Ph.D. in Religion
Claremont Lincoln University offers the Ph.D. in Religion degree with four areas of concentration: Hebrew Bible; New Testament and Christian Origins; Process Studies; and Religion, Ethics and Society. Students applying to the Ph.D. in Religion will ordinarily have completed a Master’s Degree but, with the approval of the faculty in the field, may be admitted to the Ph.D. after having completed a minimum of 24 hours of graduate work appropriate to the field of study.
- Comparative Theology & Philosophy
- Hebrew Bible
- New Testament and Christian Origins
- Process Studies
- Religion, Ethics and Society
Comparative Theology and Philosophy
The Ph.D. program in Comparative Theology and Philosophy (CTP) develops doctoral-level competence in the comparative study of religious beliefs, worldviews, and practices. Religious beliefs and practices are frequently analyzed solely from the perspective of a single religious tradition, or they are reduced to their social, political, or even biological functions. The CTP program at Claremont Lincoln presupposes both that beliefs are an important part of the study of religious traditions and that an adequate comprehension of any given religion requires the study of its similarities to and differences from other traditions.
Doctoral students may write dissertations focused primarily on a single tradition (Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu theology, for example), but the program as a whole requires interreligious competence and in-depth knowledge of the “location” of one’s own reflection in contrast to alternatives. Philosophical resources—whether they are seen as intrinsic to religious reflection or as representing competing, non-religious alternatives—are crucial to success in this project.
Graduates concentrating in Comparative Theology and Philosophy are expected to:
- Demonstrate doctoral-level mastery of the history of thought and belief (where relevant, the “theology”) of at least one religious tradition.
- Develop competence in at least one other religious or non-religious belief system and in the central methodologies for comparative theological and philosophical studies.
- Recognize connections between thought and practice, social context and belief, religious commitments and ethical or political commitments.
- Demonstrate their mastery of these fields in a culminating doctoral thesis that sheds new light on beliefs in a particular tradition through comparative, historical, philosophical, and/or theological study.
The Ph.D. program in Hebrew Bible provides advanced training in the critical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible for students preparing for research and teaching in institutions of higher education, religious and community service, and other relevant contexts. The Ph.D. program in Hebrew Bible requires rigorous training in the ancient biblical languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; additional ancient Near Eastern languages, such as Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Syriac; modern research languages, including German and French; and in the historical-critical, literary-critical, social-scientific, and critical theological methods necessary for biblical interpretation. Training in the program presumes competence in the broader fields of religious and theological study, including the study of world religions, theology and philosophy of religion, ethics and society, and religion and culture.
Students completing the Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible at Claremont are expected to:
- Have full competence in the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and related literature according to methods accepted by modern critical scholarship;
- Have full command of the relevant biblical, ancient Near Eastern, and modern research languages in the field; understand the historical, multicultural, and multi-religious context in which the Hebrew Bible arose;
- Contribute to the field through new research, appropriate scholarly publications, lectures at professional scholarly organizations, and engagement in other academic, religious, and public contexts;
- Relate the study of the Hebrew Bible to the broader world of other religious, theological, and public contexts in positive and healing ways.
Areas of Concentration:
- Literary-historical and theological interpretation of the Hebrew Bible
- Archeological and historical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in the contexts of the larger ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman worlds
- Second-Temple and Rabbinic period Jewish literature and history, including textual versions of the Hebrew Bible
New Testament and Christian Origins
The Ph.D. program in New Testament and Christian Origins at Claremont Lincoln University provides advanced training in the critical interpretation of ancient Christian texts for students preparing for research and teaching in institutions of higher education, religious and community service, and other relevant contexts. The program focuses on the New Testament and related literature in the context of post-biblical Judaism, classical Greek and Hellenistic literature, religion and philosophy, and the cultures of the early Roman Empire.
Students completing the Ph.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins at Claremont are expected to:
- have full competence in the interpretation of the New Testament and related literature according to methods accepted by modern critical scholarship;
- have full command of the relevant biblical, ancient Near Eastern, and modern research languages in the field; understand the historical, multicultural, and multi-religious context in which the New Testament arose;
- contribute to the field through new research, appropriate scholarly publications, lectures at professional scholarly organizations, and engagement in other academic, religious, and public contexts;
- relate the study of New Testament and Christian Origins to the broader world of other religious, theological, and public contexts in positive and healing ways.
Process thought is a philosophical system that describes the world in fundamentally relational terms. According to process thought, every unit of reality is in an ongoing process of change, and everything that occurs is a confluence of one’s inherited past, contextual possibilities and individual agency. This graduate program explores the wide range of methods, themes, and applications of process thought, with special attention to Alfred North Whitehead’s “philosophy of organism.” Whitehead’s contributions are assessed in the context of other philosophies of process, thought of which dozens have been identified in Western philosophies and in the non-Western philosophical traditions.
