USML | Reading List for S.T.L. Exam

Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.)

Reading List for S.T.L. Exam

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Students are examined in the areas of concentration of the S.T.L. program: the Doctrine of God, Christology, and one of the following areas - Theological Anthropology, or Sacramental/ Liturgical Theology, or Spiritual Theology.  Students are responsible for the theological methodologies used in all areas.


Sacred Scripture      

Since Sacred Scripture is the soul of theology, all students are responsible   for the biblical foundations for each area of concentration.  Students will demonstrate knowledge of the biblical genres relevant to these foundations as well as the ability to employ the various Church sanctioned exegetical methodologies. 


Conciliar Tradition

All students are responsible for the Catholic dogmatic affirmations in each area of concentration, especially as defined in the following documents.

Please note that these Conciliar documents may be found in:

Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner
Enchiridion Symbolorum, ed. Heinrich Denzinger, 2012*

*Among the various English translations, this edition of the Denzinger is the most reliable.

Nicaea I: Profession of Faith and Canons

Constantinople I: Exposition of Faith and Canons

Ephesus: 2nd & 3rd Letters of Cyril and Judgment Against Nestorius 

Formula of Union  (433)

Chalcedon: Definition of Faith and Canon 28

Second Synod of Orange: Canons (in J.P. Burns, Theological Anthropology)

Constantinople II: Sentence against the “Three Chapters

Constantinople III: Exposition of Faith

Nicaea II: Definition and Anathemas Concerning Holy Images

Lateran IV: Constitutions:

1. On the Catholic Faith
2. On the error of the Abbot Joachim

Council of Florence: Session 6: Concerning Filioque

Council of Trent:

Session 5: Decree on Original Sin
Session 6: Decree on Justification

Vatican I: Session 3:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith and Canons

Vatican II:     

Sacrosanctum Concilium 
Lumen Gentium
Dei Verbum
Gaudium et Spes   


Magisterial Documents           


Divino Afflante Spiritu   [Pius XII, September 30, 1943]

The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church [Pontifical Biblical Commission, April 23, 1993]

Doctrine of God

 Declaration for Safeguarding the Belief in the Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Most Holy Trinity against some recent errors. [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 21, 1972]

Christology & Soteriology 

Joint Declaration of Pope Paul VI and Catholicos Vasken I, Supreme Catholicos, Patriarch of all Armenians [May 12, 1970]

Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and Mar Ignatius Iacob III [October 27, 1971]

Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and of the Pope of Alexandria, Shenouda III [May 10, 1973]

Letter to Father Edward Schillebeeckx Regarding his Christological Positions [June 13, 1984]

Common Declaration of Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas [June 23, 1984]

Common Christological Declaration Between the Catholic Church      and       the Assyrian Church of the East [November, 11, 1984]

Common Declaration of Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin I [December 13, 1996]

Common Declaration of Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Aram I Keshishian [January 25, 1997]

Dominus Jesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church [June 16, 2000] 

Theological Anthropology 

Dignitatis Humanae  [Second Vatican Council, 1965]

Humanae Vitae  [Paul VI, July 25, 1968]

Donum Vitae [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 22, 1987]

Familiaris Consortio  [John Paul II, November 22, 1981]

Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, October 1, 1986]

Evangelium Vitae  [John Paul II, March 25, 1995]

Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church,  [October 10, 1999] 

Theological Methodology 

Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1990]

Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria [International Theological Commission, 2011]

Selected Theologians 

For this exam, each student will select six theologians, one from each of the following periods:

Patristic (33 - 800)
Monastic and Scholastic (800 - 1500)
Reformation (1500 -1700)
Early Modern (1700-1900)
Twentieth Century to Vatican II (1900 - 1965)
Contemporary Period (1965 – present) 

At least three of the theologians selected must be from the Catholic tradition. 

