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Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.divine
and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an
academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge), or objects (Know ...
, typically in universities and
seminaries A seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, or divinity school is an educational institution for educating students (sometimes called ''seminarians'') in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, in ...
. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural By definition, a supernatural manifestation or event requires a violation of physical law belie ...

supernatural
, but also deals with
religious epistemology Religious epistemology as a broad label covers any approach to epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metap ...
, asks and seeks to answer the question of
revelation In religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, eth ...

revelation
. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of
God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or In the context of religio ...

God
,
gods A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)", or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littlet ...

gods
, or
deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural By definition, a supernatural manifestation or event require ...
, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a
secular field
secular field
, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship. Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument (
experiential
experiential
,
philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive ...

philosophical
,
ethnographic Ethnography (from Greek ''ethnos'' "folk, people, nation" and ''grapho'' "I write") is a branch of anthropology Anthropology is the Science, scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, and soci ...

ethnographic
,
historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing systems ar ...

historical
, and others) to help
understand Understanding is a psychological Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic disc ...

understand
,
explain An explanation is a set of Statement (logic), statements usually constructed to description, describe a set of facts which clarifies the causality, causes, wiktionary:context, context, and Logical consequence, consequences of those facts. This de ...
, test,
critique Critique is a method of disciplined, systematic study of a written or oral discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning f ...
, defend or promote any myriad of religious topics. As in
philosophy of ethics In metaphilosophy and ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics ...
and
case law Case law, also used interchangeably with common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written ...
, arguments often assume the existence of previously resolved questions, and develop by making analogies from them to draw new inferences in new situations. The study of theology may help a theologian more deeply understand their own
religious tradition Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ethics in religion, ...

religious tradition
, another religious tradition, or it may enable them to explore the nature of divinity without reference to any specific tradition. Theology may be used to
propagate Propagation can refer to: *Chain propagation in a chemical reaction mechanism *Crack propagation, the growth of a crack during the fracture of materials *Propaganda, non-objective information used to further an agenda *Reproduction, and other forms ...
, reform, or justify a religious tradition; or it may be used to compare, challenge (e.g.
biblical criticism Biblical criticism is the use of critical analysis to understand and explain the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, ...
), or oppose (e.g.
irreligion Irreligion or nonreligion is the absence or rejection of religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it o ...

irreligion
) a religious tradition or
worldview upright=1.8, Religious practices will tie closely to a religion's worldview. A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the whole of the individual's or society's knowledge and ...

worldview
. Theology might also help a theologian address some present situation or need through a religious tradition, or to explore possible ways of interpreting the world.


Etymology

The term derives from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
''theologia'' (θεολογία), a combination of ''theos'' (Θεός, '
god God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or In the context of religio ...

god
') and ''
logia The term ''logia'' ( el, λόγια), plural of ''logion'' ( el, λόγιον), is used variously in ancient writings and modern scholarship in reference to communications of divine origin. In pagan contexts, the principal meaning was "oracles", w ...
'' (λογία, 'utterances, sayings,
oracle An oracle is a person or agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which go ...

oracle
s')—the latter word relating to Greek ''
logos ''Logos'' (, ; grc, wikt:λόγος, λόγος, lógos; from , , ) is a term in Western philosophy, psychology, rhetoric, and religion derived from a Greek word variously meaning "ground", "plea", "opinion", "expectation", "word", "speech", "a ...

logos
'' (λόγος, 'word,
discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation Conversation is interactive communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy) ...

discourse
, account,
reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ...

reasoning
'). The term would pass on to Latin as ''theologia'', then French as ''théologie'', eventually becoming the English ''theology''. Through several variants (e.g., ''theologie'', ''teologye''), the English ''theology'' had evolved into its current form by 1362. The sense the word has in English depends in large part on the sense the Latin and Greek equivalents had acquired in
patristic Patristics or patrology is the study of the early Christian writers who are designated Church Fathers. The names derive from the Classical compound, combined forms of Latin ''pater'' and Greek ''patḗr'' (father). The period is generally consider ...
and
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of w ...
Christian usage, although the English term has now spread beyond Christian contexts.


