TRS Classes in Fall 2022

Joshua Koffman, "Synagoga and Ecclesia for Our Time" (2015), St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia

Note: TRS 097 and TRS 189 fulfill the Christian Foundations (CF) requirement of the Core Curriculum. All other full-credit TRS courses in Fall 2022 semester satisfy the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement.

All upper-division TRS courses (except for TRS 189) require either TRS 097 or TRS 189 as a prerequisite.


TRS 097, "The Bible & Its Interpretation"

The objective of this class is twofold.  First and foremost, its goal is to facilitate a direct engagement with the Bible, the sacred scriptures for the Jewish and Christian faiths.  Through its stories, teachings, practices, and rituals, the Bible plays a critical role in the formation of Jewish and Christian senses of identity and vision while also supplying the normative challenge for how they should live. Second, while introducing students to the most important events, themes, and characters in the Bible, this course aims to give students the opportunity to practice using scholarly tools, methods, and lenses for reading and interpretation.  Since the text is inevitably interpreted, even by those who say they are simply letting the text speak for itself, this course will help students learn to identify the interpretive assumptions used by various communities throughout the centuries and today, skills that will serve students well in many areas of study and thought.  Eight or more sections of this course are offered every semester in a wide array of time-slots. Satisfies the Christian Foundations (CF) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 189, "The Bible & Its Interpretation: Catholic Social Teaching"

M/W/F: 8:00-9:05am, Zach Flanagin
M/W/F: 9:15-10:20am, Zach Flanagin

Intended for junior transfers (16.0+ entering credits), this course focuses on the Bible, the sacred scriptures of the Jewish and Christian peoples, texts that have had a profound influence on religion, art, politics, and culture for over two thousand years. This course will introduce students to the most important biblical texts and themes, focusing especially on the Torah and the Gospels, and will teach students to employ critical, scholarly tools for reading and interpretation. In addition, each section of this course will focus on a special issue, theme, or question that arises in a diversity of biblical texts. (Here are some recent examples of great themes:  Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Use of the Bible; Women and the Bible; The Bible and Art; and Reading the Bible Through the Ages.) Satisfies the Christian Foundations (CF) requirement of the Core Curriculum. SPECIAL NOTICE: This class is exclusively for transfer students with 16.0 or more credits at the time of matriculation. Also note, this class may not be taken by students who have completed TRS 097.


TRS 103, "Reformations"

M/W/F: 10:30-11:35am, Zach Flanagin

Explores the variety of reforming voices of the 15th and 16th centuries--Protestant and Catholic--that shaped the future of Christianity, giving special attention to the major theological and politial issues of the time. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum. 

TRS 115, "Jesus and His Teaching"

T/Th: 3:00-4:35pm, Michael Barram

An exploration of the teaching attributed to Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount, parables, and other memorable statements), emphasizing the ways in which Jesus' statements have been interpreted and appropriated. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum. 

TRS 125, "Theologies of Liberation"

M/W/F: 10:30-11:35am, STAFF

This course introduces students to the intersection of theology and social justice by way of various theologies of liberation, resistance, and decolonization. A particular focus of this class is how these politically and socially conscious theologies emerged in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s, insisting that the Word of God is mediated through the cries of the poor and oppressed; and asserting that through our participation in the struggles of the poor, we can begin to understand the implications of the gospel message and its call for the liberation of oppressed people from unjust political, economic, and social subjection. By focusing the lens of theology on the injustices faced by those on the margins of modernity, this course is concerned with the ways in which Christian theology inspires compassion, critical reflection, and resistance to soical injustice and ecological damage. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) and the Common Good (CG) requirements of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 128, "The Trinity"

M/W/F: 9:15-10:20am, Anne Carpenter

The heart of Christianity, its strangest and most facinating set of beliefs, rests in the Trinity. This course explores the Christian doctrine of God through its most significant controversies, both ancient and modern. Students will acquire a more thorough context for the Christian understanding of God, as well as a more robust sense of this understanding as it continues in the present. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 137, "Our Lady of Guadalupe"

T/Th: 9:45-11:20am, Anthony Suarez-Abraham

Pope John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Patroness of the Americas. This course critically examines the tradition of Our Lady of Guadalupe historically and theologically from its origins to today, with special attention given to Our Lady of Guadalupe's role in the identity and heart of the Mexican and Mexican-American people. Students of all faiths and cultures are welcome. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 152, "Islam: Beliefs and Practices"

M/W: 4:00-4:35am, STAFF

This course introduces students to the ideas that shaped Islamic history, from the early pre-Islamic period and the conditions prevalent at Islam's inception all the way to the present. The basic belief system, rituals, mystical traditions, and Islamic societal interaction will be studied with ample references from the Qur'an and prophetic statements. The Prophet Muhammad will be explored in depth and various sources of historical record will be examined. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Exporations (TE) and the Global Perspectives (GP) requirements of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 156, "Religions of India"

T/Th: 8:00-9:35am, Norris Palmer
T/Th: 9:45-11:20am, Norris Palmer

India's long and rich history of religious diversity is both well-known and highly complex. We focus our study on a number of religious traditions (Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and/or Parsi) within a wide variety of their historical and cultural settings. Our study will examine both individual traditions and the complex history of their interaction. We'll also examine how religions interact with political, social, and economic systems as well as look at examples of religious pluralism together with its promises and problems in historic and contemporary settings within India and beyond. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Exporations (TE) and the Global Perspectives (GP) requirements of the Core Curriculum.

