Choosing a Department

Prospective Toronto School of Theology (TST) students applying to the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Theology (ThM) programs must apply to and be accepted by one of the four TST departments. The TST Departments are the: Biblical department, Historical department,  Pastoral department and Theological department. Each department administers fields of study with corresponding areas of concentration.

Departments and Fields of Study

Biblical Sources. The following two areas of concentration are administered by the Biblical department within the field of biblical sources.

Old Testament - This area includes the language, literature, hermeneutics, theology and historical context of the canonical Old Testament, as well as related and parallel literature in the ancient Near East, and the history of interpretation.

New Testament- This area includes the language, literature, hermeneutics, theology and historical context of the canonical New Testament, as well as related and parallel literature in the contemporary eastern Roman Empire, and the history of interpretation.

History of Christianity. This field of study is administered by the Historical department. "History of Christianity" is understood in the broadest sense to include the variety of Christian traditions over the ages and throughout the world as expressed in Church, thought, and society. The department primarily accepts students who wish to prepare theses in some aspect of the following areas in the history of Christianity: Early, Western Medieval, Byzantine, 16th, 19th and 20th century European (including British), United States and Canadian.

Pastoral Praxis. The following five areas of concentration are administered by the Pastoral department within the field of pastoral praxis.

Homiletics - Homiletics is concerned with the history, theory and practice of preaching in relation to hermeneutics, Biblical studies, theology, liturgy, rhetoric and the life of the church.

Religious education - Religious Education is concerned with the philosophy and theology of education, the history of religious education in the various traditions of the church, and with practical and theological reflection on the various forms of developmental psychology and educational theory, as well as the influence of education in many dimensions of church life.

Pastoral theology - Pastoral Theology is concerned with the interpretive interplay between foundational theological issues and the practical contexts of the pastoral functions of the church. It is also concerned with psychological and sociological theory and the practice of pastoral care in relation to Christian theology.

Liturgy - Liturgy is concerned with the historical, biblical, theological and pastoral dimensions of worship in Christian tradition, including the study of textual sources, ritual and ceremonial practices, and liturgical art, architecture and music.

Spirituality - Christian Spirituality is concerned with the history and practice of the spiritual life, as well as with its theoretical and practical connections with other theological disciplines and with other areas of specialization such as psychology.

Theology. The following four areas of concentration are administered by the Theological department within the field of theology.

Systematic theology - The study of Christian beliefs, systems of doctrine and teaching, and their relation to other areas of thought.

Philosophy of religion/philosophical theology - The central concern in this area is the interface between philosophy and theology. Attention is focused on those areas of theological reflection given to the relational placing of Christian theology rather than to its content. While not minimizing the task of theology in interpreting the uniquely revelational, kerygmatic content of the faith, the philosophical mode of theologizing seeks to develop a theological hermeneutic which takes account of the created order and the manifold phenomena of human consciousness in both secular and religious contexts. 

Christian ethics - Christian ethics includes foundational, medical, sexual and social ethics. Christian ethics is closely related to and overlaps with Systematic Theology. In the unitary enterprise of "faith seeking understanding within the community of the Church and humankind", the TST program in Christian ethics is focused on the appropriate engagement with the challenges to Christian faith in our day. At the same time, Christian ethicists do theology in dialogue with other disciplines in an interdisciplinary and practical manner.

Special interdisciplinary studies - This area of concentration permits an interdisciplinary linkage which could be described as "Theology and...". The second discipline might be literature, comparative religion, ecological studies or one of the social sciences (especially anthropology and sociology). The second discipline is called "the cognate discipline". (Note: this option is not available in the MA program.)

For MA and ThM Students

MA in Jewish studies - This is a three-year program, designed to provide students with graduate-level competence in the area of Jewish studies and to serve as preparation for doctoral studies. The first year is in Toronto and the other two years are in Jerusalem.

ThM in Jewish studies - The ThM in Jewish Studies is designed to prepare students for doctoral work in Jewish studies. Unlike the regular ThM program, the ThM in Jewish Studies has no part-time or extended-essay option. The first year takes place in Jerusalem, and includes study in modern Hebrew. During the second year of the program (in Toronto), the student will become a member of one of the four TST departments, and will become subject to all departmental regulations regarding languages.

For Doctoral Students

NOTE: The following does not apply to students in the conjoint PhD in Theological Studies.

Subjects - Within each area of concentration, departments have identified a number of subjects (sometimes grouped into subject areas). These lists of subjects have an important part to play with respect to the levels of knowledge that doctoral students are expected to achieve at various stages of the program. They also provide a framework for the choice of comprehensive areas and thesis topics.  The lists of subjects can be found in Appendix 1 of the ThD and PhD Handbook. These lists are works in progress and thus are subject to change and refinement.


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