Classical philosophy

Greek ''theologia'' (θεολογία) was used with the meaning 'discourse on God' around 380 BC by
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the ...

Plato
in '' The Republic''.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

Aristotle
divided theoretical philosophy into ''mathematike'', ''physike'', and ''theologike'', with the latter corresponding roughly to
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and ...

metaphysics
, which, for Aristotle, included discourse on the nature of the divine. Drawing on Greek
Stoic STOIC (Stack-Oriented Interactive Compiler) is a 1970s programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instructions that produce various kinds of Input/output, output. Progr ...
sources,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
writer
Varro Marcus Terentius Varro (; 116–27 BC) was one of ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empi ...
distinguished three forms of such discourse:
''City of God'' VI
ch. 5.
#
mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...

mythical
, concerning the myths of the Greek gods; # rational, philosophical analysis of the gods and of cosmology; and # civil, concerning the rites and duties of public religious observance.


Later usage

Some Latin Christian authors, such as
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Chr ...

Tertullian
and
Augustine
Augustine
, followed Varro's threefold usage. However, Augustine also defined ''theologia'' as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity."
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

Augustine of Hippo
. ''
City of GodThe term City of God may refer to the unity between the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The term may also refer to: Places *Cidade de Deus (Osasco), the Banco Bradesco headquarters in Osasco, São Paulo, Brazil *C ...
'
Book VIII. i.
: "de divinitate rationem sive sermonem."
Latin author
Boethius Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius (; also Boetius ; 477 – 524 AD), was a Roman Roman Senate, senator, Roman consul, consul, ''magister officiorum'', and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born about a ye ...

Boethius
, writing in the early 6th century, used ''theologia'' to denote a subdivision of philosophy as a subject of academic study, dealing with the motionless, incorporeal reality; as opposed to ''physica'', which deals with
corporeal Corporeal may refer to: *Matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made u ...
, moving realities. Boethius' definition influenced medieval Latin usage. In
patristic Patristics or patrology is the study of the early Christian writers who are designated Church Fathers. The names derive from the Classical compound, combined forms of Latin ''pater'' and Greek ''patḗr'' (father). The period is generally consider ...
Greek Christian sources, ''theologia'' could refer narrowly to devout and inspired knowledge of, and teaching about, the essential nature of God. In scholastic Latin sources, the term came to denote the rational study of the
doctrine Doctrine (from la, Wikt:doctrina, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification (law), codification of beliefs or a body of teacher, teachings or instructions, taught Value (personal and cultural), principles or positions, as the es ...

doctrine
s of the
Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of d ...
, or (more precisely) the academic
discipline Discipline is action ACTION is a bus operator in Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new na ...

discipline
which investigated the coherence and implications of the language and claims of the Bible and of the theological tradition (the latter often as represented in
Peter Lombard Peter Lombard (also Peter the Lombard, Pierre Lombard or Petrus Lombardus; 1096, Novara – 21/22 July 1160, Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of F ...
's ''
Sentences ''The Four Books of Sentences'' (''Libri Quattuor Sententiarum'') is a book of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), aca ...
'', a book of extracts from the
Church Fathers The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, div ...
). In the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in m ...

Renaissance
, especially with Florentine Platonist apologists of
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 1321), was an Italian poetry, Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origina ...

Dante
's poetics, the distinction between 'poetic theology' ('' theologia poetica'') and 'revealed' or
Biblical theology Because scholars have tended to use the term in different ways, biblical theology has been notoriously difficult to define. Description Although most speak of biblical theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divin ...
serves as stepping stone for a revival of philosophy as independent of theological authority. It is in this last sense, theology as an academic discipline involving rational study of Christian teaching, that the term passed into English in the 14th century, although it could also be used in the narrower sense found in Boethius and the Greek patristic authors, to mean rational study of the essential nature of God—a discourse now sometimes called theology proper. From the 17th century onwards, the term ''theology'' began to be used to refer to the study of religious ideas and teachings that are not specifically Christian or correlated with Christianity (e.g., in the term ''
natural theology Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
'', which denoted theology based on reasoning from natural facts independent of specifically Christian revelation) or that are specific to another religion (such as below). ''Theology'' can also be used in a derived sense to mean "a system of theoretical principles; an (impractical or rigid) ideology."


