20/10/23 - 24/11/23
15:00 - 16:30
Campion Hall

No What Without a How: Theological Method and the Theologies of Original Sin in Modern Catholic Thought

Campion Hall is offering a research seminar series during Michaelmas Term 2023 entitled "No What Without a How: Theological Method and the Theologies of Original Sin in Modern Catholic Thought."


Theology is not a monolithic discipline. It allows for variety, not only in terms of content but also in terms of method. Theology can be done in many ways, but the question of method is rarely given much prominence. Much attention is given to what a theologian is saying, but the question of how he or she is saying it elicits little attention. Barth’s Prolegomena to the Church Dogmatics and Lonergan’s Method in Theology are some rare exceptions. Nevertheless, every what presupposes a how. One cannot answer a theological question without making, at least implicitly, a methodological choice.

This research seminar—conducted through a combination of readings, papers and discussions—will investigate the symbiotic relationship between content and method in theology. It will show that not only is there no what without a how, but also that the how influences the what. The methodological choices that the author makes do not leave his or her arguments unchanged.

The seminar will focus on the question of original sin in 20th century Catholic theology. Theologians have approached this question through various methods—scriptural, doctrinal, anthropological, sociological, and many more—and this seminar wishes to explore the methodological choices behind different theologies of original sin. Moreover, through this choice of authors, the seminar wishes to deconstruct a certain superficial division of theological methods along confessional lines. Not all Protestant theologies start from scripture, just as not all Catholic theologies start from the teaching of the Magisterium or Thomistic philosophy. For this reason, the seminar will study six 20th century Catholic authors and show how there is a plurality of methods even within the Catholic theological tradition.


The seminars will take place on Fridays 3pm – 4.30pm of Weeks 2 – 6. There is a symposium in Week 7, which will be an all-day affair. Papers for discussion will be circulated a week in advance.

Week Two, Friday 20 Oct

Henri de Lubac. Methodological Ressourcement. Speaker: Dr Philip Moller SJ

Week Three, Friday 27 Oct

Bernard Lonergan. Soteriology. Speaker: Dr Patrick Riordan SJ

Week Four, Friday 3 Nov

Schillebeeckx. Speaker: Prof. Stephan van Erp (Leuven)

Week Five, Friday 10 Nov

Rene Girard/James Alison. Speaker: Prof. Michael Kirwan SJ (Dublin)

Week Six, Friday 17 Nov

Eleonore Stump. A Neo-Thomist Approach to Atonement. Speaker: Dr Patrick Zoll SJ (Munich)

Week Seven, Friday 24 Nov

Symposium: Karl Rahner. Employing Modern Philosophy Theologically.

Speakers: Prof. Stephen Fields SJ (Georgetown); Prof. Declan Marmion SM (Maynooth); Prof. David Sendrez (Paris); Carl Scerri (Oxford); Prof. Karen Kilby (Durham).

Enquiries and Registration 

Please contact Dr Patrick Riordan (patrick.riordan@campion.ox.ac.uk)