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Theology

DEPARTMENT PHILOSOPHY

Theology at Episcopal is an academic discipline that exposes students to the Judeo-Christian heritage that undergirds Western civilization. It also teaches the analytic skills that allow one to wrestle with the human quest for meaning as a lifetime venture. Through exposure to classical as well as contemporary attempts to discern meaning in the midst of chaos, students find models for coping with the essential questions of life.

In class discussions and papers, they practice thinking for themselves. Although various religious and philosophic traditions are empathetically studied and systematically analyzed (especially in the senior electives), the courses and faculty, for reasons of tradition as well as commitment, approach the material primarily from a Western Christian perspective.

REQUIREMENTS

Entering ninth and 10th graders must take Biblical Theology (one-half credit) by the end of their 10th grade year. During the 12th grade year, seniors select a semester elective (one-half credit) offered by the Theology Department to complete the full credit required. Exceptions may be given for students taking four years of orchestra or choir. Biblical Theology may then be “bumped” to the first semester of the 12th grade with no additional senior theology required. Seniors taking six year long academic courses may also take one of the following courses for theology credit: Good and Evil in Literature or Greek.
  • Biblical Theology

    This course surveys the Christian Bible: Old and New Testaments. It examines the biblical history of Israel and its religious development, and studies the life and teachings of Jesus and the early church’s view of his importance through an in-depth study of one of the gospels. Further study includes the Acts of the Apostles and selected readings from the Pauline epistles. (One-Half Credit)
  • Comparative Religions

    The course begins with an examination of the reality and features of the “higher plane of existence” in human life and goes on to allow students to view the world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and new religions and cults) from the “inside.” The class utilizes core texts, novels, films, and tours to create a comprehensive vision of each religion. Classes consist of an equal balance of lectures and class discussions with a weekly journal reflection. (One-Half Credit)
  • Introduction to Western Philosophy

    In this course students are introduced to and explore the dominant ideas and personalities of the Western intellectual tradition. Sample course topics include the interplay of faith and reason, science and religion, from the pre-Socratics to post-modernism. (One-Half Credit)
  • Judaism, Anti-Semitism, & Roots of Genocide

    This course will provide a deep study of Judaism while examining the development of global antisemitism and genocide. Using the lenses of philosophy, history, anthropology, and religious studies, students will engage with material through multiple media resources. The course will also make use of digital resources and outreach programs from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 6th and I, Beth El, and the Anti-Defamation League. (One-Half Credit)
  • Music in the Church

    “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God.” - Kurt Vonnegut. Join us on a journey through the history of sacred Western music, from medieval chant to today’s modern worship music. Students will examine how composers have expressed liturgical and Biblical texts and how the underlying theology of their time has shaped music in worship. Questions to consider will be: How does music elevate worship? How has sacred music changed over time? And what is music’s place in worship today?
  • Senior Biblical Theology

    This senior only course surveys themes in the Christian Bible: Old and New Testaments. It examines the biblical history of Israel and its religious development, and studies the life and teachings of Jesus and the early church’s view of his importance. It covers themes of holiness, justice, prophecy, theodicy, wisdom, and mission. The course is required of seniors who have not yet taken Biblical Theology. (One-Half Credit)
  • Theology: Who Is My Neighbor?

    This course explores the duality of compassion across religious traditions. Compassion is both an emotional response to suffering and an impetus for action across Western and Eastern religious traditions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. We will take advantage of recent scientific research on the evolutionary presence and importance of compassion in our world. The class will also explore case studies on compassion-based justice initiatives, both international and domestic and some connected directly to the Episcopal High School community. The final project will be for each student to produce an action plan for their own compassion-based service project using guiding principles covered in class. (One-Half Credit)

Department Faculty