In religion

The term ''theology'' has been deemed by some as only appropriate to the study of religions that worship a supposed
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)", or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littlet ...

deity
(a ''theos''), i.e. more widely than
monotheism Monotheism is the belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the w ...
; and presuppose a belief in the ability to speak and
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with the aim of seeking the truth. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philoso ...
about this deity (in ''
logia The term ''logia'' ( el, λόγια), plural of ''logion'' ( el, λόγιον), is used variously in ancient writings and modern scholarship in reference to communications of divine origin. In pagan contexts, the principal meaning was "oracles", w ...
''). They suggest the term is less appropriate in religious contexts that are organized differently (i.e., religions without a single deity, or that deny that such subjects can be studied logically). '' Hierology'' has been proposed, by such people as (1908), as an alternative, more generic term.


Abrahamic religions


Christianity

As defined by
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...

Thomas Aquinas
, theology is constituted by a triple aspect: what is taught by God, teaches of God and leads to God ( la, Theologia a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad Deum ducit). This indicates the three distinct areas of God as theophanic
revelation In religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, eth ...

revelation
, the systematic study of the nature of
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.divine
and, more generally, of
religious belief A belief is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either truth value, true or fals ...
, and the spiritual path. Christian theology as the study of Christian belief and practice concentrates primarily upon the texts of the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical c ...
and the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as w ...

New Testament
as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian better understand Christian tenets, to make comparisons between Christianity and other traditions, to defend Christianity against objections and criticism, to facilitate reforms in the Christian church, to assist in the propagation of Christianity, to draw on the resources of the Christian tradition to address some present situation or need, or for a variety of other reasons.


Islam

Islamic theological discussion that parallels Christian theological discussion is called ''
Kalam ''ʿIlm al-Kalām'' ( ar, عِلْم الكَلام, literally "science of discourse"),Winter, Tim J. "Introduction", ''The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology''. Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the ...

Kalam
''; the Islamic analogue of Christian theological discussion would more properly be the investigation and elaboration of ''
Sharia Sharia (, ar, ), Islamic law, or Sharia law, is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, derived from the hadith. In Arabic, the term ''sharīʿah'' refers to God in Islam, G ...
'' or ''
Fiqh ''Fiqh'' (; ar} ) is Islamic jurisprudence. Muhammad-> Sahabah, Companions-> Tabi‘un, Followers-> Fiqh. The commands and prohibitions chosen by God were revealed through the agency of the Prophet in both the Quran and the Sunnah (words, dee ...
''.


Judaism

In Jewish theology, the historical absence of political authority has meant that most theological reflection has happened within the context of the Jewish community and
synagogue A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a High German languages, High German–derived language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. ...

synagogue
, including through
rabbinical Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Heb ...
discussion of
Jewish law ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ways, such as Greek → ...
and
Midrash Midrash (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; pl. ...

Midrash
(rabbinic biblical commentaries). Jewish theology is linked to
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

ethics
and therefore has implications for how one behaves.


Indian religions


Buddhism

Some academic inquiries within
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...

Buddhism
, dedicated to the investigation of a Buddhist understanding of the world, prefer the designation
Buddhist philosophy Buddhist philosophy refers to the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding ...
to the term ''Buddhist theology'', since Buddhism lacks the same conception of a ''theos''. Jose Ignacio Cabezon, who argues that the use of ''theology'' is in fact appropriate, can only do so, he says, because "I take theology not to be restricted to discourse on God.… I take 'theology' not to be restricted to its etymological meaning. In that latter sense, Buddhism is of course ''a''theological, rejecting as it does the notion of God."


Hinduism

Within
Hindu philosophy Hindu philosophy encompasses the philosophies, world views and teachings of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest religion, with over 1.2 billi ...
, there is a tradition of philosophical speculation on the nature of the universe, of God (termed
Brahman In Hinduism, ''Brahman'' ( sa, ब्रह्म) connotes the highest universal principle, the ultimate reality ''Ultimate reality'' is "something that is the supreme, final, and fundamental power in all reality". Buddhism In Theravada ...

