DEGREES

Master of Arts:
Theology with Concentration in Sacred Scripture

Put on the mind of Christ.
—1 Corinthians 2:16

About the Program

The Second Vatican Council taught that “the study of the sacred page,” that is, the Bible, must be “the soul of sacred theology” (Dei Verbum, 24).

The Scripture concentration offers students a rigorous set of courses that teach them how to interpret the literary, historical, and theological dimensions of the biblical texts in ways that are informed by both the Church’s tradition and contemporary biblical scholarship. The concentration includes courses in both Old and New Testament studies as well as offerings in biblical languages and biblical hermeneutics. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the Holy Land and study Scripture in the very places the Bible describes.

One of the primary strengths of the program is that many of our faculty members are Scripture scholars. They have studied the Bible in its original languages and have written dissertations and published books on biblical topics and themes. Our faculty brings the breadth of their knowledge to the classroom, making Scripture study comprehensible and transformative for our students.

Students in the Master of Arts in Theology degree program have the option of pursuing a concentration in Sacred Scripture. The concentration is available to on-campus and to distance-education students.

Four Pillars

1. Theological Formation:

The formation offered here is faithful and rigorous, grounded in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the Church Fathers, the lives and witnesses of the saints, the Second Vatican Council, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2. Spiritual Formation:

Students receive a vital spiritual formation that will enrich their own personal encounter with Christ and h is Church—and prepare them for the challenges and spiritual realities of lay ecclesial service.

3. Pastoral and Catechetical Formation:

Anchored in the pastoral vision of the Second Vatican Council, our balanced pastoral and catechetical formation equips students to hand on the truth of Jesus Christ.

4. Human Formation:

Students receive the tools and skills to be effective leaders for the New Evangelization. Highlights include key moral virtues for lay ecclesial leadership, communication and management techniques, and awareness and understanding of ecclesial life and structures.

Four Pillars

Built on the same four pillars as priestly and religious formation, this program offers a comprehensive, integrated training that prepares lay ecclesial leaders to share the truth of Jesus Christ amidst contemporary challenges.

1. Theological Formation:

Students receive a faithful and rigorous theological formation grounded in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the Church Fathers, the lives and witnesses of the saints, the Second Vatican Council, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This instruction grounds the students in the long theological tradition of the Church with an eye towards the authentic implementation of the New Evangelization.

2. Spiritual Formation:

Through course material, seminars, and practicum experiences, students receive a spiritual formation that enriches their own personal encounter with Christ and prepares them for the challenges and spiritual realities of lay ecclesial service.

3. Pastoral, Evangelistic, and Catechetical Formation:

Grounded in the pastoral vision of the Second Vatican Council, the program offers pastoral and catechetical formation that equips students to hand on the truth of Jesus Christ in this time of the New Evangelization. This formation is centered around sound principles of pastoral care and key methods of authentic catechetical renewal envisioned and articulated by the documents of Vatican II, the writings of St. John Paul II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

4. Human Formation:

Through coursework, seminars, and practicum experiences, students receive practical and essential human formation that forms them to be effective leaders for the New Evangelization. These crucial skills and dispositions include the key moral virtues for lay ecclesial leadership, communication and management skills, an appropriate awareness and understanding of ecclesial life and structures, and interpersonal skills related to ecclesial life and service.

Three Pillars

The course of study in the Graduate School of Theology leads to the Master of Arts degree in Theology; it is available on our campus in Denver or via distance education. The program consists of three pillars:

1. Sacred Scripture

Students learn to express the narrative of salvation history, explain the biblical foundations of Catholic doctrine, interpret the texts in light of tradition, and substantiate the reliability of Sacred Scripture.

2. Sacred Doctrine

Each of our students develops a foundational knowledge of the Catholic Church’s dogmatic, sacramental, moral, and spiritual teaching as exemplified by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

3. History and Mission

Students come to grasp the main themes of Church history, particularly in the West, with special emphasis on evangelization and on the saints and martyrs as teachers and models.

