PG 724 Synodality: Perspectives from Scripture and Spirituality

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Module Level


Related Department


Time Allowance

10 two-hour seminars


Continuous Assessment 40% (Short Paper 20% + Exegesis Paper 20%) and Final 4000-word Essay 60%

Module Aims

According to Pope Francis, “Synodality expresses the nature of the Church, its form, its style and its mission.” A synodal approach builds on the ecclesiology of the People of God found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and gives renewed attention to the role of the Holy Spirit in the ongoing life of the Church. This module approaches the academic study of concepts related to synodality through (1) a close reading of New Testament texts, particularly the Acts of the Apostles, and (2) an exploration of communal spiritual practices of discernment. Relevant biblical texts are interpreted with an eye to their underlying spirituality and interrogated for what they might contribute to contemporary discussions on the theology and practice of synodality. The module immerses learners in the Ignatian spiritual tradition as a paradigm for interpreting present reality in light of scriptural wisdom and interrogates the method of ‘spiritual conversation’ as a tool for communal discernment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Select and interpret appropriate biblical texts to articulate a vision for Christian ministry that favours dialogue, participation, co-responsibility and collaboration.
  • Conduct a narrative reading of the Acts of the Apostles which highlights key aspects of synodality, such as the agency of the Holy Spirit and the processes involved in common discernment.
  • Critique popular opinions on issues related to synodality from a biblically informed perspective.
  • Articulate key theological insights of a synodal ecclesiology, paying particular attention to its biblical foundations and spiritual actualisation.
  • Engage in theological discussion of ideas at the forefront of new development in the theology and spirituality of synodality.
  • Relate the spirituality underlying synodal processes to concrete practices of communal discernment and put forward proposals for deepening the experience of synodality in local contexts.


  • Aarflot, Christine H. God (in) Acts: the characterisation of God in the Acts of the Apostles. Eugene OR: Pickwick, 2020.
  • Becquart, Nathalie. 'Synodality: A Path of Personal and Communal Conversion,' The Way, 61 no 3 (Jul 2022): 63-70.
  • Commission on Spirituality: Subgroup on Synodality, Towards a Spirituality for Synodality, 2022.
  • Commission on Spirituality: Biblical Subgroup, Biblical Resources for Synodality (March 2022).
  • Conway, Eamonn, and Eugene Duffy, eds. The Synodal Pathway: When Rhetoric Meets Reality. Dublin: Columba Books, 2022.
  • De Villiers, Pieter G.R. 'Communal Discernment in the Early Church,' Acta Theologica (2013 Supl 17): 132-155.
  • Duffy, Eugene. ‘Processes for communal discernment: diocesan synods and assemblies,’ The Jurist 71/1 (2011): 77-90.
  • Gorman, Michael J. Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation and Mission. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2015.
  • International Theological Commission, Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church, 2018.
  • Jennings, Willie James. Acts (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible) Louisville KY: Westminster John Knox, 2017.
  • Johnson, Luke Timothy, Scripture and Discernment. Decision Making in the Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983.
  • Luciani, Rafael, Synodality. A new way of proceeding in the Church. Paulist Press: New York, 2022.
  • Luciani, Rafael. "From Collegiality to Synodality in Latin America", Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology 14 (2020): 151-166.
  • Luciani, Rafael. Pope Francis and the Theology of the People. Orbis Books: NY, 2017.
  • Maloney, Linda M. and Ivoni Richter Reimer. Acts of the Apostles. Wisdom Commentary Series. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2022.
  • Matthews, Shelly. The Acts of the Apostles: taming the tongues of fire. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013.
  • Osheim, Amanda C. 'Stepping toward a Synodal Church,' Theological Studies 80(2) (2019): 370-392.
  • Rogers, Jessie. 'Synodality: Some Scriptural Perspectives on Communio, Peripheries and the Sensus Fidei,' Studies 441 (Spring 2022): 13-25.
  • Walker, David, ‘Spiritualities for Oceania,’ The Way 40/2 (April 2000) 138-147.