Brahman
,
Paramatma ''Paramatman'' (Sanskrit: परमात्मन्, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by San ...
, and/or
Bhagavan Bhagavān (Sanskrit: , ) or Bhagwan (translated as " Lord") is an epithet for a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male deity), ...
in some schools of Hindu thought) and of the ''ātman'' (soul). The
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
word for the various schools of Hindu philosophy is ''
darśana ''Darśana'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languag ...
'' ('view, viewpoint').
Vaishnava theology Vaishnavism is one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. It is the largest Hindu denomination with 67.6% of Hindus being Vaishnavas. It is also called Vishnuism, its followers are called Vaishnavas or Vai ...

Vaishnava theology
has been a subject of study for many devotees, philosophers and scholars in
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
for centuries. A large part of its study lies in classifying and organizing the manifestations of thousands of gods and their aspects. In recent decades the study of Hinduism has also been taken up by a number of academic institutions in Europe, such as the
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, founded in 1997, is a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (as o ...
and
Bhaktivedanta College Bhaktivedanta College, located in Durbuy in the rural Ardennes region of Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherl ...
.


Other religions


Shinto

In Japan, the term ''theology'' () has been ascribed to
Shinto Shinto () is a religion which originated in Japan. Classified as an East Asian religions, East Asian religion by Religious studies, scholars of religion, its practitioners often regard it as Japan's indigenous religion and as a nature religion. S ...

Shinto
since the
Edo period The or is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in ...
with the publication of Mano Tokitsuna's ''Kokon shingaku ruihen'' (). In modern times, other terms are used to denote studies in Shinto—as well as Buddhist—belief, such as ''kyōgaku'' () and ''shūgaku'' ().


Modern Paganism

English academic Graham Harvey has commented that Pagans "rarely indulge in theology." Nevertheless, theology has been applied in some sectors across contemporary Pagan communities, including
Wicca Wicca () is a modern Paganism, modern Pagan religion. Religious studies, Scholars of religion categorise it as both a new religious movement and as part of the occultism, occultist stream of Western esotericism. It was developed in England during ...
, Heathenry,
Druidry A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written accounts. Whil ...
and
Kemetism Kemetism (also Kemeticism; both from the Egyptian language, Egyptian ', usually voweled Egypt#Names, Kemet, the native name of ancient Egypt), also sometimes referred to as Neterism (from ' (Coptic language, Coptic ''noute'') "Ancient Egyptian ...
. As these religions have given precedence to
orthopraxy In the study of religion, orthopraxy is correct conduct, both ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysi ...
, theological views often vary among adherents. The term is used by Christine Kraemer in her book ''Seeking The Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies'' and by
Michael York Michael York, (born Michael Hugh Johnson; 27 March 1942) is an English actor. A two-time Emmy Award nominee, for the ''ABC Afterschool Special'': ''Are You My Mother?'' (1986) and the AMC (TV channel), AMC series ''The Lot'' (2001), he has a ...
in '' Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion''.


Topics

Richard Hooker Richard Hooker (25 March, 1554 – 2 November 1600) was an English priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more ...
defines ''theology'' as "the science of things divine." The term can, however, be used for a variety of disciplines or fields of study. Theology considers whether the divine exists in some form, such as in
physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physical" (Olivia Newton-John song) *Physical ( ...

physical
,
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural By definition, a supernatural manifestation or event requires a violation of physical law belie ...

supernatural
,
mental Mental may refer to: * of or relating to the mind Films * Mental (2012 film), ''Mental'' (2012 film), an Australian comedy-drama * Mental (2016 film), ''Mental'' (2016 film), a Bangladeshi romantic-action movie * ''Mental'', a 2008 documentary by ...
, or social realities, and what evidence for and about it may be found via personal spiritual experiences or historical records of such experiences as documented by others. The study of these assumptions is not part of theology proper, but is found in the
philosophy of religion Philosophy of religion is "the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions". Philosophical discussions on such topics date from ancient times, and appear in the earliest known Text (literary theo ...
, and increasingly through the
psychology of religion Psychology of religion consists of the application of psychological methods and interpretive frameworks to the diverse contents of religious traditions as well as to both religious and irreligious individuals. The extraordinary range of methods ...
and
neurotheology The neuroscience of religion, also known as neurotheology and as spiritual neuroscience, attempts to explain religious experience and behaviour in neuroscientific terms. It is the study of correlations of neural In biology Biology is th ...
. Theology then aims to structure and understand these experiences and concepts, and to use them to derive normative prescriptions for .