INTENSIVE INQUIRY -- TRS 163, "Theology of/and/in Film"

T/Th: 11:30-1:05pm, Norris Palmer

The medium of film, although little more than a century old, outpaces virtually all other artistic and communicative media in its powers to mold our beliefs, desires, fears, and even our identities in accordance with its images and narratives — sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. To this extent, film invites theological and religious reflection in three broad ways that will structure the discussions, readings, and screenings of this course: Theology "in" film; theology "and" film; and theology "of" film. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) of the Core Curriculum. SPECIAL NOTICE: Restricted to TRS Majors and Minors; or with permission of instructor.

TRS 167, "Visual Theology: Christian Art and Architecture"

Mondays only: 6:00-9:15pm

This course examines the art and architecutre that artists over the centuries have created in their attempts to give visible embodiment to their religious experiences. The course focuses on what their creations reveal of how they understood the gospel, what they saw as essential to that message, how well they gave expression to the deepest longings of the the human heart, and the influence of their creations on our understanding of the Christian faith. A particular focus of the class will be on changing images of the crucifixion and how those changes both reflect and create changing theological understandings of the meaning of the cross. This course also examines such things as the role and power of visual communication, mining art both Christian and secular for its theological insight. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 168, "Encountering Christian Art: Rome"

For SMC students studying in Europe. Class meets in Rome on October 21, 22, 23; and November 11, 12, and 13

This quarter-credit course is an on-site introduction and exploration of the theological dimensions of the works of Christian art and architecture in the city of Rome. It focuses on the churches of Rome, where much of this art is housed. But it also features study of the catacombs and the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel. Prerequisite: TRS 097.

TRS 175, "Spiritual, Not Religious"

M/W/F: 2:45-3:50pm, Paul Giurlanda

The American tradition of individual seeking in religion is as old as the Republic, but it may be said to have its serious origin in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. This course seeks to situate the contemporary phrase "spiritual, not religious," in a larger historical context and to compare contemporary American understandings of spirituality without institutional borders to more traditional understandings of spirituality.  Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

TRS 179, "Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion"

M/W/F: 11:45-12:50pm, Marie Pagliarini

This course is designed to give students a foundation in the classical and contemporary theories and methods used in the academic study of religion. A key focus of the course will be on seminal theories and methods, such as those formulated by Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Mircea Eliade, and Clifford Geertz. We’ll also examine the methodologies employed by some prominent, recent scholars and consider the connections these make with underlying theory. A key component of the course will be an exploration of the differences between theological and religious studies and the development of religious studies as an academic discipline.  Students will also have the opportunity to become familiar with critical issues and debates within the contemporary field of religious studies, such as the role of the body in religion, religion and power, the debate over “insider” and “outsider” perspectives, and the place of theological commitments in the academic study of religion. Prerequisite: TRS 097. Satisfies the Theological Explorations (TE) requirement of the Core Curriculum. SPECIAL NOTICE:  Restricted to TRS Majors or Minors; or with permission of instructor. 


Here's a tenatative list of what to expect in Spring 2023


  • TRS 119, “Apocalypse and Eschatology,” Zach Flanagin, T-Th: 11:30-1:05pm   
  • INTENSIVE INQUIRY/WRITING IN THE DISCIPLINES  -- TRS 181-01, “Studies in the Synoptic Gospels,” Michael Barram, M-W-F: 2:45-3:50pm -- Instructor’s permission required.     
Theology, Liturgy, and Spirituality
  • TRS 120-01, “Afro-Latinx Theology,” Anthony Suarez-Abraham, T-Th: 9:45-11:20am  
  • TRS 120-02, “Afro-Latinx Theology,” Anthony Suarez-Abraham, T-Th: 11:30-1:05pm   
  • TRS 129-01, “Foundations of Theology,” Anne Carpenter, M-W-F: 9:15-10:20am;  Marie Pagliarini, M-W-F: 11:45-12:50pm -- Instructor’s permission required.  
  • TRS 138-01, “Latinx Religious Experience and Theology,” Anthony Suarez-Abraham, T-Th: 3:00-4:35pm+ American Diversity
  • TRS 141-01, “Christian Ethics,” Tom Poundstone, M-W: 6:00-7:35pm, + Community Engagemet & the Common Good

World Religions 

  • TRS 152-01, "Islam: Beliefs and Practices," Staff, M-W: 4:00-5:35pm, + Global Perspectives
  • TRS 154-01, “Hinduism,” Norris Palmer, T-Th: 1:15-2:50pm+ Global Perspectives 
  • TRS 156-02, "Religions of India,” Norris Palmer, T-Th: 9:45-11:20pm, + Global Perspectives 
Theology, Religion, and the Arts
  •  TRS 168-01, “Encountering Christian Art: Rome,” Tom Poundstone, (Taught in Rome for SMC students studying in Europe)

Religion and Culture

  •  TRS 171-01, “Gender and Religion in American Culture,” Marie Pagliarini, M-W-F: 10:30-11:35am, + American Diversity  
  •  TRS 171-02, “Gender and Religion in American Culture,” Marie Pagliarini, M-W-F: 11:45-12:50pm, + American Diversity   


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