The multiple applications of process thought to religious life and reflection are cumulatively known as process theology. Process theology seeks to integrate and reconcile the diverse facets of human experience (e.g., ethical, aesthetic, and scientific intuitions) into a relational understanding of the universe, without excluding the religious or spiritual dimensions of human existence. This relational worldview has significant implications for the fields of constructive theology, philosophy, ecology, economics, physics, biology, education, psychology, feminism, and cultural studies. Indeed, the ecological dimensions are significant enough that some are referring to recent work in process thought as “eco-process studies in culture and religion.”
The purpose of the program in Process Studies is to train future leaders in process-relational approaches to the study of ecology, culture, and religion today. Process Studies combines a variety of newly emergent fields and integrative methods in order to address key areas of debate that arise at the intersection of religion, culture, and nature. The program aims to provide academic leaders, religious leaders, and leaders in society with the tools necessary for understanding the interconnections between ecology, culture, and religion in this postmodern and pluralistic world. They will be trained in emerging theoretical perspectives that help to re-conceive and overcome fundamental dichotomies and binaries in contemporary culture. Using the techniques of postmodern/poststructuralist scholarship in particular, students will learn to formulate a truly pluralistic and differentiated worldview, one that is appropriate to our contemporary society and able to contribute to transformational change.
The Process Studies concentration draws on and seeks to integrate the whole range of contemporary studies in culture and religion, including their theological, philosophical, cultural, environmental, and interreligious dimensions. It aims to train students in the integrative shift that has been initiated by process theology, so as to enable them to work for a creative transformation of our world in the context of the most pressing concerns of our day.
The diverse fields of interaction will include philosophies in Western and non-Western traditions, theologies and philosophies of religion in diverse traditions, comparative religious studies, process studies and process theology, gender studies, feminist theory and feminist theologies, cultural studies (critical theories and liberation theologies), ecological studies (philosophies, theologies, and spiritualities), and the various fields of religion and science.
At the center of the Process Studies program is a commitment to breadth. We seek to educate students not with a narrow specialization, but with the ability to understand the inherent connectivity of process thought and to apply process insights with broad regions of human experience and scholarship. But it is possible to obtain such interrelations and applications only when students develop an equally broad range of competencies. In particular, we expect some knowledge of methods and theories in the following five areas: Process Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion / Philosophy of Science, Constructive Theology, Postmodern / Poststructuralist Studies, and Comparative Religious Studies. Students will deepen their knowledge in these five areas through course work, outside studies (e.g., reading, papers, classes, or book reviews), their internship program, the interreligious requirement, and preparation for their qualifying examinations.
Graduates concentrating in Process Studies are expected to:
- Demonstrate thematic and conceptual knowledge of Whiteheadian process thought, postmodern/ poststructuralist studies, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, Western Christian theology, and religious pluralism.
- Identify cognate ideas, connections and tensions in historical and contemporary theologies, philosophies, cultures and ecologies.
- Utilize the elements of process studies in conducting new research on culture, ecology and/or religion.
- Communicate the ways in which research in process studies responsibly engages matters of pressing social concern.
Religion, Ethics and Society
The Ph.D. program in Religion, Ethics, and Society (RES) focuses on the intersection of the religious, the ethical, and the political. Viewing religion as both a source and subject for ethical reflection, students and faculty train their eyes on public spaces and the people who interact there as they engage pressing social, economic, and political questions. In order to prepare students to engage this pluralistic, public space, students are engaged with dialogic competencies, knowledge of religious traditions other than their own, resources for theological reflection, a facility with a variety of methods for moral deliberation, and the critical tools for analysis and argumentation required to contribute thoughtful, publicly defensible ethical assessment.
The RES program is designed to provide a solid foundation in ethics while offering students the flexibility and resources necessary to develop an expertise in a cognate field (such as public policy, political theory, theology, or cultural studies). The core courses of the program cover philosophical, theological and religious, and social ethics. Because ethics is an inherently interdisciplinary field, students will be encouraged to take courses in other schools within the Claremont Graduate University.
Graduates concentrating in Religion, Ethics and Society are expected to:
- Demonstrate dialogical competencies and critical tools for responsible ethical analysis and argumentation necessary to contribute thoughtful, publicly defensible ethical assessment in the academy, as well as in a pluralistic public sphere.
- Demonstrate a critical appreciation of religion as both source and subject for ethical reflection.
- Develop scholarly expertise in the field of ethics as well as competence in related fields of study and situate their original ideas within the broader context of the academy.
- Be knowledgeable about sources and forms of ethical reflection; major thinkers and historical movements; contemporary issues and global contexts; and scholarship, including voices from the margins.