History of academic discipline

The history of the study of theology in institutions of higher education is as old as the
history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 millio ...

history
of such institutions themselves. For instance: *
Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Brahmi: 𑀢𑀔𑁆𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takhkhasilā, Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo- ...
was an early centre of Vedic learning, possible from the 6th-century BC or earlier;Scharfe, Hartmut. 2002. ''Education in Ancient India''. Leiden: Brill. * the
Platonic Academy The Academy (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: ...
founded in Athens in the 4th-century BC seems to have included theological themes in its subject matter; * the Chinese
Taixue__NOTOC__ Taixue (Tai-shueh; ), or sometimes called the "Imperial Academy", "Imperial School", "Imperial University" or "Imperial Central University", was the highest rank of educational establishment in Ancient China between the Han dynasty ...
delivered
Confucian , Shanxi Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a ...
teaching from the 2nd century BC; * the
School of Nisibis The School of Nisibis ( syr, ܐܣܟܘܠܐ ܕܢܨܝܒܝܢ), for a time absorbed into the School of Edessa, was an educational establishment in Nisibis (now Nusaybin, Turkey). It was an important spiritual centre of the early Church of the East, and ...
was a centre of Christian learning from the 4th century AD; *
Nalanda Nalanda (Sanskrit: नालंदा ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as C ...

Nalanda
in India was a site of Buddhist higher learning from at least the 5th or 6th century AD; and * the Moroccan
University of Al-Karaouine The University of al-Qarawiyyin (; Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in ...
was a centre of Islamic learning from the 10th century, as was
Al-Azhar University Al-Azhar University ( ; ar, 1=جامعة الأزهر (الشريف), , "the (honorable) University of Al-Azhar") is a university in Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and larges ...
in Cairo. The earliest universities were developed under the aegis of the
Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , alt = Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran , caption = Archbasilica of Saint Joh ...
by
papal bull A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent File:1768 transfer of the University to Nancy.jpg, upLetters patent transferring a predecessor of the University of Lorraine to Nancy, France, Nancy in 1768 Letters patent ( la, litte ...
as '' studia generalia'' and perhaps from
cathedral school Cathedral schools began in the Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th ...
s. It is possible, however, that the development of cathedral schools into universities was quite rare, with the University of Paris being an exception. Later they were also founded by Kings (
University of Naples Federico II Main building, university of Naples, Federico II The University of Naples Federico II ( it, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II) is a public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state o ...
,
Charles University in Prague Charles University, known also as Charles University in Prague ( cs, Univerzita Karlova (UK); la, Universitas Carolina; german: Karls-Universität) or historically as the University of Prague ( la, Universitas Pragensis), is the oldest and larges ...
, Jagiellonian University in Kraków) or municipal administrations (
University of Cologne The University of Cologne (german: Universität zu Köln) is a university in Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the fourth-most popul ...
,
University of Erfurt The University of Erfurt (german: Universität Erfurt) is a public university located in Erfurt Erfurt ( , ; ) is the capital and largest city in the state of Thuringia, central Germany. It is located in the southern part of the Thuringia ...
). In the
early medieval period The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
, most new universities were founded from pre-existing schools, usually when these schools were deemed to have become primarily sites of higher education. Many historians state that universities and cathedral schools were a continuation of the interest in learning promoted by monasteries. Christian theological learning was, therefore, a component in these institutions, as was the study of Church or
Canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or churc ...
: universities played an important role in training people for ecclesiastical offices, in helping the church pursue the clarification and defence of its teaching, and in supporting the legal rights of the church over against secular rulers. At such universities, theological study was initially closely tied to the life of faith and of the church: it fed, and was fed by, practices of
preaching A sermon is an oration Public speaking (also called oratory or oration) is giving speech face to face to a live audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art A work of ...

