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Course Number: CH 720
Course Title: Theology of Joseph Ratzinger
Term: Summer 2014


Jared I. Goff, Ph.D


1. Course Description

This course is an introduction to the major themes, methodology and insights in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger: the theologian who became Pope Benedict XVI. This course will survey Ratzinger’s thought through a careful and in-depth consideration of some of his major works. Through this students will discover the coherent, yet dynamic, vision of Ratzinger: a Trinitarian and Christocentric understanding of the Divine Plan. Students will see how this informs Ratzinger’s theological anthropology, having a doxological finality situated within a covenantal framework. Light will be shed on Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate as he interacted with the conditions affecting the Church and culture/s. Among the topics that will be treated are: Ratzinger’s apologetics, his approach to fundamental, sacramental-liturgical, biblical and dogmatic theology.


  • Students will study several key theological (and philosophical) works of Joseph Ratzinger, gaining an overview of his theology.
  • Students will be able to analyze Joseph Ratzinger’s theological approach: identifying the basic ‘keys’ to his theological vision and how they inform and allow Ratzinger to develop a coherent theological and philosophical vision.
  • Students will write an academic paper on a theme found in Ratzinger’s theology that demonstrates an understanding of Ratzinger’s articulation of the chosen theme, how it is related to Ratzinger’s overall vision and how his treatment relates/ed to concrete concerns he was a facing.


WEEK 1: Introduction


  • Browse through Hahn (2009) and/or Nichols (2007) or another published survey-analysis-introduction to Ratzinger’s thought. If the student chooses a title not listed above, he or she must consult the instructor before reading the text in fulfillment of the week’s assignment.

WEEK 2: Doxology and Logos


  • Class Notes and Forum Discussion

WEEK 3-4: Philosophical-Anthropological foundations: Doubt and Praise


  • Nature and Mission, 13-41
  • Introduction, 39-81

WEEKS 5-6: Philosophical Relativism and Biblical Rationalism


  • “Relativism: The Central Problem for Faith Today,” ch. 26, Essential Pope Benedict
  • “Biblical Interpretation in Crisis,” ch. 27, Essential Pope Benedict


  • Principles of Catholic Theology, 55-84

WEEK 7: Ecclesial Form and Identity of Faith and Theology


  • Introduction, 82-100
  • Nature and Mission, 45-92


  • Principles of Catholic Theology, 15-55

WEEK 8: God


  • Introduction, 103-115
  • Begin reading Introduction, 116-190

WEEK 9: Two Fundamental Questions on God


  • Introduction, 116-190

WEEK 10: Covenant in History: Israel, Jesus Christ and the Church


  • Many Religions-One Covenant, 22-77


  • Principles of Catholic Theology, 153-190

WEEK 11: Dogmatic-Biblical-Spiritual Christology


  • Jesus 1, xi-127


  • Behold the Pierced One

WEEK 12: Dogmatic-Biblical-Spiritual Christology


  • Jesus 1, 128-286

WEEK 13: Dogmatic-Biblical-Spiritual Christology


  • Jesus 1, 287-355
  • Jesus 2, 1-144

WEEK 14: Dogmatic-Biblical-Spiritual Christology


  • Jesus 2, 145-293

WEEK 15: Ratzinger’s Theology of Reasonable Worship


  • Spirit of the Liturgy, 1-111


IMPORTANT NOTE ON DUE DATES: Discussion board postings and weekly assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the week under which they are listed on the course calendar below. Earlier replies will be more beneficial. Late assignments will be penalized unless prior arrangements have been made or an emergency arises.


  • Read the assigned readings listed on the Course Calendar above.
  • Read also any study notes provided for the week, and watch any video clips that may be linked there.
  • All discussion board postings and quizzes will be directly based upon the assigned readings of the week and any other materials that may be listed in the weekly assignments.

