A year ago our Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religion here at Saint Leo University concluded an extensive academic program review (APR) which involved a comprehensive assessment of our Departmental curricula which informed significant changes in our Departmental schedule of course offerings. One of the modifications that we made in light of the APR was the introduction of a foundations course which would be required of our students. The intent and purpose of the foundations course is to provide our students with a general overview of the seminal themes and topics within the discipline which, in turn, can empower them to make an informed decision when selecting subsequent courses within the Department. As we introduced the initial trial/pilot versions of the course this past year, the Department collectively decided to utilize Mueller’s text as the text to be adopted for the course. Having used the text within the course over the past year, I affirm and recommend the text to those who wish to offer a similar course experience.
Father Mueller has compiled an excellent primer text drawing upon contributions from a vast array of our colleagues and peers, each of which proffer chapters that are reader friendly, substantive and complemented with a concluding section proffering guidance to students as how to utilize library materials for conducting credible research in the relevant area of study. As a result, the text affords students an excellent introduction to the areas of:
The text concludes with chapters on Judaism and Islam written by Ronald Modras and John Renard, respectively, which afford the reader a historical overview of and engagement with the principle teachings of the of the two great Abrahamic faiths. The impact of the Shoah upon contemporary ecumenical discourse, as well as contemporary hermeneutical issues that inform contemporary ecumenism are also presented. The text concludes with Angelyn Dries’ consideration of the changing global demographics of the church and the various theologies of liberation spawned in the wake of such changes.
The text is well suited for an introductory overview of the main topics and themes within the discipline of theology. Students will find the text accessible, and instructors will find it substantive as well as a good foundation from which to integrate other supporting materials and primary texts. The concluding section of each chapter is an excellent resource for beginning students as they are introduced to theological research. In short, our Departmental decision to adopt the text for use in our initial offering of our Foundations course was well founded and affirmed—I have continued to use the text in subsequent sections of the course, and encourage others to do so as well.