PG 442 - The Soul of Theology: Interpreting Sacred Scripture with Theologians from the Apostolic Period to Today.

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Module Level

9/10 MTh / PhD / STL Seminar Course

Time Allowance

140 hours


Each student will present three in-course papers, a final synthesis paper of 5,000 words, and attend a review meeting. A limited number of students may make a class presentation in place of one of their in-course papers.

Module Aims

This module will (1) explore the question of Saint John Paul in Tertio Millennio Adveniente, the encyclical of 1994: “to what extent has the Word of God become more fully the soul of theology and the inspiration of the whole of Christian living.” (2) provide a historical overview and hermeneutical critique of the development of biblical interpretation over the last two thousand years, (3) increase both the rigour of the learners’ research methodology, and their professionalism in presenting the results of their research.

Indicative Syllabus:

By means of seven historical and hermeneutical “windows” the course will explore how the Scriptures have been received in Jewish and Christian traditions down through the ages. Through investigating the reception and reinterpretation of the Scriptures in the apostolic and patristic periods, in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and finally in modernity and beyond, participants will obtain a deeper sense of the richness of the Scriptures, and of how they are the “Word of God” and the soul of theology.” (See Dei Verbum § 21; Verbum Domini § 31; 35).

Timetable: Semester 2.

Learning Outcomes

  • Critique the hermeneutical framework of Sandra Schneiders (three worlds of the text, etc.) and the principal contours of the differing approaches by theologians to Scripture over 7 board historical windows.
  • Articulate how Schneiders’ hermeneutical framework assists in unfolding the process of reading and of appropriating Scripture by selected theologians from the different windows.
  • Apply the hermeneutical framework of Schneiders to examine how theologians through 7 broad historical windows engage Scripture and develop their theology.
  • Draw comparisons between different theologians of the same or different historical windows and assess the contributions of the different approaches within their philosophical, theological, and sociocultural contexts.
  • Provide a summary of a theologian’s approach to Scripture that situates the approach within the broad hermeneutical tradition of the past 2,000 years but also within that theologian’s historical window. Present the results clearly in writing.
  • Discern through the hermeneutical framework of Schneiders the insights and limitations of various theologians’ reading of Scripture and how it might complement other methods of analysing theologian’s writings.


  • Schneiders, Sandra M. The Revelatory Text. Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture. 2nd ed. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.