Programmatic Goals

I. Theology: to demonstrate a foundational knowledge of the Catholic Church’s dogmatic, sacramental, moral, and spiritual teaching, building upon that doctrine as exemplified by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Graduates will be able to analyze, explain, and where relevant defend the following elements of understanding:
II. Spiritual Interiority: recognizing that a mature Christian interior life is both a prerequisite to effective mission and the goal toward which that mission is oriented, as well as an essential part of the methodological structure of all catechetical practice, graduates will be able to explain and defend the following elements of understanding:
III. Pastoral, Evangelical & Catechetical: to demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles of evangelization and catechesis, as well as strategies of pastoral care and the ability to develop, to implement, and to assess effective evangelistic, catechetical, and pastoral initiatives in an ecclesial setting which respond to the leading challenges facing the Church’s mission today. Graduates will be able to analyze, explain, and where relevant defend the following elements of understanding:
IV. Leadership: to demonstrate readiness for collaborative work and management in the life of the Church so as to implement effective discipleship strategies. Graduates will demonstrate an articulate understanding of and principled commitment to the following elements:

The Catholic Church understands “the study of the sacred page” to be “the soul of sacred theology” (Dei Verbum §24). Confessing that God is the author of Scripture, the Church also affirms that the biblical books are the product of human writers. Just as the Church has rejected views of the person of Jesus Christ that deny or minimize his human nature, so too does the Church’s approach to Scripture affirm the importance of discerning the intention of the Bible’s human authors, as we see in this celebrated passage from the documents of the Second Vatican Council:
The interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. . . The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture (Dei Verbum §12). 
Following this direction, the Augustine Institute’s M.A. in Biblical Studies puts the historical, linguistic, and literary tools of contemporary scholarship in conversation with the Church’s theological and exegetical traditions, in the hope that its students will experience a rich harvest of wisdom.

Degree Requirements

Students are eligible to apply for the concentration once they have completed two (or more) courses with a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 or higher. The concentration requires the normal eight-course MA Theology core curriculum, plus six additional courses listed below. It is for this reason that this program is the most suitable track for those looking to pursue doctoral studies.

Electives:

  • Old Testament elective
  • New Testament elective
  • A course in biblical interpretation or an additional Scripture elective (in any area)
  • Scripture elective
  • An elective in any area
  • The Fifth Gospel (Holy Land Pilgrimage) or an additional Scripture elective

M.A. Thesis: By invitation of the faculty, a thesis may be completed and substituted for an elective

Courses

Students are eligible to apply for the concentration once they have completed two (or more) courses with a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 or higher. The concentration requires the normal eight-course MA Theology core curriculum, plus six additional courses listed below. It is for this reason that this program is the most suitable track for those looking to pursue doctoral studies.

Electives:

  • Old Testament elective
  • New Testament elective
  • A course in biblical interpretation or an additional Scripture elective (in any area)
  • Scripture elective
  • An elective in any area
  • The Fifth Gospel (Holy Land Pilgrimage) or an additional Scripture elective

M.A. Thesis: By invitation of the faculty, a thesis may be completed and substituted for an elective

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Graduate Bulletin

Read more and see full course listings in our graduate bulletin

Download our graduate bulletin

Program Faculty

John Sehorn

Associate Professor of Theology (Ph.D., Notre Dame)

John Sehorn has been a member of the Augustine Institute faculty since 2015. He has a longstanding interest in understanding more deeply how God speaks to his Church through Sacred Scripture, an interest that he pursues by studying the exegetical practices of the patristic and medieval masters of the Sacred Page. Dr. Sehorn is the author of The Bible and the Eucharist (Baker Academic, forthcoming) and Marian Consecration: What Every Catholic Should Know (Augustine Institute/Ignatius Press, forthcoming), and he has published several academic essays on the theology of the Fathers. With Tim Gray, he is editor of Baker Academic’s series A Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments.

James Prothro

Assistant Professor of Scripture and Theology (Ph.D., Cambridge University).