preaching
,
prayer Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified anc ...

prayer
and celebration of the
Mass Mass is the physical quantity, quantity of ''matter'' in a physical body. It is also a measure (mathematics), measure of the body's ''inertia'', the resistance to acceleration (change of velocity) when a net force is applied. An object's mass ...
. During the High Middle Ages, theology was the ultimate subject at universities, being named "The Queen of the Sciences" and served as the capstone to the
Trivium The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The trivium is implicit in ''De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii'' ("On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury") by Martianus Capella, but the ...
and
Quadrivium In liberal arts education Liberal arts education (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, know ...
that young men were expected to study. This meant that the other subjects (including
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such ques ...

philosophy
) existed primarily to help with theological thought. Christian theology's preeminent place in the university began to be challenged during the European
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
, especially in Germany. Howard, Thomas Albert. 2006.
Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University
'' Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Other subjects gained in independence and prestige, and questions were raised about the place of a discipline that seemed to involve a commitment to the authority of particular religious traditions in institutions that were increasingly understood to be devoted to independent reason. Since the early 19th century, various different approaches have emerged in the West to theology as an academic discipline. Much of the debate concerning theology's place in the university or within a general higher education curriculum centres on whether theology's methods are appropriately theoretical and (broadly speaking) scientific or, on the other hand, whether theology requires a pre-commitment of faith by its practitioners, and whether such a commitment conflicts with academic freedom.


Ministerial training

In some contexts, theology has been held to belong in institutions of higher education primarily as a form of professional training for Christian ministry. This was the basis on which Friedrich Schleiermacher, a liberal theologian, argued for the inclusion of theology in the new Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Berlin in 1810. For instance, in Germany, theological faculties at state universities are typically tied to particular denominations, Protestant or Roman Catholic, and those faculties will offer denominationally-bound ''(konfessionsgebunden)'' degrees, and have denominationally bound public posts amongst their faculty; as well as contributing "to the development and growth of Christian knowledge" they "provide the academic training for the future clergy and teachers of religious instruction at German schools." In the United States, several prominent colleges and universities were started in order to train Christian ministers. Harvard, Georgetown University, Georgetown, Boston University, Yale, Duke University, and Princeton University, Princeton all had the theological training of clergy as a primary purpose at their foundation. Seminaries and bible colleges have continued this alliance between the academic study of theology and training for Christian ministry. There are, for instance, numerous prominent examples in the United States, including Phoenix Seminary, Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Criswell College in Dallas, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, Dallas Theological Seminary, North Texas Collegiate Institute in Farmers Branch, Texas, and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.


As an academic discipline in its own right

In some contexts, scholars pursue theology as an academic discipline without formal affiliation to any particular church (though members of staff may well have affiliations to churches), and without focussing on ministerial training. This applies, for instance, to the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia University in Canada, and to many university departments in the United Kingdom, including the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds. Traditional academic prizes, such as the University of Aberdeen's Lumsden and Sachs Fellowship, tend to acknowledge performance in theology (or Divinity (academic discipline), divinity as it is known at Aberdeen) and in religious studies.


Religious studies

In some contemporary contexts, a distinction is made between theology, which is seen as involving some level of commitment to the claims of the religious tradition being studied, and religious studies, which by contrast is normally seen as requiring that the question of the truth or falsehood of the religious traditions studied be kept outside its field. Religious studies involves the study of historical or contemporary practices or of those traditions' ideas using intellectual tools and frameworks that are not themselves specifically tied to any religious tradition and that are normally understood to be neutral or secular. In contexts where 'religious studies' in this sense is the focus, the primary forms of study are likely to include: * Anthropology of religion * Comparative religion * History of religions * Philosophy of religion * Psychology of religion * Sociology of religion Sometimes, theology and religious studies are seen as being in tension, and at other times, they are held to coexist without serious tension. Occasionally it is denied that there is as clear a boundary between them.