50% Discussion Board Postings

  • Post on the Discussion Board at least three (3) times each week.
  • First, post at least one answer to one of the discussion questions or topics provided by the instructor. Complete answers require a minimum of three sentences and at least one quotation from or reference to an assigned reading.
  • Second, post at least one response to the entries of your classmates. Responses to classmates can provide brief follow-up questions, make additional points, or politely offer alternative responses. Responses do not need to be more than one or two sentences.
  • You are invited but not required to continue following the class discussion and to make further contributions after your three required postings.
  • Both your answer(s) and your response(s) must be posted by 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the Week. It is highly recommended, however, that answers be posted at least several days before the due date; this provides more opportunity for student interaction. Late postings will not receive any credit.

50% Research Assignments

The Research Assignment is an extended research project on the topic of your choice with the final goal of producing a high quality research paper. Below are the distinct elements of the research assignment:

  • Week 2: Post 3 topics of interest that could serve as areas of research for a research paper
  • Week 3: Research sources and begin assembling bibliography for paper topics
  • Week 4: Choose a Paper Topic
    • Compose and Post a Topic  Sentence/Question
  • Week 5: Clarify Topic Sentence-Question
  • Week 6: Annotated Bibliography
  • Week 7: Compose and Post a Thesis Statement
  • Week 8: Post Outline of Paper
  • Week 9: Post First Paragraph of Research Paper
  • Week 12: First Draft of Paper
  • Week 13: Peer Review
  • Week 14: Final Paper


  • Ratzinger, Joseph. Introduction to Christianity, 2nd edition. Ignatius, 2004. ISBN: 1586170295. $14.45
  • ------. Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration. Doubleday, 2007. ISBN: 1586171984. $15.18
  • ------. Jesus of Nazareth: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. Ignatius, 2011. ISBN: 9781586175009. $20.76
  • ------. Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. Ignatius, 1987. ISBN: 9780898701333. $27.16 (through Ignatius Press)
  • ------. Many Religions-One Covenant. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999. ISBN: 0898707536. $11.13
  • ------. The Nature and Mission of Theology: Essays to Orient Theology in Today’s Debates. Ignatius, 1995. ISBN: 089870538X. $12.46
  • ------. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Ignatius, 2000. ISBN: 0898707846. $17.13
  • ------. The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writing and Speeches. HarperOne, 2008. ISBN: 0061128848. $14.39, $8.89 (Kindle)

6. Recommended

Any one of two:

  • Nichols, Aidan. The Thought of Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger (New Edition). Burns & Oats, 2007. ISBN: 0860124215. $26.55
  • Hahn, Scott. Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Brazos, 2009. ISBN: 1587432692. $11.90


(Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below). Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 D 60-69; F 59 and below


Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own. At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously. Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete and must receive the grade that they have earned. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


Jared Goff, a convert, was received with his wife and children into the Catholic Church in 2004. Born and raised in the beautiful state of Oregon, Jared graduated from Corban University in Salem, Oregon in 2003. Initially intending to pursue a career in medicine, during his final semesters as an undergraduate, Jared became interested in philosophy and theology. He subsequently obtained M.A. degrees in philosophy and theology and completed a Ph.D. in historical theology in the spring of 2013 at Saint Louis University.

In addition to teaching in the distance learning program at Holy Apostles, Dr. Goff teaches at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon.

Dr. Goff’s research interests include the theology and philosophy developed and articulated by the great medieval masters, St. Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus; Roman Catholic-Eastern Orthodox ecumenical dialogue as well as  John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Orestes Brownson.

Jared is author of Caritas in Primo: A Historical Theological Study of Bonaventure’s Quaestiones disputatae de mysterio Ss. Trinitatis (Academy of the Immaculate, 2014), co-editor, with J.A. Wayne Hellmann O.F.M. Conv. and Jay M. Hammond, of Companion to Bonaventure (Brill, 2013).

Jared, his wife Kellene, and their six children live in Oregon.

(860) 632-3010