Of the six theologians selected, the candidate is responsible for  two theologians in the area of Doctrine of God, and two in the area of Christology, and  two theologians from one of the following areas:  Theological Anthropology, Sacrament / Liturgical Theology, or Spiritual Theology.

Students should demonstrate competency not only in the selected texts listed below, but also in the theological method, intention, and overall context and structure of the author’s thought.  Students may consult the Secondary Texts listed below.

Patristic (33 - 800)

Many patristic authors are represented in the following anthologies in the series Sources of Early Christian Thought: 

J.P. Burns, Theological Anthropology
R.A. Norris, The Christological Controversy
G. Rusch, The Trinitarian Controversy   

Doctrine of God                           

Arius, Letters to Eusebius of Nicomedia,to Alexander of Alexandria,and to the Emperor Constantine

Athanasius, Orations against the Arians, Book 1

Augustine, The Trinity, Books 1 and 9-15

Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, The Divine Names; The Mystical Theology

Gregory of Nyssa, On Why There Are Not Three Gods

Gregory Nazianzus, Third Theological Oration

Justin Martyr, First Apology

Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge



Athanasius, Orations against the Arians, Book 3; On the Incarnation

Ignatius of Antioch, Letters to the Churches

Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapters 18-19, Book V, Chapter 1

Origen, On First Principles, Book II



Augustine, On the Grace of Christ

Gregory of Nyssa, Sermon on the Sixth Beatitude

Irenaeus, Against the Heresies

Leo of Rome, Letter to Flavian of Constantinople

Origen, Homily on Genesis 1


Spiritual Theology

Athanasius, The Life of Antony

Augustine, The Confessions

Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, The Mystical Theology; The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy

John Cassian, Conferences  

Sacramental/ Liturgical

Ambrose, On the Sacraments; On the Mysteries

Augustine, Sermons 227, 229, 272

Ignatius of Antioch, Letters to the Churches

John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

Justin Martyr, First Apology


Monastic and Scholastic (800 - 1500)

Doctrine of God                 

Anselm, Proslogion; Monologion

Bonaventure, Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity

Gregory Palamas, The Triads

John Duns Scotus, A Treatise on God as First Principle

Richard of St Victor, On the Trinity

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, questions 2-13; 27-43


Anselm, Cur Deus Homo

Bonaventure, Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ

John Duns Scotus, Four Questions on Mary

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III, questions 1-26, 46-56



Bernard of Clairvaux, On Grace and Free Choice

Bonaventure, The Journey of the Soul into God

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, questions 55-70 (virtues and gifts); 75-83 (sin); 109-114 (grace)


Spiritual Theology 

Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God; Steps of Humility and Pride; Selected Homilies on the Song of Songs (see Classics of Western Spirituality)

Bonaventure, The Journey of the Soul into God; The Life of Francis

Catherine of Siena, The Dialogues

Gregory Palamas, The Triads


Sacramental/ Liturgical 

Hugh of St. Victor, De sacramentis christianae fidei

Lanfranc of Canterbury, On the Body and Blood of the Lord

Lombard, Sentences Book IV

Thomas Aquinas,  Summa Theologiae  III q. 60 - 90


Reformation (1500 -1700) 

Doctrine of God 

John Calvin, Institutes,  Book III, chapter 21 (Theme: Double Predestination)

Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Theme: Deus Absconditus)



John Calvin, Institutes, Book II, chapters 12-17

Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (1535)



John Calvin, Institutes Book II, chapters 1-2, 6; Book III, chapters 1-2, 11, 15, 19, 21 

Martin Luther, The Freedom of a ChristianThe Bondage of the Will  (1525);  Commentary on Galatians  (1535)

Luis de Molina, On Divine Foreknowledge


Spiritual Theology 

Robert Bellarmine, The Mind’s Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things

Pierre de Bérulle, Discourse on the State and Grandeurs of Jesus; The Life of Jesus; Elevation to Jesus Christ; A Letter on the Priesthood  (See Classics of Western Spiritualty) 


Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God; Introduction to the Devout Life

John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel; The Dark Night

Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle


Sacramental/ Liturgical

Council of Trent, Sessions 13, 22, 23


Early Modern (1700-1900) 

Doctrine of God 

John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of  Christian Doctrine

Matthias Scheeben, The Mysteries of Christianity

Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, pars. 50-56; 170-172



Søren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments

Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, pars. 92-101



Maurice Blondel, L’Action

Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling; The Sickness unto Death

J.A. Möhler, Symbolism

John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of  Christian Doctrine; An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, chapters 9-10

Matthias Scheeben, The Mysteries of Christianity

Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion, Speeches 2 and 5; The Christian Faithpars. 36-41, 62-72 and 86-88


Spiritual Theology 

Alphonsus de Liguori, Divine Love and the Means of Acquiring It; Conformity to the Will of God; The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ

Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul


Sacramental/ Liturgical 

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist


Twentieth Century to Vatican II (1900 - 1965) 

Doctrine of God 

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. 1/1

Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Jean Daniélou, God and the Ways of Knowing

Henri de Lubac, The Discovery of God

Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality

Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church

Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, Vol. 4, articles 3 & 9

Dumitri St─âniloae, The Experience of God, vols. 1-3

Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Theology of Karl Barth



Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. 4/1

Sergius Bulgakov, The Bride of the Lamb

Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church

Jacques Maritain, On the Grace and Humanity of Jesus

Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith, Chapters 5-6

Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with God

Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mysterium Paschale



Karl Barth, Epistle to the RomansThe Humanity of God

Maurice Blondel, History and Dogma

Henri de Lubac, The Mystery of the Supernatural; A Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace; Augustinianism and Modern Theology

Karl Rahner, Hearer of the WordFoundations of Christian Faith, chapters 1-4;  Theological Investigations, Vol. 6, articles 11-16

Edith Stein, Essays on Woman; On the Problem of Empathy

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu

Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Glory of the Lord, Vol. I


Spiritual Theology 

Jean Daniélou, Prayer: The Mission of the Church

Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Three Ages of the Interior Life

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe


Sacramental/ Liturgical

Odo Casel, The Mystery of Christian Worship

Romano Guardini, The Spirit of the Liturgy

Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with God

Anscar Vonier, The Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist


Contemporary Theologians (1965 – present) 

Doctrine of God 

Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is

Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ

Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom

Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, Vol. III

Thomas Weinandy, Does God Suffer?



Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ

Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God

Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth,  3 vols.

Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth; Christ the Liberator: A View from the Victims

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theodrama, Vol. 3, parts 1 & 2; vol. 4

John Zizioulas, Being as Communion



Avery Dulles, The Assurance of Things Hoped For

John Paul II,  Man and Woman He Created Them: Theology of the Body

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theodrama, Vol. 2; vol. 3, part IIIA; The Christian State of Life

John Zizioulas, Being as Communion


Spiritual Theology 

John Paul II, Vita Consecrata; Pastores dabo vobis; Christifideles laici

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son; Making All Things New


Sacramental/ Liturgical 

Chauvet, Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence

Jean Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship

Joseph Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy; Feast of Faith

Suggested Secondary Sources/Textbooks: 

In order to demonstrate competency and to contextualize the primary sources, students may consult the following secondary sources and texts.


Giles Emery, The Trinitarian Theology of St Thomas Aquinas

A. Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, 2 vols.

Zachary Hayes, The Hidden Center: Spirituality and Speculative Christology in St. Bonaventure

William Hill, The Three-Personed God

J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines

Bernard McGinn, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism. 4 vols.

John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought

Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, 5 vols.

Karl Rahner, ed., Sacramentum Mundi

Henri Rondet, The Grace of Christ 

Van Nieuwenhove & Wawrykow,  The Theology of Thomas Aquinas

Oxford University Press, Great Medieval Thinkers Seriesmultiple vols.


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