Criticism


Pre-20th century

Whether or not reasoned discussion about the divine is possible has long been a point of contention. Protagoras, as early as the fifth century Before Christ, BC, who is reputed to have been exiled from Athens because of his agnosticism about the existence of the gods, said that "Concerning the gods I cannot know either that they exist or that they do not exist, or what form they might have, for there is much to prevent one's knowing: the ''obscurity of the subject'' and the shortness of man's life." Since at least the eighteenth century, various authors have criticized the suitability of theology as an academic discipline. In 1772, Baron d'Holbach labeled theology "a continual insult to human reason" in ''Le Bon sens''. Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, Lord Bolingbroke, an English politician and political philosopher, wrote in Section IV of his ''Essays on Human Knowledge'', "Theology is in fault not religion. Theology is a science that may justly be compared to the Box of Pandora. Many good things lie uppermost in it; but many evil lie under them, and scatter plagues and desolation throughout the world." Thomas Paine, a Deism, Deistic American political theorist and pamphleteer, wrote in his three-part work ''The Age of Reason'' (1794, 1795, 1807):
The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.
The German atheism, atheist philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach sought to dissolve theology in his work ''Principles of the Philosophy of the Future'': "The task of the modern era was the realization and humanization of God – the transformation and dissolution of theology into anthropology." This mirrored his earlier work ''The Essence of Christianity'' (1841), for which he was banned from teaching in Germany, in which he had said that theology was a "web of contradictions and delusions." The American satirist Mark Twain remarked in his essay "The Lowest Animal", originally written in around 1896, but not published until after Twain's death in 1910, that:
[Man] is the only animal that Great Commandment, loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven.… The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.


20th and 21st centuries

A.J. Ayer, A. J. Ayer, a British former Logical positivism, logical-positivist, sought to show in his essay "Critique of Ethics and Theology" that all statements about the divine are nonsensical and any divine-attribute is unprovable. He wrote: "It is now generally admitted, at any rate by philosophers, that the existence of a being having the attributes which define the god of any non-animistic religion cannot be demonstratively proved.… [A]ll utterances about the nature of God are nonsensical." Jewish atheism, Jewish atheist philosopher Walter Kaufmann (philosopher), Walter Kaufmann, in his essay "Against Theology", sought to differentiate theology from religion in general:Walter Kaufmann (philosopher), Kaufmann, Walter. 1963. ''The Faith of a Heretic''. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. pp. 114, 127–28, 130.
Theology, of course, is not religion; and a great deal of religion is emphatically anti-theological.… An attack on theology, therefore, should not be taken as necessarily involving an attack on religion. Religion can be, and often has been, untheological or even anti-theological.
However, Kaufmann found that "Christianity is inescapably a theological religion." English atheist Charles Bradlaugh believed theology prevented human beings from achieving liberty, although he also noted that many theologians of his time held that, because modern scientific research sometimes contradicts sacred scriptures, the scriptures must therefore be wrong. Robert G. Ingersoll, an American agnostic lawyer, stated that, when theologians had power, the majority of people lived in hovels, while a privileged few had palaces and cathedrals. In Ingersoll's opinion, it was science that improved people's lives, not theology. Ingersoll further maintained that trained theologians reason no better than a person who assumes the devil must exist because pictures resemble the devil so exactly. The British Evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has been an outspoken critic of theology. In an article published in ''The Independent'' in 1993, he severely criticizes theology as entirely useless, declaring that it has completely and repeatedly failed to answer any questions about the nature of reality or the human condition. He states, "I have never heard any of them [i.e. theologians] ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false." He then states that, if all theology were completely eradicated from the earth, no one would notice or even care. He concludes:
The achievements of theologians don't do anything, don't affect anything, don't achieve anything, don't even mean anything. What makes you think that 'theology' is a subject at all?


See also

*Thealogy


References


External links


"Theology"
on ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' * Chattopadhyay, Subhasis
"Reflections on Hindu Theology"
in Prabuddha Bharata, Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India 120(12):664-672 (2014). ISSN 0032-6178. Edited by Swami Narasimhananda. * {{Authority control Theology,