The tradition of Judeo-Christian Tradition

Welcome to the core curriculum's religion class

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” says Kathleen
Gilbert ’14 when asked about her class called Intro to
Judeo-Christian Tradition. “I’m not really religious …
so I didn’t know much about the Bible before I took the
class. Now, I have a deeper understanding of Christianity
and a better point of view on the Bible in general.” 

Most undergraduates at Saint Joseph’s have a limited
religious education background and enter their required
theology class with no preconceived notions. 


“Most public universities don’t have
these courses, but I believe every
educated person should have a college level
knowledge of the Scriptures for
both educational and spiritual purposes.
We are not just trying to better inform
Catholics or Protestants here. We are
trying to inform everyone to better
understand the great religions of this
world in order to combat prejudices.”

– Dr. Daniel Sheridan,
Professor of Theology 

“They come at it like blank slates,” Dr. Steven Bridge,
chair of the theology department, says. “Most students
don’t know much about the Bible, so I try to use a lot of
popular culture analogies that they can relate to.” 

From global issues like 9/11 to personal experiences,
students learn how the Bible and God relate to both
monumental events and the small events in their day-today
lives.

“I love how dedicated the theology faculty is,” Steven
Wiley ’14 says. “The fact you can talk to them at any
point in the day just about life in general is great. I even
talked to Dr. Bridge about how I found God. They’re just
there for you.”

While some students are greatly affected by the introductory
course, others just find the course gratifying.
The faculty members make the material interesting
through videos, class discussions, and assigning personal
essays about an individual’s spiritual journey. “As part of
the course, using readings and topical items on YouTube,
students discuss such themes as the Holocaust, Jewish
and Christian views of death and the afterlife, the meaning
of suffering, and the theology of sin and grace,” says
theology professor Sister Marilyn Sunderman, RSM, Ph.D.

“I found how theologians used historical knowledge
and scientific proofs to prove the stories in the Bible
fascinating,” Nathaniel Hunt ’10 says. “The records the
Romans kept on Jesus, for example, coordinate with the
events of the Bible.”

Science, historical fact, and the Bible are three things
most students dismiss as unrelated. That is a common
misconception, according to the theology faculty.

“Not everything in the Bible was meant to be taken
literally. The Catholic Church supports the teaching of
evolution and doesn’t take Genesis literally,” theology
professor Daniel Sheridan says. “There is no split between
science and religion, or at least there shouldn’t be.”

Intro to Judeo-Christian Tradition functions not just
as an introductory course to the Bible, but also helps to
inform students about fallacies regarding Catholicism,
Christianity, Judaism, and even Islam.

“Most public universities don’t have these courses,
but I believe every educated person should have a collegelevel
knowledge of the Scriptures for both educational
and spiritual purposes,” Dr. Sheridan says. “We are not
just trying to better inform Catholics or Protestants with
the course. We are trying to inform everyone to better
understand the great religions of this world in order to
combat prejudices.”

Students in theology classes often share personal beliefs
and stories. Discussions are amiable and respectful,
as well as invigorating and interesting. Some students
are not Christian, yet feel secure enough to participate
in the discussions.

While required core curriculum classes are a hotly
debated issue among students, the theology course provides
a chance to truly apply the material students have
learned to their everyday lives.

“The part of the class that most students take to
heart is practicum,” Dr. Bridge says. “This is when a person
goes out and practices Christian love, which focuses
on extending kind acts to strangers and enemies. I’ve
seen so many students rise to the occasion and repair
their estranged relationships. It’s really amazing.”