be informed by your reflection on what has worked well in your experience of theology courses thus far, and should be forward-looking to the kinds of teaching or ministry you expect to be prepared for after graduation. The basic topics and primary sources for each week will be predetermined. The leader will decide what (if any) additional readings or introductory summaries should be assigned in advance. The leader will decide how to structure the class meetings in order to convey information, share ideas, and maintain a high level of engagement with the most compelling themes of eschatology. Presumably each hour will include some amount of lecture summarizing information not read by others, balanced with discussion of assigned readings and lectures.

By the end of the semester each student will submit a detailed guide to study and research on the two topics of designated expertise. It should summarize the student’s research and the central questions in the scholarly and class discussion. As necessary, it should follow up on questions unresolved in the class discussion. It should connect the individual topic to other topics and larger themes in the course.

A final exam will assess mastery of the broader contents of the course, including objective knowledge of historical ideas and facts, and the ability to synthesize major themes of the course.


Ultimately the instructor will be responsible for assessing the progress of each individual student toward meeting the objectives of the course, in the context of the M.A. curriculum. The four major responsibilities, in as much as they are distinguishable, are weighted equally.

In anticipation of life after the degree program, learning and application of learning will be collaborative. There is no grading curve or competition among students. The entire class will benefit when members ask for help and offer help. Your colleagues are part of your collection of secondary sources. Please share ideas, account for the ideas of others, and cite them.

University Policies

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

Grading Scale

FBelow 60

Academic Policies and Procedures

This course adheres to St. Mary’s University’s academic policies and procedures.

This course adheres to St. Mary’s University’s attendance policy.
This course adheres to the policies for academic dishonesty and misconduct, as described in the Student Code of Conduct (see especially section V).
This course adheres to the policies for study days and final exams. Namely, There will be two study days (May 1 and 2) during which students prepare for final exams. No classes will be scheduled on study day. Final exams will be held May 2 for Thursday night classes, and May 6-8. The final exam schedule can be found at under Related Links (last item on the list).

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 in Gateway ( and within the “University Policies” tab of your course assigned Canvas page ( Please become familiar with these important policies and procedures, which include:

Sequence of Topics

Week 1 – January 15, 2019 – Introductions

Week 2 – January 22, 2019 – Ancient neighbors

Week 3 – January 29, 2019 – Hebrew Bible and Old Testament

Week 4 – February 5, 2019 – Apocalypses and Qumran

Week 5 – February 12, 2019 – NT Epistles and Gospels

Week 6 – February 19, 2019 – Apocalypse of John

Week 7 – February 26, 2019 – Apocalypses of Ezra and Peter

Week 8 – March 2 and 5, 2019 – Theology Day and Follow Up

(Spring break week of March 12, 2019)

Week 9 – March 19, 2019 – Irenaeus and Augustine

Week 10 – March 26, 2019 – Judaism and Islam

Week 11 – April 2, 2019 – Hell

Week 12 – April 9, 2019 – Folk Eschatologies

Week 13 – April 16, 2019 – 20th Century Systematic Theology

Week 14 – April 23, 2019 – 21st Century America

Week 15 – April 30, 2019 – Synthesis

Final exam – May 7, 2019