James Prothro brings a background in Classical languages and training as a preacher to his study of the Bible. His lively interest in Greek linguistics and principles of Catholic interpretation influence his teaching and writing. He is the author of Both Judge and Justifier: Biblical Legal Language and the Act of Justifying in Paul (Mohr Siebeck, 2018) and The Apostle Paul and His Letters: An Introduction (Catholic University of America Press, 2021). He has published in various academic journals, including, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Nova et Vetera, and Journal of Theological Interpretation. He serves as Sub-editor (Koine Greek) for Religious Studies Review. 

Brant Pitre

Distinguished Research Professor of Sacred Scripture (Ph.D., Notre Dame)

Brant Pitre has a special love for finding the Old Testament in the New and Christ throughout the pages of Scripture. His many contributions to Catholic Biblical studies include a two-volume Catholic Introduction to the Bible, with John Bergsma – their volume on the New Testament will soon join the one on the Old Testament published in 2018 (Ignatius), as well as many scholarly and best-selling books, including Jesus and the Last Supper (Eerdmans, 2015), The Case for Jesus (Image, 2016), and, most recently, his Introduction to the Spiritual Life (Image, 2021). 

Israel McGrew

Assistant Professor of Sacred Scripture (Ph.D., Marquette)

Israel McGrew brings a love for Catholic theology to the historical and literary study of the Hebrew Bible. In his new post at the Augustine Institute, he will be teaching Salvation History and exegetic courses on various books of the Old Testament. His article “‘What is Enosh?’: The Anthropological Contributions of Job 7:17–18 through Allusion and Intertextuality,” appeared in Catholic Biblical Quarterly in 2022 and won him the “Emerging Scholar” award by the Catholic Biblical Association. He is the author of The Riddle of Job: Allegorical Representation and Argumentation in the Book of Job (manuscript under review). 

Elizabeth Klein

Assistant Professor of Theology (Ph.D., Notre Dame)

Elizabeth Klein’s formidable knowledge of the Bible has its roots in her childhood participation in Bible Quiz competitions. Her academic studies have focused on Patristic theology, and she regularly teaches courses on Augustine that examine his use of Scripture in his preaching, teaching, and works of controversy. She is the author of Augustine’s Theology of Angels (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and God: What Every Catholic Should Know (Ignatius Press; Augustine Institute, 2019).

Timothy Gray

Professor of Sacred Scripture (Ph.D., Catholic University of America)

Tim Gray has been a noted interpreter of the Bible in diverse academic, ecclesial, and popular settings for over two decades. He helped to found the Augustine Institute and has served as its President since 2008. He is the author of The Temple in the Gospel of Mark: A Study in Its Narrative Role (Mohr Siebeck/Baker Academic, 2008), Peter: Keys to Following Jesus (Ignatius, 2016), Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina (Ascension, 2009), and the best-selling Walking with God (with Jeff Cavins; Ascension, 2010, new edition 2018). With John Sehorn, he is editor of Baker Academic’s series A Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments.

Mark Giszczak

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture (Ph.D., Catholic University of America)

A member of the first graduating class of the Augustine Institute, Mark Giszczak joined its faculty in 2010. He has a passion for Scripture and loves helping Catholics read, pray, and understand the Bible. He is the author of Wisdom of Solomon, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series (Baker Academic, forthcoming), Bible Translation and the Making of the ESV Catholic Edition (Augustine Institute, 2022), and Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture (Our Sunday Visitor, 2015). His articles have appeared in the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Professor Giszczak also holds the Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Michael Patrick Barber

Professor of Sacred Scripture and Theology (Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary)

Michael Barber is Director of the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a regular participant in leading scholarly conversations about the study of the Bible. His books include The Historical Jesus and the Temple: Memory, Methodology, and the Gospel of Matthew (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, with a Foreword by Dale C. Allison, Jr.) and Paul, A New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology, with Brant Pitre and John Kincaid (Eerdmans, 2019). His articles have appeared in academic journals such as Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, and Religious Studies Review. You can read more about his work on Academia.edu.

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